🔼The name Hilen: Summary
- Strong Place, Sandy
- From the verb חול (hul), to be circular or to be strong.
🔼The name Hilen in the Bible
The name Hilen occurs only once in the Bible. It's the name of a city located in the territory of Judah, which was given to the priestly sons of Aaron (1 Chronicles 6:58). The Chronicler lists Hilen in close proximity of Debir, and the author of the Book of Joshua mentions a place called Holon, also close to Debir of Judah (Joshua 15:51), which was also given to the sons of Aaron (Joshua 21:15). Scholars generally assume that Hilen and Holon are the same place.
🔼Etymology of the name Hilen
The name Hilen either comes from the verb חול I (hul I), or rather its derived noun חול (hol), meaning sand. Or it comes from the noun חיל (hayil), meaning might, from the verb חול II (hul II), meaning to endure or be firm:
- 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.
The letter ן (nun) upon which our name ends could be regarded as a predecessor of the common waw-nun couple that personifies or localizes a root idea. The name Hilen would thus mean Sandy Place or Mighty Place.
For a meaning of the name Hilen, NOBSE Study Bible Name List apparently goes with the verb חול II (hul II), meaning to endure or be firm and reads Strong Place. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) derives it from חול (hol), meaning sand and proposes Sandy. BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret our name but lists it under the root חול I (hul I), which would favor the interpretation of Alfred Jones.