🔼The name Ezbai: Summary
- Scrubber, Cleaner
- From the verb אזב ('azab), to scrub or move to and fro.
- From the verb בזז (bazaz), to plunder or take as spoil.
🔼The name Ezbai in the Bible
The name Ezbai occurs only once in the Bible. He is mentioned as the father of Naarai, who was one of the mighty-men of David (1 Chronicles 11:37). The same list occurs in 2 Samuel 23, but instead of Naarai the son of Ezbai we meet Paarai the Arbite.
🔼Etymology of the name Ezbai
The final letter י (yod) of our name is probably grammatical and may either create an adjective, a possessive form, or may be a remnant of יה (Yah), which is short for יהוה, which is the name YHWH, or Yahweh.
The core of our name is identical to the verb אזב ('zb), which may have to do with a fluttering or scrubbing:
The unused verb אזב ('azab) probably described a scrubbing motion. The derived noun אזוב ('ezob) is usually transliterated as hyssop, which originally described a sort of plant but later became synonymous with soap.
The invention (or discovery) of soap marked a milestone in humanity's collective maturation. It was quickly recognized as a true gift from heaven, which washed away disease and filth as by miracle, and was subsequently thoroughly incorporated in Biblical theology.
Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names), however, believes that our name does not derive from the identical verb אזב ('zb) but rather from the quite different verb בזז (bazaz), meaning to plunder or take as spoil:
The verb בזז (bazaz) means to make light, that is: to lift in the sense of taking something up and away; to plunder or take as spoil. Nouns בז (baz) and בזה (bizza) mean spoil or booty.
Verb בוז (buz) means to make light in the sense of to despise or hold as insignificant. Nouns בוז (buz) and בוזה (buza) mean contempt.
Likewise, verb בזה (baza) means to make light of, to despise, to disdain. Noun בזיון (bizzayon) means contempt.
For a meaning of the name Ezbai, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads an inexplicable Shining (perhaps from being very clean?). Alfred Jones translates our name with Spoil. BDB Theological Dictionary does not offer an interpretation of our name and lists it alphabetically rather than under a specific root.
Here at Abarim Publications we surmise that Ezbai's name commemorated the use of hyssop and means Scrubber or Cleaner, which in Biblical times was obviously a highly distinguished office.