🔼The name Jael: Summary
- Mountain Goat, He Who Gets Somewhere Because He's Good At Something Useful
- From the verb יעל (ya'al), to profit or be of practical use.
🔼The name Jael in the Bible
🔼Etymology of the name Jael
The name Jael comes from the verb יעל (ya'al), to profit or be useful:
The verb יעל (ya'al) means to profit, benefit or be of any (or much) practical use. Curiously, nouns יעל (ya'al) and יעלה (ya'ala) describe the male and female mountain goat respectively. Some scholars insist that these nouns derive from a whole other but unused verb, namely one meaning to ascend. Others propose that physical ascension requires finding literal footing, whereas figurative ascension (in prosperity and cultural diversity) is fundamentally based on the mastery of practical and useful skills. That would make the mountain goat literally a "benefiter of practical skill."
The name Jael is pronounced the same as the word for mountain goat, but distinctions in pronunciation were added many centuries after this text was written. Still, for a meaning of the name Jael, both BDB Theological Dictionary and NOBSE Study Bible Name List read Mountain Goat. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names translates this name with Ibex.
Note that although the character Jael is feminine, the name Jael is the same as the masculine word for mountain goat, whereas the feminine version of it, Jaalah, belongs to a male character.