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I came across this person's name while I was studying Numbers 1:15 and found it so odd they were named as such:

"...from Naphtali, Ahira the son of Enan.”

Per Strong's concordance, Ahira means "brother of wrong" or "my brother is evil".

How in the world did ancient Jewish naming conventions go? It seems so odd for a leader to be named as since it's a red flag the person may not have the best character or traits for the role.

Any insight would help as I do not want to depend on Google sources.

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  • We do not know if that was the birth name or a name he was given later in life. Many Hebrews had a name other than their birth name because of some significant incident in their lives. This example appears to be one of the latter. However, we are not told and do not know.
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 9, 2021 at 0:24

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Israelite Naming Conventions per Numbers 1:15

While Israelite names did have meaning, the translation of "brother of wrong" or "my brother is evil" may be inaccurate.

[Disclosure: I am not an expert on Hebrew, but I will offer what I have researched.]

The original Hebrew name is אֲחִירַע, Ahira or Achira, (Strong's H299). Strong's show its roots are אָח, a brother, (Strong's H251) and רַע, bad or evil, (Strong's H7451).

Original Hebrew did not have any vowels. The niqqud, or vowel pointing, that is used today was created by the Masoretes. So if we look at the second half of the name, the ra could be one of several other meanings as seen in Strong's

  • רַע ra (H7451a) – bad, evil
  • רַע ra (H7451b) – evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity
  • רֵעַ rea (H7452) – perhaps shouting, roar
  • רֵעַ rea (H7453) – friend, companion, fellow
  • רֵעַ rea (H7454) – purpose, aim
  • רֹעַ roa (H7455) – badness, evil

Easton's Bible Dictionary shows Ahira translated as "my brother is friend".

TruthUnity.net translates as "brother of nourishment; brother shepherd"

Hitchcock's Names Dictionary translates as "brother of iniquity; brother of the shepherd"

So as we can see, the problem in translation is the lack of vowels to indicate what exactly the Hebrew is in modern English. While an immediate translation would render the name as "brother of wrong" or "my brother is evil", a more detailed translation could be as those mentioned above.

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