🔼The name Nathan-melech: Summary
- The King Has Given
- From (1) the verb נתן (natan), to give, and (2) the noun מלך (melek), king.
🔼The name Nathan-melech in the Bible
The name Nathan-melech occurs only one time in the Bible, and that in a rather curious statement. Apparently, Nathan-melech was an official whose office had to do with horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun (2 Kings 23:11). The phrase 'given by the kings of' is spelled נתנו מלכי (nathanu meleki), and its similarity to our name is obvious enough to suggests that Nathan-melech may not be a personal name but rather the title of the store-keeper of the royal gifts.
When king Josiah went on his religious rampage to purify the land from all nonsense and damaging worship, he also did away with these sun-horses and burned associated "chariots of the sun". What happened to the henceforth unemployed Nathan-melech is not told.
🔼Etymology of the name Nathan-melech
The name Nathan-melech obviously consists of two elements, and both elements also exists separately as names. The first part of our name is identical to the name Nathan, and comes from the verb נתן (natan) meaning to give:
The shape-shifting verb נתן (natan) means to give in a broad bouquet of senses, from regular giving or bestowing, to setting or putting, to transforming one thing or situation into another.
This verb's three nouns מתן (mattan), מתנה (mattana) and מתת (mattat) all mean gift, again broadly ranging from a regular present to an offering to an innate talent (being "gifted").
The second part of our name is identical to the name Melech, and both are the same as 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.
For a meaning of the name Nathan-melech, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads The King Has Given. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads the more interpretive Placed Of The King, and explains this by adding: "i.e. constituted". BDB Theological Dictionary does not translate this name.