🔼The name Arnon: Summary
- Cheering, Agile
- From the verb ארן ('aran), to be agile, aroused or at the center of cheer.
🔼The name Arnon in the Bible
The name Arnon belongs to a river that marked the border between Moab and the territory of the Amorites (Numbers 21:13). When Israel battles the Amorites they conquer them and take their land from the Arnon to the Jabbok (Numbers 21:24).
Much later the prophet Jeremiah cries out, "Wail and cry out, declare by the Arnon that Moab has been destroyed" (Jeremiah 48:20).
Our name is mostly spelled ארנון, but sometimes as ארנן (for instance in Numbers 21:24-28, 22:36, Deuteronomy 2:24, 2 Kings 10:33).
🔼Etymology of the name Arnon
It's not clear where the name Arnon comes from but a Hebrew audience would have readily made the connection with either the noun ארן or the verb רנן:
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).
Neither BDB Theological Dictionary nor NOBSE Study Bible Name List translates this name, but for a meaning of the name Arnon Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names goes with the verb רנן and reads Murmuring or Roaring, "i.e. a sounding torrent," which is rather a far stretch.