ETHAN (Heb. אֵיתָן; "permanent, enduring"? or "one consecrated [to a temple]"?). The Bible ostensibly mentions four individuals named Ethan: (1) Ethan the Ezrahite, a sage (along with *Heman, Calcol, and Darda, "sons of Mahol") whom Solomon surpassed in wisdom (I Kings 5:11). Psalm 89 is ascribed to him. (2) A son of Zerah son of Judah (i Chron. 2:6, 8). His brothers are Zimri, Heman, Calcol, and "Dara." (3) A levite Temple musician in the time of David, colleague of the levites Heman and Asaph (i Chron. 6:29; 15:17, 19; in some lists Ethan's name is replaced by Jeduthun (ibid. 16:41; 25:1–2; II Chron. 5:12; 35:15). (4) An ancestor of Asaph (i Chron. 6:27). In view of their common association with Heman, Calcol, and Dar(d)a, the first two Ethans are undoubtedly identical. The descent from Judah alleged in I Chronicles 2 probably represents a (pre-Chronicles) midrashic attempt to explain the epithet "Ezrahite" on the basis of the name of Zerah, Judah's son. The epithet is usually understood today to mean a member or descendant of the native pre-Israelite population of Palestine. (ʾ Ezraḥ may be a loan from Akkadian um/nzarḫu, "homeborn" (Deller apud Cogan in Bibliography).) Ethan (and Heman, cf. Ps. 88:1) was thus descended from the latter. Since both Ethan and Heman are credited with psalms, it is hard not to identify them with the musicians of the same names in David's time ((3), above; note, too, that the epithet applied to Heman, Calcol, and Darda in i Kings 5:11, "sons of Mahol," is interpreted by W.F. Albright as "members of an orchestral guild"). As "Ezrahites" they may thus have been among the several non-Israelites holding prominent positions in David's time. The levite ancestry ascribed to them in Chronicles is typical of that book's treatment of cultic personnel (cf. the levite lineage it gives the Ephraimite Samuel, i Chron. 6:13; contrast i Sam. 1:1). Thus the first three Ethans appear to be one: one of the eponymous ancestors (cf. i Chron. 6:18ff.) of the guilds of Temple musicians (cf. to Calcol the Temple musician named Krkr on one of the 14–12th centuries b.c.e. ivories from Megiddo; in Pritchard, Texts, 263), living (according to Chron.) in the time of David, and of pre-Israelite Palestinian ancestry. His wisdom apparently was his psalmodic skill.
Albright, Arch Rel, 126–7, 205; W.F. Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan (1968), 217–8; Maisler (Mazar), in: em, 1 (1950), 276–7 (incl. bibl.); Sarna, in: jbl (1955), 272ff. add. bibliography: M. Cogan, i Kings (2000), 222.
[Jeffrey Howard Tigay]