🔼The name Mahavite: Summary
- Places Of Assembly, He Who Gathers
- From the verb חוה (hawa), to lay out in order to live collectively.
🔼The name Mahavite in the Bible
There's only one Mahavite in the Bible, and he is Eliel, one of the mighty-men of David (1 Chronicles 11:46). It's actually very strange that we know only one Mahavite, because the name only occurs in plural, preceded by the definite article: המחוים; the Mahavim. We also don't know where a Mahavite would come from; perhaps from an otherwise unknown place called מחו or מחה?
BDB Theological Dictionary entertains a few wild guesses from a few wild theologians: Perhaps this המחוים is a misprint and it should read המחני, which would denote someone from מחנים (Mahanaim). Or perhaps it should have read המעוני, which is Meunite; someone from Maon or Baal-meon.
We simply don't know what this strange plural ethnonym is doing here, but also note that the name Eliel occurs twice in close succession: 1 Chronicles 11:46 and 11:47. All this seems to suggest we're looking at a scribal error.
🔼Etymology of the name Mahavite
The compound המחוים consists of the definite article ה plus מחוים, which appears to be a plural adjective constructed from a noun מחו or מחוה. And that noun looks like it consists of the preposition מ, meaning "place of" or "instrument of" plus the root חוה:
The verb חוה (hawa) means to lay out in order to live collectively, and describes investing one's personal sovereignty into a living collective like a symbiont. It's mostly translated as to prostrate, which is to submit oneself wholly and bodily to a collective or to the leader of that collective.
Another form of laying out is in proclaiming information that will lead to greater oneness among the hearers. The noun אחוה ('ahwah) means declaration, and is identical to the noun אחוה ('ahawa) meaning brotherhood.
Noun חוה (hawwa) describes a tent village, or the most rudimentary collective that operates as a living, symbiotic whole.
Of all credible sources we usually consult, only Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names dares to propose a translation of the name Mahavite (or rather, the plural Mahavim). Jones takes the preposition to mean "place of", and the חוה-part to refer to a tent village. Put in plural, Jones translates this name with Places Of Assembly. If we would apply the preposition to Eliel, this name could mean The One Who Gathers. Both explanations are long shots, though.