🔼The name Aharhel: Summary
- Behind The Breastwork
- Brother Of An Ewe
- From (1) the word אחר (ahar), after, and (2) the noun חל (hel), rampart.
- From (1) the noun אח ('ah), brother, and (2) the noun רחל (rahel), ewe.
🔼The name Aharhel in the Bible
🔼Etymology of the name Aharhel
The etymology of the name Aharhel is wonderfully obscure. In its signature charming way, BDB Theological Dictionary deems "derivation and meaning dubious," which leads the more creative minds in the scholarly arena to propose the following options:
Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) derives the first part of the name Aharhel from the very common Hebrew word אחר (ahar), meaning behind or after:
The verb אחר ('ahar) means to come after or later, to derive or even to delay (to make to come after or later). Adjective אחר (aher) means another, adjective אחרי (aharay) means afterwards, and adjective אחרון (aharon) means hindermost. Noun אחרית (aharit) refers to some after part and noun אחור (ahor) to some back part. Adverb אחרנית (ahoranit) means backwards. Preposition אחר (ahar) means behind.
The second part of the name Aharhel, according to Alfred Jones, comes from the root group חול (hul I & II), which can be interpreted in many ways.
- Verb חול (hul I) denotes a whirling in circular motions. It comes with quite a cluster of derivatives, most notably the noun חל (hol), meaning sand; the noun חל (hil), meaning pain so bad that it makes one writhe (specifically childbirth); the noun חל (hel), which denotes a (circular) rampart, and the nouns מחול (mahol) and מחולה (mehola), which describe (whirling) dances.
- Verb חול (hul II) means to be strong, and the important derived noun חיל (hayil) means might.
- A by-form of the previous: the verb חלם (halam I) means to be strong.
- Verb חלם (halam II) means to dream, and its derived noun חלום (halom) means a dream.
These curious parallels suggests that the Hebrews saw dreaming as something cyclic; see our full dictionary article on these words for a closer look at dreams in the Bible. Also note the similarities in form with the חלל (halal) cluster.
🔼Aharhel meaning according to Alfred Jones
Following this reasoning, Alfred Jones renders the name Aharhel the meaning of Behind The Breastwork.
🔼NOBSE Study Bible Name List
The learned body behind the NOBSE Study Bible Name List, however, sees the name Aharhel as formed from the same word that gave us the name Rachel: the noun רחל (rahel) meaning ewe:
The noun רחל (rahel) means ewe (a female sheep). It occurs only four times in the Old Testament, which suggests that it describes a specific sort of ewe.
The first part of the name Aharhel, according to NOBSE, is the enigmatic word אח ('ah), usually meaning brother:
The noun אח ('ah) means brother, or more broadly: a fellow member of a social economic node (a "house") within a broader economic whole.
This word's lavish inclusion in names strongly suggests that the deity was reckoned by this word — in modern times we mostly speak of Our Father in Heaven but in antiquity the deity appears to have also been addressed as Our Brother. The New Testament appears to entertain that dynamic in the tenet that the Word is God's Son, and all who have the Word are godly brothers. Also note the similarity with the verb חוה (hawa), to show, tell, make known.
The noun אחוה ('ahawa) means brotherhood and אחות ('ahot) means sister.
🔼Aharhel meaning according to NOBSE
The difficulty with this interpretation is that the emphasis seems garbled. If Aharhel would have been as NOBSE suggests, it would have been pronounced as Ahrahel, and probably even spelled as Ahirachel.
Undeterred, however, for a meaning of the name Aharhel, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Brother Of Rachel. A full translation would be Brother Of An Ewe.