🔼The name Nehushta: Summary
- Of Bronze, Serpentine
- From the noun נחש (nahash), serpent, bronze or oracle.
🔼The name Nehushta in the Bible
The name Nehushta occurs only once in the Bible. She was the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem, and became the mother of the evil king Jehoiachin of Judah (2 Kings 24:8). Since king Jehoiachin was the son of king Jehoiakim, it's reasonable to assume that Jehoiakim at some point married Nehushta (2 Kings 24:6).
After a mere three months of king Jehoiachin's reign, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged Jerusalem and Jehoiachin decided that some face-time with the mighty emperor might help. What set Nebuchadnezzar off isn't told, but perhaps it was the fact that Jehoiachin brought his mother Nehushta along for the negotiations (2 Kings 24:12). The emperor promptly had Jehoiachin and Nehushta (and all accompanying officials and upper and middle class of Jerusalem) arrested and put on transport to Babylon. He also sacked the temple and Solomon's magnificent palace, and might also have either destroyed or swiped the sacred Ark of the Covenant (2 Kings 24:13).
To rule what was left of Jerusalem, he installed Jehoiachin's uncle Mattaniah as vassal king, and changed the latter's name to Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:17). This Zedekiah was the last king of Judah, and when he rebelled against Babylon, he was made to watch his sons slaughtered before he was blinded, fettered and deported (2 Kings 25:7).
After thirty-seven years of imprisonment, king Jehoiachin was released by king Evil-merodach and made chief of the kings-in-exile (2 Kings 25:27). Whether his mother Nehushta was still alive to see the honor of her son somewhat restored, the story doesn't tell.
🔼Etymology of the name Nehushta
The name Nehushta is the noun נחשת (nehoshet), meaning copper or bronze, embellished with an inconsequential final א (aleph). This noun comes from the root group נחשׁ (nahash):
The most fundamental meaning of the root נחש (nahash) is that of intuitive knowledge and near-accidental skill. It describes an ability to achieve a great technological feat — particularly smelting bronze — but crucially without truly understanding what makes the magic happen: the fire or the prayer, the air blasted into the furnace or the zealous faith of the technicians.
Dictionaries commonly spread the following words out over four separate roots, but to the ancients, these words all expressed the same core meaning:
The noun נחש (nahash) is the Bible's most common word for snake. Snakes in the Bible always represent some kind of mental process, usually intuitive and usually impure or otherwise detrimental.
The identical verb נחש (nahash) means to divine or soothsay. Its derived noun, again identical, נחש (nahash) means divination or enchantment.
Either this same verb נחש (nahash), or an identical other one, also appears to have described the production of bronze. It's not used as such in the Bible but the following derivations are: Noun נחשת (nehoshet) refers to copper or bronze, or items made from bronze. Adjective נחוש (nahush) means bronze. And noun נחושה (nehusha) or נחשה (nehusha) means copper or bronze.
For a meaning of the name Nehushta, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Of Bronze and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Brass. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't translate the name Nehushta but does list it under root נחש (nahash III), to produce bronze.