Nabal's Name

Discussion in 'OT Historical Books' started by bookslover, Jul 18, 2019.

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  1. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    It seems obvious to me that Nabal (1 Samuel 25) must be the man's nickname or an epithet he earned from others due to his despicable personality and actions.

    No new mother would take her newborn son in her arms and say to her husband, "Honey, let's call him Fool."

    So, it must be an earned-later-in-life epithet.

    As far as I know, the commentaries don't deal with this - unless I missed one.
     
  2. Timotheos

    Timotheos Puritan Board Freshman

    The Bible practices the hermeneutic of nomen est omen. The point of the story or name is NOT to probe back into his momma's decisions. It is to point out the character of the man.
     
  3. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Granted, but does that mean nobody actually called him Nabal? If we say that, it seems we run the risk of treating the account as a fable to learn from but not an accurate report of an actual historical happening. How do you deal with that problem?
     
  4. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    I think there are a couple possibilities (other than it being the name he always had):

    1. It was the name by which he was known since Hebrew often represents one's nature in a name. It may not have been his actual name since sometimes names were changed to better represent one's nature (Jehoahaz =Ahaz (dropping the theophoric element)). Other examples would be Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel.

    2. It could have been a shortened form of what he was named as a child, such as "let him not grow up to be a fool" (suggested by New Bible Dictionary under "Name").
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
  5. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    It's Laban backwards. I think it's reasonable to conjecture that his real name was Laban.
     
  6. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Nabal, with different vowels, could mean a storage container or a musical instrument. Who knows (who cares) what his parents might have thought?

    Maybe he was simply a singing jar-head whose name morphed into his character.

    Edit: After posting, I realized it may have come across as harsh. Not at all--I was trying to make a joke. I've often wondered the same thing as the OP.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
  7. Timotheos

    Timotheos Puritan Board Freshman

    That is not the purpose of theological history (aka biblical narrative). I grant the historicity of the event (given Scripture is inspired). But I also grant that Scripture is what is inspired not the event behind the text. Therefore, there may be interpretive value in probing into background matters. But theology is derived from the text and the things "necessarily contained" (as my confession puts it) or things of "necessary consequence" (as WCF puts it). So why put an undue burden on the text when its intention is not to handle those matters?
     
  8. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    We just have to remember that he was called Nabal by his contemporaries.

    1 Sam. 25:25: "Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him! But I, your maidservant, did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent."
     
  9. Timotheos

    Timotheos Puritan Board Freshman

    Which is my point. The purpose of the text is not to postulate what his momma named him, though that can be an amusing venture. The text doesn't answer that question, so I don't seek to bend the text to answer it. The narrative purpose functions much differently.
     
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