🔼The name Elisheba: Summary
- God Is An Oath, God Of Oathing, God Of Seven
- From (1) the word אל ('el), God, and (2) the word שבע (shaba), either seven or to swear.
🔼The name Elisheba in the Bible
The beautiful name Elisheba occurs only once in the Bible (not counting the Greek transliteration Elizabeth). Elisheba is the name of the wife of Aaron (Exodus 6:23).
We don't hear anything from Elisheba in the rest of the Bible, but she and Aaron have four sons: Nadab and Abihu are executed by God for offering "strange fire" (Leviticus 10:1-2); Eleazar and Ithamar become major players in the organizational structure of Israel.
🔼Etymology of the name Elisheba
The Hebrew name Elisheba, consists of two parts. The first part is אל (El), either the prominent Canaanite deity whose name became applied to the God of Israel, or the common abbreviation of Elohim, the genus God.
In names אל ('el) usually refers to אלהים ('elohim), that is Elohim, or God, also known as אלה ('eloah). In English, the words 'God' and 'god' exclusively refer to the deity but in Hebrew the words אל ('l) and אלה ('lh) are far more common and may express approach and negation, acts of wailing and pointing, and may even mean oak or terebinth.
The letter י (yod) may either make the previous possessive (such and such of) or the following active (doing such and such). The second part of our name is identical to the name Sheba II, and comes from either שבע (sheba), meaning seven, or שבע (shaba), meaning oath, swear, adjure:
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.
For a meaning of the name Elisheba, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads the same as for Elizabeth, namely God Is An Oath. BDB Theological Dictionary too renders God Is An Oath, and explains it by adding "by which one swears". Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names goes with God Of The Seven, Oath Of My God and God Is Her Oath.
Read our article on the root group אלה ('lh) for a look at the close relationship between the words אל (El), and the verb אלה ('ala), meaning to swear.