🔼The name Allammelech: Summary
- Oak Of The King
- Oath Of A King
- From (1) the noun אלה ('alla), oak, and (2) מלך (melek), king.
- From (1) the verb אלה ('ala), to swear, and (2) מלך (melek), king.
🔼The name Allammelech in the Bible
The name Allammelech occurs only once in the Bible. It's the name of one of the villages that marked the territory of the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:26).
🔼Etymology of the name Allammelech
The name Allammelech consists of two elements, but the sources do not agree on which two. The brilliant linguist Gesenius proposed that the first part of our name is a truncated form of the word אלת ('allat), which in turn is a variant spelling of the feminine noun אלה ('alla), meaning oak. It comes from the verb אלל II:
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.
Other scholars (such as the learned body that produced the NOBSE Study Bible Name List), demand that the first part of the name Allammelech comes from the verb אלה ('ala II), meaning to swear or take an oath:
Unlike our English word "God," the Hebrew words for God — namely אל ('el), אלה ('eloah) and אלהים ('elohim) — are part of such a vast array of words that today nobody quite knows what the divine concept might have entailed to the ancients. Religion as we know it reflects collective identities and codes of conduct, but the divine was considered long before societies became centralized and religions became politicized. In fact, the Biblical concept of the divine has much more to do with modern science than with modern religions (Genesis 4:26, 1 Kings 4:33, Romans 1:20, Colossians 2:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:21; also see 1 Kings 18:21 relative to Matthew 11:4-5 and John 14:12 and realize that the name Baal means "lord"; Matthew 7:21-23).
Our Hebrew words for God may be native to the cluster אלל אול אלה ('lh, 'wl and 'll), which covers ideas that have to do with sticking out (from protruding trees to curious deer to foolish humans who defy convention). But they may also come from the verb אלה ('ala), to swear or curse, which suggests that God would be "that by which one swears" (whatever that might mean — as a witness? as a judge? as observable reality that will weed out unstable elements much alike the commercial market does in the human word? who knows?). From the latter verb come the noun אלה ('ala), an oath, and the noun תאלה (ta'ala), a curse.
The demonstrative pronoun אלה ('eleh), which also occurs truncated as אל ('el), means these, which suggests that God represents whatever can be observed the way a pronoun represents a noun. This pronoun possibly has to do with the Arabic definite article (meaning "the") which survives in Hebrew as אל ('al), and in English in words like alcohol and algebra. The common Hebrew definite article is ה (he), which also serves as a particle of motion-toward. Another particle of motion-toward is אל ('el), which suggests that God is that which approaches.
But then again, the word אל ('al) is an adverb of negation. This special adverb doesn't simply mean "no" and never combines with an imperative (it's never part of a negative command) but always with imperfect and jussive moods (which express continuous actions or wishes). It means "lest", "shouldn't" or "let not," which suggests that God is he who prevents bad things.
In Greek the word for God is θεος (theos), which is also not a highly reserved word but a very common element of a vast array of very common words.
On the origin of the second part of the name Allammelech the sources agree: it comes from the familiar name-element מלך, meaning king:
The noun מלך (melek) means king, and a king is not merely a glorified tribal chief but the alpha of a complex, stratified society, implying a court and a complex government.
The Bible insists that a society must be governed by a triad of anointed sovereigns, namely prophets, priests and the king. A good king causes his people to be prosperous and peaceful whereas a bad one causes poverty and strife. The difference between the two is dictated by how close to the Law of Nature (a.k.a. the Word of God) the king operates. A kingdom that is wholly in tune with the Law consists of only sovereign individuals and is thus without a physical king.
An Aramaic cognate verb מלך (malak) means to consult, which confirms that the concept of royalty indeed evolved from wisdom and intellectual prowess rather than brute physical or political strength, as is commonly suggested.
From this noun derives the verb מלך (malak): to be or become king, the nouns מלכה (malka) and מלכת (meleket): queen or court-lady, the noun מלוכה (meluka): kingship or royalty, and the nouns מלכות (malkut), ממלכה (mamlaka) and ממלכות (mamlakut), meaning sovereignty or kinghood.
For a meaning of the name Allammelech, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Oath Of A King. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names concludes Oak Of The King. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't translate our name but refers to Gesenius' interpretation favored by Jones (albeit with BDB's signature question mark).