🔼The name Ethni: Summary
- Ethanite, One Of The Perennial
- From an assumed noun אתן ('etan), from the verb יתן (yatan), to flow continuously.
🔼The name Ethni in the Bible
The name Ethni occurs only once in the Bible. The Chronicler mentions him as a son of Zerah (1 Chronicles 6:41). Twenty verses later he mentions a Jeatherai, who is also a son of someone named Zerah. And all these people appear to descend from what appears to be the same Jahath, which appears to invite many commentators to assume that Ethni and Jeatherai are the same person.
Here at Abarim Publications we don't know either, but it appears to us that although sometimes a Biblical character may be endowed with two different names, folks were often named after some collective ancestor, which resulted in many people in one tribe or family having the same name, and even the names of two or three generations being repeated at different times.
🔼Etymology of the name Ethni
The name Ethni looks like it derives from the verb יתן (yatan), or more specifically from its adjective אתן or איתן ('etan), meaning perennial or ever-flowing:
The root תנן (tanan) speaks of luring and scavenging and preying upon the weak and gullible. Verb תנה (tana) means to hire (predominantly of a prostitute) and nouns אתנן ('etnan) and אתנה ('etna) describe the hire of a prostitute.
It should be noted that societies were considered "houses" and their central governments their "house-father". The Bible often uses the prostitute to describe a society, which would typically be a society without central rule and which maintains its fading identity by means of shifting allegiances with neighboring states.
Still, on rare occasions this verb is also used to describe how God displays his splendor in the heavens, presumably to lure humanity to him, even though humanity does not accept the formal knowledge of natural law (that's the Word of God) as their king.
The noun תן (tan) describes some kind of predatory animal, possibly a jackal. Noun תנין (tannin) refers to a mythological aquatic serpentine creature, which appears to dwell in the caustic undertows of human society.
The unused verb יתן (yatan) probably denoted the permanence of flowing water (it does so in cognate languages). The adjective אתן or איתן ('etan) means perennial or ever-flowing.
The noun אתון ('aton), from an assumed root אתן ('atan), describes a female donkey or she-ass. In the ancient world camels signified international trade (like our trucks), horses signified military might (our jeeps), oxen signified heavy farm work or local commerce (our tractors and lorries), and donkeys, particularly female donkeys, signified the spontaneous congress of peaceful and free civilians (our Volkswagens and campers).
Female donkeys were the units of social networks and symbolized both the freedom, peace and prosperity, and the curiosity about and concern for one's neighbor upon which any social network is based. This is why mankind's King rides a donkey (Zechariah 9:9): donkeys mostly carry stories, and mankind's King, obviously, is the Word of God, or the formal manifestation of natural law.
The letter י (yod) upon which our name ends, may either create an adjective (such-and-such-like), a possessive form (my such and such), or may be a remnant of יה (Yah), which is short for יהוה, which is the name YHWH, or Yahweh. Actually, the name Ethni looks like an ethnonym derived from the name Ethan, and could be taken to mean Ethanite.
For a meaning of the name Ethni, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads a rather creative but strikingly apt Liberal. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names goes with the verb תנן (tanan) and reads Reward. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't translate our name.