🔼The name Ittai: Summary
- Companionable, Nearness Of Yah
- From (1) the particle את ('et), with, and possibly (2) יה (yah), the shortened name of the Lord.
🔼The name Ittai in the Bible
There are two men named Ittai in the Bible:
- A Gittite who remained faithful to king David when his son Absalom revolted, even though he had been in David's court for only one day (2 Samuel 15:19-22). Ittai became a military commander (or possibly was one already, namely over the six hundred men from Gath mentioned in 15:18) and gave chase to Absalom's forces, while David pleaded with him, Joab and Abishai to deal gently with Absalom (18:2-5 and 18:12). That to no avail, of course, because Joab killed him anyway.
- A son of Ribai of Gibeah of the sons of Benjamin, and one of David's hallowed mighty-men (2 Samuel 23:29). In 1 Chronicles 11:31 this man is called איתי, which is commonly transliterated as Ithai but considered the same name.
🔼Etymology of the name Ittai
The name Ittai is probably based on the particle את ('et), meaning with:
The ubiquitous particle את ('et) usually marks the accusative (the subject of a sentence) but often has an unclear function. Sometimes it (or an identical second particle) indicates a close relationship between the words that surround it, and can be translated with "with" or "near."
The form את ('et) is also the base of the four second person pronouns, meaning "you": (אתה, you man; את, you woman; אתם, you men and אתן, you women).
The verb אתה ('ata) is closely similar to the masculine singular pronoun (you man) and means to come. It has no extant derivatives.
A fourth instance of the form את is the masculine noun את ('et), which denotes an iron cutting instrument like a ploughshare, mattock or axe head.
The letter י (yod) upon which our name ends, may either create an adjective (with-like, or togetherish), 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 Ittai, NOBSE Study Bible Name List sees in the final י (yod) a remnant of the name of the Lord and reads With Me (Is Yahweh). Likewise Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes the elegant Nearness Of The Lord. BDB Theological Dictionary goes with the adjective and suggests Companionable.