🔼The name Ahumai: Summary
- Brother Of Waters
- Heated By Yah
- From (1) the noun אח ('ah), brother, and (2) the noun מים (mayim), waters.
- From (1) the verb חמם (hamam), to be hot, and (2) the divine name יה (yah).
🔼The name Ahumai in the Bible
The only Ahumai in the Bible is a son of Jahath, who is a son of Reaiah, who is a son of Shobal, who is a son of Judah, one of the sons of Jacob and name-giver to one of the tribes of Israel (1 Chronicles 4:2). Apart from this note in Judah's genealogy, we hear nothing further about this person.
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Ahumai
The origin and meaning of the name Ahumai is a bit of a mystery. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) takes it from (1) the word אח ('ah), meaning brother, or figuratively, friend or close associate:
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.
Jones takes the second part of our name to be the construct form of the common plural word מים (mayim) meaning waters:
The noun מים (mayim) means water, or rather: waters. It's a plural word for which there is no singular form. But if there were it would be מי (mi), which is identical to the common particle of inquisition, מי (mi), meaning "who?". In constructions (waters of such and such), the final ם (m) drops off, and what remains is identical to our particle of inquisition.
Water represents the great unknown from which the dry land (ארץ, 'eres) of the known emerges. The ancients knew that vapor rises from the seas and becomes rain and compared this cycle to that of cognition (Isaiah 55:10-1). The words for rain and teacher are the same: מורה (moreh), which are closely related to the familiar word Torah.
Hence Jones reads Brother Of Waters and adds: i.e. "Dweller Near Waters".
NOBSE Study Bible Name List apparently draws towards the verb חמם (hamam), meaning to be hot or warm, and the adjective חם (ham) meaning hot:
The verb חמם (hamam) means to be hot and is sometimes used to describe mental agitation. Nouns חם (hom) and חמה (hamma) mean heat. Adjective חם (ham) means hot. The noun חמן (hamman) denotes a kind of mysterious small pillar (perhaps a device?).
The verb יחם (yaham) also means to be hot, but mostly in a mental sense: to be exited or angered. The noun חמה (hema) mostly refers to a severe mental "burning": anger or rage.
The verb חמה (hmh) is not used in the Bible, but in cognate languages it means to surround, guard or protect. Perhaps this verb has nothing to do with the previous and only accidentally looks similar, but perhaps it ties into the fact that natural open fires aren't very warm and smelting metals require sophisticated ovens. Noun חם (ham) means father-in-law and its feminine equivalent, חמות (hamot), means mother-in-law — and note that the Trojan theme of the "girl" kept in the city of her forceful lover is very common in classical literature. Noun חומה (homa) describes a protective wall.
The noun חום (hum) describes a color or pattern of coloration of sheep and goats. It's not clear whether this pattern resembled sparks, fire or enclosures, or perhaps that this word in not related to the previous.
Noun חמת (hemet) means waterskin and may derive from a wholly different verb. Still, the verb נהר (nahar) means both to flow (of water) and to shine (of light) and a waterskin filled with water is not unlike a kiln containing a very warm fire.
The final yod could be a remnant of יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton; the name of the Lord: YHWH. Hence NOBSE translates this name with Heated By Yahweh, which would be a perfectly acceptable Biblical sentiment but requires stretching the evidence pretty thin.
And while we're stretching: the name Ahumai could also be regarded as a construct of (1) the word אחו ('ahu), a collective noun meaning reeds or rushes, as used in Genesis 41:2 and Job 8:11; and (2) the interrogative particle מי (mi), meaning who? That would render the whole name Ahumai the meaning of Who's The Reeds?, which, we admit, is rather silly.
Still, the word Ahumai may have reminded some among a Hebrew audience of a meaning like Sea Of Reeds.
BDB Theological Dictionary stays out of the discussion on the meaning of our name all together and does not translate nor hints at possibilities.