🔼The name Ahithophel: Summary
- Brother Of Folly, My Brother Is Folly
- From (1) the noun אח ('ah), brother, and (2) the noun תפל (tapel), folly.
🔼The name Ahithophel in the Bible
There's only one Ahithophel in the Bible and the name is doubtlessly crafted after the man's reputation. Ahithophel the Gilonite is a counselor of king David, and so appreciated that to the king and his sons, Ahithophel's words are like the Word of God (2 Samuel 16:23). But when Absalom revolts against the king, Ahithophel joins him, and gives him some atrocious ideas concerning his father. When Absalom favors the advice of Hushai the Archite over that of Ahithophel, the latter goes home and commits suicide (2 Samuel 17:23).
Ahithophel's son Eliam became one of David's mighty-men (2 Samuel 23:34).
🔼Etymology of the name Ahithophel
The name Ahithophel consists of two elements. The first part comes from the word אח ('ah), meaning brother or close associate. The post-fixed letter yod creates a possessive: my brother, or brother of:
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 second part of the name Ahithophel comes from the root group תפל (tapal):
The verb תפל (tapal) means to be tasteless or foolish (as eating and learning are very closely kindred). Adjectives תפל (tapel) and תפלה (tipla) mean tasteless or foolish. Noun תפל (tapel), which possibly derives from a different root, means whitewash.
For a meaning of the name Ahithophel, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names and NOBSE Study Bible Name List both read Brother Of Folly. BDB Theological Dictionary proposes My Brother Is Folly but adds a question mark.