[b-hebrew] Theophoric names
jkilmon at historian.net
Fri Feb 22 15:44:54 EST 2013
From: Uri Hurwitz
Sent: Friday, February 22, 2013 1:56 PM
To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [b-hebrew] Theophoric names
What about Moses' mother YKBD, Yocheved, where the theophoric element of
the name is the prefix? By tradition David and his court follow Moses by
The prefix YW- or YHW is quite common in such names, though in most
yahwistic personal names the divine name appears as a suffix. It does not
change the meaning. Cf. Jonathan and N'tanyahu.
The suffixes -YHW or -YH have the same meaning; the first suffix is most
prevalent in pre-exilic inscriptions such as seals or bullae. The second is
exclusive in post-exilic inscriptions.
A similar trend appears in biblical texts, but more gradually.
I have always been interested in the custom of theophorics and what appears
to be a pattern. During the 1st temple period, there was no problem voicing
the name of God. When the theophoric was a prefix to a name, it appears to
have been יְהֹו "Yeho" (yod-tsere) such as Yeho-shua, Yeho-nathan,
Yeho-sef, Yeho-Yakhin, and as a suffix, Yirmi-yahu, Yesha-yahu, Hizqi-yahu.
Inscriptions on bullae or LMLK impressions reveal the full suffix
theophoric, i.e. חִזְקִיָּהוּ hzqyhw while the Biblical translations are
"HezekYAH. I think the 2nd temple prohibition on the Shem haMeforash
resulted in truncations, such as Ye-shua for Yehoshua, Yo-sef for Yeho-sef,
Yesha-ya for Yesha-yahu (Isaiah). Does anyone else see this pattern for
theophoric use and its altered praxis post-exilic? Does the prefix YE-ho
and suffix YA-hu tell us anything about the actual voicing of YHWH?
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