🔼The name Heldai: Summary
- Earthy, Mole-Like
- From the verb חלד (halad), to be an earthling.
🔼The name Heldai in the Bible
There are two men named Heldai in the Bible:
- Heldai the Netophathite of Othniel, who was one of the twelve commanders who cycled through the divisions of David's army (1 Chronicles 27:15). BDB Theological Dictionary insists that this Heldai is the same as mighty-man Heled the son of Baanah the Netophathite (1 Chronicles 11:30), who is most probably the same as mighty-man Heleb, son of Baanah the Netophathite (2 Samuel 23:29). But a Netophathite is someone from Netophah, so the Othniel associated with Heldai is either a village that Heldai moved to after originating in Netophah, or Othniel is a town that is part of the cluster of villages of the Netophathites, or Othniel is a second name of Baanah (in which case we would expect the construction "son of Othniel" and not merely "of Othniel"). Or Heldai and Heled/Heleb are simply not the same person. The latter option seems the most plausible.
- One of the Babylonian returnees who were asked to donate silver and gold, so that Zechariah could make a crown for Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest after the exile (Zechariah 6:10). Strangely, in Zechariah 6:14 occurs a comparable cluster of names but not Heldai but a man named Helem is mentioned. Perhaps Heldai and Helem are the same; perhaps something else is going on. See our article on the name Helem II for a brief discussion on this.
🔼Etymology of the name Heldai
The name Heldai comes from either of the two roots חלד (hld):
It's not known what the verb חלד (halad) may have signified, but it appears to have had something to do with being an "earthling". Noun חלד (holed) describes the mole or other similar burrowing animal. Noun חלד (heled) refers to the acts and deeds that sum up one's life on earth, or indeed the whole spectrum of human life: the world.
The letter י (yod) upon which our name ends, may either create an adjective (such-and-such-like), a possessive form (my such and such), or may be a remnant of יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton יהוה, YHWH, or Yahweh.
For a meaning of the name Heldai, NOBSE Study Bible Name List appears to go with חלד I, and takes the י (yod) to be an adjective-maker. Hence NOBSE reads the rather inaccurate Worldly. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names follows the same root, but appears to ignore the final י (while Jones categorically deems a final י to be the "mark of the Divine name" ). And so Jones reads Life or Age. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't interpret our name but lists it, together with the other חלד-names under root חלד II. Following BDB's classification, Heldai would mean My Mole, or Mole-like.