🔼The name Mica(h): Summary
- Mica: Who's A Coward
- Micah: Who's Dimming?
- Mica: From (1) the particle of inquisition מי (mi), who, and (2) the verb כאה (ka'a), to be disheartened.
- Micah: From (1) the particle of inquisition מי (mi), who, and (2) the verb כהה (kaha), to dim.
🔼The name Micah in the Bible
The name Mica(h) is the accepted abbreviated form of the name Michaiah (like what Rick is to Richard). The different spellings (either with the he or with the aleph) demonstrate the weakness or softness of both letters, especially when they are used for the notation of a vowel. In that case these letters become almost freely interchangeable without substantially altering the name (like our John, Jon, Joan, Jean, Jan, Janna, Jane).
However, the Hebrew language is far too majestic and potent to allow any kind of change without a very good reason or some extra magic. Even though both names derive of Michaiah, meaning Who Is Like YHWH (like the name Michael — meaning Who Is Like El?), there is additional meaning to the abbreviation, which turns the name into a little poem.
The Mica's (מיכא) mentioned in the Bible are:
- The son of Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:12).
- A descendant of Asaph (1 Chronicles 9:15).
- One among the signers of Ezra's covenant (Nehemiah 10:11), who may or may not be the same Mica as:
- The father of a certain overseer (Nehemiah 11:22).
The Micah's (מיכה) that are mentioned are:
- A man living in the hill country of Ephraim, whose house-priest and idols are purloined by a band of wandering Danites on their way to sack Laish (Judges 17:5 to 18:31; in Judges 17:1 and 17:4 he is called מיכיהו, Micaiahu). Read our article on the Exodus for a closer look at this story.
- A descendant of Reuben (1 Chronicles 5:5).
- The son of Merib-baal according to the Chronicler (1 Chronicles 8:34-35 and 9:40-41).
- A descendant of Kohath (1 Chronicles 23:20 and 24:24-25).
- A son of Imla and the prophet from Moresheth who wrote the book of Micah (Micah 1:1). He lived at the time of kings Jehoshaphat and Ahab, and was otherwise known as Michaiah (2 Chronicles 18:14) and מיכהו or Micahu (2 Chronicles 18:8). The prophet Jeremiah refers to him as Micaiah the Morashtite (Jeremiah 26:18).
- The father of one of king Josiah's adjutants who is also known as Michaiah (2 Chronicles 34:20 and 2 Kings 22:12).
- The father of Mattaniah, a Levite at the time of the post-exilic restoration (Nehemiah 11:17).
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Micah
The name Mica(h) consists of two parts. The first bit is מי (mi), the common inquisitive particle that seeks after identity: who?:
The interrogative pronoun מה (ma) asks "what?" Its counterpart מי (mi) asks "who?" The latter pronoun is spelled the same as the construct-plural form of מים (mayim) and thus also means "waters of ...". Its opposite, namely dry land, signifies certainty and mental footing. A similar particle מו (mo) combines with the usual prefixes to form poetic equivalents of these particles.
Then, for Mica, the second part is כא, which doesn't exist in the Bible, but which can be easily constructed from the verb כאה (ka'a), meaning to be disheartened or frightened:
The verb כאה (ka'a) is a rare verb that describes to be disheartened. The even rarer adjective כאה (ka'eh) means cowed.
Which makes the name Mica like a rhetorical response to the name Michaiah: Who Is Like YHWH? (and as a show of trust in him:) Who Is Afraid?
For Micah the second part of the name is כה, which is equal to the word כה (koh), the demonstrative adverb of manner, place or time: thus, here, making Micah to mean Who's There? But, more attractively, כה may also be seen as to come from כהה (kaha), to dim or faint. In Arabic this verb means to grow disheartened, which makes it quite adjacent to the verb כאה:
The verb כהה (kaha) means to dim or darken (often of eyesight). Adjective כהה (keheh) means dim, dull or faint. Noun כהה (keha) describes a lessening or alleviating.
That way the name Micah is like Mica, and asks Who's A Wuss? or Who's Dimming?
For a meaning of the name Mica(h), NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Who Is Like Yahweh? Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads a rather enigmatic Who Is Like Unto The Lord? Both obviously treat the name Mica(h) as if it were Michaiah.