Tish'bite (Heb. Tishbi', תַּשׁבַּי, apparently a gentile adj.; Sept. θεσβίτης ; Vulg. Thesbites), the constant designation of the prophet Elijah (1Ki 17:1; 1Ki 21:17,28; 2Ki 1:3,8; 2Ki 9:36). The following explanations have been given of this obscure epithet:
1. The name naturally points to a place called Tish-bah, Tishbeh, Tishbi, or rather perhaps Tesheb, as the residence of the prophet. Indeed, the word מתשבי, which follows it in. 1Ki 17:1, and which in the received Hebrew text is so pointed as to mean "from fie residents," may, without violence or grammatical impropriety, be pointed to read "from Tishbi." This latter reading" appears to have been followed by the Sept. (Vat. ὁ θεσβείτης ὁ ἐκ θεσβῶν), Josephus (Ant. 8:13, 2, πόλεως θεσβώνης), and the Targ. (דַּמתּוֹשָׁב, "from out of Toshab" ); and it has the support of Ewald (Gesch. 3, 468, note). It is also supported by the fact, which seems to have escaped notice, that the word does not in this passage contain the ו which is present in each one of the places where תּוֹשָׁב is used as a mere appellative noun. Had the ו been present in 1Ki 17:1, the interpretation "from Tishbi" could never have been proposed.
Assuming, however, that a town is alluded to as Elijah's native place, it is not necessary to infer that it was itself in Gilead, as Epiphanius, Adrichomius, Castell, and others have imagined; for the word תּוֹשָׁב, which in the A. V. is rendered by the general term "inhabitant," has really the special force of "resident" or even "stranger." This and the fact that a place with a similar name is not elsewhere mentioned have induced the commentators, geographers, and lexicographers, with few exceptions, to adopt the name "Tishbite" as referring to the place THISBE (θισβή) in Naphtali, which is found in the Sept. text of Tobit 1, 2. 'the difficulty in the way of this is the great uncertainty in which the text of that passage is involved-an uncertainty quite sufficient to destroy any dependence upon it as a topographical record, although it bears the traces of having originally been extremely minute. Bunsen (Bibelwerk, note to 1Ki 17:1) suggests in support of the reading "the Tishbite from Tishbi of Gilead" (which, however, he does not adopt in his text) that the place may have been purposely so described, in order to distinguish it from the town of the same name in Galilee.
2. But התשבי has not always been read as a proper name, referring to a place. Like מתשבי, though exactly in reverse, it has been pointed so as to make it mean "the stranger." This is done by Michaelis in the text of his interesting Bibel für Ungelehrten — "Der Fremdling Elia, einer von de Fremden, die in Gilead wohnhaft waren;" and it throws a new and impressive air around the prophet, who was so emphatically the champion of the God of Israel. But this suggestion does not appear to have been adopted by any other interpreter, ancient or modern.
The numerical value of the letters תשבי is 712, on which account, and also doubtless with a view to its correspondence with his own name, Elias Levita entitled his work, in. which 712 words are explained, Sepher Tishbi (Bartolocci, 1, 140 b). SEE ELIJAH.