🔼The name Chislev: Summary
- Mud Pool, Bonelessness
- From a Babylonian verb kislimu or kislivu, to be thick or congealed, or the verb כסל (kasal), to be boneless or unsupported by a skeletal structure.
🔼The name Chislev in the Bible
The name Chislev, or Kislev in some versions of the Bible, belongs to the ninth month of the agricultural year (corresponding to the modern months of November and December). Chislev is mentioned twice in the Bible, in Nehemiah 1:1 and Zechariah 7:1.
🔼Etymology of the name Chislev
The name Chislev comes from Babylon and was adopted by the Jews during their exile there. It stems from a verb kislimu or kislivu, which had to do with being thick or congealed. A Hebrew audience, however, would probably have made a readily connection to the root כסל (kasal), which deals mostly with being unsubstantiated or rather without skeletal strength:
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.
The name Chislev appears to have to do with the realization that the harvest is over and all agricultural activities have concluded. Since Israel was a mostly agricultural society, it factually lost its economic backbone when the agricultural machine came to a halt. Of course, folks had plenty to do also in wintertime, but one may imagine winter activities to mostly focus on local repairs or the fabrication of clothing and perhaps art.
Neither NOBSE Study Bible Name List nor Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names nor BDB Theological Dictionary translates this name.