🔼The name Unni in the Bible
There are two men named Unni in the Bible:
- One of the Levites of the second rank, who played the harp tuned to alamoth, during the transportation of the Ark of the Covenant from the house of Obed-edom to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 15:18-20, spelled עני, Unni).
- One of the priests who had returned from the exile in Babylon with Zerubbabel, and who were assigned duties in the restored temple service (Nehemiah 12:9, spelled ענו, Unnu).
🔼Etymology of the name Unni
The name Unni looks like it has to do with any of the root-verbs ענה:
The letter י (yod) upon which our name ends, may either create an adjective (responsive), a possessive form (my affliction), 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 Unni, NOBSE Study Bible Name List goes with ענה I ('ana I), meaning to answer or respond, and takes the final yod to be a truncation of YHWH. Hence NOBSE reads Answering Is With Yahweh.
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names acknowledges the similarity between our name and the adjective עני ('ani) meaning poor or afflicted, from the verb ענה III ('ana III), and reads Afflicted. Jones nevertheless claims the final yod to be "a sign of the Divine name" and adds, "of the Lord".
BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't interpret the name Unni, and lists it alphabetically (and not under our root group ענה), which indicates that BDB deems its etymology unknown. But this is technically speaking. It's safe to assume that a Hebrew audience would scarcely doubt the genuineness of the perceived connection to the root group ענה.