🔼The name Ahab: Summary
- Brother Father
- From (1) the noun אב ('ab), father, and (2) the noun אח ('ah), brother.
🔼The name Ahab in the Bible
The name Ahab is assigned two times in the Bible; both times to not very positive characters.
The less known Ahab is a son of Kolaiah. Together with a man named Zedekiah, this Ahab falsely prophesies and behaves contemptibly and is executed by Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 29:21). It may or may not be a curious coincidence that both Ahab and Zedekiah are names of kings of Israel.
The famous Ahab is the wicked king of Israel, son of Omri, husband of Jezebel and nemesis of the prophet Elijah the Tishbite (1 Kings 16:29-31, 17:1). According to the Bible, King Ahab introduces the worship of Baal in Israel (1 Kings 16:31). Archeological studies suggest that Ahab, rather than the earlier Solomon, was the great builder king of Israel.
The Oxford Companion to the Bible reads, "[...] deeply rooted north-south tensions and the Judahite perspective of the final deuteronomic history resulted in a critical treatment of Ahab in the Bible (1 Kings 16:29 - 22:40); narratives describing the antagonism between Ahab and the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17-19) constitute the sharpest polemic against him".
🔼Etymology of the name Ahab
The name Ahab consists of two elements. The first element of the name Ahab is the curious little word אח ('ah), probably meaning brother. This word is pronounced with a ch as in Bach (and the name Ahab is therefore to be pronounced as ach-ab, not ey-hab):
The noun אח ('ah) means brother, or more broadly: a fellow member of a social economic node (a "house") within a broader economic whole.
This word's lavish inclusion in names strongly suggests that the deity was reckoned by this word — in modern times we mostly speak of Our Father in Heaven but in antiquity the deity appears to have also been addressed as Our Brother. The New Testament appears to entertain that dynamic in the tenet that the Word is God's Son, and all who have the Word are godly brothers. Also note the similarity with the verb חוה (hawa), to show, tell, make known.
The noun אחוה ('ahawa) means brotherhood and אחות ('ahot) means sister.
The final element of the name Ahab is the Hebrew word אב ('ab), meaning basically father:
The noun אב ('ab) means father, but describes primarily a social relationship rather than a biological one. That social fatherhood was the defining quality of the community's alpha male, the one around whom all economy revolved and from whom emanated all instructions by which the 'sons' (בן, ben) operated. It's unclear where this word אב ('ab) comes from but the verb abu means to decide.
The name Ahab is a contraction of two main theologies, namely that of God Is Father and God Is Brother. Contrary to modern Christianity, which splits and fractures at the slightest torque, in antiquity contractions and fusions of schools were enormously common — the famous Egyptian deity Amun-Ra was the school of Amun combined with that of Ra, and Joseph's celebrated marriage to the daughter of the priest of On was of course not just a wedding of two people but the fusion of the theologies of the House of Joseph and that of Heliopolis.
The Biblical theology of Elohim clearly merged with that of YHWH, and the latter in turn appears to have been a merger between Yah and, well, Weh. The name Elijah celebrates the sustainable merger of the El and Yah schools, whereas his nemesis Ahab clearly represents the inviable and unstable merger of the Ab and Ah schools. The name Ahab means the obviously impossible Brother Father.
For a meaning of the name Ahab, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Father's Brother and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads the similar Brother Of The Father. Even BDB Theological Dictionary takes a shot at it and reads Father's Brother, but notes that it would have to be an unexplained contraction of אחיאב (Ahayab).