🔼The name Peninnah: Summary
- Curler, Coral
- From the verb פנה (pana), or rather פנן (panan), to turn, or the noun פנינים (peninim), red coral.
🔼The name Peninnah in the Bible
Peninnah is one of two wives of a Levite from Ramathaim-zophim in Ephraim, whose name is Elkanah, son of Jeroham (1 Samuel 1:2). Elkanah's other wife is named Hannah and she is remembered as becoming the mother of Samuel the judge.
Peninnah and Hannah's situation is somewhat similar to that of Leah and Rachel, in that Peninnah has children but is unloved, while Hannah is deeply desponded for not having children even though she's loved. The son she finally gives birth to will judge Israel for about fifty years, and will also author (it is assumed) at least parts of the books of Samuel. He never mentions the names of his half-siblings, the children of Peninnah.
🔼Etymology of the name Peninnah
The name Peninnah comes from the verb פנה (panah), or its by-form פנן (panan):
The verb פנה (pana) means to turn toward. Adverb פנימה (penima) means toward the inside. Adjective פנימי (penimi) means inner.
This verb's primary derivation is the plural noun פנים (panim), literally turnings or inclinations. It's the common Biblical word for face and may also be used to mean scope, sight, surface, and so on.
The noun פנה (pinna) means corner, and is commonly used to describe where a wall makes a turn. This noun is thought to have derived from a by-form or parental form of the verb פנה (pana), namely פנן (panan), of similar meaning.
A second derivation of this form is the plural noun פנינים (peninim), which describes a red coral, probably with swirling branches or otherwise corrugated structure.
The name Peninnah seems to closest resemble the latter noun meaning coral. Biblical theology places great importance on hair, and perhaps Peninnah had a wild do of flaming red curls and came to be known after it.
For a meaning of the name Peninnah, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Coral. NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Coral, Pearl.