🔼The name Elkanah: Summary
- God Has Acquired
- From (1) the word אל ('el), God, and (2) the verb קנה (qaneh), to acquire.
🔼The name Elkanah in the Bible
The name Elkanah is assigned ten times in the Bible, but most famous is Elkanah the father of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1). Elkanah was a Levite who lived in Ephraim (see 1 Chronicles 6:33). When Elkanah's wife Hannah appeared to be unable to conceive, Elkanah tried to comfort her with the words, "Am I not better to you than ten sons?" Hannah's reply is not recorded, other than her subsequent hysteric flight into the temple.
Other Elkanahs are:
- A son of Korah (Exodus 6:24).
- A son of Kohath (1 Chronicles 6:23).
- The previous Elkanah's own son (1 Chronicles 6:27).
- A mighty-man of David (1 Chronicles 12:6).
- Two Kohathite musicians (1 Chronicles 6:34 and 6:36).
- The ancestor of a Levite who returned from the Babylonian exile (1 Chronicles 9:16).
- An unfortunate officer under king Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:7).
- A gatekeeper of the Ark (1 Chronicles 15:23).
🔼Etymology of the name Elkanah
The name Elkanah consists of two parts:
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 comes from the root קנן (qanan), to weave strands into webs:
The verb קנן (qanan) isn't used in the Bible but it appears to tell of the weaving of many strands into a dynamic and interlocked network. These strands may be reeds and twigs that a bird weaves into a nest, or it may be acts of trade and routes of commerce that together combine into a bustling economy. Noun קן (qen) means nest, and verb קנן (qinnen) means to make a nest.
Verb קנה (qana) means to obtain, i.e. to acquire or in some instances to create. It's the regular verb for a commercial purchase. Noun קנין (qinyan) describes an item acquired (or created). Noun מקנה (migneh) means cattle (as unit of commerce). Noun מקנה (miqna) means purchase or purchase-price. Noun קנה (qaneh) denotes some herb on a stalk, or any rod, reed, branch- or stalk-like item (in this sense, a plant "acquires" its branches).
The verb קין (qyn), which isn't used in the Bible, occurs in cognate language with the meaning of to fit together, fabricate or forge (often of metal things). In the Bible occurs only the noun קין (qayin), meaning spear. Note that our modern word "franchise" comes from a word that meant spear, and originally denoted a free man, i.e. one who had the authority to bear arms, own property and thus conduct trade. The earliest republican government of Rome was called curia, literally spear-bearers, and the link between bearing a spear or other such ceremonial weapon and a senatorial government (a government by tribal elders) appears to have been pretty much globally understood throughout history.
Noun קינה (qina) denotes a kind of sad poem; a dirge or lamentation, which both had to be fabricated and could, presumably, pierce a person's soul like a spear (which is an obvious Biblical figure of speech; see Luke 2:35). The denominative verb קונן (qonen) means to do a dirge, which could be either to chant or compose one.
The verb תקן (taqan) means to make or become straight.
For a meaning of the name Elkanah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads God Has Possessed. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads God Has Redeemed, and submits a lengthy defense on why the name Elkanah cannot mean God Has Created because the verb קנה never means to create.
BDB Theological Dictionary is not impressed with Jones and renders God Has Created or God Has Taken Possession.
Here at Abarim Publications we like to emphasize the commercial element of this name go with God Has Acquired.