Monday, March 21, 2022

The Hebrew verb נתן (nāṯan) means "to give, put, or set." The verb נתן (nāṯan) can describe the act of giving something as a gift, as in Joshua 15:19, "Give (תנה) me a present," or giving as an act of exchange or payment, as in Genesis 25:34: "Then Jacob gave (נתן) Esau bread and lentil stew."

The story of Joseph makes use of the full range of meanings of נתן (nāṯan). In Genesis 45:22, it draws on the sense of "giving": "To each one of them he gave (נתן) a set of garments; but to Benjamin he gave (נתן) three hundred pieces of silver and five sets of garments." In Genesis 39:8, it uses a sense of "putting": "Look, with me here, my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put (נתן) everything that he has in my hand." And in Genesis 41:48, it embodies a sense of "setting or storing": "He gathered up all the food of the seven years when there was plenty in the land of Egypt, and stored up (ויתן) food in the cities; he stored up (נתן) in every city the food from the fields around it."

The name of the prophet Nathan comes from the verb נתן (nāṯan). For more on Nathan, see the entry in "Hello, My Name Is."