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Sh'maya is a Hebrew from "shem" and "aya": Sky, figuratively, the height or farthest extent of anything. From the particle shem, deriving from the ancient Semitic root ShM -name, light, sound, vibration, atmosphere. The -aya ending indicates that it is without limit. Another more common meaning is "Listen to God". It has been referred to otherwise as:

  • in the Hebrew Bible/Christian Old Testament:
    • Shemaiah, a prophet in the reign of Rehoboam (I Kings 12:22-24)
    • Neh. 3:29
    • a Simeonite (I Chr. 4:37)
    • a priest (Neh. 12:42)
    • a Levite (I Chr. 9:16)
    • I Chr. 9:14; Neh. 11:15
    • a Levite in the time of David, who with 200 of his brethren took part in the bringing up of the ark from Obed-edom to Hebron (I Chr. 15:8)
    • a reference to Moses the Levite (I Chr. 24:6)
    • the eldest son of Obed-edom (I Chr. 26:4-8)
    • a Levite (II Chr. 29:14)
    • a false prophet who hindered the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Neh. 6:10)
    • a prince of Judah who assisted at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 12:34-36)
    • Nehelamite (Dweller of Nehelam) The designation of Shemaiah, a false prophet who went with the captives to Babylon and who opposed Jeremiah (Jer. 29:24, 31-32).
    • one of the Levites whom Jehoshaphat appointed to teach the law (II Chr. 17:8)
    • a Levite appointed to "distribute the oblations of the Lord" (II Chr. 31:15)
    • a Levite (II Chr. 35:9)
    • the father of Urijah the prophet (Jer. 26:20)
    • the father of a prince in the reign of Jehoiakim (Jer. 36:12)

Written works

The second book of Chronicles refers to a "Book of the Prophet Shemaiah". No existing work has been identified with this title (see Lost books of the Old Testament).

This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.