🔼The name Eliphelehu: Summary
- May God Distinguish Him
- From (1) the word אל ('el), God, and (2) the verb פלה (pala), to distinguish.
🔼The name Eliphelehu in the Bible
There's only one man named Eliphelehu in the Bible, although older translations (KJV, Darby, Young) read Elipheleh. Many names that end with יהו (which our name Eliphelehu doesn't) also exist ending with יה. These -yahu names are commonly transliterated into English as -iah names and it seems probable that old-school scholars decided to be consistent with this. Younger translations (NAS, NIV, JSP, ASV) seem to prefer a strict transliteration and speak of Eliphelehu.
The one and only Elipheleh(u) in the Bible was a Levite of the "second rank," a gatekeeper of David's tabernacle (1 Chronicles 15:18) and a musician whose harp was tuned to sheminith (1 Chronicles 15:21).
🔼Etymology of the name Eliphelehu
The name Eliphelehu consists of two elements, the first one being 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 פלה (pala), meaning to distinguish or separate:
Root פלל (palal) is all about distinguishing and discerning, and often emphasizes representation of something unseen or not present. It's frequently used in the sense of to entreat or pray on someone's behalf.
Noun תפלה (tepilla) means prayer. Noun פליל (palil) describes an inspector or umpire and noun פלילה (pelila) refers to the place at which an umpire operates; a judge's office. Adjective פלילי (pelili) means "for a judge" or "to be judged" and noun פליליה (peliliya) means verdict or assessment. Noun פול (pol) means beans (and was probably imported but fits right in).
Verb פלה (pala) means to be distinct or separated. Pronoun פלני (peloni) refers to "a certain person/place."
Verb פלא (pala') means to be extraordinary. Nouns פלא (pele') and מפלאה (mipla'a) refer to extraordinary things or deeds. Adjective פלאי (pil'i) means extraordinary.
Verb אפל ('pl) means to disappear, depart or set (of the sun). Nouns אפל ('opel), אפלה ('apela), מאפל (ma'apel) and מאפליה (ma'pelya) mean darkness. Adjective אפל ('apel) means gloomy. Adjective אפיל ('apil) means late or belated (i.e. long unseen).
Verb נפל (napal) means to fall (down, down to, into or upon). The plural form נפלים (napalim) literally means 'fallen ones' or 'settled ones'.
Noun נפל (nepel) refers to an abortion or untimely birth. Noun מפל (mappal) describes that what falls. Nouns מפלה (mappala) and מפלה (mappela) mean ruin, and noun מפלת (mapplet) refers to a ruined thing or a falling.
These two elements are tied together by the letter י (yod), which may either indicate an active form of the verb (he pala's), or a possessive form (El of).
For a meaning of the name Eliphelehu, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Whom God Makes Distinguished. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes God Distinguishes Him. And BDB Theological Dictionary has May God Distinguish Him.