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Allow Me to Explain (26 of 439) – Are You My Father?

July 28, 2011

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26. Who was Amasa’s father? 2 Sam 17:25 vs. 1 Chron 2:17

It was exciting, there, for a little while.

2 Samuel 17:25
And Absalom made Amasa captain of the army instead of Joab. This Amasa was the son of a man whose name was Jithra, an Israelite, who had gone in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother.

1 Chronicles 2:17
Abigail bore Amasa; and the father of Amasa was Jether the Ishmaelite.

Some of you are looking at the names “Jithra” and “Jether,” and remembering that Hebrew is not a Roman language, and rolling your eyes. I salute you.

It is two different words in the Hebrew. Technically.

The name in 2 Samuel is transliterated as “Yithra,” and the name in 1 Chronicles is transliterated, “Yether.” Both come from the same root word, though: “yather.”

Nine times it’s translated “Jether” or “Jethro,” which literally means, “Moses father-in-law,” according to the New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance.

One time – in 2 Samuel 17:25 – it’s translated “Jithra,” which means, “father of Amasa.”

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible remarks, “Ithra” and “Jether” are practically the same names. Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testment calls “Jether”, “a contracted form of Jithra.”

So there was Jethro, Moses’ actual father-in-law, who became a respected figure in Israeli history and people named their sons Jether in his honor. One time, one of those Jethers is referred to as Jithra to emphasize that he was Amasa’s father.

Why? I don’t know, but consider the context: Amasa being made captain of Israel’s army. It’s a proud moment. It’s a, “That’s my boy” kind of occasion, and it’s being recorded for people to read over the next several thousand years.

Take off the Western lens. We use names as labels. A lot of cultures use names as descriptors. That’s why relationships are often given when it’s important to know who we’re talking about. We know that we’re talking about the same guy because of the relationships referenced, not because each character of the names is exactly identical. Different cultures.

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