🔼The name Aenon: Summary
- Spring (Eye), Place Of Springs (or Eyes)
- Praise, Place Of Praise
- From the noun עין ('ayin), fountain or eye.
- From the verb αινεω (aineo), to praise or tell about.
🔼The name Aenon in the Bible
The name Aenon appears only once in the Bible, namely in John 3:23, where it is reported that John the Baptist "was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there." Commentators have since tried to establish where Aenon near Salim might have been located, but to others, the gospel of John refers to something other than mere location.
John's gospel was published when the synoptic gospels had been circulating for two decades — and these were the two decades following the destruction of Jerusalem's Temple and subsequent holocaust of Judea's population — and served not so much to introduce a whole new message but rather a follow up and a joyful confirmation. The original gospels had proclaimed that, despite the destruction and horrors inflicted by the Romans, the Jews and their faith would continue in the everlasting life provided by the Messiah. The gospel of John was proclaiming that the seed had indeed firmly rooted, and the Jewish mission to the world had survived and was rapidly expanding! As we point out in our article on the name Nicodemus, the gospel of John is deliberately hilarious and has jokes on every page (see John 1:26, 3:10, 5:13, 7:52, 10:32).
The quip captured in Aenon-by-Salim is slightly more elaborate, and hinges on the nature of Christ (which is actually the very topic that enticed Christianity to breach from Judaism and begin its decline back into polytheistic paganism, starting at the council of Nicaea in 325 AD).
What the brethren in Nicaea were not yet (or rather: no longer) able to fathom is that the nature of God is that of Oneness (Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 45:5-7), which is why the whole of created nature is One (Romans 1:20, John 1:3, Colossians 1:16-17), and the formal description of it is One too (John 1:18, Colossians 2:3, Hebrews 1:3), and so are all the people who know and understand this Oneness (John 17:21-24, Ephesians 4:3-6, 2 Peter 1:4). God is One, which is why nature is One; it's the same Oneness and thus the same Divinity. There are no two Onenesses; there is only one One, and that One is God.
This means that the universe is a closed system in which everything always works together (Romans 8:28-30), whatever goes up must come down, all energy always adds up to the same amount and nothing is lost or added, and momentum and baryon number and such are perfectly preserved. All natural laws, all events, the entire complex nature of the whole of creation derives from the Oneness of all things. Why is it then that Matthew traces Jesus' ancestry via Solomon (Matthew 1:6), whereas Luke traces his ancestry via Solomon's brother Nathan (Luke 3:31)?
The brethren at Nicaea were right about one thing: Jesus had two natures. But they were wrong in assuming that Jesus' human nature was different from his divine nature. The whole miracle of the gospel, namely, is that in Christ, God is among us: in Christ, God and humanity meet, like a living tabernacle where humanity becomes divine and divinity becomes human (Exodus 25:22, Mark 14:58, 1 Peter 2:5), like a crossroads of two roads, whose point of intersection is wholly innate part of both roads and not one more than the other, or like two parents who become one flesh (Genesis 2:24) and whose child results from that oneness and not more from one parent than from the other.
In the past, some well-meaning commentators have suggested that the two genealogies of Jesus are actually about his two human parents, namely Joseph and Mary, but this is not very helpful as both genealogies obviously and with considerable emphasis lead to Joseph and not to Mary (Matthew 1:16, Luke 3:23). Moreover, Mary was a close cousin of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, who was a Levite. And that means that both Mary and Jesus were genetical Levites and not even Jews! The physical ancestry of Jesus never even came close to either Solomon or Nathan, or their father king David. Their last common ancestor was Jacob, the father of Judah and Levi.
And to top all this off: both Matthew and Luke trace Jesus' human nature through Joseph, who, as we all agree, had nothing to do with the physical origin of Jesus. When Luke describes the nature of the relationship between Joseph and Jesus, he uses the verb νομιζω (nomizo), to legalize or make a matter of law, from the noun νομος (nomos), meaning law (Luke 3:23). Joseph was Jesus' father-by-law, and the "by-law" part is what makes the crucial difference.
Paul writes that Jesus was a descendant of David according to the flesh (Romans 1:3). The Greek word for flesh is σαρξ (sarx) and the Hebrew is בשר (basar), which stems from the verb בשר (basar), meaning to bring glad tidings, even tiding of comfort and joy. Animals have no law — in its most general meaning: lawfulness means an ability to think algorithmically, or having a consciousness that derives from the understanding that reality runs on a set of rules that always work the same way and always add up to an harmonic one; it's where monotheism comes from — which means that animals react to their environment purely by their emotions, and every time differently, depending on how they feel. A lawless human — that is a human driven purely by private emotions and not by global algorithms — is the same as a beast (Psalm 49:20, 73:22, Ecclesiastes 3:18, 2 Peter 2:12, Jude 1:10). A human — and that includes a human nature and human "flesh", which is not the same as animal "flesh" (1 Corinthians 15:39) — is a being that has begun to accept the lawfulness of nature, and so has begun to approach divinity, which is the harmonic oneness of all things.
The final key to our mystery is that the Law, though perfect, cannot save (Romans 8:3), which means that the Law (or more precise: the effect of the Law) will always remain incomplete (hence Kurt Gödel's incompleteness theorem). Fortunately, the love of Christ surpasses all knowledge (Ephesians 3:19), and the peace — i.e. שלם (shalem), literally wholeness or completeness — of God surpasses all comprehension (Philippians 4:7). The purpose of the gospel, or so writes Paul, is freedom (Galatians 5:1); not a freedom of law, because that would result in a lawless animal mind, but a freedom by law, a freedom that comes from the mastery of the rules: see our article on ελευθερια (eleutheria), or freedom-by-law.
Salvation comes by faith through grace; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). Jesus speaks of this same gift when he says: "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water" (John 4:10). And later he says: "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water'" (John 7:38).
The story of the genealogy of Christ, even the entire Bible, is not the story of how one generation of great apes gave birth to the next generation of great apes, but rather how one mode of systemic and algorithmic thought yielded the next. Contrary to common perception, the heroes of the Bible are not flesh-and-blood individuals but soul-and-spirit individuals (compare Matthew 22:32 to Hebrews 11:4 and Genesis 3:20). Their story is about how the unified understanding of everything came to be a human thing.
John baptized in Aenon near Salim, which appears to be a play on Nathan and Solomon, or Gift and Completeness.
🔼Etymology of the name Aenon
It's not wholly clear how the name Aenon is technically formed, or even from which language it came, but it's very obviously designed to remind of the very common Hebrew word עין ('ayin), meaning fountain or eye:
The noun עין ('ayin) means both eye and fountain, well or spring. This might be explained by noting that the eye produces water in the form of tears, but perhaps more so in that water and light were considered deeply akin (see our article on the verb נהר, nahar, both meaning to shine and to flow). In that sense, the eye was considered a fountain that watered the outward face with water and the internal mind with light. Verb עין ('in) means to eye or regard. Noun מעין (ma'yan) describes a place with a spring.
But our name also looks like it has something to do with the Greek verb αινεω (aineo), meaning to tell about or speak of, but that may be because this Greek verb itself derives from the Hebrew word for fountain (see the full Dictionary article for more on this):
The verb αινεω (aineo) means to tell about or speak of, often in a very positive way: to praise, extoll or recommend. In the New Testament, this verb appears solely with God as its object. Noun αινεσις (ainesis) describes an instance of the verb: an act of telling about or praising. Noun αινος (ainos) describes a thing told. Noun αινιγμα (ainigma) describes a story with a riddle: an enigma.
Unused in the New Testament, the very similar adjective αινος (ainos), means horrible or terrible: an αινολυκος (ainolukos) is a terrible wolf, an αινολογος (ainologos) is a terrible speaker. Perhaps this strange duality is similar to that found in our English verb to fear (which means both to revere and to be afraid of).
The name Aenon means Spring or, when we take the -on suffix as indicative of locality, Place Of Springs in Hebrew and Praise in Greek, and may even celebrate the idea that the Greek alphabet derived from the Hebrew one and was imported into the Greek language basin along with some handy terms and abstractions to kick-start the later so famous Greek wisdom tradition (see our article on the name Hellas).