🔼The name Zetham: Summary
- Bloom, Olive, Olive Tree
- From the noun זית (zayit), olive, possibly from the verb זתת (zatat), to be fresh and new.
🔼The name Zetham in the Bible
There is only one man named Zetham in the Bible. He was a son of Ladan, a Gershonites Levite at the time of Solomon's ascent to the throne of Israel (1 Chronicles 23:8).
Together with his brother Joel and the sons of his brother Jehiel he was in charge of the treasuries of the house of YHWH (1 Chronicles 26:22).
🔼Etymology of the name Zetham
The name Zetham is probably related to the word זית (zayit), meaning olive tree, or else derived from the same root:
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 Zetham, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Olive Tree and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names simply has Olive.
BDB Theological Dictionary declares that this name is the same as Zethan (the ־ם extension and the ־ן extension probably represent similar literary devices), which BDB also interprets as Olive Tree, albeit accompanied with the ever proper question mark, indicating that this is merely an educated guess. Here at Abarim Publications we would translate this name as Bloom or Olive, with an emphatic footnote that these words refer to a willingness and ability to reproduce and be fruitful.