E'than (Hebrews Eythan', אֵיתָן, perpetuity, as often), the name of three men.
1. (Sept. Αἰθάν, v.r. Γαιθάν and Αἰθαιμ.) One of four persons ("Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mabol") who were so renowned for their sagacity that it is mentioned to the honor of Solomon that his wisdom excelled theirs (1Ki 4:31 [Heb 5:11]), Ethan being distinguished as "the Ezrahite" from the others, who are called "sons of Mahol;" unless, indeed, this word Alahol (q.v.) be taken, not as a proper name, but appellatively for "sons of music, dancing," etc., in which case it would apply to Ethan as well as to the others. This interpretation is strengthened by our finding the other names associated with that of Ethan in 1Ch 2:6, as "sons of Zerab," i.e., of Ezra, the same as Ezrahites, or descendants of the son of Judah. SEE EZRAHITTE. With this agrees the Jewish chronology, which counts them as prophets during the sojourn in Egypt (Seder Olam Rabba, page 52), although the Jews have also a tradition confounding Ethan with Abraham, Heman with Moses, and Chalcol with Joseph (Jerome, Comment. on Kings, in loc.). In 1Ch 2:8, Ethan's "sons" are mentioned, but only one name is given, that of Azariah. B.C. post 1856. In the title to the 89th Psalm an "Ethan the Ezrahite" is named as the author; but there seems to be some confusion here in the latter epithet. See No. 3 below.
2. (Sept. Αἰθάμ v.r. Οὐρί.) Son of Zimmah and father of Adaiah, in the ancestry of the Levite Asaph (1Ch 6:42 ). B.C. cir. 1585. In verse 21 he seems to be called JOAH, the father of Iddo.
3. (Sept. Αἰθάν v.r. Αἰθάμ.) A Levite, son of Kushi or Kushaiah, of the family of Merari; appointed one of the leaders of the Temple music by David (as singer, 1Ch 6:44 , or player on cymbals, 15:17, 19). B.C. 1014. In the latter passages he is associated with Heman and Asaph, the heads of two other families of Levites; and inasmuch as in other passages of these books (1Ch 25:1,6) the names are given as Asaph, Heman, and JEDUTHUN, it has been conjectured that this last 'and Ethan were identical. There is at least great probability that Ethan the singer was the same person as Ethan the Ezrathite (comp. No. 1 above), whose name stands at the head of Psalm 89, for it is a very unlikely coincidence that there should be two persons named Heman and Ethan so closely connected in two different tribes and walks of life. The difficulty is even greater in the case of Heman (q.v.), who, in the title to Psalm 88, is likewise expressly called an Ezrahite, and yet identified in its authorship with the sons of Korah. Hengstenberg supposes (Comment. on Psalms, Clark's ed. 3:89) that both Heman and Ethan, although descendants of Judah, were adopted into the ranks of the Levites; but this will not meet the above genealogy of this Ethan, who is moreover classed with the Merarites, and not with the Korahites. SEE HEMAN, and SEE EZRAHITE.