🔼The name Heldai in the Bible
There are two men named Heldai in the Bible:
- Heldai the Netophathite of Othniel, who was one of the twelve commanders who cycled through the divisions of David's army (1 Chronicles 27:15). BDB Theological Dictionary insists that this Heldai is the same as mighty-man Heled the son of Baanah the Netophathite (1 Chronicles 11:30), who is most probably the same as mighty-man Heleb, son of Baanah the Netophathite (2 Samuel 23:29). But a Netophathite is someone from Netophah, so the Othniel associated with Heldai is either a village that Heldai moved to after originating in Netophah, or Othniel is a town that is part of the cluster of villages of the Netophathites, or Othniel is a second name of Baanah (in which case we would expect the construction "son of Othniel" and not merely "of Othniel"). Or Heldai and Heled/Heleb are simply not the same person. The latter option seems the most plausible.
- One of the Babylonian returnees who were asked to donate silver and gold, so that Zechariah could make a crown for Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest after the exile (Zechariah 6:10). Strangely, in Zechariah 6:14 occurs a comparable cluster of names but not Heldai but a man named Helem is mentioned. Perhaps Heldai and Helem are the same; perhaps something else is going on. See our article on the name Helem II for a brief discussion on this.
🔼Etymology of the name Heldai
The name Heldai comes from either of the two roots חלד (hld):
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) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton יהוה, YHWH, or Yahweh.
For a meaning of the name Heldai, NOBSE Study Bible Name List appears to go with חלד I, and takes the י (yod) to be an adjective-maker. Hence NOBSE reads the rather inaccurate Worldly. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names follows the same root, but appears to ignore the final י (while Jones categorically deems a final י to be the "mark of the Divine name" ). And so Jones reads Life or Age. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't interpret our name but lists it, together with the other חלד-names under root חלד II. Following BDB's classification, Heldai would mean My Mole, or Mole-like.