🔼The name Elpaal: Summary
- God Has Wrought, God Of Doing
- From (1) the word אל ('el), God, and (2) the verb פעל (pa'al), to do.
🔼The name Elpaal in the Bible
The name Elpaal occurs three times in the Bible, but in one context (and one paragraph). The Benjaminite Elpaal was one of the two sons of Shaharaim and Hushim (the other being Abitub; 1 Chronicles 8:11). We don't know to which extend Elpaal and Abitub grew up fatherless, but at some point Shaharaim divorced his wives Hushim and Baara and moved to Moab (1 Chronicles 8:8).
But, burdened by a poor example or not, Elpaal managed to father an enormous array of city-building and war-fighting sons himself. The Chronicler lists twenty-one descendants of Elpaal by name (8:11-18).
🔼Etymology of the name Elpaal
The name Elpaal 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 פעל (pa'al), meaning to do:
The verb פעל (pa'al) means to do in the sense of to do deeds or works or perform moral acts (whether good or bad ones). Noun פעל (po'al), may denote something done or something made, or it denotes the wages of deeds or even the acquisition of treasures. Likewise, noun פעלה (pe'ulla) means work, deed, or wages earned with work or deeds. Noun מפעל (mip'al) means work or a thing made, and noun מפעלה (mip'ala) means deed.
For a meaning of the name Elpaal, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads God Has Wrought. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes God The Maker or God The Reward. And BDB Theological Dictionary reads God Of Doing but adds a question mark, probably to imply that the formal etymology is dubious. It's probably more dubious to assume that any member of a Hebrew audience could have possibly doubted the meaning of this name.