🔼The name Shemida: Summary
- Knowing The Name, Fame Of Knowledge, The Name Knows
- From (1) the noun שם (shem), name or renown, and (2) the noun דע (dea'), knowledge, from the verb ידע (yada'), to know.
🔼The name Shemida in the Bible
There is only one Shemida in the Bible and he is a son of Gilead of Joseph and the progenitor of the Shemidaites (שמידעי; Numbers 26:32, Joshua 17:2). The Chronicler mentions that Shemida had four sons, among whom perhaps the famous Shechem, but no more is known about this man (1 Chronicles 7:19).
🔼Etymology of the name Shemida
The name Shemida consists of two elements, the first one being the noun שם (shem), meaning name or renown (and note that God was known as Hashem, or The 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 is the noun דע (dea'), meaning knowledge:
The verb ידע (yada') means both to know and to have intimate relations (Genesis 4:1, Judges 11:39). Knowledge equals familiarity with truth, which in turn is the only thing all people can agree on, which in turn promotes the search for agreement and modes of expression (rather than mere data). The Bible holds all knowledge in the highest regard. God, after all, is both a God of knowledge (Jeremiah 3:15) and love (1 John 4:7).
Since all truth relates to the Word of God, wisdom begins with the reverence of the Creator (Proverbs 1:7) and learning equals love-making within a marital relation with the Creator (Isaiah 54:5).
Nouns דעה (dea), דע (dea') and דעת (da'at) all mean knowledge. Nouns ידעני (yidde'oni), מודע (moda') and מדעת (moda'at) describe familiarity or kinship. This root's Greek counterpart is γινωσκω (ginosko).
For a meaning of the name Shemida, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Fame Of Knowing and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has the similar Fame Of Knowledge. BDB Theological Dictionary seems to conclude that the shem-part has to do with hashem, or The Name (which would be the name of the Lord, or YHWH) and translates Shemida with The Name Knoweth (and adds a question mark to reflect BDB's never failing uncertainty).
Here at Abarim Publications we surmise that the שם (shem)-part of our name refers to the whole of creation (i.e. the whole of the deeds of the Creator), and that our name Shemida means Knowing The Name, or Having Knowledge Of The Whole Of Creation.