🔼The names Asharelah and Jesharelah: Summary
- God Gives Happiness, Upright Toward God, Straight Oak
- From (1) the verbs אשר ('ashar), to go straight and ישר (yashar), to be level or straight, and (2) אלה ('eloah), God, or אלה ('ala), oak.
🔼The names Asharelah and Jesharelah in the Bible
The names Asharelah (אשראלה) and Jesharelah (אשראלה) both occur just once in the Bible, and they appear to be applied to the same man, namely one of the musical sons of the famous composer Asaph, who would prophesy under the direction of kings David and Solomon (Asharelah; 1 Chronicles 25:2). When the remaining musical duties were assigned, this person (now called Jesharelah) caught the seventh lot for him and his relatives (1 Chronicles 25:14).
🔼Etymology of the names Asharelah and Jesharelah
The names Asharelah and Jesharelah both consist of two elements. The first part of Jesharelah comes from the verb ישר (yashar), meaning to be level or straight, and the first part of Asharelah comes from the similar verb אשר ('ashar), meaning to go straight:
Verb ישר (yashar) means to be straight or level. Adjective ישר (yashar) means right or upright. Nouns ישר (yosher), ישרה (yeshara) and מישר (meshar) mean uprightness or straightness. Noun מישור (mishor) describes a level place or plain.
Verb אשר ('ashar) covers a decisive progression or a setting right, and is often applied to describe happiness and prosperity (right on!). This is not due to a curious coincidence but to the obvious correlation of righteousness and efficiency. Righteousness in the Biblical sense describes a solid grasp of natural law, which leads to high levels of technology, social liquidity and thus peace and prosperity.
Nouns אשר ('esher), אשר ('ashar) and אשר ('osher) mean happiness or blessedness. Nouns אשור (ashur) and אשר (ashur) mean a step, a walk or a going. The noun תאשור (te'ashur) refers to a kind of tree (a happy tree? a progressing tree?).
The relative particle אשר (asher) means who or which, and may or may not be related to the previous (but probably does).
The final parts of our names are the same: אלה ('eleh), which could be a reference to אלה ('elah), one of the words for god or God (of the stock of El and Elohim):
Unlike our English word "God," the Hebrew words for God — namely אל ('el), אלה ('eloah) and אלהים ('elohim) — are part of such a vast array of words that today nobody quite knows what the divine concept might have entailed to the ancients. Religion as we know it reflects collective identities and codes of conduct, but the divine was considered long before societies became centralized and religions became politicized. In fact, the Biblical concept of the divine has much more to do with modern science than with modern religions (Genesis 4:26, 1 Kings 4:33, Romans 1:20, Colossians 2:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:21; also see 1 Kings 18:21 relative to Matthew 11:4-5 and John 14:12 and realize that the name Baal means "lord"; Matthew 7:21-23).
Our Hebrew words for God may be native to the cluster אלל אול אלה ('lh, 'wl and 'll), which covers ideas that have to do with sticking out (from protruding trees to curious deer to foolish humans who defy convention). But they may also come from the verb אלה ('ala), to swear or curse, which suggests that God would be "that by which one swears" (whatever that might mean — as a witness? as a judge? as observable reality that will weed out unstable elements much alike the commercial market does in the human word? who knows?). From the latter verb come the noun אלה ('ala), an oath, and the noun תאלה (ta'ala), a curse.
The demonstrative pronoun אלה ('eleh), which also occurs truncated as אל ('el), means these, which suggests that God represents whatever can be observed the way a pronoun represents a noun. This pronoun possibly has to do with the Arabic definite article (meaning "the") which survives in Hebrew as אל ('al), and in English in words like alcohol and algebra. The common Hebrew definite article is ה (he), which also serves as a particle of motion-toward. Another particle of motion-toward is אל ('el), which suggests that God is that which approaches.
But then again, the word אל ('al) is an adverb of negation. This special adverb doesn't simply mean "no" and never combines with an imperative (it's never part of a negative command) but always with imperfect and jussive moods (which express continuous actions or wishes). It means "lest", "shouldn't" or "let not," which suggests that God is he who prevents bad things.
In Greek the word for God is θεος (theos), which is also not a highly reserved word but a very common element of a vast array of very common words.
But it can also be one of the nouns אלה that pop up in the following word cluster:
The root אלל ('alal) predominantly describes a protruding or sticking out. This may be positive (when one leads a collective), neutral (when one is a tree), or negative (when one fails convention). The latter sense in particular describes foolishness, or at least a failure to live up to cognitive standards or common codes of conduct.
Nouns אלון ('allon), אלה ('alla) and אלה ('elah) refer to oaks or terebinths but note the similarities with the demonstrative pronoun אלה ('elleh), "these," and אלה ('eloah) meaning god or God.
Nouns אליל ('elil) and אלול ('elul) mean worthlessness or a worthless thing (a thing that sticks out of the economy of useful things). Adjectives אויל ('ewil) and אולי ('ewili) mean foolish, and noun אולת ('iwwelet) means foolishness or folly. Noun אול ('ul) may mean belly or leading man.
Nouns אולם ('ulam) and אילם ('elam) mean porch. The former is identical to an adverb that means "however" or "but." Another adverb אולי ('ulay) means "perhaps."
Noun איל ('ayil), "protruder," refers in the Bible to a ram, a pillar, a chief and, yet again, a terebinth. Noun איל ('ayyal) means stag or deer — hence the panting deer of Psalm 42 also describes an ignoramus longing for instruction — and its feminine counterpart אילה ('ayyala) means doe.
The verb יאל (ya'al) means to be foolish, gullible or even simply compliant and pleased to go along in no particularly negative way.
For a meaning of the name Asharelah NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads an exuberant God Has Fulfilled With Joy. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Upright To God, but also endorses the opinion of the eccentric Marcus Meibomius, who figured that the elah-part of both names came from the noun אלה ('elah), meaning oak. Hence Meibomius translated both our names with Straight Oak. BDB Theological Dictionary appears to treat neither name.
For a meaning of the name Jesharelah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Upright Toward God, and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Upright Towards God.