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The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia
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ETHAN:

  • 1. A man famous for his wisdom (I Kings iv. 31); it is said that Solomon was wiser than he, although it is not clear from this passage whether he was Solomon's contemporary or whether he lived before that king. The matter is settled, however, in I Chron. ii. 6, 8, where he is mentioned as the representative of the third generation after Judah. There are no grounds for identifying this Ethan with the "Etana" of the Babylonian mythology (comp. M. Jastrow, "Religion of Babylonia and Assyria," p. 519), since Etana was not famous for his wisdom. On Ethan as the author of Ps. lxxxix. (verse 1) see Ezrahite.
  • 2. Descendant of Levi's eldest son, Gershom; he was the ancestor of the celebrated Asaph, and the grandfather of a man named Zerah (I Chron. vi. 42).
  • 3. One of the descendants of Levi's third son, Merari (I Chron. vi. 29), and a son of Rishi or Kushaiah (I Chron. ib.; xv. 17). This third Ethan was one of the famous triad of musicians, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan (elsewhere called "Jeduthun"), appointed by David (ib. xv. 16-19). This Ethan-Jeduthun probably composed the music to Psalm xxxix., in the superscription to which he bears the title "menaẓẓeaḥ" (prefect, or conductor). Descendants of Jeduthun are mentioned (II Chron. xxix. 14) as living at the time of Hezekiah, and also after the Exile (Neh. xi. 17). Ethan-Jeduthun has a still higher office, however, in I Chron. xxv. 1, where he is one of the prophets of the second class, found in the sol-caled schools of the prophets (I Sam. x. 5). In his songs he reproduced the utterances of the real prophets, and, having been commissioned by the king, he was called the "king's seer" (II Chron. xxxv. 15). The same title is given to Heman (I Chron. xxv. 5) and also to Asaph (II Chron. xxix. 30).
E. G. H. E. K.
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