🔼The name Ami: Summary
- My Mother, My People
- From אם ('em), mother or people.
🔼The name Ami in the Bible
The name Ami occurs only once in the Bible. According to Ezra, Ami was a family-head, descending from the servants of Solomon, whose own descendants returned from exile together with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:57).
Nehemiah offers the same list of names but reads Amon for Ami (Nehemiah 7:59). This makes scholars believe that the names Ami and Amon are closely related, and possibly two variant spellings of the same name.
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Ami
Scholars assume that the uncommon name אמי (Ami) is a shortened form for the much more common name אמון (Amon) perhaps a Hebrew version of the way Bill relates to William. Still, it appears to be very rare to see ון-name shortened into a י-name, and the two may not be all that related. Perhaps the name Ami reminded a Hebrew audience of the word אם ('em), meaning mother of people, from the root אמם:
The unused verb אמם ('mm) probably meant to originate in a social sort of way. Noun אם ('em) means mother, but — as do the words אב ('ab), father, and בן (ben), son — primarily refers to a social function rather than a mere biological relation. Hence noun אמה ('amma) refers to a "mother" city or a "mother" land, and אמה ('umma) means tribe or people (and is obviously comparable to עם, 'am, meaning people in a socially inclusive way).
The noun אמה ('ama) describes a female servant, and female servants were of course as much "included" in the master's house as did some of the including themselves as in early Biblical times, surrogate motherhood was a common function of female servants (see our expanded article for a discussion of this). The common hypothetic particle אם ('im) means "if," and an if-statement essentially proposes inclusion.