🔼The name Elah: Summary
- From the noun אלה, terebinth, from the verb אלל ('alal), to protrude.
🔼The name Elah in the Bible
There are five men and one valley named Elah in the Bible:
- A Chief in Edom (Genesis 36:41).
- The valley in which young David famously slew Goliath of Gath (1 Samuel 17:2).
- A king of Israel, who was a son of the godless Baasha and whose throne was located at Tirzah (1 Kings 16:6). One day, as he was getting drunk with his chief of staff Arza, he was assassinated by Zimri, the commander of half of Elah's chariots. Zimri became king and proceeded to kill the entire house of Baasha (1 Kings 16:11).
- The father of Hosea, who killed and supplanted king Pekah of Israel (2 Kings 15:30).
- A son of the famous Caleb, who was a son of Jephunneh and the father of Kenaz (1 Chronicles 4:15).
- A Benjaminite, son of Uzzi, who returned from exile (1 Chronicles 9:8).
🔼Etymology of the name Elah
The name Elah comes either from אלל (says Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) or from אול (says BDB Theological Dictionary):
The root אלל ('alal) predominantly describes a protruding or sticking out. This may be positive (when one leads a collective), neutral (when one is a tree), or negative (when one fails convention). The latter sense in particular describes foolishness, or at least a failure to live up to cognitive standards or common codes of conduct.
Nouns אלון ('allon), אלה ('alla) and אלה ('elah) refer to oaks or terebinths but note the similarities with the demonstrative pronoun אלה ('elleh), "these," and אלה ('eloah) meaning god or God.
Nouns אליל ('elil) and אלול ('elul) mean worthlessness or a worthless thing (a thing that sticks out of the economy of useful things). Adjectives אויל ('ewil) and אולי ('ewili) mean foolish, and noun אולת ('iwwelet) means foolishness or folly. Noun אול ('ul) may mean belly or leading man.
Nouns אולם ('ulam) and אילם ('elam) mean porch. The former is identical to an adverb that means "however" or "but." Another adverb אולי ('ulay) means "perhaps."
Noun איל ('ayil), "protruder," refers in the Bible to a ram, a pillar, a chief and, yet again, a terebinth. Noun איל ('ayyal) means stag or deer — hence the panting deer of Psalm 42 also describes an ignoramus longing for instruction — and its feminine counterpart אילה ('ayyala) means doe.
The verb יאל (ya'al) means to be foolish, gullible or even simply compliant and pleased to go along in no particularly negative way.
For a meaning of the name Elah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads An Oak, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Terebinth, Oak, and BDB Theological Dictionary reads Terebinth.