& Meaning •
Meaning and etymology of 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 and Jair II:
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, 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).
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. NOBS Study Bible Name List acknowledges no difference between the two versions and reads He Enlightens for both.
Related names are
Jairus (the Greek version of Jair),
Uriel, Urim, and perhaps
Aaron, and the Hebrew word for
The version of the name Jair spelled with the letter ayin in stead of the aleph 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 (Jaare-oregim), and Elhanan kills the son of Goliath, who is apparently named after his father.
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 (y'r) I & II.
Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) reads Tapestry Of The Weavers for
Jaare-oregim and arrives at the curious He Will Embroider for a meaning of Jair.
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 ('ur), meaning to awake, rouse oneself, incite. Its derivation
('ir) means excitement, but negatively: terror. BDB doesn't translate the name Jair, but following this reasoning, it would mean something like Terror.
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