🔼The name Hannah: Summary
- From the verb חנן (hanan), to be gracious.
🔼The name Hannah in the Bible
As popular the graceful name Hannah is in our day and age, in the Bible it occurs only one. The one Biblical Hannah is the mother of Samuel and wife of Elkanah. The book of Samuel tells the heart-breaking story of Hannah, who was happily married to a man who wasn't all too clever. When she cries on account of her childlessness, Elkanah lamely responds by saying, "Am I not better to you than ten sons?"
No, he wasn't. And the fact that Elkanah was also married to Peninnah, who had children, probably also didn't help Hannah much.
Hannah flees to Shiloh, to seek refuge in the tabernacle complex. There she is met by high priest Eli, who sees her stagger and assumes she's drunk. After Hannah explains herself, Eli offers her peace and expresses his wish that her prayer will be heard. Soon after that, Hannah conceives of Samuel.
🔼Etymology of the name Hannah
The name Hannah comes from חנן (hanan) meaning be gracious or to implore:
The verb חנן (hanan) means to be gracious or to favor. Nouns חן (hen), חנינה (hanina), תחנה (tehinna) and תחנון (tahanun) mean favor or grace. Adverb חנם (hinnam) means freely or gratis, and adjective חנון (hannun) means gracious.
Our name is not a regular word as far as we know — it's not used in the Bible but it may very well have existed anyway — but it would be an ordinary feminine version of the masculine noun חן (hen), meaning favor or grace.
For a meaning of the name Hannah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Graciousness and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Gratuitous Gift, although neither a giving nor the rather inelegant redundancy are implied by the Hebrew.