🔼The name Ithiel in the Bible
There are two different men named Ithiel in the Bible, or so it seems:
- A man descended from Benjamin, about whom no further details are known (Nehemiah 11:7).
- One of the two men to whom Agur addressed the writings now known as Proverbs 30. It's not clear whether Agur, Ithiel and Ucal (the other of the two addressees) are actually names or rather epithets. The authors of the Septuagint, Vulgate and most recently the Young Translation didn't think these terms were names and translated them.
🔼Etymology of the name Ithiel
Most commentators agree that the name Ithiel mentioned in Nehemiah 11:7 consists of two elements, the final one being אל (El), the prominent Canaanite deity whose name became applied to the God of Israel, or the common abbreviation of Elohim, the genus God:
The first part of our name is thought to have come from the particle את ('et II), meaning with:
But in the case of Proverbs 30:1, the "name" Ithiel may not be intended as a name but as part of the narration. The אל-part is obviously still El, meaning God, but the first part (which is preceded by the common prefix ל, le, meaning to, towards or onto) is then thought to come from the verb לאה (la'a), meaning to be weary or grieved:
For a meaning of the name Ithiel, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reckon Agur's Ithiel as personal name and translate it with God Is With Me.
BDB Theological Dictionary also appears to favor the name-theory and submits that Ithiel "probably" means With Me Is God. But BDB also mentions the other option, namely that Ithiel is not a name, in which case BDB would settle for I Have Wearied Myself, O God.
The Young Translation reads "I have wearied myself [for] God" in stead of the name Ithiel in Proverbs 30:1.