I can find multiple possible etymologies for the name Jesse/יִשַׁי Yishai:

  1. "King"
  2. "Wealth/Abundance"
  3. "G-d's gift"
  4. "G-d Exists" [From יש Yesh ("there is"), and יה Yah (the shortened name of יהוה YHWH, the L-rd).] (see below)
  5. "My Husband" [*From איש 'Ish ("man").] (see below)

Which, if any of these, is correct? Is there any consensus upon the origin of the name? Also, if 4. "G-d Exists" is/could be correct, then would יש יהוה be a grammatical correct phrase?


  1. "G-d Exists"

Quote: The word יש yesh, marks existence and can often simply translated as "there is" or "there are". On rare occasions it occurs as a noun, where it demonstrates existence opposed to nothingness.

Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names explains the name Jesse solely through the word יש but seems to derail a bit in the explanation. The word (יש) can't be literally translated in English because it expresses the existence of the word or phrase that follows it.

In Proverbs 8:21 the word occurs so that the literal translation would be something like: the grain houses are full of whatever it is that grain houses get filled with. The latter part is commonly translated with wealth or abundance, but this is implied by the context and not by the word יש.] End Quote.

(They also have a related article on the name Jesiah/Isshiah ישיה, which Wikipedia suggests comes from Yishshayah meaning "Man of Jah")

  1. "My Husband"

Quote: In 1 Chronicles 2:13, Jesse is called by the similar name אישי, Ishi, meaning My Husband (see Genesis 29:32, Hosea 2:16) and it may be that both the names Ishi and Jesse are formed from the word איש ('ish) meaning man.]

  • 1
    "would יש יהוה be a grammatical correct phrase" - yes, Genesis 28:16
    – b a
    Jan 10, 2020 at 10:46
  • @ba Amazing. Thanks! So, taken out of Genesis 28:16, alone, does it mean "G-d Exists"?
    – Johan88
    Jan 10, 2020 at 12:21
  • 1
    In Genesis 28:16 it means God is found in this place (Bethel) specifically, but the two words alone probably could mean that (whether or not this is the meaning of "Jesse")
    – b a
    Jan 10, 2020 at 12:41
  • @ba Thanks so much!
    – Johan88
    Jan 10, 2020 at 13:16

2 Answers 2


I'd sooner suspect that the correct interpretation of ישי - Jesse is "יש שי" meaning "there is a gift", for example, describing the birth of the child - similar to by Leah's naming of her son Issachar - יש שכר" = יששכר" meaning "there is a reward".

  • 1
    Fascinating. Never seen that suggested before.
    – Johan88
    Jan 10, 2020 at 14:15

The name appears in 1st Chronicles 2:13 as אישי, and this was interpreted in דעת מקרא as a shorthand of אישיה - Ishyah - literally "Man of Jah". Compare this to אשבעל - Eshbaal - "Man of Baal" - 4th son of King Saul as the name appears in Chronicles (in Samuel he is called איש בושת - derogatory name to replace the word "Baal").

The Bible does not explain the name, and there is no clear literal interpretation in Hebrew, so it could also be just a given name (as in "David"...)


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