🔼The name Massa: Summary
- Load, Oracle
- From the noun משא (massa'), load or oracle, from the verb נשא (nasa'), to lift up.
🔼The name Massa in the Bible
There is at least one man named Massa in the Bible, and perhaps a location as well:
- The man named Massa is one of the twelve sons of Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar (Genesis 25:14).
- Whether the area called Massa is actually mentioned in the Bible is disputed. None of the popular English, German or Dutch translations of the Bible confirms it, yet BDB Theological Dictionary pronounces Massa the "realm of king Lemuel," the wise man whose proverbs we know as Proverbs 31. Why BDB can even suggest this will become clear below.
🔼Etymology of the name Massa
The name Massa comes from the verb נשא (nasa') and is identical to the nouns משא (massa'), meaning load or burden, and משא (massa') meaning utterance or oracle (and so it comes to pass that king Lemuel of Proverbs 31:1 is either an oracle or he is king of Massa):
Verb נשא (nasa') describes an upward motion, generally of something that is being pulled up and out so as to remove it. This verb occurs very often and can usually be translated with (1) to lift or lift up, (2) to bear or carry, and (3) to take or take away. An identical verb (or rather the same one used in a specialized way) means to loan on interest. The practice of loaning on interest causes the principal sum to slowly but surely evaporate and was prohibited under Mosaic law. A third identical verb (or again the same one) means to deceive or beguile.
Noun משאת (mas'et) reflects all nuances of the parent verb: uprising (of smoke), uplifting (of hands), utterance (of an oracle), a burden or that what's carried. Noun נשיא (nasi') describes a lifted-up one, i.e. (1) a captain or chief, or (2) a mist or vapor. Note this keenly observed connection between paying interest and being formally governed.
Noun משאה (massa'a), describes clouds. It's spelled the same as the noun משאה (mashsha'a), a loan. (It's also spelled the same as משאה, mesho'a, ruin or desolation, from the whole other verb שוא, shw'). Noun משא (mashsha) means a lending on interest. Noun משאון (mashsha'on) means guile. Plural noun משואות (mashshu'ot) means deceptions.
Noun משא (massa') means (1) a load or burden, or (2) utterance or oracle. Noun שיא (si') means loftiness or pride. Noun שאת (se'et) means dignity, swelling or outburst, a rising-up. This noun is spelled the same as שאת (she't), ruin or devastation, from the verb שאה (sha'a), to be noisy or ruinous.
The verb נשה (nasha) is a specialized form of the previous. It either means to lend on interest or to forget, or rather to have a memory slowly evaporate away. Noun נשיה (neshiya) means forgetfulness or oblivion. Noun נשי (neshi) means debt. Noun משה (mashshe) means loan, and is spelled identical to the following.
Verb משה (masha) means to draw or draw out, and appears to specifically describe a drawing out of waters: to extract from water.
For a meaning of the name Massa, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Burden, and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads the elaborate Bearing Patiently.
BDB Theological Dictionary confirms our name is identical to the two words משא, but neither interprets our name, nor lists it under any of the roots נשא. Instead BDB lists our name alphabetically amidst the מ-words. What BDB's objection is against deriving the name Massa from the form נשא is not clear, but whatever it may be, a Hebrew audience wouldn't care much and promptly read the obvious meanings into our name.