🔼The name Jathniel: Summary
- God Hires, Perenniality Of God
- From (1) the verb תנה (tana), to hire or יתן (ytn), to be permanent, and (2) the word אל ('el), God.
🔼The name Jathniel in the Bible
🔼Etymology of the name Jathniel
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.
Pretty much everybody agrees that the first part of the name Jathniel comes from the verb group תנה (tana), meaning to hire:
The root תנן (tanan) speaks of luring and scavenging and preying upon the weak and gullible. Verb תנה (tana) means to hire (predominantly of a prostitute) and nouns אתנן ('etnan) and אתנה ('etna) describe the hire of a prostitute.
It should be noted that societies were considered "houses" and their central governments their "house-father". The Bible often uses the prostitute to describe a society, which would typically be a society without central rule and which maintains its fading identity by means of shifting allegiances with neighboring states.
Still, on rare occasions this verb is also used to describe how God displays his splendor in the heavens, presumably to lure humanity to him, even though humanity does not accept the formal knowledge of natural law (that's the Word of God) as their king.
The noun תן (tan) describes some kind of predatory animal, possibly a jackal. Noun תנין (tannin) refers to a mythological aquatic serpentine creature, which appears to dwell in the caustic undertows of human society.
The unused verb יתן (yatan) probably denoted the permanence of flowing water (it does so in cognate languages). The adjective אתן or איתן ('etan) means perennial or ever-flowing.
The noun אתון ('aton), from an assumed root אתן ('atan), describes a female donkey or she-ass. In the ancient world camels signified international trade (like our trucks), horses signified military might (our jeeps), oxen signified heavy farm work or local commerce (our tractors and lorries), and donkeys, particularly female donkeys, signified the spontaneous congress of peaceful and free civilians (our Volkswagens and campers).
Female donkeys were the units of social networks and symbolized both the freedom, peace and prosperity, and the curiosity about and concern for one's neighbor upon which any social network is based. This is why mankind's King rides a donkey (Zechariah 9:9): donkeys mostly carry stories, and mankind's King, obviously, is the Word of God, or the formal manifestation of natural law.
From which of the two our name came can't be determined, but equating YHWH with El, we should probably look for a meaning in the vicinity of Psalm 8:2; God Renders or El Acquires.
On the other hand, we could also take the first part of the name Jathniel from the verb יתן (yatan). Hence, the name Jathniel also means Perenniality Of God.
For a meaning of the name Jathniel, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads God Bestows. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has He Will Be Given Of God. And BDB Theological Dictionary proposes El Hireth.