Nathan means gift. In the Old Testament there are at least six and perhaps as many as eight men named Nathan.

  • Probably the most significant and famous was a prophet in the time of King David, whose actions are described in the Books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, see especially 2 Samuel 7:2-17, 12:1-25 and Bathsheba. Nathan wrote histories of the reigns of both David and of Solomon, see 1 Chronicles 29:29 and 2 Chronicles 9:29, and was involved in the music of the temple, see 2 Chronicles 29:25. In 1 Kings 1:8-45 it is Nathan who tells the dying David of the plot of Adonijah to become king, resulting in Solomon's being proclaimed king instead.

  • Also around that time but clearly a different man, another Nathan is one of David's sons mentioned in 2 Samuel 5:14 and 1 Chronicles 3:5. In Luke 3:31 this Nathan is listed as an ancestor of the Virgin Mary and therefore of Jesus Christ (compare to the genealogy in Matthew Chapter 1 which traces her husband Joseph's ancestry to David through Solomon).

  • In 1 Kings 4:5 Nathan is the name of the father of Azariah and Zabad, two of Solomon's chief administrators. It is implicit that these two have the same father, but whether he is one of the preceding two men, or a different man, is not clear.

  • In 2 Samuel 23:36 Nathan from Zobah is listed as the father of Igal.

  • In 1 Chronicles 2:36 another Nathan is listed as a descendant of Jerahmeel, of the tribe of Judah.

  • In 1 Chronicles 11:38 yet another Nathan is the brother of Joel, one of David's elite warriors.

  • In Ezra 8:15-16 Nathan is the name of one of Ezra's companions who are sent to Iddo to ask for temple workers to replace the missing Levites.

  • In Ezra 10:38-44 Nathan son of Binnui is listed as one who divorced a foreign wife and sent her and her children away. This is possibly the same man as is mentioned in Ezra 8:15-16.

See also Nathan-melech, which means King's Gift.