Na'than (Heb. Nathan', נָתָן, given, i.e., by God; Sept. Ναθάν, but in the later books Νάθαν, and so Jo, sephus, Ant. 7:3, 3; but Ναθάνα of the prophet, Ant. 7:4, 4, etc.), the name of five or six men.
1. The eleventh in descent from Judah, being the son of Attai and father of Zabad (1Ch 2:36). B.C. post 1612.
2. An eminent Hebrew prophet in the reigns of David and Solomon. If the expression "first and last," in 2Ch 9:29, is to be token literally, he must have lived late into the life of Solomon, in which case he must have been considerably younger than David. At any rate he seems to have been the younger of the two prophets who accompanied him, and may be considered as the latest direct representative of the schools of Samuel. A Jewish tradition mentioned by Jerome (Qu. Heb. on 1Sa 17:12) identifies him with the eighth son of Jesse (2Sa 5:14); but of this there is no probability. He first appears in the consultation with David about the building of the Temple. B.C. cir. 1043. He begins by advising it, and then, after a vision, withdraws his advice, on the ground that the time had not yet come (2Sa 7:2-3,17). See Ewald, Isr. Gesch. 2:592. He next comes forward as the reprover of David for the sin with Bathsheba; and his famous apologue on the rich man and the ewe lamb, which is the only direct example of his prophetic power, shows it to have been of a very high order (2Sa 12:1-12). B.C. 1035. There is an indistinct trace of his appearing also at the time of the plague which fell on Jerusalem in accordance with the warning of Gad. "An angel," says Eupolemus (Euseb. Prcep. Ev. 9:30), "pointed him to the place where the Temple was to be, but forbade him to build it, as being stained with blood, and having fought many wars. His name was Dianathan." This was probably occasioned by some confusion of the Greek version, διὰ Νάθαν, with the parallel passage of 1Ch 22:8, where the blood-stained life of David is given as a reason against the building, but where Nathan is not named. B.C. cir. 1017. On the birth of Solomon he was either specially charged with giving him his name, Jedidah, or else with his education, according as the words of 2Sa 12:25, "He sent [or "sent him"] by [or "into"] the hand of Nathan," are understood. B.C. cir. 1034. At any rate, in the last years of David, it is Nathan who, by taking the side of Solomon, turned the scale in his favor. He advised Bathsheba; he himself ventured to enter the royal presence with a remonstrance against the king's apathy and at David's request he assisted in the inauguration of Solomon (1Ki 1:8,10-11,22-24,32,34,38,45). B.C. cir. 1015. His son Zabud occupied the post of " king's friend," perhaps succeeding Nathan (2Sa 15:37; 1Ch 27:33); and Azariah, another of his sons, occupied a high place in the king's court (1Ki 4:5). He assisted David by his counsels when he reorganized the public worship (2Ch 29:25). B.C. 1014. This is the last time that we hear directly of his intervention in the history. His influence may be traced in the perpetuation of his manner of prophecy in the writings ascribed to Solomon (comp. Ec 9:186 with 2Sa 12:1-4). He left two works behind him — a life of David (1Ch 29:29), and a life of Solomon (2Ch 9:29). The last of these may have been incomplete, as we cannot be sure that he outlived Solomon. The consideration in which he was held at the time is indicated by the solemn announcement of his approach — "Behold Nathan the prophet" (1Ki 1:23). The peculiar affix of "the prophet," as distinguished from "the seer," given to Samuel and Gad (1Ch 29:29), shows his identification with the later view of the prophetic office indicated in 1Sa 9:9. His grave is shown at Halhul near Hebron (see Robinson, Bib. Res. 1:216, note).
3. A native of Zobah, in Syria; the father of Igul, one of David's mighty men (2Sa 23:36; 1Ch 11:38). B.C. cir. 1040.
4. A son of David (2Sa 5:14; 1Ch 14:4), from whom the evangelist Luke has reckoned the genealogy of Mary the mother of Jesus (Lu 3:31). B.C. cir. 1032. SEE GENEALOGY. In 1Ch 3:5 Nathan is said to have been "the son of David by Bathshua," i.e., Bathsheba, but the rendering has been questioned. To him must probably be referred the words of Zecheriah 12:12 (see Henderson, Min. Proph. ad loc.), though some have interpreted it as the house of the prophet Nathan standing for the family of the prophets. SEE DAVID.
5. One of the head men who returned from Babylon with Ezra on his second expedition, and whom he despatched from his encampment at the River Ahava to the colony of Jews at Casiphia, to obtain thence some Levites and Nethinimn for the Temple service (Ezr 8:16). B.C. 459. "That Nathan and those mentioned with him were laymen appears evident from the concluding words of the preceding verse, and therefore it is not impossible that he may be the same with the son of Bani, who was obliged to relinquish his foreign wife (Ezr 10:39); though on the other hand these marriages seem rather to have been contracted by those who had been longer in Jerusalem than he, who had so lately arrived from Babylon, could be." B.C. 458.