Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
There are two separate roots of the form יעל (y'l) in the Bible, which may be somewhat connected:
The verb יעל (ya'al I) means profit, gain, benefit. Throughout the Old Testament this verb appears frequently to indicate the worthlessness of idols (and wealth, and earthly powers); they are of no profit (Isaiah 44:9-17, Habakkuk 2:18, Jeremiah 2:8).
In Isaiah 48:17 occurs the only positive use, 'Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go . . . '
The root יעל (ya'al II) isn't used in the Bible, but in Arabic it means to ascend. In the Bible two derivatives are used:
- The masculine noun יעל (ya'al), meaning mountain goat (Psalm 104:18, 1 Samuel 24:3 and Job 39:1 only).
- The feminine equivalent יעלה (ya'ala), meaning female mountain goat. This word occurs only in Proverbs 5:19.
Commentators don't directly make the connection between the two roots, except Jones (Alfred Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names), who arrives from the verb meaning to gain and profit at the mountain goat through the concept of ascension.