🔼The name Shashai: Summary
- From the element שש (shesh), which denotes several whitish items.
🔼The name Shashai in the Bible
The name Shashai occurs only once in the Bible, but note that this name is spelled the same as the name Sheshai. Shashai is mentioned as one of the sons of Bani who had married a foreigner, and who would divorce her in the purge of Ezra (Ezra 10:40).
🔼Etymology of the name Shashai
The sources we usually consult are not in agreement about the etymology of the name Shashai. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) believes that this name is derived from a Syrian verb שוש, meaning to dwell. But to a Hebrew audience (especially to those who didn't speak Syriac), the name Shashai would appear to have to do with the following word cluster:
There's an odd correlation between the color white and the number six. The nouns שש (shesh) and שיש (shayish) mean alabaster, which is a whitish translucent material. The identical word שש (shesh) means six. The noun שושן (shushan) describes the lily, which has six leaves and is proverbially white. The adjective ישש (yashesh) or ישיש (yashish) means old or white-haired.
The relatively rare verb שוש (sus) or שיש (sis) means to exult or rejoice, and its nouns ששון (sason) and משוש (masos) mean exultation, joy or gladness. Despite their similarity to the previous, these words seem to have little to do with the number six or being white, which is possibly why these words were pointed differently in the Middle Ages (the previous words have sh-sounds while these words have s-sounds).
The letter י (yod) upon which our name ends, may either create an adjective (alabaster-like or pale), a possessive form (my alabaster), or may be a remnant of יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton יהוה, YHWH, or Yahweh.
For a meaning of the name Shashai, NOBSE Study Bible Name List takes the final yod to be the mark of the adjective and reads Whitish. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names, going with the Syriac verb and taking the final yod to be a mark of the Divine name, proposes Habitation Of The Lord. BDB Theological Dictionary does not offer an interpretation of this name.