🔼The name Sheva: Summary
- Ravage, Worthless One
- From the verb שוא (sw'), to be emptied or ruined.
🔼The name Sheva in the Bible
The name Sheva occurs technically only once in the Bible, namely in 1 Chronicles 2:49, where Sheva is listed as one of the sons of Maacah, who was one of the concubines of Caleb son of Hezron of Judah.
English translations of the Bible also list a Sheva in 2 Samuel 20:25, but this person is really called Sheya. See our article on that name for a discussion on how this confusion came to pass.
🔼Etymology of the name Sheva
Judging from the wildly differing interpretations of this name it's pretty safe to say that the origin of it is obscure. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) believes that Sheva is a transliterated Arabic name, and means Habitation in Arabic.
For reasons that we can only guess at, NOBSE Study Bible Name List translates this name with Self-Satisfying. And BDB Theological Dictionary lists our name alphabetically and not under any available root, of which there are many.
A Hebrew audience would have linked our name without ado with the familiar and identical roots שוא (sw'), both rather negative, describing either uselessness or devastation:
The verb שית (shyt) means to give, set or place firm. Noun שית (shyt) refers to occupational garb, the dress upon which the profession stands. Noun שת (shat) describes a national foundation; whatever a nation is set on. Noun שית (shayit) collectively describes a kind of plant (perhaps a bottle tree?).
Noun שת (shet) probably also derives from this verb, and appears to refer to human buttocks. It's not often emphasized but our buttocks truly signify our species (apart from our brain). No other animal has buttocks like man, and this handsome feature allows humans to trot literally for days. Given time, humans can outrun pretty much any other animal (including horses and antelope.)
The noun שי (shay) may or may not be related to the previous verb. It denotes a devotional offering made to the Temple by foreigners.
The verb שאה (sha'a) means to roar loudly, and that with destruction in mind. Noun שאון (sha'on) describes the roaring sound of wild waters or armies converging. Noun שאוה (sha'awa) denotes a devastating storm. Nouns שאיה (she'iya) and שאת (she't) mean ruin.
The unused verb שוא (shw') clearly must have meant something similar to the previous. Noun שוא (shaw') means emptiness or nullification. Nouns שוא (shw'), שואה (sho'a), שאה (sho'a), משואה (mesho'a) and משאה (mesho'a) mean ravage, ruin and desolation. Noun תשאה (teshu'a) denotes a sound, probably loud and accompanying destruction.
Verb שוה (shawa) means to be smooth and hence to agree with or to be like. Noun שוה (shaweh) describes a level plain.
Either this same verb or an identical other one means to set or place, and is clearly similar to שית (shyt).
Noun שה (seh) denotes a sheep or goat. This word appears to be like our word "head" as it describes a unit of whatever flock or herd. This noun is sometimes spelled alternatively as שי (shay).
Verb שתה (shata) means to drink. Nouns שתי (sheti) and שתיה (shetiya) mean a drinking. Noun משתה (mishteh) describes a place of or occasion of dinking: a banquet feast.
Despite the various suggestions listed above, a Hebrew audience would probably interpret the name Sheva to mean Ravage or Worthless One.