🔼The name Zattu: Summary
- Blossom, Spring-Born, Olive
- From a verb that means to adorn or to beautify.
- From the verb זתת (zatat), to be fresh, to bloom.
🔼The name Zattu in the Bible
There are two or three men named Zattu mentioned in the Bible:
- The patriarch of a family of which close to a thousand male members returned from the exile in Babylon. It's not clear how many there were exactly. Ezra counted 945 (Ezra 2:8), but Nehemiah thought they were 845 (Nehemiah 7:13).
- This patriarch Zattu is possibly the same as the Zattu of who a few sons had married and would divorce their foreign wives during the Purge of Ezra (Ezra 10:27).
- One of the signers of the sealed document (Nehemiah 10:14). This Zattu is obviously not the same as the one who had at least 845 descendants at the time of the return, because he was surely long dead.
🔼Etymology of the name Zattu
It's not clear where the name Zattu might come from, but scholars generally seem to derive it from an Arabic verb זתת (ztt), which means to adorn or to beautify. Here at Abarim Publications we believe that this verb also occurred in Hebrew, but with the primary meaning of being fresh or blooming:
It's not clear whether the verb זהה (zaha) or זתת (zatat) ever existed but if it did it probably meant to emerge fresh or bloom (it does so in cognate languages). Note that a flower contains a plant's reproductive organs and by displaying its flowers a plant indicates its willingness and readiness to reproduce. In our modern times flowers have managed to attain a kind of romantic innocence but their native function and original symbolism is that of sexual union (which is why dudes bring flowers), or rather more general: the willingness and ability of being fruitful.
Besides some names, its sole surviving derivative is the noun זית (zayit), olive or olive tree. The blossoming of the olive tree was a sign that the winter was over and spring (ziv) had arrived. The oil from the olive was used in lamps and in medical procedures and became known as a light bringer and a healer. Kings, prophets and priests were anointed into their offices with olive oil, and in proper societies these offices are not political but based on demonstrable levels of practical, fruit bearing wisdom.
For a meaning of the name Zattu, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Lovely. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Ornament or Beauty. BDB Theological Dictionary does not offer an interpretation of this name.
Here at Abarim Publications we think that the name Zattu means something like Blossom or perhaps Spring-Born or Olive. There are quite a few patriarchs mentioned in the Bible and not often enough do we consider how rare patriarchs really are, or what causes someone to become recognized as one (instead of, say his son or his great-grandfather).
The name Zattu also reflects the humble beginnings of a substantial result, which is obviously quite befitting a patriarch.