🔼The name Malchiel: Summary
- God Is King, My King Is God
- From (1) the noun מלך (melek), king, and (2) אל ('el), God.
🔼The name Malchiel in the Bible
There's only one Malchiel mentioned in the Bible, and he is the son of Beriah, who is one of the sons of Asher, who is the eighth son of Jacob and patriarch of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Malchiel is mentioned three times, but always in a genealogy: Genesis 46:17, Numbers 26:45, 1 Chronicles 7:31. Malchiel is nevertheless quite successful as a patriarch of his own; his progeny became collectively known as the מלכיאלי (Malchielites), a sub-class in the tribal structure of Asher (Numbers 26:45).
🔼Etymology of the name Malchiel
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 first part of our name comes from the common noun מלך (melek), meaning king:
The noun מלך (melek) means king, and a king is not merely a glorified tribal chief but the alpha of a complex, stratified society, implying a court and a complex government.
The Bible insists that a society must be governed by a triad of anointed sovereigns, namely prophets, priests and the king. A good king causes his people to be prosperous and peaceful whereas a bad one causes poverty and strife. The difference between the two is dictated by how close to the Law of Nature (a.k.a. the Word of God) the king operates. A kingdom that is wholly in tune with the Law consists of only sovereign individuals and is thus without a physical king.
An Aramaic cognate verb מלך (malak) means to consult, which confirms that the concept of royalty indeed evolved from wisdom and intellectual prowess rather than brute physical or political strength, as is commonly suggested.
From this noun derives the verb מלך (malak): to be or become king, the nouns מלכה (malka) and מלכת (meleket): queen or court-lady, the noun מלוכה (meluka): kingship or royalty, and the nouns מלכות (malkut), ממלכה (mamlaka) and ממלכות (mamlakut), meaning sovereignty or kinghood.
In between the two elements sits the letter י (yod), which probably should be construed as creating a possessive form out of the מלך-part: meaning either my king or king of.
For a meaning of the name Malchiel, NOBSE Study Bible Name List appears to ignore the yod and reads God Is King. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) opts for the king-of meaning, and reads King Of God. BDB Theological Dictionary figures the yod to create my-king and reads My King Is El.