🔼The name Hiel: Summary
- El Lives
- From (1) the verb חיה (haya), to live, and (2) the word אל ('el), God.
🔼The name Hiel in the Bible
The name Hiel occurs only one time in the Bible. Hiel of Bethlehem was the unfortunate soul who chose to ignore the curse of Joshua concerning Jericho. Joshua proclaimed right after the miraculous destruction of Jericho that whoever would try to rebuild the city would lose his firstborn when he laid the foundation, and his youngest when he set up the gates (Joshua 6:26).
During the reign of king Ahab of Judah, Hiel of Bethlehem began to rebuild Jericho and, as foretold, lost his firstborn son named Abiram when he laid the foundation, and his youngest son named Segub when he set up the gates (1 Kings 16:34).
🔼Etymology of the name Hiel
The name Hiel is generally understood to be an abbreviated form of the name Jehiel. And both these names consist of two elements, the final one being אל (El), either the prominent Canaanite deity whose name became applied to the God of Israel, or the common abbreviation of Elohim, the genus God:
In names אל ('el) usually refers to אלהים ('elohim), that is Elohim, or God, also known as אלה ('eloah). In English, the words 'God' and 'god' exclusively refer to the deity but in Hebrew the words אל ('l) and אלה ('lh) are far more common and may express approach and negation, acts of wailing and pointing, and may even mean oak or terebinth.
The second part of the name Hiel comes from the verb חיה (haya) meaning to live or have life:
The verb חיה (haya) means to live and life is all about resonance between elements — molecules working together to make a living cell, cells working together to make a living organism and human minds working together to make a living nation.
Adjective חי (hay) means living and adjective חיה (hayeh) means lively. Noun חיה (hayya) means life or living thing, and may also be used to describe a vibrant community. Plural noun חיים (hayyim) literally means livings but describes the whole palette of activities a living being engages in: one's making-a-living.
For a meaning of the name Hiel, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names read God Lives. BDB Theological Dictionary has the similar but more correct El Lives.