I get that Tishbite is a reference to a place or a people, like Uzziah the Hittite or Job from the land of Uz. Job is a major character to be sure, and Uz is like Tishbe in Gilead, a rather unknown quantity. If I remember correctly the phrase Tishbe in Gilead is a later LXX addition. At any rate, most major characters are named in the pattern (Name) son of (Father'sName). Elijah just seems to show up out of nowhere, as if everyone is supposed to know him already.

Are there examples of similar introductions of people in the Hebrew Bible?

  • His successor John the baptist springs to mind. Commented Jan 21 at 2:05
  • What is Saul of Tarsus and Jesus of Nazareth?
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 21 at 23:20

1 Answer 1


Eiljah is not oddly named. His parentage is not given, so he is identified by his place of origin:

1 King 3

Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”

The location of Tishe is not known. The word seems to be related to the word for sojourner. But his home was in the territory of Gilead, traditionally believed by many to be on the brook of Cherith, north of the Jabbok River. (see point # 5 on the map)

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The word "Tishbite" may be inaccurate but we have a similar example in the New Testament: Mary Magdalene, probably (but not certainly) coming for the town of Magdala on the Sea of Galilee. Thus, Elijah's name followed the normal biblical convention for people whose parentage were not known. Another major character identified by place rather than family origin is the Philistine giant Goliath of Gath (1 Samuel 17:4). For that matter, Jesus was not known as "son of Joseph" but as "Jesus of Nazareth."

However, since the OP asks for people named as oddly as Elijah was, we might mention Judas Iscariot. There are a number of possible explanations for his surname. One likely candidate, coincidentally, is that he was named for the very stream on which Elijah made his home: the Brook of Kherit' (Cherith). By the time this was rendered into Greek it became "Iscariot," similar to our word "Cypriot" for a person from Cyprus.

  • Good answer. We also have Saul of Tarsus and Jesus of Nazareth
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 21 at 3:52

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