🔼The name Elnathan: Summary
- God Has Given
- From (1) the word אל ('el), God, and (2) the verb נתן (natan), to give.
🔼The name Elnathan in the Bible
It's not clear how many men named Elnathan there are in the Bible, and that's because of the confusing verse in which, it seems, three separate Elnathans are mentioned: Ezra 8:16. Since Ezra takes the trouble of recording these names, one would expect him to make certain distinctions to keep the three Elnathans apart — perhaps engage in the common custom to mention the names of their fathers, or else their places of birth — but Ezra doesn't, and leaves us with the curious notion that a small group of leaders of returned Israelites contained three men named Elnathan.
And then there is Elnathan, son of Achbor, who worked for king Jehoiachin (Jeremiah 26:22) and served him as counselor (Jeremiah 36:12 and 36:25). He was present when Baruch read the message of Jeremiah to the king's counsel.
Some commentators insist that Elnathan, son of Achbor, is the same as Elnathan, the grandfather of king Jehoiachin, but there is no proof for that or reason to believe it.
🔼Etymology of the name Elnathan
The name Elnathan consists of two elements, the first one being אל (El), either 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 element of our name comes from the verb נתן (natan) meaning to give:
The shape-shifting verb נתן (natan) means to give in a broad bouquet of senses, from regular giving or bestowing, to setting or putting, to transforming one thing or situation into another.
This verb's three nouns מתן (mattan), מתנה (mattana) and מתת (mattat) all mean gift, again broadly ranging from a regular present to an offering to an innate talent (being "gifted").
For a meaning of the name Elnathan, NOBSE Study Bible Name List and BDB Theological Dictionary read God Has Given. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has God Gave.