🔼The name Ahasbai: Summary
- I Flee To The Lord, or Let Me Hide, Please
- Unclear but perhaps from (1) the verb חסה (hasa), to flee or seek refuge, and (2) ב (be), in, (3) the particle בי (bay), please, and (4) יה (yah), the name of the Lord.
🔼The name Ahasbai in the Bible
This Ahasbai is generally assumed to have been Eliphelet's father, but that's not certain at all. The text reads that Eliphelet was the son of Ahasbai son of the Maacathite, but it's not clear whether Ahasbai was a son of the Maacathite, or that being a son of Ahasbai was the same as being a son of the Maacathite. Eliphelet was also the name of king David less known sons, and the name of his mother is formally not known.
But one of David's wives was called Maacah, and since she was also the mother of David's insurrectional son Absalom, it may have seemed preferable to not connect her with too much fanfare to David's good son slash mighty-man. Ahasbai may very well be the same as David's wife Maacah.
🔼Etymology of the name Ahasbai
It's unclear where the name Ahasbai might have come from. Perhaps it's related to the ahas-part of Persian names such as Ahasuerus, although it would then have been transliterated as אחשבי (Ahashbai) instead of אחסבי (Ahasbai). BDB Theological Dictionary grimly refers to 1 Chronicles 11:35, where is listed an Eliphal, son of Ur, and states that Ahasbai's meaning is dubious and that the text in which this name occurs is probably corrupted. The learned compilers of the NOBSE Study Bible Name List apparently also simply (or incongruously) stick the meaning of the name Ur upon the name Ahasbai, and read Blooming, Shining.
The valiant Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names), however, says that the name Ahashbai is a contracted form of the little sentence אחסה בהי (ehseh behay).
The first part, ehseh would be a first person form of the verb חסה (hasa), meaning to flee or seek refuge:
The verb חסה (hasa) means to take or seek refuge. Noun חסות (hasut) means refuge of shelter, and noun מחסה (mahseh) means place of refuge or shelter.
The second part, says Jones, is a combination of the preposition ב (be), meaning in or onto:
Prefix ב (be) means in, within or by means of.
And a truncated form of the name יהוה, YHWH or Yahweh.
However, the first part of the mini-sentence that Jones proposes, can also mean making to flee, or letting find refuge. And בי, the bay-part of the name Ahasbai is a proper Hebrew verb meaning to entreat:
The verb ביי (bayay) or בי (bay) means to entreat. Particle בי (bi) is a relatively rare particle of entreaty, specifically used to address an אדני (adonai), milord or "Mein Herr".
However, in the Bible this word always starts a sentence and is never tied to the end of it, and is always accompanied by the word adonai, meaning lord or Lord, and is translated with constructions like Oh Lord... or I pray, Lord... etc.
For a meaning of the name Ahasbai, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Blooming, Shining. Alfred Jones renders the name Ahasbai the meaning I Flee To The Lord. But following Jones' reasoning, and allowing a bit of poetic license, the name Ahasbai also means Let Me Hide, Please.