🔼The name Jair
There are two different names in the Hebrew Bible that transliterated to English both become the name Jair. We'll call them Jair I (יאיר) and Jair II (יעיר):
🔼The name Jair I in the Bible
This version of the name Jair is assigned to four different men in the Bible:
- The first Jair we meet is a descendant of Manasseh, who conquered several towns east of the Jordan and named them after himself (Numbers 32:41). In 2 Samuel 20:26 we meet a priest named Ira the Jairite (יאירי), who was either a non-Levitical priest and descendant of Jair or he was a Levite living in the area named after Jair.
- The second Jair (which is missed by every source we consulted) is a son of Segub, son of Hezron and the daughter of Machir of Gilead. Hezron is a son of Perez, son of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:22). The sources possibly confuse this Jair with the first one because this Jair too is a town owner, and most likely of the same towns as the previous Jair.
- Jair number three is the eighth judge of Israel, who came from Gilead, and whose thirty sons ruled the thirty cities of Jair (Judges 10:3).
- Jair number four is a son of Shimei and the father of Mordecai, the great-uncle of Esther or Hadassah (Esther 2:5).
🔼Etymology of the name Jair I
This version of the name Jair comes from the common Hebrew verb אור ('or), meaning to shine:
🔼Jair I meaning
For a meaning of this name Jair, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads He Will Enlighten or He Will Diffuse Light. BDB Theological Dictionary suggests He Enlightens or One Giving Light. NOBSE Study Bible Name List acknowledges no difference between the two versions and reads He Enlightens for both.
🔼The name Jair II in the Bible
The version of the name Jair spelled with the letter ayin in stead of the aleph (יעיר) occurs only once in the Bible. According to 1 Chronicles 20:5 Jair is the father of Elhanan, the slayer of Lahmi, the brother of Goliath of Gath. But in the parallel text of 2 Samuel 21:19, the father of Elhanan is called יערי ארגים (Jaare-oregim), and Elhanan kills the son of Goliath, who is apparently named after his father.
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Jair II
This name Jair seems to be presented as a truncated version of the name Jaare-oregim, the first part of which comes the root group יער (y'r) I & II:
Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) translates the second part of the name Jaare-oregim with Weavers, and looking for a fitting translation for the first part, figures that the core meaning of the combined root יער may have something to do with the many-colored crowns of trees in a forest: a tapestry. For Jair (יעיר), which he figures is the expanded version of Jaare (יער), he proposes a rather curious He Will Embroider.
BDB Theological Dictionary, on the other hand, thinks that the first part of the name Jaare-oregim is a scribal error for Jair, and relates the name Jair to the verb עור ('ur I), meaning to awake or rouse oneself:
BDB doesn't translate the name Jair, but following this reasoning, it would be an active form of the verb עור, and mean something like He Arouses or Terrorist.
However, taking the name Jair from the form עיר ('ir) gives it the simultaneous meaning of City Slicker, Acts Like A Wild Ass and Nudist.