🔼The name Bavvai: Summary
- Wisher, With The Desire Of Yah
- From (1) the prefix ב (be), in, (2) the verb אוה ('wh), to desire, and possibly (3) יה (yah), the name of the Lord.
🔼The name Bavvai in the Bible
The name Bavvai (by some translations transliterated as Bavai) occurs only once in the Bible. Bavvai, son of Henadad, is a contemporary of Nehemiah and Ezra and chief of the repair men who work on half of the district of Keilah in Judah during the post-exilic restoration (Nehemiah 3:18). Bavvai is either also known as Benui, or else Benui is Bavvai's brother (assuming that there are not two fathers called Henadad, which is of course also possible — Nehemiah 3:24).
🔼Etymology of the name Bavvai
Jones says that the name Bavvai starts out with the common particle ב (beth), meaning in or by:
Prefix ב (be) means in, within or by means of.
The middle part of the name Bavvai is formed from the verb אוה ('wh), meaning to desire, wish or covet, which in turn is part of the root group אוה ('wh I - IV):
There are four different verbs אוה ('wh), which all appear to express a desire or movement toward something. Noun אי ('i) means coast, which has been mankind's preferred place to settle since time immemorial. Nouns או ('aw), מאוי (ma'away), אוה ('awwa) and תאוה (ta'awa) all mean desire. The noun אות ('ot) means mark or sign, and humanity's earliest marks were not to assert private ownership but rather a collective identity: something to draw toward and gather around. Noun אי ('i) means jackal, and noun איה (ayya) means hawk or falcon. These creatures were possibly named after their supplicatory calls, or else their rapturous method of predation.
The conjunction או ('o) means "or." The interjection אי ('i) expresses regret: "alas!" Adverb אי ('i) may serve as a particle of negation ("to be desired" and thus not so), or as an interrogative adverb, meaning "where?", usually in rhetorical questions. The substantive אין ('ayin) expresses negation or nothingness and occurs hundreds of times in the construct מאין (m'ayin), which literally means "from where is not?", as introduction to a rhetorical question concerning something that is true in all known parts of the world: "where isn't it so that such and such, hmm?"
Altogether Alfred Jones translates the name Bavvai into With The Desire Of The Lord. NOBSE Study Bible Name List seems to at least partially agree with Jones and reads Wisher. BDB Theological Dictionary does not translate and proposes that the name Bavvai is a mis-rendering of the name Benui.