🔼The name Kallai: Summary
- Sparky, Frivolous
- From the verb קלה (qala), to be lightly esteemed or to roast.
🔼The name Kallai in the Bible
The name Kallai occurs only once in the Bible. Nehemiah mentions him as one of the family leaders in the days of Joiakim the high priest. Kallai is the head of the family named after Sallai (Nehemiah 12:20).
🔼Etymology of the name Kallai
The name Kallai comes from the verb קלל or קלה:
The verb קלל (qalal) means to be light-weight and hence to be swift or trifling. It's the opposite of being weighty and thus important or glorious. Adjective קל (qal) means light or swift. Noun קל (qol) means lightness or frivolity. Noun קללה (qelala) means "a making light" or a dishonoring. Adjective קלקל (qeloqel) means contemptible or worthless. Noun קיקלון (qiqalon) means disgrace.
Likewise, verb קלה (qala) means to be lightly esteemed or dishonored. Noun קלון (qalon) means shame or dishonor. Surprisingly hip, this verb may also be used in the sense of to roast or burn. Noun קלי (qali) denotes parched grain, which was a common staple in Biblical times.
The letter י (yod) upon which our name ends, may either create an adjective (lightly), a possessive form (my frivolity), 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.
For a meaning of the name Kallai, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Smith, but that's impossible to defend. It may be that the otherwise respectable NOBSE Name List contains a typo, as Kallai is listed right after Kain, which means Smith but which NOBSE does not translate.
Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) takes our name's final י (yod) to be a remnant of יהוה and reads Lightly Esteemed Of God (which is inconsistent; Jones should have read Lightly Esteemed Of The Lord).
BDB Theological Dictionary does not translate our name but does list it under the verb קלל.