🔼The name Shebaniah: Summary
- Yah Rejuvenates, Young In Yah
- Yah Returned, Restore Us O Yah
- From (1) the verb שבן (saban), to be young, and (2) יה (yah), the name of the Lord.
- From (1) the verb שוב (sub), to return, and (2) יה (yah), the name of the Lord.
🔼The name Shebaniah in the Bible
There are at least four men named Shebaniah mentioned in the Bible but it's not entirely clear how many there really were. The following list of men named Shebaniah probably has some overlap:
- One of the Levite musicians who blew trumpets while the Ark of the Covenant was transported from the house of Obed-edom of Gath to Jerusalem during the reign of king David (1 Chronicles 15:24). Here the name Shebaniah is actually Shebaniahu (שבניהו). It's not uncommon for yah-names to also occur as the yahu-variety.
- One (or two) of the Levites who stood on the platform and helped deliver the great sermon related to the rededication of Israel (Nehemiah 9:4-5).
- Three of the subsequent signers of the sealed document (Nehemiah 10:4, 10:10, 10:12). The chances are of course excellent that two of these three are the same as the previous two.
- A head of a priestly household during the incumbency of Joiakim the high priest (Nehemiah 12:14). Again, the chances are excellent that this Shebaniah was one of the previous.
🔼Etymology of the name Shebaniah
The name Shebaniah(u) consists of two elements, the final one being יה (yah) or יהו (yahu), which are both short versions of יהוה or YHWH.
There is no consensus on the source of the first part of our name. The famous classical linguist Gesenius as well as Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) and BDB Theological Dictionary derive it from an otherwise unused verb שבן (saban) that exists in Arabic with the meaning of to be tender or delicate due to one's youth.
A valid second possible origin, and possibly more familiar to a Hebrew audience, is the verb שוב (sub), to return, and associated similar verbs:
The verb שוב (shub) tells of a reversal in motion; the point where an upward motion becomes a downward one, or vice versa, or a westward motion an eastward one, and so on. This very frequently occurring verb is mostly translated with to turn or return, and is often used to mean to convert or return to a more fruitful way of life, and hence to restore, to retrieve or even to abstain, to reply and to repeat. Noun שובה (shuba) means withdrawal; noun שיבה (shiba) means restoration, and noun תשובה (teshuba) means answer. Adjectives שובב (shobab), שובב (shobeb) and משובה (meshuba) mean backsliding, or transitioning from a positive to a negative way of life.
Verb ישב (yashab) means to sit (the act which occurs precisely in between a person's descent and ascent) or to remain or dwell (in between traveling to and from some place). Nouns שבת (shebet) and מושב (moshab) mean both seat or dwelling place. Noun תושב (toshab) means sojourner.
The verb שבת (shabbat) means to rest or cease activity, and the familiar noun שבת (shabbat) means a rest or stoppage. Noun שבת (shebbet) means cessation and is closely similar to the noun שבת (shebet), meaning seat, mentioned above. Noun משבת (mishbat) also means cessation. Denominative verb שבת (shabat) means to keep the Sabbath and the noun שבתון (shabbaton) denotes a sabbatical observance.
Verb שבה (shaba) means to take captive, or to put a halt to someone's preferred trajectory and coerce them to go somewhere else. Nouns שבי (shebi) and שביה (shibya) mean captivity or captives collectively, but with the emphasis on being moved somewhere rather than the static condition of being imprisoned. Likewise, the noun שביה (shebiya) means captive. Noun שבית (shebit) or שבות (shebut) means captivity but since the parent verb speaks of a sudden change of destiny rather than a particular destination, this noun may also be used to mean restoration. The noun שבו (shebo) describes some sort of gem, apparently a real "head-turner."
In Psalm 85:4 occurs the phrase שובנו אלהי, meaning "Restore us, O God," which might express a sentiment that is similar to our name.
For a meaning of the name Shebaniah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List goes with the verb שוב (sub) and reads Yahweh Has Returned Me. Gesenius goes with the verb שבן (saban) and proposes Whom Jehovah Made Tender. Likewise Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Caused To Grow Up Of The Lord. BDB Theological Dictionary does not offer an interpretation of our name but does list it under an otherwise unused (and not translated) root שבן.