🔼The name Eglath-shelishiyah: Summary
- (Yah's) Calf Of Three
- From (1) the noun עגלה (eglah), calf or heifer, and (2) שלש (shalosh), three, and perhaps (3) יה (yah), the shortened name of the Lord.
🔼The name Eglath-shelishiyah in the Bible
The name Eglath-shelishiyah occurs twice in the Bible. It's the name of a city near Zoar in Moab and both Isaiah and Jeremiah refer to it (Isaiah 15:5, Jeremiah 48:34). For some reason, scholars of old didn't think that Eglath-shelishiyah was a name and endeavored to squeeze the translation of it into the narrative (see the King James, JSP and Young translations).
🔼Etymology of the name Eglath-shelishiyah
The name Eglath-shelishiyah consists of two elements. The first part appears to be an alternate version of the regular noun עגלה (eglah), meaning calf or heifer, from the root עגל ('igl):
The unused verb עגל ('agal) probably had to do with being round or going in circles. Noun עגל ('egel) describes a male calf, and noun עגלה ('egla) means girl calf, or heifer. Adjectives עגל ('agol) and עגול ('agol) mean round. Noun עגלה ('agala) refers to a cart and noun מעגל (ma'gal) denotes an entrenchment or track. Noun עגיל ('agil) describes a hoop or ring.
The second part of our name comes from the root שלש (shalash), and has to do with the number three:
The noun שלש (shalosh) or שלוש (shalosh) or שלשה (shalosha) means three and is also the base for the words for thirteen, thirty, third, and so on. The number three may represent confirmation (of two witnesses), the smallest form of "many," i.e. a few or some, or the smallest possible cycle.
It's probably prudent to note that the contemporary idea of a Divine Triad or Trinity stems from the Roman Capitoline Triad and not in the least from anything remotely Biblical. Of course there are Father, Word and Spirit but they are one and not at all three, or five or a hundred. Nobody within the Jewish tradition associated God with any number other than one.
The final two letters of our name are יה (yah), which might be due to some grammatical construction, except that the word שלשיה does not occur anywhere in Scripture other than in our name. In all other cases, when יה occurs in a name, it's quickly recognized as an abbreviated form of the Tetragrammaton יהוה, YHWH, or Yahweh (see the buttons to the left for more names that either start or end with יה).
For a meaning of the name Eglath-shelishiyah, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and BDB Theological Dictionary read (The) Third Eglath. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names doesn't treat Eglath-shelishiyah because he works off older translations.
The King James Version, and JSP and Young translations of the Bible all state that Isaiah calls Zoar of Moab a Heifer Of Three Years Old and Jeremiah does the same to Horonaim (which is noteworthy because bovines mature in less than two years).
If we regard the final יה as a reference to the Lord, our name becomes Heifer Of Yah's Three, whatever that might mean.