🔼The name Areli: Summary
- Gathered By God, Lion Of My God
- From (1) the verb ארה ('ara), to gather, or the noun ארי ('ary), lion, and (2) the word אל ('el), God.
🔼The name Areli in the Bible
The name Areli is assigned to only one man: a son (probably the youngest) of Gad, the seventh son of Jacob and first of Zilpah (Genesis 46:16). Areli is also the progenitor of the אראלי, the Arelites, who are mentioned only once, in Numbers 26:17.
🔼Etymology of the name Areli
In names אל ('el) usually refers to אלהים ('elohim), that is Elohim, or God, also known as אלה ('eloah). In English, the words 'God' and 'god' exclusively refer to the deity but in Hebrew the words אל ('l) and אלה ('lh) are far more common and may express approach and negation, acts of wailing and pointing, and may even mean oak or terebinth.
The first part of the name Areli comes from the verb ארה ('ara), meaning to gather or pluck:
The verb ארה ('ara) means to collect, pluck or gather. Nouns ארי ('ari) and אריה ('aryeh) both mean lion, which indicates that in Biblical times lions symbolized any power (individual or national) that plundered, gathered and hoarded. And as always, lions are not intrinsically bad; it all depends on what they gather (and at what cost).
Noun אריה ('urya) means manger or crib, which is a thing around which domesticated animals gather — and that is obviously why mankind's slowly waxing collective wisdom was placed in one by "His" mother.
The letter י (yod) with which our name ends, can have various meanings. It may be a possessive yod, so that whatever אראל means, אראלי means My אראל. It may also denote an adjective, so that whatever אראל means, אראלי is the adjective that goes with it. And an adjective in Hebrew may also be an ethnonym (that's a word that tells where someone belongs or came from). In fact, the ethnonym Arelite is spelled and pronounced exactly the same as the name Areli.
Then there is the related word אראל ('arel), which occurs only in Isaiah 33:7, which translators usually interpret as hero or brave one, or something to that extent (see our article on the name Ariel for further details).
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names goes with the possessive yod and a literal translation of the compound אראל. Hence Jones reads Lion Of My God for a meaning of our name.
NOBSE Study Bible Name List takes the interpretive, Isaiah 33:7 approach for the אראל-part, and sees the yod as an adjective maker. Hence NOBSE reads Valiant, Heroic.
BDB Theological Dictionary does not translate or interpret this name.