The Power of a Name: Batsheva, Daughter of the Oath

What is the power of a name? The ancient Egyptians believed that one could gain power over a God by knowing its name. Other cultures and spiritual paths believe knowing the name of an entity can help repel or dispel it. What about our names? There are many aspects of ancient and biblical life that have been altered to fit a certain perspective. Certain names, places, social and ethnic identities were changed to fit a more European outlook. Elie Wiesel wrote that, “In Jewish history, a name has its own history and its own memory. It connects to beings with their origins.” I believe we can apply that concept to all of us not just in the context of Hebrew and Jewish history. There is a meaning and a story behind all of our names that, although these names were chosen for us, unlocks a deeper journey about who we are. How has our name shaped us?

Bathsheba is the European biblical translation of Batsheva which means “daughter of the oath.”
However, Batsheva was not always the given name. Jewish boys and girls to this day still go through a ritual called a Bar or Batmitzvah. “Bat” means daughter, “Bar” means son, and “Mitzvah” means commandment. The word Bar/Batmitzvah literally translates to Son/Daughter of the commandment. When the boy or girl comes of age, through this ritual they are considered a Jewish adult and make a commitment to their faith, God, and their community. Like Catholics undergo confirmation, some choose to add or change their name. When Batsheva came of age, we can gather this was a few years before 1000 B.C. when name changing was more common than it was today. I attribute this to the fact that people were more in touch with God and his will for humanity. This commitment signified Batsheva becoming a Jewish adult and coming of age as a woman.

Before Batsheva reached mitzvah, the name given was Batshua which means “daughter of the seven” or “daughter of seven.” Some have argued that Batshua also means “daughter of prosperity.” Other than Batsheva’s brother Machir who fought alongside David against King Saul and intervened during Absalom’s rebellion on David’s behalf, we do not know of any other children Eliam (Batsheva’s father) may have had. Considering certain details were left out of the final compilation of the Bible, you could argue there could be five other children we don’t know about. However, “daughter of the seven” carries a much more significant meaning in my opinion.

The number 7 is associated with divinity, royalty, consciousness, enlightenment, psychic abilities, power, and most often with God. The number 7 for many is a sign of God’s favor or presence in their life. The number 7 also corresponds to the 7 archangels which are as follows:
1. Michael
2. Gabriel
3. Raphael
4. Uriel
5. Selaphiel
6. Raguel
7. Brachial

Having a name that literally means “the daughter of THE seven” can and most likely does carry the energy of all seven archangels. Talk about powerful, but it goes even deeper than that. Let’s talk about Batsheva’s family line. We don’t hear of any other women in Batsheva’s life; only men.

Family Ties

Ahitophel is Batsheva’s grandfather who was one of King David’s chief counselors. It is written in the Torah and Talmud that Ahitophel was not only a counselor but was consulted as somewhat of an oracle as well. However, Ahitophel not only withheld mystic and divine wisdom from David, but his thirst for power led him to desert the King and support his son Absalom’s revolt (which I will get to in a minute).

Eliam, Ahitophel’s son, is Batsheva’s father who was one of David’s 37 mighty men who led David’s army. It is unclear where Eliam stood during Absalom’s revolt. If we’re being honest, most of the men in Batsheva’s life disappeared after her marriage to David, especially in any positive capacity with the exception of Machir.

Machir is Batsheva’s brother. Machir fought alongside David against King Saul. Machir also provided David and his household with food and supplies when they fled from Jerusalem during Absalom’s revolt. He does not seem to be consistently present nor does he play a prominent role in Batsheva’s life. We don’t hear much about him, but it seems that he is mentioned several other times in the bible coming to King David’s aid.

Uriah was Batsheva’s first husband who was killed in the line of battle, purposefully, to cover up her affair with King David. He was not only one of the 37 mighty men, but he was also close with the King even before David took the throne. Uriah was an honorable and loyal man, subject, and husband. His death incited the prophecy delivered to Nathan which sparked several tragedies in the coming years including the death of Batsheva’s first born.

Rise to Power

Ahitophel and Eliam held powerful positions in the kingdom. More specifically, Ahitophel held a very powerful place at court. One could argue that Batshua possibly meaning “daughter of prosperity” could signify a patriarchal hope that Batsheva would bring prosperity and further power to their family. Women in ancient times did not hold positions of power, for the most part, such as men. Women were most useful when they were married to men of power. In this case, Batsheva’s first husband, Uriah, was one of the 37. This marriage put their family even closer to the King, and I’m sure that they were living much more comfortably the closer they became.

Ahitophel was jealous of the king, and, as mentioned previously, withheld divine wisdom from the King. His knowledge of astrology misled him into believing that he was destined to be king which is one of the main driving forces behind his support of Absalom. In reality, his astrological findings prophesied that Batsheva would become Queen. I find this interesting considering the name choice. Again, Batshua carries the power of the seven archangels, the number seven, and in some translations may mean “daughter of prosperity.”

The name Batshua, in the prosperous and royal sense, does not only mean prosperity through her presence or actions. In addition to being as politically involved as a woman could be at that time, Batsheva’s son Solomon was one of the greatest Kings Israel had ever seen. Under Solomon’s rule Israel thrived.

The name Batsheva meaning “daughter of the oath” one could take as an oath of spirituality or devotion to God. Coupling the meaning with Batsheva taking this name at the time of Batmitzvah definitely packs a punch. Daughter of the oath also signified Batsheva’s commitment to God before and after both David and Uriah.

Additionally, Proverbs 31 is not only penned about Batsheva by Solomon but was authored by Batsheva as well.  “Daughter of the Oath” signifying at this point as an oath to being a godly, righteous, and virtuous Queen, wife, and mother. (Read Proverbs 31) The path that Batsheva’s sons took in comparison to King David’s children with his other wives is drastically different. While Absalom, Adonijah, and Amnon were all taught to seize power (and their actions display as such in scripture), Batsheva’s sons were taught to seek the Lord. There are multiple references to Solomon spending ample amount of time with the prophet Nathan, and none of the four sons (Solomon, Shimea, Nathan, and Shobab) are recorded in relation to any such scandal or attempted usurping of power.

I would encourage any one reading this to delve into the meaning of their own name as it sets us on a journey of self discovery which is what this months shift is all about. Do not dwell on the past. Instead, understand your past so that you may maximize your future.

Love,

Sheva

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