🔼The name Elon: Summary
- From the noun אלון ('allon), oak, from the verb אלל ('alal), to protrude.
🔼The name Elon in the Bible
The name Elon is assigned to three men and one city in the Bible, and is spelled in several different ways. The men are:
- The father of Basemath the Hittite, who became the wife of Esau (spelled אילן in Genesis 26:34 and אילון in 36:2).
- A son of Zebulun (Genesis 46:14). His name is spelled אלון and his progeny became known as the אלני, the Elonites (Numbers 26:26).
- The eleventh judge of Israel (אלון), also from Zebulun. This judge was buried in Aijalon, which is a name that is closely related to Elon.
The town called Elon (אילון) was assigned to the tribe of Dan when Canaan was divided among the tribes of Israel (Joshua 19:43). Some scholars equate this Elon with the Elonbeth-hanan mentioned in 1 Kings 4:9.
🔼Etymology of the name Elon
The name Elon is the same as a noun that's been produced by two separate roots, with the same meaning both times:
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 Elon, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Oak. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names, always slightly more enthusiastic, offers Magnificent Oak, although the magnificent-part isn't quite contained by this name. BDB Theological Dictionary indeed states that our name Elon is equal to the noun meaning terebinth (from the root אול) and compares it to the name אלה (Elah).