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Meaning and etymology of the Hebrew name Elijah

Elijah Elijah

The name Elijah occurs three times in the Bible. Besides the famous prophet Elijah in the time of king Ahab of Israel (1 Kings 17:1), there is an Elijah, son of king Jeroboam (1 Chronicles 8:27), and an Elijah who divorced his foreign wife during the purge of Ezra (Ezra 10:21).

The famous Elijah is remembered as one of the great prophets of Israel, especially in the days of the Romans, when Israel was eagerly awaiting a military liberator (Matthew 16:14). Elijah was a favorite because he spends much of his Biblical screen-time killing people.

At the Kishon massacre, Elijah slays 450 Baal prophets and possibly 400 prophets of Asherah (1 Kings 18:19, 40). When king Ahaziah sends for word from Baal Zebub, the god at Ekron, Elijah's requests fire from heaven, which comes and incinerates two contingents of 50 soldiers and their captains (2 Kings 1).

Elijah may also be the only one in the Hebrew Bible who willingly brings someone back from the dead, although it's not entirely clear wether his patient was either already dead or still dying (1 Kings 17:17-24).

When Elijah's time on earth is done, he is taking up to heaven alive, as one of only two people in the Hebrew Bible (the other one is Enoch, Genesis 5:24). He's not taken up in a chariot of fire, as the song goes, but a whirlwind takes him. The chariot only separates him from his successor Elisha and takes him from his sight (2 Kings 2:2).

The name Elijah is truly fabulous; a junction of two of the most common appellatives of God in the Bible: the word el (El), the common abbreviation of Elohim (Elohim), meaning God (or gods), but most fundamentally possibly meaning power or strength. and God's personal name YHWH (YHWH), or Yahweh.

For a meaning of the name Elijah, BDB Theological Dictionary reads Yah(u) Is God. NOBS Study Bible Name List renders Yahweh Is God. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads God-Lord, Strength Of The Lord.

The name Joel is the exact opposite of Elijah: Yah is El.



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