Samuel's name

David Stabnow dstabno at
Fri Feb 23 14:13:52 EST 2001

1 Samuel 1:20 records Hannah's explanation of Samuel's name. Some
commentaries say that this was really the naming ceremony for Saul, and it
was modified and incorporated into the Samuel story. Others say that the
name really comes from "heard by God," or _$M( )L_. The problem with the
latter is the loss of the (ayin.

(KB says "Shumu (the exalted one) is God"; or a nomen regens, "the name of

I propose that vv. 17 and 27 explain Hannah's pun. In both cases the verb
_$)L_ is followed by the preposition _M(M_ with the _W_ suffix: "requested
from Him." In v. 20 _MY'_ precedes _$)L_. Hannah continues to make puns:
vv. 27-28 are filled with puns on "requested" and "loaned/dedicated," two
meanings of _$)L_. It seems apparent that _$)L_ is important to her.

The passive of _$)L_ in v. 28 is identical to Saul's name, which is
evidence for this being Saul's dedication.

That aside, if this is about Samuel, his name might be derived from _$)L
M(M )L_, which was shortened by taking the first letter of _$)L_ and the
first letter of _M(M_ and attaching it to _)L_.

I see at least three problems: 1) Are there any other names that are
shortened this way? 2) Where did the u-vowel come from? 3) In none of the
three cases that the text talks about requesting Samuel from God (vv. 17,
20, 27) is _M-_ connected with _)L_.

Is this worth pursuing?

Dave Stabnow

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