Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
The verb נתן (natan) means to give. This verb is decidedly weak and often changes form so drastically that the root can hardly be recognized. In fact, HAW Theological Wordbook concludes that only the central ת (taw) is stable.
Our verb occurs about 2,000 times in the Bible and its meanings can be grouped into three separate nuances:
- The majority of occurrences of this verb are parallel with our English verb to give, with sub-nuances ranging from handing something to someone (1 Samuel 10:4), to bestowing something on someone (Genesis 24:53), to granting something (Esther 5:3), to permitting something (Genesis 20:6).
- The second group of nuances have to do with putting or setting something; from a ring on someone's finger (Genesis 41:42), or a helmet on one's head (1 Samuel 17:38), to the Ark into a cart (1 Samuel 6:8), or a person in a prison (Jeremiah 37:18), or a woman at a man's side (Genesis 3:16), or God's Spirit upon the Servant (Isaiah 42:1).
- The third group of nuances leans towards the act of making or constituting; from making boys into princes (Isaiah 3:4) to Jerusalem into a ruin (Jeremiah 9:10), or cedars into sycamores (1 Kings 10:27).
This ubiquitous verb yields a mere three derivations that don't occur very often at all:
- The masculine noun מתן (mattan), meaning gift; marriage gifts (Genesis 34:12), offerings (Numbers 18:11) or presents (Proverbs 18:16).
- The feminine version of the previous noun: מתנה (mattana), also meaning gift or offering. This noun is also used to describe the "gift of one's hand", that is one's talent(s) (Deuteronomy 16:17).
- The feminine noun מתת (mattat), meaning gift or reward (Ezekiel 46:5, Ecclesiastes 3:13).
Although this root doesn't produce much nouns or adjectives, it is one of the most fertile roots where names are concerned. No fewer than 21 quite diverse names come from this verb - ranging from Jonathan to Matthew, and covering a total of 72 individual men, 1 town and 1 subdivision of tabernacle-servants.