🔼The name Ish-bosheth: Summary
- Man Of Shame
- From (1) the noun איש ('ish), man [of], and (2) the noun בשת (boshet), shame.
🔼The name Ish-bosheth in the Bible
The name Ish-bosheth belongs to one of the sons of Saul, and who was probably the same as Eshbaal. Upon the death of Saul and Jonathan in the battle of Mount Gilboa, the men of Judah anointed David as king over Judah but Saul's military commander Abner anointed Ish-bosheth king over Israel (2 Samuel 2:8-10). This obviously led to a standing conflict during which David's house (captained by Joab) grew stronger and Ish-bosheth's house grew weaker (2 Samuel 3:1).
Despite the deterioration of his king's realm (or possibly because of it), commander Abner grew stronger and at one point openly defied Ish-bosheth (particularly in regard Rizpah, Saul's former concubine). Ish-bosheth became afraid of Abner and rightly so as Abner began secret dealings with David. Just as David and Abner secretly agreed that Abner should depose Ish-bosheth and gather Israel to David, Joab learned that Abner had been seeing David and decided that only killing Abner would guarantee the safety of his monarch.
With Abner dead, Ish-bosheth lost heart and by the hands of Baanah and Rechab, the sons of Rimmon, also his head (2 Samuel 4:6-7), and for the first time all tribes united and submitted to David in peace.
Our name is spelled with a maqqep, or hyphen, except in 2 Samuel 2:8, 2:15, 3:15 and 4:5 (איש בשת).
🔼Etymology of the name Ish-bosheth
The name Ish-bosheth consists of two elements. The first element is the common Hebrew noun איש ('ish), meaning man:
The verb אנש ('anash) appears to emphasize the weakness of the human individual and mankind's consequent tendency to clan up and have strength in numbers first and then in social stratification. It either means to be weak or even to be sick, or it swings the other way and means to be friendly and social. It yields the important noun אנוש ('enosh), man or human male individual who is weak yet social.
In the Bible, societies are feminine (and maternal) and although some scholars insist on a whole other but identical root, the noun אשה ('isha) means woman or wife. And again perhaps from a whole other root or perhaps the same one, the noun איש ('ish) means man, or rather man of; man in some specific function such as "man of war" or "man of the earth." It's also the common word for husband.
Since societies form around central fires (or the "purifying light" of wisdom, which is where the metaphor comes from), the noun אש ('esh), fire, may also derive from this verb.
The second part of our name is the noun בשת (boshet), meaning shame:
The verb יבש (yabesh) means to wither (of plants or body parts). Adjective יבש (yabesh) means dry or dried. Nouns יבשה (yabbasha) and יבשת (yabbashet) refer to dry land.
The verb בוש (bosh) means to be ashamed and nouns בושה (busha), בושה (bosha) and בשת (boshet) mean shame. But although these words are usually translated with shame, humility might be a better word:
Noun מבוש (mabosh) is a rare word that appears to describe a man's private parts, but sexual modesty wasn't imposed upon society until modern times. Instead, our noun relates to the ebbing of bodily fluids from parts celebrated for their periodic retention of it.
A man's private and intuitive will was considered seated in his penis, and a flaccid and docile member demonstrated a considerate and cooperative man. This is also why Greco-Roman statues have such small willies: it reflects the understanding that men of modest private drives form the dry land upon which a society may build her glorious cities.
For a meaning of the name Ish-bosheth, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names read Man Of Shame. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't translate this name but does mention it under the noun בשת (boshet).