🔼The name Aaron: Summary
- Center Of Cheer
- From the verb אור ('or), to be or become light.
- From the noun הר (har), mountain, hill.
- From the verb ארן ('aran), to be agile, aroused or at the center of cheer.
🔼The name Aaron in the Bible
The name Aaron is unique in the Bible, and is applied only to Aaron the Levite, brother of Moses and Miriam. Aaron was the first high priest of Israel (Exodus 28:1) and his descendants filled a sub-caste within the priestly caste of Israel (Joshua 21:4).
Aaron, spelled Ααρων, is mentioned 5 times in the New Testament; see full New Testament concordance.
🔼Etymology of the name Aaron
The name Aaron is not a regular Hebrew word and that's possibly because it originated elsewhere (probably Egypt). But since most names in the Bible mean something and foreign names often were transliterated into Hebrew in such a way that they began to mean something in Hebrew, it's interesting to see what the name Aaron may have meant to a Hebrew audience.
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names derives Aaron from the Hebrew word הר (har) meaning mountain or hill (and a mountain is sometimes used as metaphor for a large group of people). From this perspective, the name Aaron is related to familiar Hebrew names such as Ararat and Haran:
The noun הר (har) is the Bible's common word for mountain or hill. Intuition dictates that the root of the word for mountain probably has to do with being elevated, but that's not correct. In Hebrew thought, a mountain is not something that's high but rather a lot of something gathered. And so, a mountain became synonymous for a large but centralized group of people (Jeremiah 51:25), or even gods (Isaiah 14:13).
The obviously related verb הרה (hera) means to be or become pregnant. An association with the previous noun is obvious, although not because the stomach of a pregnant woman resembles a mountain. The Bible depicts nations as individual women even more than as mountains; the words אמה ('umma), meaning people and אם ('em), meaning mother are closely related. A pregnant woman is to her husband what a conceiving nation is to its deity.
Another way of looking at the name Aaron (as does NOBSE Study Bible Name List) is to follow the Hebrew root אור ('or) meaning to be or become light:
The verb אור ('or) means to be light or to give light; to shine. This verb's primary derivative is the expectable noun אור ('or), meaning light. The 'metaphor' that relates light to wisdom may not be a metaphor, or at least not to the ancients. In our article on the verb נהר (nahar), meaning both to flow and to shine, we show that the ancients had a surprisingly solid grasp of Relativity Theory.
There may even be relations between the name Aaron and the verb ארן ('rn), to be agile, aroused or at the center of cheer:
The cheerful verb רנן (ranan) means to produce a ringing cry, either out of joyous cheer, distress or to introduce a declaration of some sort. Nouns רן (ron), רנה (rinna) and רננה (renana) all describe ringing cries. Plural noun רננים (renanim) refers to birds that deliver piercing cries.
The unused verb ארן ('aran) appears to have meant to be nimble, agile, or even high up or aroused, and in cognate languages it yields a noun for a kind of wild mountain goat. The indeed Biblical noun ארן ('oren) means fir or cedar.
The noun ארון ('aron) is the word that is usually translated with Ark (that is the Ark of the Covenant, not the Ark of Noah). But this noun is also used for the coffin in which Joseph's bones were repatriated, or the chest in the temple in which money was collected.
It's not clear whether these boxes were known from the wood they were made of (namely the sprightly fir or cedar), caused society to be nimble, agile or elevated, or perhaps because these boxes were designed to exist within a collective verbal expression from bystanders (after the verb רנן, ranan).
And finally we note the curious similarity between the name אהרן (Aaron; spelled with the letter ה) and the adjective אחרון (aharon; spelled with the letter ח), meaning hindermost, latter or last. See any of the אחר-names (like Aharah) for more details on this word.
For a meaning of the name Aaron, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Bright. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Very High.