🔼The name Shemaiah: Summary
- Yah Has Heard, Heard Of Yah
- From (1) the verb שמע (shama'), to hear, and (2) יה (yah), the shortened name of the Lord.
🔼The name Shemaiah in the Bible
The name Shemaiah is among the most popular names in the Bible; there is an enormous amount of men named Shemaiah in the Bible, and the following may overlap somewhat. Also note that (as with pretty much every name that ends with יה) the name Shemaiah also exists spelled with a final waw: שמעיהו or Shemaiahu. The Shemaiah(u)'s of the Bible are:
- A writing prophet in the time of king Rehoboam, son of Solomon, whose works are either lost or absorbed into extant texts without credit (2 Chronicles 12:15). This prophet Shemaiah received word from YHWH in which he warned Rehoboam to not enter into battle against Israel, to restore the union he had allowed to disintegrate (1 Kings 12:22, 2 Chronicles 11:2). Rehoboam obeyed the Lord and stood down. Five years into his reign, Jerusalem came under siege by Shishak, king of Egypt, and Shemaiah advised Rehoboam and his council that the enemy was there because Judah had forsaken the Lord. The king and his men humbled themselves, and as a result the Lord wouldn't let them be killed by Shishak (2 Chronicles 12:5-7). Instead, he entered the city and freely looted the temple and the kings house (2 Chronicles 11:9). It stands to reason that at this point in time the Ark of the Covenant was lost, although it remains highly remarkable why no mention of this is made. One explanation is that the theological significance of the silence of the disappearance of the Ark exists on a par with the nature of the Ark itself. In other words: should we ever understand the precise nature of the Ark, its unceremonious evanescence will surely become equally clear.
- A son of Shecaniah who descended from king Solomon (1 Chronicles 3:22). Nehemiah also makes mention of a Shemaiah, son of Shecaniah, who was keeper of Jerusalem's East Gate during the time of the restoration (Nehemiah 3:29). These two Shemaiahs could very well be the same (Second Chronicles, which reports the genealogy of Solomon down to the grand- or great-grandchildren of Shemaiah, was probably written quite late) but Nehemiah doesn't explicitly mention this Shemaiah's royal descent, and that creates credible dubiosity to the notion.
- A man from Simeon (1 Chronicles 4:37).
- A man from Reuben (1 Chronicles 5:4).
- A Merarite Levite, son of Hasshub, who was among the returnees from the Babylonian exile (1 Chronicles 9:14, Nehemiah 11:15).
- A son of Galal and father of Obadiah (1 Chronicles 9:16), who is probably the same as Shammua, son of Galal and father of Abda mentioned by Nehemiah (Nehemiah 11:17).
- A descendant of Elizaphan, who was among the Levites who helped king David to transport the Ark of the Covenant from the house of Obed-edom to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 15:8-11).
- A scribe and the son of Nethanel, a Levite. This Shemaiah recorded the names of the sons of Aaron who were assigned priestly duties under the directorate of king David (1 Chronicles 24:6).
- The first-born son of Obed-edom, whose own sons became the leaders of the entire posterity of Obed-edom (1 Chronicles 26:4-7).
- One of the Levites who toured the territory of Judah as teachers of the Law during the reign of king Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:8). This Shemaiah is spelled with a final waw.
- One of the sons of Jeduthun who helped clean the temple during the restorations of king Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29:14).
- One of the distributers of goods in the priestly cities during the reign of king Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 31:15). This Shemaiah is spelled with a final waw.
- A Levite officer who was among those who contributed to the Passover festival organized by king Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:9). This Shemaiah is spelled with a final waw.
- One of the sons of Adonikam who joined Ezra in the return from the Babylonian exile. (Ezra 8:13). This Shemaiah is probably the same as the one who was among those gathered by Ezra to obtain Levites from Iddo at Casiphia (Ezra 8:16).
- One of the sons of a priest named Harim, who had married and would divorce their foreign wives during the purge of Ezra (Ezra 10:21).
- One of the sons of a regular fellow named Harim, who had also married a foreigner and would divorce her (Ezra 10:31).
- A son of Delaiah who had taken a bribe from Tobiah and Sanballat in order to frighten Nehemiah with talks of the latter's imminent assassination. (Nehemiah 6:10). This Shemaiah and his father Delaiah were obviously of some kind of social elite, and possibly related to the Delaiah and his father Shemaiah whom Jeremiah and Baruch had had to deal with just prior to the exile (Jeremiah 36:12). The Shemaiah mentioned by Jeremiah is spelled with a final waw.
- One of the priests who ratified the Sealed Document of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10:8). Nehemiah doesn't submit this Shemaiah's lineage, so he can be any of the contemporary Shemaiahs.
- One of the priests who returned with Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 12:34), who could be the same as the previous one, and probably is the same as the Shemaiah who partook in the musical festivities surrounding the dedication of the restored wall of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 12:34 and 12:42).
- The grandfather of musician named Zechariah who also partook in the dedication choir (Nehemiah 12:35). Of course this Shemaiah too could be the same as the previous few, but it seems odd that in the middle of the chapter Shemaiah's legacy is finally revealed. This also because this Shemaiah appears to descend from none other than the famous Asaph.
- The father of Uriah from Kiriath-jearim, who was a colleague prophet of Jeremiah and proclaimed much the same dire predictions (Jeremiah 26:20). King Jehoiakim didn't like either man's sayings and had Uriah, who had fled to Egypt, arrested and dragged home to be executed. Although the story doesn't convey the details, Jeremiah was spared through "the hand of Ahikam son of Shaphan" (Jeremiah 26:24). This Shemaiah is spelled with a final waw.
- A Nehelamite and yet another competing proclaimer in the days of Jeremiah. This Shemaiah was crafted in the art that also flourishes in our present age, namely that of inventing prophecies after one's own insights or political leanings and claiming they're from the Lord. But a priest named Zephaniah intercepted one of Shemaiah's mailing letters and read it to Jeremiah. The latter promptly received word from the Living God, who instructed Jeremiah to write a counter-letter, that stated that Shemaiah's was a fraud and that his family line would die out before the restoration came to effect.
🔼Etymology of the name Shemaiah
The name Shemaiah consists of two elements, the final one being יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton יהוה, YHWH, or Yahweh.
The first part of our name comes from the verb שמע (shama'), meaning to hear:
The verb שמע (shama') means to hear and may also mean to understand or obey. Noun שמע (shema') means sound. Nouns שמע (shoma') and שמועה (shemu'a) mean tidings, report or mentions. Noun השמעות (hashma'ut) describes that which is caused to be heard. Noun משמע (mishma') means rumor or a thing heard. Noun משמעת (mishma'at) refers to a group or listeners.
For a meaning of the name Shemaiah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Yahweh Has Heard and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Heard Of The Lord. BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret this name but does list it under the verb שמע (shama'), meaning to hear.