🔼The name Bathsheba: Summary
- Daughter Of Seven, Daughter Of An Oath
- From the noun בת (bath), daughter, and (2) the word שבע (sheba'), either seven or to swear.
🔼The name Bathsheba in the Bible
Bathsheba, daughter of Ammiel or Eliam, is the wife of Uriah, a Hittite and high ranking soldier in king David's army (2 Samuel 11:3). He's also unfortunate enough to be the king's neighbor. When Uriah is out fighting his king's war, David summons Bathsheba and impregnates her. To deal with this, he places Uriah front-center at the battle front and then withdraws his army (Uriah himself carries this order to general Joab — 2 Samuel 11:14). Uriah subsequently dies by arrows at the battle of Rabbah.
This particularly gruesome act violates at least two out of the Ten Commandments, and God sends the prophet Nathan to king David to sort him out. King David unknowingly passes a death sentence over himself, but Nathan tells him that not he but his child will not live. After seven days David and Bathsheba's son dies nameless. But Bathsheba conceives again and this time the child is loved by God (12:24). David and Bathsheba name their son Solomon, but Nathan the prophet calls him Jedidiah.
🔼Etymology of the name Bathsheba
The name Bathsheba consists of two elements, the first being the word בת (bat), meaning daughter. This peculiar word was formed from the word בן (ben), meaning son:
The noun בן (ben) means son, or more general: a member of one particular social or economic node — called a "house", which is built upon the instructions of one אב ('ab), or "father" — within in a larger economy (hence: the "sons of the prophet" are the members of the prophet-class; the prophets). This noun obviously resembles the verb בנה (bana), to build, and the noun אבן ('eben), stone.
Our noun's feminine version, namely בת (bat), means daughter, which resembles the noun בית (bayit), meaning house. Sometimes our noun is contracted into a single letter ב, whose name beth comes from בית (bayit) and means "house" as well. As a prefix, the letter ב (be) means "in." The word for mother, אם ('em), is highly similar to that of tribe or people, אמה ('umma).
The second part of the name Bathsheba comes from either the word שבע (sheba'), meaning seven, or the highly similar שבע (shaba'), meaning to swear:
The root שבע (sb'), which in modern medieval times became pointed as שׁבע (shaba'), has to do with the number seven and the act of binding with an oath (i.e. with a proverbial seven seals or seven bonds).
Nouns שבע (sheba') and שבעה (shib'a) mean 7 and their plural שבעים (shib'im) means 70. The dual form שבעתים (shib'atayim), means sevenfold or seven times. Adjectives שביעית (shebi'it) and שביעי (shebi'i) mean seventh.
The noun שבע (sheba'), meaning seven, became the verb שבע (shaba'), meaning to bind with an oath. Subsequent nouns שבועה (shebu'a) and שבעה (shebu'a) mean oath.
The identical root שבע (sb'), which in modern medieval times became pointed as שׂבע (saba'), means to be sated or satisfied, either with food and such or with any act, deed, quality or phenomenon. Nouns שבע (soba'), שבע (saba'), and שבעה (sab'a or sib'a) mean satiety, fullness, contentment and so on.
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names and NOBSE Study Bible Name List agree that the name Bathsheba means Daughter Of An Oath.
The alternative, Daughter Of Seven, seems perfectly bizarre in English, but in Hebrew it holds a marvelous and magnificent meaning.