🔼The name Shimrith: Summary
- Vigilant, Guarded
- From the verb שמר (shamar), to keep or guard.
🔼The name Shimrith in the Bible
The one and only Shimrith of the Bible is the Moabite mother of Jehozabad, who conspired with Zabad (or Jozabad), the son of Shimeath the Ammonitess, to assassinate king Joash of Judah (2 Chronicles 24:26). In the parallel text of 2 Kings 12:21 Jehozabad is said to be a son of Shomer, and it's most plausible that Shomer was not his father but his mother. The names Shomer and Shimrith are closely related.
🔼Etymology of the name Shimrith
The name Shimrith comes from the verb שמר (shamar):
The verb שמר (shamar) means to guard or to exercise great care over. Noun שמרה (shomra) means guard. Noun שמר (shimmur) means night watch. Noun אשמורה ('ashmura) or אשמרת ('ashmoret) refers to the night watch as unit of time. Noun משמר (mishmar) describes the "place or agent" of guarding, which may come down to either a prison or a guard, but it may also describe the keeping on some religious observances or something like that. Noun משמרת (mishmeret), literally meaning "with the function of watching," used in the sense of a charge or obligation; an official function of guarding. Noun שמרה (shemura) describes an eyelid.
Noun שמר (shemer) describes the dregs or residue that collects at the bottom of a bottle of wine. This word may stem from a whole other root, or it reflects the similarity between patiently standing through a night watch and a bottle ageing in a rack. This word may also describe a stagnant heart, either as a heart in which dregs settle out or a heart that's carefully guarded.
Noun שמיר (shamir) describes some kind of wild, thorny vegetation that covers large areas. Again, this noun may stem from a whole other verb, but a hedge of thorns is not unlike a perimeter peopled by armed guards, or even a tender heart that's guarded by sarcasm and a proneness to insult.
The noun שמור (shamor), fennel, equals the Greek noun μαραθον (marathon), and Greece's victory at the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) made the whole world Greek.
How this name ended up with a yod-taw ending isn't clear, but this name was constructed long before this story was written. And back then, the letter taw sometimes existed where in the younger Hebrew of the story, the letter he occurs. This name may thus come from the noun shomra, which was then shomrath, and the yod may have been inserted for flavor. With a similar theory the name Elath may be explained.
For a meaning of the name Shimrith, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Vigilant. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Guarded. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't translate this name but lists it under שמר I.