🔼The name Abilene: Summary
- Land Of Streams, Any Wind Can Blow 'Em
- From the noun אבל ('abel), stream, from the verb אבל ('abel), to drive a stream.
🔼The name Abilene in the Bible
The name Abilene occurs only once in the Bible. The evangelist Luke pinpoints the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist by stating that at that time, during the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, a man named Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene (Luke 3:1).
Scholars believe that this Biblical Abilene was an area located less than forty kilometers north of Damascus in Syria/Aram, which derived its name from its capital city Abila.
🔼Etymology of the name Abilene
The name Abilene comes from Abila, and Abila comes from the popular Hebrew name for locations Abel (which is not the same as the name of the second son of Adam and Eve), and that name comes from the noun אבל ('abel), meaning stream or brook, from the verb אבל ('abel), to drive a stream:
The verb בלל (balal) means to mix something with oil, usually flour products, usually as ritualistic food preparation. The emphasis of this verb lies on saturation and overflowing: to fill something with oil until it can absorb no more and begins to reject an excess of oil. Noun בליל (belil) describes a very rich mix for animals to eat. Noun שבלול (shabbelul) describes a snail, or an animal that looks saturated with oil. Nouns תבל (tebel) describes sexually incompatible partners, and noun תבלל (teballul) tells of insoluble material that obstructs a person's eye.
The verb יבל (yabal) speaks mostly of a flowing along some course, which of course requires the bottom of the course to be saturated and reject any further absorption. Noun יבל (yabal) means water course or conduit, noun יובל (yubal) means stream and noun אובל ('ubal) means stream or river. Adjective יבל (yabbal) means suppurating (discharging pus from a wound). Noun יבול (yebul) denotes produce from the soil and noun בול (bul) means produce or outgrowth. Noun יובל (yobel) or יבל (yobel) describes "a carrier" or "a producer" or "something that drives a flow" (e.g. a trumpet, or the principle of Jubilee). Noun תבל (tebel) refers to the whole world-economy.
Verb אבל ('abel) is like the previous ones in that it describes a drive of liquid or semi-liquid elements along some collective course. It's often used to describe a collective mourning, which either happened in a procession or else contagious enough to drag others along. Nouns אבל ('ebel) and אבל ('abel) both mean mourning, but the latter is also the word for actual water stream or brook. In cognate languages this verb is used to describe the driving of camels. There is even a sporadically used adverb אבל ('abal), which in older texts expresses solemn affirmation (verily, truly, yes indeed I'm totally going along with you there) but later texts appear to put somewhat of a breaking force on the momentum ("yes!... but").
For a meaning of the name Abilene, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Grassy Place. Spiros Zodhiates (The Complete Wordstudy Dictionary) suggests its core word has to do with meadow, which would give Abilene the meaning of Land Of Meadows. A more modern interpretation would be Land Of Streams, which might even be construed as a nickname for a place where fads rule and Any Wind Can Blow 'Em.