🔼The name Jabesh: Summary
- From the verb יבש (yabesh), to be or become dry.
🔼The name Jabesh in the Bible
The name Jabesh is assigned to one man and a town in the Bible. The man Jabesh is the father of Shallum, who killed and succeeded king Zechariah, son of king Jeroboam of Israel (2 Kings 15:10). He himself is killed and succeeded by Menahem, son of Gadi (15:14). And although most, if not all, sources list this Jabesh as a man, it may very well be that Shallum simply came from the town called Jabesh.
We don't exactly know where this town was supposed to be, or even if there was just one or some. Here they are:
- Only in 1 Chronicles 10 this allusive city is called יבש (Jabesh).
- In 10:12 it's called יביש (Jabish).
- In 1 Samuel 31:12-13 it's called יבש (Jabesh).
- But in 1 Samuel 11:1-10 it's called יביש (Jabish).
- 1 Samuel 11:1, 11:9, 31:11 and 2 Samuel 2:4-5 speak of יביש גלעד (Jabish-gilead)
- Judges 21:8-14, 2 Samuel 21:12 and 1 Chronicles 10:11 say יבש גלעד (Jabesh-gilead).
And it may very well be that this town is the same as Gilead, also of unknown location.
🔼Etymology of the name Jabesh
The name Jabesh and all its variants come from the verb יבש (yabesh), meaning to be or become dry:
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 Jabesh, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Dry. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names offers Dry or Arid.