🔼The name Ishmerai: Summary
- Vigilant, Yah Keeps
- From (1) the verb שמר (shamar), to keep or guard, and possibly (2) יה (yah), the shortened name of the Lord.
🔼The name Ishmerai in the Bible
The name Ishmerai occurs only once in the Bible. He is mentioned as one of the sons of Elpaal, son of Shaharaim of Benjamin and his wife Hushim (1 Chronicles 8:18). And that's all we know about this man.
🔼Etymology of the name Ishmerai
The name Ishmerai consists of two elements. The first part is an active form of the verb שמר (shamar), meaning to keep, guard, observe or give heed:
The verb שמר (shamar) means to guard or to exercise great care over. Noun שמרה (shomra) means guard. Noun שמר (shimmur) means night watch. Noun אשמורה ('ashmura) or אשמרת ('ashmoret) refers to the night watch as unit of time. Noun משמר (mishmar) describes the "place or agent" of guarding, which may come down to either a prison or a guard, but it may also describe the keeping on some religious observances or something like that. Noun משמרת (mishmeret), literally meaning "with the function of watching," used in the sense of a charge or obligation; an official function of guarding. Noun שמרה (shemura) describes an eyelid.
Noun שמר (shemer) describes the dregs or residue that collects at the bottom of a bottle of wine. This word may stem from a whole other root, or it reflects the similarity between patiently standing through a night watch and a bottle ageing in a rack. This word may also describe a stagnant heart, either as a heart in which dregs settle out or a heart that's carefully guarded.
Noun שמיר (shamir) describes some kind of wild, thorny vegetation that covers large areas. Again, this noun may stem from a whole other verb, but a hedge of thorns is not unlike a perimeter peopled by armed guards, or even a tender heart that's guarded by sarcasm and a proneness to insult.
The noun שמור (shamor), fennel, equals the Greek noun μαραθον (marathon), and Greece's victory at the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) made the whole world Greek.
The letter י (yod) upon which our name ends, may either create an adjective (guard-like), a possessive form (my guard), or may be a remnant of יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton יהוה, YHWH, or Yahweh.
Both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names deem the final yod of our name to be a remnant of YHWH. For a meaning of the name Ishmerai, NOBSE reads Yahweh Keeps, and Jones has He Will Be Kept Of The Lord. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't offer an interpretation of our name but does list it under the verb שמר (shamar).