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Meaning and etymology of the name Shelah

Shelah Shelah, Shelah Shelah

There are two completely different Hebrew names in the Bible that are commonly both translated with Shelah:

Shelah I

Shelah (Shelah, more properly pronounced as Shelach) is a son of Arpachshad, son of Shem, son of Noah (Genesis 10:24). The prophet Nehemiah makes mention of a Pool of Shelah in Jerusalem (3:15), which refers to Shiloah or Siloam in Greek .
Shelah (Shelah) is a son of Judah with the unnamed daughter of Shua (Genesis 38:5).

The name Shelah-with-heth comes from the root shalah (shalah) meaning to send, send away, let go. A derivative that is identical to both the verb and the name Shelah is shalah (shelah) meaning weapon (probably a spear or something else that can be thrown). Other derivations are: shilluhim (shilluhim), sending away; sheluha (sheluha c), shoot, branch (Isia 16:8); mishlah (mislah); undertaking (that to which one stretches out the hand), or pasture (where animals get to roam free); misloah (mishloah), outstretching, sending; mishlahat (mishlahat), discharge, deputation.
The root also yields the word shulhan (shulhan), table (a stretcher-outer).

The name Shelah (Shelah) may mean Sent Out, Branch or Javelin.

Related names are Methuselah and Shiloah, and another name that may have to do with a spear is Cain.

Shelah II

The name (Shelah) Shelah-with-he seems to be related to the root group Shelah (shala I & II):

The verb Shelah (shala) means to be at rest or prosper. Derivations: shala (shalu), prosperity; sheli (sheli), quiet, private; shala (shalew c), quiet, prosperous; shalwa (shalwa), quietness, prosperity;
The verb Shelah (shala II), means draw out or extract, and is used only once (in Job 27:8). Derivation shilya (shilya), afterbirth, is used only once as well (Deuteronomy 28:57).

The name Shelah (Shelah) means both of the above, but is probably meant to mean Prosperity.

Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names disagrees, and takes the name Shelah to be a syncopated (= shortened by omitting letter in the middle) form of the verb she'ela (she'ela), meaning request or demand (see the name Saul for a closer look at this word). Hence Jones translates this form of the name Shelah with Prayer.

From a linguistic point of view this may or may not be correct, and Prayer may be the original meaning of the name Shelah, but to a Hebrew audience, especially the non-linguists, the name Shelah looks like it means Prosperity.



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