The name has puzzled scholars. Some have proposed, by adding one letter, to change it into "father of his people." Others have observed that the Greek rendering in Kings is Abeiou. Either the Hebrew copy used by the Greek translator read 'abhiyahu, Abijah, or else the translator substituted the form of the name which was to him more familiar. A few existing copies of the Hebrew have the reading Abijah, and Matthew 1:7 presupposes that as the Old Testament reading. So they infer that Abijam in Ki is an erroneous reading for Abijah. This seems at present to be the prevailing view, and it is plausible. It would be more convincing, however, if the name occurred but once in the passage in Kings, instead of occurring five times. It is improbable that a scribe would repeat the same error five times within a few sentences, while a translator, if he changed the name once, would of course change it the other four times.
Exploration has revealed the fact that the whole region near the eastern end of the Mediterranean was known as "the west." "Father of the west" is not an inapt name for Rehoboam to give to the boy who, he expects, will inherit the kingdom of Solomon and David. The effect of the secession of the ten tribes was to make that name a burlesque, and one does not wonder that it was superseded by Abijah, "My father is Yahweh."
Willis J. Beecher
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