🔼The name Aijalon: Summary
- Protruding One
- From the noun איל ('ayil), protruder.
🔼The name Aijalon in the Bible
The name Aijalon appears to be assigned to several towns and a valley:
- When Joshua led Israel in a battle against the Amorites, he prayed to YHWH to have the sun stand still in Gibeon and the moon in the valley of Aijalon (Joshua 10:12).
- When the boundaries of the tribe's territories were to be set, Aijalon came to belong to the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:40). When the Levites were assigned their cities, the tribe of Dan gave their city Aijalon to the Levite sub-caste of Kohath (Joshua 21:24), but they still let the Amorites live in it (Judges 1:35).
- The Chronicler appears to report on the same events, but this author states that the half-tribe of Ephraim gave the Kohathites a town called Aijalon (1 Chronicles 6:69).
- Another town of this same name was situated in the territory of Zebulun. The Zebulunite judge Elon was buried there (Judges 12:12). The name Elon is closely related to the name Aijalon.
- Yet another town of this same name was situated in Benjamin and was home to Beriah and Shema (1 Chronicles 8:13). This town was among the towns that were fortified by king Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:10), but later it was invaded by the Philistines anyway (2 Chronicles 28:18).
🔼Etymology of the name Aijalon
The name Aijalon clearly derives from the אלל ('alal) stock, and more precisely, probably the word איל ('ayil), meaning protruder:
The root אלל ('alal) predominantly describes a protruding or sticking out. This may be positive (when one leads a collective), neutral (when one is a tree), or negative (when one fails convention). The latter sense in particular describes foolishness, or at least a failure to live up to cognitive standards or common codes of conduct.
Nouns אלון ('allon), אלה ('alla) and אלה ('elah) refer to oaks or terebinths but note the similarities with the demonstrative pronoun אלה ('elleh), "these," and אלה ('eloah) meaning god or God.
Nouns אליל ('elil) and אלול ('elul) mean worthlessness or a worthless thing (a thing that sticks out of the economy of useful things). Adjectives אויל ('ewil) and אולי ('ewili) mean foolish, and noun אולת ('iwwelet) means foolishness or folly. Noun אול ('ul) may mean belly or leading man.
Nouns אולם ('ulam) and אילם ('elam) mean porch. The former is identical to an adverb that means "however" or "but." Another adverb אולי ('ulay) means "perhaps."
Noun איל ('ayil), "protruder," refers in the Bible to a ram, a pillar, a chief and, yet again, a terebinth. Noun איל ('ayyal) means stag or deer — hence the panting deer of Psalm 42 also describes an ignoramus longing for instruction — and its feminine counterpart אילה ('ayyala) means doe.
The verb יאל (ya'al) means to be foolish, gullible or even simply compliant and pleased to go along in no particularly negative way.
For a meaning of the name Aijalon, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Place Of Gazelles and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names offers A Large Stag. How Jones figures this stag to be large is a mystery, although the brilliant theologian Gesenius taught that our name might be an intensive form of איל, meaning ram. And, as everybody knows, an intense ram is the same as a large stag. BDB Theological Dictionary suggests Deer-field. How exactly the field-part fits this name is not clear, and neither is why BDB prints the Deer-part in italics.