🔼The name Elkoshite: Summary
- One Snared By God
- From (1) the word אל ('el), God, and (2) the verb קוש (qush), to snare.
🔼The name Elkoshite in the Bible
The ethnonym Elkoshite occurs only once in the Bible and is a bit of a mystery. It's ascribed to Nahum the Elkoshite, who wrote the book of Nahum, and would technically denote someone from Elkosh.
No place called Elkosh is mentioned in the Bible, but there is a town called Capernaum, and that name means Village of Nahum. It is of course perfectly possible that Elkosh was renamed Capernaum in honor of its famous son, but that too is not told.
🔼Etymology of the name Elkoshite
It's not clear how the name Elkosh(ite) is formed, but the standard approach to a name like this is to assume that the אל part denotes 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 looks like it might have something to do with the verb קוש (qush), meaning to lure or lay bait:
The verb יקש (yaqosh) means to lay bait or a snare to catch animals, and over time came to include the figurative "snaring" a person with alluring enticements. Nouns יקוש (yaqosh) and יקוש (yaqush) describe a snarer or fowler. Noun מוקש (moqesh) means either bait or snare. Verb קוש (qush) also means to snare and is probably a by-form of the previous.
The name Elkosh means something like God Snares, so the ethnonym Elkoshite would mean One Snared By God. For a meaning of the ethnonym Elkoshite, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes God My Bow, which seems plausible in a technical sense but a tad hard to explain practically.
Neither NOBSE Study Bible Name List nor BDB Theological Dictionary offers their suggestions to what this name might mean.