🔼The name Jabal: Summary
- Conduit, Flowing
- From the noun יבל (yabal), conduit, from the verb יבל (yabal), to flow along a course.
🔼The name Jabal in the Bible
There's only one man named Jabal in the Bible. He is a descendant of Cain and one of three sons of Lamech the First (Genesis 4:20). His mother's name is Adah and his brother is Jubal. Their half brother is named Tubal-cain and his sister is named Naamah. Their mother is named Zillah.
Jabal was the "father" of those who live in tents and keep livestock and Jubal was the "father" of all those who play the lyre and pipe. It is highly peculiar that these patriarchies survived the deluge (we submit a possible solution in our article on the Chaotic Set Theory), but perhaps it was through the wives of Noah and his sons. We don't know what family they came from and they might have been music-making and tent-living Cainites.
To Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron, no patriarchy is ascribed, but forging iron wasn't formally invented until the time of the Philistines, which is also long after the flood.
As final curiosity: the names of all these three men — who form the final generation of Cain before the flood — are derived of the same verb יבל (yabal).
🔼Etymology of the name Jabal
The name Jabal comes from the fertile verb יבל (yabal), meaning to carry or bring along:
The verb בלל (balal) means to mix something with oil, usually flour products, usually as ritualistic food preparation. The emphasis of this verb lies on saturation and overflowing: to fill something with oil until it can absorb no more and begins to reject an excess of oil. Noun בליל (belil) describes a very rich mix for animals to eat. Noun שבלול (shabbelul) describes a snail, or an animal that looks saturated with oil. Nouns תבל (tebel) describes sexually incompatible partners, and noun תבלל (teballul) tells of insoluble material that obstructs a person's eye.
The verb יבל (yabal) speaks mostly of a flowing along some course, which of course requires the bottom of the course to be saturated and reject any further absorption. Noun יבל (yabal) means water course or conduit, noun יובל (yubal) means stream and noun אובל ('ubal) means stream or river. Adjective יבל (yabbal) means suppurating (discharging pus from a wound). Noun יבול (yebul) denotes produce from the soil and noun בול (bul) means produce or outgrowth. Noun יובל (yobel) or יבל (yobel) describes "a carrier" or "a producer" or "something that drives a flow" (e.g. a trumpet, or the principle of Jubilee). Noun תבל (tebel) refers to the whole world-economy.
Verb אבל ('abel) is like the previous ones in that it describes a drive of liquid or semi-liquid elements along some collective course. It's often used to describe a collective mourning, which either happened in a procession or else contagious enough to drag others along. Nouns אבל ('ebel) and אבל ('abel) both mean mourning, but the latter is also the word for actual water stream or brook. In cognate languages this verb is used to describe the driving of camels. There is even a sporadically used adverb אבל ('abal), which in older texts expresses solemn affirmation (verily, truly, yes indeed I'm totally going along with you there) but later texts appear to put somewhat of a breaking force on the momentum ("yes!... but").
The name Jabal is identical to the noun יבל (yabal), meaning water course or conduit. For a meaning of the name Jabal, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Leading or Flowing. NOBSE Study Bible Name List has the rather inaccurate Moving.