🔼The name Asriel: Summary
- God Has Filled With Joy
- Vow Of God
- From (1) the verb אשר ('ashar), to be happy, and (2) the word אל ('el), God.
- From (1) the verb אסר ('asar), to bind, and (2) the word אל ('el), God.
🔼The name Asriel in the Bible
The name Asriel occurs three times in the Bible. He is mentioned as a son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, and the progenitor of the sub-tribe of the Asrielites (אשראלי, Numbers 26:31, Joshua 17:2). According to the Chronicler, Asriel's (great-grand-)mother was an Aramean concubine (1 Chronicles 7:14).
🔼Etymology of the name Asriel
The name Asriel consists of two elements, the final one being אל ('el), the prominent Canaanite deity, whose name became applied to the God of Israel, or the common abbreviation of Elohim, the genus God:
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 origin of the first part of our name is disputed. The Masoretes pointed its letter ש as שׂ, but the word אשׂר doesn't exist in Hebrew (as far as we know). But אשׂר possibly sounded like אסר ('asar) meaning to bind (see our article on the name Masoretes), so some commentators feel that the name אשריאל should really read אסריאל:
The verb אסר ('asar) means to bind or tie up. Nouns אסור ('esur), אסר ('issar), מסרת (masoret) and מוסר (moser) all mean bond or band. Noun אסיר ('asir) describes a prisoner (a bound one) and the similar noun אסיר ('assir) refers to a group of prisoners or their joined bond.
Verb מסר (masar) means to bind in the sense of to incriminate or to attach a charge, mission or misdeed to a person. As such it may be used to mean to deliver up or offer.
Here at Abarim Publications we rather go with the way our name was spelled instead of how the Masoretes interpreted it, which means that the first part of our name comes more probably from the verb אשר ('ashar), meaning to go straight or to be happy:
Verb ישר (yashar) means to be straight or level. Adjective ישר (yashar) means right or upright. Nouns ישר (yosher), ישרה (yeshara) and מישר (meshar) mean uprightness or straightness. Noun מישור (mishor) describes a level place or plain.
Verb אשר ('ashar) covers a decisive progression or a setting right, and is often applied to describe happiness and prosperity (right on!). This is not due to a curious coincidence but to the obvious correlation of righteousness and efficiency. Righteousness in the Biblical sense describes a solid grasp of natural law, which leads to high levels of technology, social liquidity and thus peace and prosperity.
Nouns אשר ('esher), אשר ('ashar) and אשר ('osher) mean happiness or blessedness. Nouns אשור (ashur) and אשר (ashur) mean a step, a walk or a going. The noun תאשור (te'ashur) refers to a kind of tree (a happy tree? a progressing tree?).
The relative particle אשר (asher) means who or which, and may or may not be related to the previous (but probably does).
The letter י (yod) that sits between these two elements probably serves to form a possessive form out of the asher-part: my joy, or joy of.
For a meaning of the name Asriel, NOBSE Study Bible Name List goes with אשר ('ashar) and reads God Has Filled With Joy. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names goes with אסר ('asar) and proposes Vow Of God. BDB Theological Dictionary does not offer an interpretation of this name.