🔼The name Baasha: Summary
- Stinking, Revolting
- From the verb בעש (ba'ash), to displease, or באש (ba'ash), to stink.
🔼The name Baasha in the Bible
The name Baasha belongs to a proverbially evil king of Israel, who obtained the throne after killing king Nadab, son of the original rebel king Jeroboam, during the siege of Gibbethon, and continued to kill the entire household of Jeroboam (1 Kings 15:27).
The monarchy of Israel was a strictly hereditary affair — Jeroboam was not a son of Solomon but he had been his trusted servant (1 Kings 11:28), not unlike Eliezer, the trusted servant of Abraham, who had been first in line to inherit the house of Abraham (Genesis 15:2) — which meant that from Baasha on, the northern "kingdom" could never be a true kingdom and would always remain a kingless collective around a mere make-believe monarch. Not long after these events, the world at large would invent the kingless democracy, and decentralized leagues.
The story of Baasha plays in the late 9th century BC, but was written in its present form probably in the 6th. The prophet Isaiah made his famous Virgin prophesies in the 8th century BC (see our article on παρθενος, parthenos, virgin). In the 7th century BC, the power of the Athenian aristocracy was curtailed and courts and written law were introduced, and δημοκρατια (democratia) arose when, in the late 6th century BC, Solon opened the εκκλεσια (ekklesia), or Assembly, to people from all social classes.
The destruction of the entire house of Jeroboam was foretold by the prophet Ahijah (1 Kings 14:10-11), who bore the predicate Shilonite, possibly simply because he was born at Shiloh, but also, perhaps, because he identified with the tradition of Shiloh, where the pre-monarchy judges had been seated and the original tabernacle had been pitched (see Isaiah 1:26). Shiloh was in Ephraim, but a judge could come from anywhere. This is significant because the father of Baasha was also named Ahijah, albeit from Issachar. Judge Tola was also from Issachar, and he lived in Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim (Judges 10:1). This is significant because Tola succeeded Abimelech, who wasn't a judge but an imposter, not unlike Jeroboam (who wasn't anointed; merely "king-ized", 2 Kings 12:20, from the same word מלך, melek, king, as the name Abimelech).
From the moment he became king, Baasha remained at war with king Asa of Judah all their days (1 Kings 15:16). He fortified Ramah, which prompted Asa to try to buy the allegiance of king Ben-hadad of Aram at Damascus, upon which Baasha retreated to Tirzah and the fortifications of Ramah were removed (15:16-22). At some point in their tumultuous history, the relationship between Judah and Aram resulted in the abandonment of the original Hebrew characters in favor of the Aramaic block-letters we use today — and see our article on the name YHWH for the profundity of this.
Via Jehu, son of Hanani, YHWH informed Baasha that he would receive the same treatment he visited upon Jeroboam (16:3-4). Baasha ruled Israel for 23 years, precisely as long as Judge Tola (Judges 10:2, see 1 Kings 15:33 and 16:8), and was succeeded by his son Elah, who was killed, just like Nadab, after a mere two years, by his servant Zimri.
🔼Etymology of the name Baasha
The name Baasha comes from the Aramaic verb בעש (ba'ash), meaning to displease. This same verb exists in Hebrew as באש (ba'ash), to stink or smell bad (the idiom "becoming odious" means to be displeasing; see Genesis 34:30, Exodus 5:21, 1 Samuel 13:4). The added -א (-a) does not affect the meaning and is typical for Aramaic:
The verb באש (ba'ash) means to stink like something dead and rotting, and subsequently to be odious or abhorrent. Noun באש (b'osh), meaning stench, and noun באשה (bo'sha) means stinking things.
The name Baasha means Stinking or Revolting. For a meaning of the name Baasha, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads an inexplicable Boldness. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names indeed relates our name to the Hebrew verb באש (ba'ash), and reads a rather paraphrastic and ultimately askew Evil, Wickedness. BDB Theological Dictionary offers no hint to meaning or origin of our name.