Heb. ʾāb, ‘father’ (a primitive Semitic noun, with idiosyncratic plurals), is of unknown etymology but is widely taken to represent a child’s early stammer. ʾĀb and its congeners refer to the biological or social father—ancestral figure, protector—and are used as an honorary title for men of importance, such as elders or the king, and for deities. In the Bible, ‘father’ occurs frequently as a divine epithet and as a theophoric element in personal names.
In religious conceptions…