🔼The name Athlai: Summary
- Unclear but perhaps Yah Is Exalted or Afflicted Of Yah
- From (1) the verb עתל ('atal), to exalt or deal violently with, and (2) יה (yah), the name of the Lord.
🔼The name Athlai in the Bible
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Athlai
The name Athlai (עתלי) is probably a contraction of the name Athaliah (עתליה), and would likewise consist of two elements. The final י (yod) might be a remnant of יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton; the name of the Lord: YHWH.
The origin of the first part of our name is disputed as the section עתל ('tl) doesn't occur anywhere in the Hebrew Bible:
The verb עתן ('atan) is not used in the Bible but it may be equivalent to an Arabic verb that means to deal violently with, and from which derives a word for lion.
The verb עתל ('atal) is equally mysterious, and may be a variant of עתן ('atan) and mean the same thing, or it may be cognate to an Assyrian verb that means to grow great or exalted.
And ultimately, these verbs may stem from an underlying idea that growing great and inflicting violence often coincides.
Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) refers to the Arabic verb that means to handle violently, and translates our name with Afflicted Of The Lord (while, curiously, he equates Athlai with Athaliah and translates the latter with Taken Away Of The Lord).
BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't propose a translation of either name but equates them without ado and proposes origins in the Assyrian verb that means to grow great, and a related adjective that means great or exalted.
NOBSE Study Bible Name List agrees with BDB where the name Athaliah is concerned but reads Yahweh Is Strong for Athlai, which seems to favor the Arabic take on it.