🔼The two names Sheba
There are two completely different names in the Bible that both transliterate into English as Sheba — something similar happens with the names אצר (Ezer I) and אזר (Ezer II), or נח (Noah I) and נעח (Noah II).
We'll call our two different names Sheba I (שבע, spelled with an ayin) and Sheba II (שבא, spelled with an aleph):
🔼The name Sheba I: Summary
- Seven, Oath
- From שבע (shaba), seven or to swear.
🔼The name Sheba I in the Bible
The name Sheba-with-ayin is ascribed to:
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Sheba I
This name Sheba is identical to the words שבע (sheba'), meaning seven and שבע (shaba'), meaning to swear (an oath):
The root שבע (sb'), which in modern medieval times became pointed as שׁבע (shaba'), has to do with the number seven and the act of binding with an oath (i.e. with a proverbial seven seals or seven bonds).
Nouns שבע (sheba') and שבעה (shib'a) mean 7 and their plural שבעים (shib'im) means 70. The dual form שבעתים (shib'atayim), means sevenfold or seven times. Adjectives שביעית (shebi'it) and שביעי (shebi'i) mean seventh.
The noun שבע (sheba'), meaning seven, became the verb שבע (shaba'), meaning to bind with an oath. Subsequent nouns שבועה (shebu'a) and שבעה (shebu'a) mean oath.
The identical root שבע (sb'), which in modern medieval times became pointed as שׂבע (saba'), means to be sated or satisfied, either with food and such or with any act, deed, quality or phenomenon. Nouns שבע (soba'), שבע (saba'), and שבעה (sab'a or sib'a) mean satiety, fullness, contentment and so on.
This version of the name Sheba means either Seven or Oath.
🔼The name Sheba II: Summary
- Unknown, but perhaps Man, Drunk, Captive, Splinter, Seven or Oath
🔼The name Sheba II in the Bible
The name Sheba-with-aleph belongs to:
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Sheba II
This name Sheba is according to Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names comparable with an Ethiopic word meaning 'man'. And so, for a meaning of this name Sheba, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Man.
BDB Theological Dictionary sees relations with a verb that means to make campaign or expedition, but lists סבא (saba), meaning to imbibe (see the name Seba).
The name may even have to do with שבה (shaba) to take captive.
The noun שבא is used in the Aramaic Talmud to mean splinter, a possible derivative (says BDB Theological Dictionary) from the unused שבב (shbb I & II), which yields שבבים (shebabim from root I), splinters, and שביב (shabib from root II), flame.
And then, there are scholars (for instance those who compiled the NOBSE Study Bible Name List), who seem to assume that the name שבא is nothing but the name שבע (Sheba I) spelled slightly different but nevertheless with the unadulterated meaning of Seven or Oath.