🔼The name Dodanim: Summary
- From the verb דדה (dada), to move or lead slowly.
🔼The name Dodanim in the Bible
The name Dodanim occurs only once in the Bible. They are mentioned among the descendants of Javan, son of Japheth, son of Noah (Genesis 10:4). In the parallel text of 1 Chronicles 1:7, the Dodanim are called Rodanim, spelled רודנים.
Some scholars believe that the Chronicler made an error and read a Hebrew ר (resh) for the somewhat similar ד (daleth — which would be comparable to a professional writer today speaking of Oatar instead of Qatar; rather unlikely), and threw an additional ו (waw) in for good measure.
Another possibility is that the Dodanim of old were known as Rodanim in the Chronicler's days. It's even possible that by speaking of Rodanim, the Chronicler indicates that his text is not a copy of but rather a commentary on the established text (comparable to a writer today speaking lamely of Oilar instead of Qatar).
🔼Etymology of the name Dodanim
The name Dodanim appears to be a plural form of a name similar to Dedan, and is closely similar to the name Dedanim. The Dedanim, however, are either descendants of Japheth's brother Ham (Genesis 10:7) or else Jokshan, a son of Abraham and a distant descendant of Japheth's other brother Shem (Genesis 25:3).
It's not immediately clear where the name Dodanim may have come from, but to a Hebrew audience it would have looked related to the following root group:
The root ידד (yadad) has to do with love, and that mostly in the affectionate, physical sense. Adjective ידיד (yadid) means beloved or lovely. Noun ידידות (yedidot) means love, as in "a song of love" and noun ידידות (yedidut), meaning love in the sense of beloved one.
Curiously, an identical verb ידד (yadad II) means to cast a lot and instead of being kin to the previous, it appears to be related to the verb ידה (yada), which originally meant to cast but which evolved to mean to praise.
That our root has to do with physical fondling and love-making is demonstrated by the verb דדה (dada), which means to move slowly. Noun דד (dad) denotes a women's nipple or breast specifically as object of one's husband's interest.
Unused verb דוד (dwd) probably meant to gently swing, dandle, fondle. Noun דוד (dod) or דד (dod) means beloved or loved one, and may also describe one's uncle. The feminine version, דודה (doda), means aunt. Noun דודי (duday) literally means a "love-bringer" and describes a mandrake. Noun דוד (dud) refers to a kind of pot or jar (perhaps one that was rocked or stirred?).
It may or may not be that the noun יד (yad), meaning hand, also has something to do with this root.
For a meaning of the name Dodanim, Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) reads Leaders. Neither BDB Theological Dictionary nor NOBSE Study Bible Name List attempt to interpret this name.