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Meaning and etymology of the name Aiah

Aiah Aiah

There are two people in the Bible with the name Aiah, and both are most probably men. The first Aiah we come across is a son of Zibeon, son of Seir the Horite. His brother is called Anah, and he famously found hot springs in the wilderness (Genesis 36:24). The second Aiah is the father (and probably not the mother, as Alfred Jones proposes) of Rizpah, the unfortunate concubine of Saul, whose sons were handed over to the men of Gibeon by king David, and subsequently executed (2 Samuel 3:7).

The name Aiah comes from the rich root group awh ('wh I, II, III and IV):

The root awh ('wh I) isn't used in the Bible, but an Arabic equivalent means (according to BDB Theological Dictionary) (1) to betake oneself to a place for dwelling; and (2) to be tenderly inclined. This root's sole derivative is the masculine noun 'i ('i) meaning coast or region (according to BDB: a place whither one betakes oneself for resting, etc, originally from a mariner's standpoint).

The verb awh ('wh II) means to desire (or to wish or covet, etc). This verb yields four derivatives, which all mean desire: the masculine nouns aw ('aw) and aw (ma'away), and the feminine nouns aw ('awwa) and aw (ta'awa).

The verb awh ('wh III) means to sign or make a sign, mark or describe with a mark, etc. It's obvious derivation is the noun 'ot ('ot), meaning sign or mark. This word is the Bible's common word for any sign or token (stars - Genesis 1:14; Cain's mark - Genesis 4:15; Noah's rainbow - Genesis 9:12; etc).

The unused root awh ('wh IV) has probably to do with the verb awh ('wh II), an onomatopoeic verb meaning to howl (see the name Ahoah). It's two derivatives denote two animals that were probably known for the howling or crying sounds they made: 'i ('i), meaning jackal (note that this word is exactly the same as the word 'i meaning coast or region, mentioned earlier), and ayya (ayya), meaning hawk or falcon. This feminine noun is identical to the name Aiah, but that doesn't mean that Aiah has to be a woman. It occurs frequently that masculine names are feminine nouns, and vice versa). This noun occurs in Leviticus 11:14 (where it is mentioned among the detestable birds), Deuteronomy 14:13 and Job 28:7 (where the falcon's eye-sight is indirectly praised).

For a meaning of the name Aiah, BDB Theological Dictionary and NOBS Study Bible Name List both read Falcon. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Merlin or Little Hawk.

Related names are Bavvai, Evi, Evil-merodach, Ithamar and perhaps Ophir.



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