🔼The name Maher-shalal-hash-baz: Summary
- Spoil Speeds And Prey Hastens, Great Tech Is Easily Swiped
- From (1) adverb or adjective מהר (maher), quickly, (2) noun שלל (shalal), spoil, (3) verb חוש (hush), to hurry, and (4) בז (baz), booty.
🔼The name Maher-shalal-hash-baz in the Bible
There's only one man named Maher-shalal-hash-baz in the Bible and he is the son of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 8:3). YHWH first dictates Isaiah this name and orders him to write it on a tablet (Isaiah 8:1). Then Isaiah's wife gives birth to a son and the Lord commands Isaiah to name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz, because before he would be able to say mom or dad, the wealth of Aram's capital Damascus and the spoil of Israel's capital Samaria would be carried away by the Assyrians.
🔼Etymology of the name Maher-shalal-hash-baz
The name Maher-shalal-hash-baz consists of four elements:
The first part of our name is the adjective or adverb מהר (maher) meaning quickly or speedily:
The verb מהר (mahar) means to hasten or be quick (i.e. to be very good and what one does). Adjective מהר (maher) means speedy or swift. Identical adverb מהר (maher) means quickly. Adjective מהיר (mahir) means quick and is also used in the meaning of being skilled. Noun מהרה (mehera) means haste or speed.
The noun מהר (mohar) describes the purchasing price of a wife and from this noun derives the denominative verb מהר (mahar), to acquire by paying that particular price. Perhaps these words come from a wholly different verb מהר (mahar), as most dictionaries demand, but perhaps this "price" was not merely some fixed amount of gold but rather a demonstration of a suitor's worthiness, and thus skill and thus quickness.
The second part of our name is probably the noun שלל (shalal), meaning spoil or plunder, from the verb שלל (shalal), meaning to plunder:
The verb שלל (shalal) means to extract, mostly in the sense of to plunder. The noun שלל (shalal) means plunder. Adjective שולל (sholal) means barefoot.
Verb שלה (shala) too means to extract. Noun שליה (shilya) means afterbirth.
Perhaps a second verb שלה (shala) means to be at rest and prosper, although a peaceful existence occurs when one is extracted from the world of toil and turmoil. Nouns שלו (shalu) and שלוה (shalwa) mean prosperity. Adjectives שלי (sheli) and שלו (shalew) mean quiet, private or prosperous.
The third part of our name comes from the verb חוש (hush), meaning to hurry or hasten:
The verb חשש (hashash) means to hurry, or rather to be light-footed and hence quickly moved. Noun חשש (hashash) describes chaff, which proverbially is so light that a breath of wind carries it off swiftly.
Likewise, verb חוש (hush) means to hurry or hasten. Adverb חיש (hish) means quickly.
This verb חוש (hush) may also be used to mean to be agitated, worried or enjoyed. Although some dictionaries demand that this concerns a second, identical verb, it probably isn't and simply describes the situation that arises when people are "inspired" by either joy or fear, break composure and ride their emotions like chaff does wind.
The fourth part of our name is the noun בז (baz), meaning spoil or booty:
The verb בזז (bazaz) means to make light, that is: to lift in the sense of taking something up and away; to plunder or take as spoil. Nouns בז (baz) and בזה (bizza) mean spoil or booty.
Verb בוז (buz) means to make light in the sense of to despise or hold as insignificant. Nouns בוז (buz) and בוזה (buza) mean contempt.
Likewise, verb בזה (baza) means to make light of, to despise, to disdain. Noun בזיון (bizzayon) means contempt.
For a meaning of the name Maher-shalal-hash-baz, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Spoil Speeds, Prey Hastes. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Haste To The Spoil, Quick To The Prey. And BDB Theological Dictionary proposes Swift Is Booty, Speedy Is Prey.
Here at Abarim Publications we doubt that this name consists of an inconsequential doubling of words meaning quick and plunder. Instead, it seems to us that this name warns about the arrogance and false sense of security (hash-baz; being easily made light of) that may arise from an expertise in technology (maher-shalal; being great at extracting): Great Tech Is Easily Swiped
If a couple of high school students figure out a way to vastly improve Google's search algorithm, Google will surely find a way to heist their code and hedge against any possibly retaliation with their in-house legal department. Likewise, Aram's and Israel's vastly superior science and technology (their alphabet, for instance) was up for grabs by anyone with superior military clout.
Lesson learned: before you publish your great invention, make sure you dig in legally. It's much more viable for big companies to hunt for unprotected gems than to wait for someone in-house to come up with something brilliant.