🔼The name Adriel: Summary
- Flock Of God, My Help Is God
- From (1) either the verb עדר ('adar), to help, or the noun עדר ('eder), flock, and (2) the word אל ('el), God.
🔼The name Adriel in the Bible
The only Adriel in the Bible is probably also one of the most unfortunate characters in the Bible, along with his wife Merab (1 Samuel 18:19). Merab is the elder of two daughters of king Saul, and Saul generously promises Merab to David. Then David says something that makes Saul change his mind and she goes to Adriel the Meholathite, son of Barzillai. David nevertheless becomes Saul's son-in-law when he marries Michal, the younger of the two.
Much later, after Saul's death and David's coronation, a famine breaks out and David learns from God that this is due to Saul's bloody treatment of the townsfolk of Gibeon (2 Samuel 21). David inquires of the Gibeonites what they would consider a fair recompense and they request seven descendants of Saul to be executed. David chooses two sons of Rizpah, Saul's concubine, and the five sons of Merab and Adriel. The story tells that Rizpah guarded the corpses of her sons from animals day and night for months. After the massacre of their five sons, Merab and Adriel are mentioned no more.
🔼Etymology of the name Adriel
In names אל ('el) usually refers to אלהים ('elohim), that is Elohim, or God, also known as אלה ('eloah). In English, the words 'God' and 'god' exclusively refer to the deity but in Hebrew the words אל ('l) and אלה ('lh) are far more common and may express approach and negation, acts of wailing and pointing, and may even mean oak or terebinth.
The first part of the name Adriel is open for interpretation, although it surely comes from the verb cluster עדר (adar):
The verb עדר (adar) means to lack or fail (or loiter in Arabic). Its odd derivative, the noun עדר (eder), describes a flock or herd — perhaps because a flock proverbially wanders after the shepherd and its members are prone to be picked off by predators.
This verb, or an identical second one, may also mean to hoe: to drag forth a tool and pick off weeds. Noun מעדר (ma'der) means a hoe.
The various sources are divided about which root leads to our name Adriel. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) thinks it's related to the Hebrew name Ader, usually translated with Flock, and reads Flock Of God for Adriel.
BDB Theological Dictionary and NOBSE Study Bible Name List go with the Aramaic meaning and read My Help Is God, also because the Hebrew variants of this assumed Aramaic name — namely Azriel and Azarel — are quite popular in the Bible.