🔼The name Araunah: Summary
- A Large Tree, Yah Is Firm
- From (1) the verb ארן ('aran), to be agile, aroused or at the center of cheer, and possibly (2) יה (yah), the shortened name of the Lord.
🔼The name Araunah in the Bible
There's only one man named Araunah in the Bible, but his name comes in four different spellings. Throughout 2 Samuel 24 he is called ארונה (Araunah), except for verse 24:16, where he is called האורנה (Haavarnah, or The Avarnah), and 24:18 where he is called ארניה (Araniah). And throughout 1 Chronicles 21 and 2 Chronicles 3:1 he is called ארנן (Ornan).
But anyway, Araunah is the last mentioned Jebusite in the Bible. When king David foolishly orders a census of Israel, the Lord retaliates with a three day plague because of which 70,000 men die. After three days, the angel who does the killing stops at the threshing floor of Araunah, and the prophet Gad commands David to build an altar on the spot. Araunah wishes to donate the land to his king, but David refuses to accept it and pays fifty shekels of silver for it instead (the parallel story in Chronicles speaks of 600 shekels of gold — 1 Chronicles 21:25).
🔼Etymology of the name Araunah
The name Araunah comes from the root group ארן:
The cheerful verb רנן (ranan) means to produce a ringing cry, either out of joyous cheer, distress or to introduce a declaration of some sort. Nouns רן (ron), רנה (rinna) and רננה (renana) all describe ringing cries. Plural noun רננים (renanim) refers to birds that deliver piercing cries.
The unused verb ארן ('aran) appears to have meant to be nimble, agile, or even high up or aroused, and in cognate languages it yields a noun for a kind of wild mountain goat. The indeed Biblical noun ארן ('oren) means fir or cedar.
The noun ארון ('aron) is the word that is usually translated with Ark (that is the Ark of the Covenant, not the Ark of Noah). But this noun is also used for the coffin in which Joseph's bones were repatriated, or the chest in the temple in which money was collected.
It's not clear whether these boxes were known from the wood they were made of (namely the sprightly fir or cedar), caused society to be nimble, agile or elevated, or perhaps because these boxes were designed to exist within a collective verbal expression from bystanders (after the verb רנן, ranan).
It's not clear where the final ה (he) of the name Araunah comes from. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) appears to ignore it, possibly because it seems to augment the word ארן into an ordinary feminine form, meaning the same thing. The scholars behind the NOBSE Study Bible Name List, however, beg to differ with Jones and appear to believe that not Araunah but Araniah (ארניה, from 2 Samuel 24:18) is the primary form and Araunah a contraction of it.
The name Araniah can be seen as the word ארן plus יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton יהוה, YHWH or Yahweh.
And so, for a meaning of the name Araunah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Yahweh Is Firm, and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads A Large Ash or Pine. Jones apparently ties this name also to the verb רנן (ranan), as he writes, "probably [ארן] had the sense of a tremulous and tinkling or creaking sound, as of a tall tree vibrating in the air".
BDB Theological Dictionary does not list this name under the root group ארן but neither suggests alternatives. Whatever BDB's objections are, a Hebrew audience would probably not care much about them and associate our name to ארן or רנן anyway.