🔼The name Dothan: Summary
- Decree, Well
- From a foreign noun דת (dat), which may mean decree or well.
🔼The name Dothan in the Bible
The name Dothan belongs to the town or settlement near which Joseph met up with his brothers (Genesis 37:17; the two spellings דתן, Dothan, and דתין, Dothin, occur both in this verse). Joseph's brothers, however, weren't happy to see him and plotted to kill him. Fortunately for Joseph, they tossed him down a well first and then decided to sell him to a caravan of Ishmaelites on their way from Gilead to Egypt. Fortunately for the brothers, Joseph became viceroy of Egypt and was able to save them from starvation many years later.
The city of Dothan is mentioned once more during the kingdom years, when it appears to have been the hometown of Elisha the prophet (2 Kings 6:13; now spelled דתן). The king of Aram sent his army to capture Elisha because the latter kept telling king Jehoram of Israel where Aram was going to ambush him. When Elisha's servant noticed the city surrounded by Arameans one morning he panicked and cried out for Elisha. The prophet remained calm, said the amazing words, "don't be afraid because our troops are more numerous than theirs," prayed and showed his servant a host of angelic horses and chariots of fire crowding the mountain.
🔼Etymology of the name Dothan
The name Dothan appears to be related to דת, the Chaldean word for well:
The noun דת (dat) means (human) law or decree. It's a foreign loanword, which only occurs in the youngest parts of the Bible. An identical noun from other cognate language may mean well or fountain.
The letter ן (nun) upon which our name ends may have several meanings. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) believes it comes from an Aramaic plural or dual form, and NOBSE Study Bible Name List appears to agree with that.
For a meaning of the name Dothan, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Wells and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Two Cisterns. BDB Theological Dictionary does not offer an interpretation of the name Dothan.