🔼The name Amasa: Summary
- Kin To Jesse
- From the verb עמש (amas), to load or carry a load.
- From (1) the name Jesse, and (2) the noun עם ('am), kinsman.
🔼The name Amasa in the Bible
The name Amasa is applied twice in the Bible:
- Most famous is Amasa the son of Abigail, one of two sisters of king David (1 Chronicles 2:17). This Amasa becomes an army leader, first of Absalom (2 Samuel 17:25), later of king David (2 Samuel 19:13), supplanting his cousin Joab. For this and other reasons Joab kills him (2 Samuel 20:10).
- The other Amasa is a leader of Ephraim (2 Chronicles 28:12).
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Amasa
It's not immediately clear where the name Amasa comes from, but there are a few possibilities. The name Amasa may come from the Hebrew verb עמש (amas), which may also be spelled with a sin instead of a samekh. Either form of the verb amas means to load or carry a load:
Both the verbs עמש ('amas) and עמס ('amas) mean to load or carry a load. Noun מעמסה (ma'amasa) means load or burden.
Following this line of reasoning, the name Amasa means Burden (Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names), or Burden Bearer (NOBSE Study Bible Name List).
BDB Theological Dictionary lists another possibility, namely ישיעם; a combination of the Hebrew name ישי (Jesse) and the Hebrew word עם ('am), kinsman (on the father's side):
The verb עמם ('mm) probably expressed to be inclusive or comprehensive. Its rare uses in the Bible relate to making secrets or making info available to an in-crowd. Preposition עם ('im) means 'with', מעם (me'im) means 'from', and עמה ('umma) means 'beside'. Noun עם ('am) means a people, ranging from all of mankind to the in-crowd of a small village. Noun עם ('am) refers to one's (paternal) kinsman.
Following this line of thought, the name Amasa would mean Kin To Jesse, or Jesse's People.
Something similar may happen with the name Abishai.