🔼The name Shemeber: Summary
- Renown Of The Protector, Known For Being Strong
- From (1) the noun שם (shem), name or renown, and (2) the verb אבר ('br), to be strong or to protect.
🔼The name Shemeber in the Bible
The name Shemeber occurs only once in the Bible. King Shemeber of Zeboiim was one of the five Canaanite kings who fought against the Assyrian kings Chedorlaomer and Amraphel and two of their royal buddies in the War of Four Against Five Kings (Genesis 14:2).
How Shemeber came to his demise isn't told, but his coalition was defeated and his colleague kings of Sodom and Gomorrah drowned in the tar pits in the valley of Siddim (Genesis 14:10). His town of Zeboiim was later destroyed along with Sodom and Gomorrah (Deuteronomy 29:23, Hosea 11:8).
🔼Etymology of the name Shemeber
The name Shemeber appears to consist of two elements, and the first one appears to be the noun שם (shem), meaning name:
The noun שם (shem) means name, but the ancients saw one's name as summary of the deeds and traits this person was known for (e.g. He Who Slew Many In The Great War). That means that when Man named the animals (Genesis 2:19), he didn't call them Tom, Dick or Harry but rather consciously reckoned his fellow creatures for their essential natures (which in turn cemented his own).
In case one had no claim to fame, one would be prone to acquire a name that commemorated not one's own deeds but rather some worthy event (e.g. The Great War). Such a person's name would have the function of reminding other people of that memorable event, without in the least suggesting to embody it. Very often people would be named after traits of God (Yah's Grace, El's Wrath), which meant that the bearer was known to proclaim these traits rather than claim to be the embodiment of them.
Since the Creator's invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature can be clearly seen, being understood through what has been made (Romans 1:20), knowing the "Name of God" is the same thing as understanding the whole of creation, which in turn means that a true desire for righteousness leads to science rather than to religion.
Then there is the identical adverb שם (sham), which means here, there, hither or thither. These two words may have accidentally evolved into the same form, but perhaps this adverb served as a sort of pronoun by which an otherwise unnamed or unspecified location was named.
The second part of our name seems to be derived of the root אבר ('br), roughly meaning to be strong:
The verb אבר ('br) means to be strong or firm, particularly in a defensive way (rather than offensive). The derived nouns אבר ('eber) and אברה ('ebra) refer to the pinion(s) that make up a bird's wings, which in turn means that the ancients saw avian wings as means to protect rather than to fly with (the signature trait of angels, hence, is not an ability to fly but a tendency to protect). The verb אבר ('abar) describes activities done with pinions, which is to fly or to protect. The adjective אביר ('abbir), meaning strong in a defensive way; protective.
The name Shemeber appears to be a phrase much alike שם יהוה (shem yhwh), meaning Name Of YHWH (as it appears, for instance in Genesis 4:26), except that instead of referring to YHWH, this name refers to Abir, which is a lesser known divine name.
The name Abir is commonly spelled with a י (yod-vowel), which didn't exist until the time of Solomon and it's perfectly possible that the source of this particular story was written long before that. Should we want to paraphrase this Name Of Abir it would probably have to be something like Renown Of The Protector.
But instead of referring to Abir, this name could obviously also simply refer to the human quality of being strong and protecting, and mean Known For Being Strong.
For a meaning of the Shemeber, NOBSE Study Bible Name List comes up with a painfully aloof Splendor Of Heroism. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has an evenly uninspired Name Of Wing. BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret this name but does list it under שם (shem), meaning name.