🔼The name Havilah: Summary
- Circle, Bringing Fort
- Languishing Village
- From the verb חול (hul), to whirl.
- From (1) the verb חוה (hawa), to gather into a symbiosis, and (2) the verb להה (laha), to languish.
🔼The name Havilah in the Bible
The name Havilah is assigned three different times in the Bible:
- It is first mentioned as a land that contains both gold and the river Pishon, one of four rivers of Eden (Genesis 2:11). The people of Ishmael settled there (Genesis 25:18) and Saul drove out the Amalekites from there (1 Samuel 15:7). The land Havilah was probably named in retrospect, as the territory of one of the two human Havilahs. Here at Abarim Publications we surmise that the Pishon may have been named after the Indus River (see our article on the Exodus for the details) but that the story of the four rivers most generally tells of the evolution of human civilization (see our article on the name Tigris for an elaborate defense of this). Also note that in Genesis 2:11 the name Havilah is preceded by the definite article or article of approach: the or onto Havilah.
- A son of Cush, son of Ham, son of Noah (Genesis 10:7)
- A son of Joktan, the son of Eber (Genesis 10:29).
🔼Etymology of the name Havilah
The name Havilah probably comes from the root group חול (hul I & II) and can be interpreted in many ways:
- Verb חול (hul I) denotes a whirling in circular motions. It comes with quite a cluster of derivatives, most notably the noun חל (hol), meaning sand; the noun חל (hil), meaning pain so bad that it makes one writhe (specifically childbirth); the noun חל (hel), which denotes a (circular) rampart, and the nouns מחול (mahol) and מחולה (mehola), which describe (whirling) dances.
- Verb חול (hul II) means to be strong, and the important derived noun חיל (hayil) means might.
- A by-form of the previous: the verb חלם (halam I) means to be strong.
- Verb חלם (halam II) means to dream, and its derived noun חלום (halom) means a dream.
These curious parallels suggests that the Hebrews saw dreaming as something cyclic; see our full dictionary article on these words for a closer look at dreams in the Bible. Also note the similarities in form with the חלל (halal) cluster.
There is a difficulty, however. When the letter waw is a consonant (as it is in the name Havilah) it is a completely different letter than when it is a vowel (as in the verb חול), and there must be a very good reason why a vowel changes to a consonant (the same problem occurs with the name David). Perhaps it is to deliberately point at some other words. Perhaps to the verb חוה (hawa):
The verb חוה (hawa) means to lay out in order to live collectively, and describes investing one's personal sovereignty into a living collective like a symbiont. It's mostly translated as to prostrate, which is to submit oneself wholly and bodily to a collective or to the leader of that collective.
Another form of laying out is in proclaiming information that will lead to greater oneness among the hearers. The noun אחוה ('ahwah) means declaration, and is identical to the noun אחוה ('ahawa) meaning brotherhood.
Noun חוה (hawwa) describes a tent village, or the most rudimentary collective that operates as a living, symbiotic whole.
The final part of the name Havilah may then be recognized to come from the word להה (laha), meaning to languish or faint. This word occurs only in Genesis 47:13. Following these leads gives Havilah the additional meaning of Languishing Village, or Exhausted Revelation.
For a meaning of the name Havilah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Circle, and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Bringing Fort, or Trembling (with pain). BDB Theological Dictionary does not translate but endorses an etymology from חול.