🔼The name Elhanan: Summary
- God Has Been Gracious
- From (1) the word אל ('el), God, and (2) the verb חנן (hanan), to be gracious.
🔼The name Elhanan in the Bible
It's not clear whether there are one or two men named Elhanan in the Bible, but if there are two, they are coincidently both from Bethlehem, both fighting men working for David at more or less the same time:
- A son of Jaare-oregim of Bethlehem (2 Samuel 21:19) also known as simply Jair (1 Chronicles 20:5). According to 2 Samuel, this Elhanan fought with David's army against the Philistines, and killed Goliath the Gittite (son and namesake of the famous Goliath) at the battle of Gob. According to the Chronicler, Elhanan killed Lahmi, the brother of the famous Goliath. Perhaps he killed both. Perhaps Lahmi was the deceased Goliath's legal representative (via, say, a Philistine equivalent of levirate law or something similar). And perhaps there's more going on in these texts than meets the eye, and will be revealed when the field of Scripture Theory develops further.
- A son of Dodo of Bethlehem, and one of David's celebrated mighty-men (2 Samuel 23:24, 1 Chronicles 11:26).
🔼Etymology of the name Elhanan
The name Elhanan consists of two elements. The first part of our name refers to אל ('el), the prominent Canaanite deity whose name became applied to the God of Israel, or the common abbreviation of Elohim, the genus God:
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 second part of our name comes from the verb חנן (hanan), meaning to be gracious:
The verb חנן (hanan) means to be gracious or to favor. Nouns חן (hen), חנינה (hanina), תחנה (tehinna) and תחנון (tahanun) mean favor or grace. Adverb חנם (hinnam) means freely or gratis, and adjective חנון (hannun) means gracious.
For a meaning of the name Elhanan, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and BDB Theological Dictionary read God Has Been Gracious. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Whom God Graciously Gave.