🔼The name Sheya: Summary
- Loftiness, Pride
- From the noun שיא (si'), loftiness or pride, from the verb נשא (nasa'), to lift up.
🔼The name Sheya in the Bible
The name Sheya occurs only once in the Bible, that is to say: in the Hebrew Bible the way it was handed down from antiquity. When in the middle ages the Masoretes began to interpret the Hebrew Scriptures and expand it with the vowels they figured it needed, they also hunted for words that they thought were incorrect. Those words were marked with the label Kethib (= what's written) and the assumed correct word was penned in the margin under the label Qere (= what should be read).
For some reason, the Masoretes couldn't abide the name Sheya and corrected it as Sheva (שוא) and thus every modern English translation speaks of Sheva, whereas for an evenly obscure reason the German and Dutch translations dapperly print Sheja.
What is even more curious is that Sheya was one of at least three names of one and the same person, namely an eminent scribe at the court of king David (2 Samuel 20:25). In 2 Samuel 8:17 this man is called Seraiah, in 1 Chronicles 18:16 he's called Shavsha, and it may be that the Shisha mentioned in 1 Kings 4:3 is again the same man.
🔼Etymology of the name Sheya
Here at Abarim Publications we usually try to look at as many opinions as are available but because confusion about this name abounds, it's difficult to find a commentary on or explanation that even mentions it. But the form שיא occurs once more in the Bible, namely as the masculine noun שיא (si'), meaning loftiness or pride (Job 20:6 only), from the verb נשא (nasa'), meaning to lift up:
Verb נשא (nasa') describes an upward motion, generally of something that is being pulled up and out so as to remove it. This verb occurs very often and can usually be translated with (1) to lift or lift up, (2) to bear or carry, and (3) to take or take away. An identical verb (or rather the same one used in a specialized way) means to loan on interest. The practice of loaning on interest causes the principal sum to slowly but surely evaporate and was prohibited under Mosaic law. A third identical verb (or again the same one) means to deceive or beguile.
Noun משאת (mas'et) reflects all nuances of the parent verb: uprising (of smoke), uplifting (of hands), utterance (of an oracle), a burden or that what's carried. Noun נשיא (nasi') describes a lifted-up one, i.e. (1) a captain or chief, or (2) a mist or vapor. Note this keenly observed connection between paying interest and being formally governed.
Noun משאה (massa'a), describes clouds. It's spelled the same as the noun משאה (mashsha'a), a loan. (It's also spelled the same as משאה, mesho'a, ruin or desolation, from the whole other verb שוא, shw'). Noun משא (mashsha) means a lending on interest. Noun משאון (mashsha'on) means guile. Plural noun משואות (mashshu'ot) means deceptions.
Noun משא (massa') means (1) a load or burden, or (2) utterance or oracle. Noun שיא (si') means loftiness or pride. Noun שאת (se'et) means dignity, swelling or outburst, a rising-up. This noun is spelled the same as שאת (she't), ruin or devastation, from the verb שאה (sha'a), to be noisy or ruinous.
The verb נשה (nasha) is a specialized form of the previous. It either means to lend on interest or to forget, or rather to have a memory slowly evaporate away. Noun נשיה (neshiya) means forgetfulness or oblivion. Noun נשי (neshi) means debt. Noun משה (mashshe) means loan, and is spelled identical to the following.
Verb משה (masha) means to draw or draw out, and appears to specifically describe a drawing out of waters: to extract from water.
None of the sources we routinely consult recognizes the name Sheya, but it appears to mean Loftiness, and that seems quite fitting a name for a royal scribe.