🔼The name Zillethai: Summary
- Shadow Of Yah, My Bell
- From (1) the verb צלל (salal), to ring or be dark, and possibly (2) a truncated form of יה (yah), the shortened name of the Lord.
🔼The name Zillethai in the Bible
There are two men named Zillethai (or Zilthai, as the King James and the Darby translations have it):
🔼Etymology of the name Zillethai
The name Zillethai probably comes from the root group צלל:
There appear to be at least two verbs צלל (salal): one means to ring like a bell, and the other means to be or become dark. How or whether these two relate isn't clear and ultimately up to anyone's poetic palate.
Noun צלצל (silsal) means a whirring or buzzing. The exact same noun צלצל (silsal) describes a fish-spear or harpoon and the highly similar noun צלצל (selasal) denotes a whirring locust. Plural nouns צלצלים (selselim) and מצלתים (mesiltayim) denote musical percussion instruments such as cymbals. Noun מצלה (mesilla) means bell.
Frequently used noun צל (sel) means shade or shadow and is often employed to describe the transitoriness of life (a mere shadow). Noun צלמות (salmawet) literally means the shadow of death and denotes a distressful and deep darkness.
A possible third identical verb צלל (salal) means to sink or submerge, although it may very well derive from the previous.
The letter י (yod) upon which our name ends, may either create an adjective (shadowy), a possessive form (my shadow), or may be a remnant of יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton יהוה, YHWH, or Yahweh.
Scholars (including the brilliant Gesenius) generally appear to prefer to see the final yod as a remnant of the Divine name.
The part of our name before the final yod could be regarded as an older spelling variant of the name צלה (Zillah).
For a meaning of the name Zillethai, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Shadow Of Yahweh and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has the similar Shadow Of The Lord.
BDB Theological Dictionary does not offer an interpretation of the name Zillethai, but does endorse Gesenius' explanation of it being צלת יה.