🔼The name Waheb: Summary
- Gift, Beloved
- From the verb יהב (yahab), to give, or אהב ('aheb), to love.
🔼The name Waheb in the Bible
It's not clear whether the name Waheb (or Vaheb) actually exists in the Bible. If it does, it does so in Numbers 21:14, which quotes from the elusive Book of the Wars of YHWH: את־והב בסופה, which in modern times is commonly translated as "Waheb in Suphah," although the KJV reads "What he did in the Red sea," after the Septuagint and Vulgate, which read the same. Although the name Suphah may derive from the word for "reed" and the Reed Sea is commonly interpreted as the Red Sea, there are several problems with either interpretation.
It's very rare for Biblical names to start with a ו (waw) and names that do are either Persian or erroneously deemed names. It is, namely, very common for a sentence or statement to start with a ו (waw) because that particle is the common particle of conjunction (usually translatable with "and" or "but"). The particle את ('et) is also very common ( read our article on that particle) and it commonly either marks the accusative in a sentence or it's meant to mean "with". The problem is that even these two particles are among the most frequently occurring elements of the Hebrew language, they never occur together (they only occur together in two cases with the name ושתי, or Vashti, and once in Exodus 36:38 with the word וו, meaning hook; never does את precede ו when the latter serves as conjunctive).
Since את commonly marks the accusative, the phrase את־והב בסופה appears to be only the final end of a sentence that's been cut in half. Why the author of Numbers, who quoted from the Book of the Wars of YHWH, may have decided to begin his quote half-way a sentence is not explained. Some scholars declare that either the author or a later copying scribe made an error and accidentally left the opening part of our sentence out. To others is seems obvious that by his half-quote, the author is trying to convey something that we don't understand (yet).
We don't have the Book of the Wars of YHWH anymore, so we don't know what it was. But it seems plausible that it told the advancement of Yahwism (which is not a religion but the study of how creation works; a kind of proto-science) as a "war" fought by Yahwists against the various religions. The Torah tells the same story, but as a journey of a people that adhered to natural law (which leads to harmony, prosperity and completion) and away from cultures that adhered to artificial law (which can only lead to sickness, conflict and demise).
🔼Etymology of the name Waheb
Whether it's a name or not, waheb probably comes from the verb יהב (yahab), meaning to give:
The verb אהב ('aheb) means to love, which in the Bible describes an active motion toward, rather than an inert swooning. The participle of this verb is often used in the sense of friend. Nouns אהב ('ahab), אהב ('ohab) and אהבה ('ahaba) mean love.
Verb יהב (yahab) describes a motion toward but including a degree of generosity: to give. It often occurs in forms that drop the first letter: הב or הבה or הבו or הבי. And that makes it in some cases difficult to establish whether the word is a verbal expression of יהב (yahab), to give, or אהב ('aheb), to love.
Noun יהב (yehab) describes a thing given; a gift or a lot. Noun הבהב (habhab) probably means gifts but may in fact derive from the verb אהב ('aheb) rather than יהב (yahab).
To a Hebrew audience, the name Waheb probably meant something like Gift or Beloved.