🔼The name Chesil: Summary
- Orion, Fool
- From the verb כסל (kasal), to be a mental invertebrate.
🔼The name Chesil in the Bible
The name Chesil occurs only one time in the Bible. The town of Chesil is mentioned in Joshua 15:30 as part of a series of towns that marked the southern border of the territory allotted to Judah. But since the tribe of Simeon had its inheritance within Judah, and Joshua 19:1-9 lists the towns of Simeon, many of the Simeonite towns were mentioned earlier as Judaic towns, and in the same order. But where in Joshua 19:4 we would expect Chesil (כסיל), we read Bethul (בתואל).
BDB Theological Dictionary blames this on a text error, and states that Chesil is "probably corrupt for" Bethul. Here at Abarim Publications we doubt that, because the names Chesil and Bethul are too unlike. We think that our town was "probably" known by two names, which is not at all unusual in the Bible. Or else there were two different towns: Chesil to mark the southern border of Judah, and Bethul — slightly more north so that Simeon would still be within Judah — to mark Simeon.
🔼Etymology of the name Chesil
The name Chesil comes from the root כסל (kasal), and is identical to the noun כסיל (kesil), meaning fool, and which is also the word for Orion:
The verb כסל (kasal) means to have no skeletal strength or engage in pareidolia (falsely recognizing images in random patterns, such as Mickey Mouse in a cloud). It describes muscle- and boneless body parts, or a "belief" in the systematic link between uncorrelated events. It typically describes stellar constellations, which are obviously as fantastic as useless.
Nouns כסל (kesel) and כסלה (kisla) mean stupidity or (misplaced) confidence. The former may also describe a body part, probably the loin or lower belly (or blubber butt). The feminine noun כסילות (kesilut) means stupidity.
Noun כסיל (kesil) means fool or dunce; someone who "sees" structure in uncorrelated events. This is also the word for stellar constellations in general, and more specific the constellation Orion.
For a meaning of the name Chesil, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads A Fool. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Orion or Constellations or Fool. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't make an attempt to translate this name.