The name Havilah in the Bible
The name Havilah is assigned three different times in the Bible:
- It is first mentioned as a land that contains both gold and the river Pishon, one of four rivers of Eden (Genesis 2:11). This land is probably named in retrospect, as the territory of one of the two human Havilahs. Here at Abarim Publications we surmise that the Pishon may have been the Indus River; see our article on the Exodus for the details.
- A son of Cush, son of Ham, son of Noah (Genesis 10:7)
- A son of Joktan, the son of Eber (Genesis 10:29).
Etymology of the name Havilah
The name Havilah comes from the root group חול (hul I & II) and can be interpreted in many ways:
There is a difficulty, however. When the letter waw is a consonant (as it is in the name Havilah) it is a completely different letter than when it is a vowel (as in the verb חול), and there must be a very good reason why a vowel changes to a consonant (the same problem occurs with the name David). Perhaps it is to deliberately point at some other words. Perhaps to the root group חוה (hwh I, II & III):
The final part of the name Havilah may then be recognized to come from the word להה (laha), meaning to languish or faint. This word occurs only in Genesis 47:13. Following these leads gives Havilah the additional meaning of Languishing Village, or Exhausted Revelation.
For a meaning of the name Havilah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Circle, and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Bringing Fort, or Trembling (with pain). BDB Theological Dictionary does not translate but endorses an etymology from חול.