🔼The name Jeshishai: Summary
- White Haired, Ancient Of The Lord
- From (1) the adjective ישיש (yashish), white-haired or aged, and possibly (2) יה (yah), the shortened name of the Lord.
🔼The name Jeshishai in the Bible
🔼Etymology of the name Jeshishai
The beautifully symmetrical (even palindromic) name Jeshishai comes from the unused root ישש (yshsh). And because it's unused we don't know what it means, but BDB Theological Dictionary reports equivalent words in Arabic, which mean weak or impotent man. One derivative of this root seems to confirm this idea: ישש (yashesh), meaning aged or decrepit. This word occurs only once, in 2 Chronicles 36:17. A more frequently occurring derivative of our root is the word ישיש (yashish), also meaning aged, but in a much more venerative sense. This word occurs exclusively in the book of Job ("with the aged is wisdom" — Job 12:12, 15:10, 29:8 and 32:6)
Here at Abarim Publications, however, we are privately convinced that whether or not there is a linguistic connection, the word ישש would have probably reminded a Hebrew audience of the words שש (shesh), meaning alabaster, from the root שיש (shayish), meaning alabaster as well. The whiteness of alabaster returns in the whiteness of the temple linen, also called שש (shesh). We're guessing that to the Hebrews the word ישיש (yashish) reflected the white hair of aged men:
There's an odd correlation between the color white and the number six. The nouns שש (shesh) and שיש (shayish) mean alabaster, which is a whitish translucent material. The identical word שש (shesh) means six. The noun שושן (shushan) describes the lily, which has six leaves and is proverbially white. The adjective ישש (yashesh) or ישיש (yashish) means old or white-haired.
The relatively rare verb שוש (sus) or שיש (sis) means to exult or rejoice, and its nouns ששון (sason) and משוש (masos) mean exultation, joy or gladness. Despite their similarity to the previous, these words seem to have little to do with the number six or being white, which is possibly why these words were pointed differently in the Middle Ages (the previous words have sh-sounds while these words have s-sounds).
The name Jeshishai is the word ישיש postfixed with the letter yod. This either makes it possessive (of and old man), or, as Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) proposes, may be a remnant of יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton יהוה, YHWH, or Yahweh.
Hence for a meaning of the name Jeshishai, Jones reads Ancient Of The Lord or (Son) Of An Old Man. NOBSE Study Bible Name List simply reads Aged.