🔼The name Jeshimon: Summary
- Wasteland, Wilderness
- From the verb ישם (yasham), to be desolate.
🔼The name Jeshimon in the Bible
It's not clear whether Jeshimon is used as a proper name in the Bible, or that it is a regular noun, but it's used for either a general wilderness or a specific one, comparable to the Negev and the Arabah. Our word or name is spelled as ישימן and is preceded by the definite article ה (he) in Numbers 21:20, 23:28, 1 Samuel 26:1 and 26:3 and comes without it in Isaiah 43:20 and is spelled ישמון in Isaiah 43:19. It's spelled with the article as ישימון in 1 Samuel 23:19 and 23:24 and without in Psalm 68:7, 78:40, 106:14 and 107:4. It's spelled ישמן in Deuteronomy 32:10.
The Septuagint consistently translates this word with the adjective ερημος (eremos), meaning deserted or lonely, except in 1 Samuel 23:19, 23:24, 26:1 and 26:3, where it reads a transliterated Ιεσσαιμον (Iessaimon). The Vulgate goes with desertus or solitudo and reads Iesimuth only in 1 Samuel 23:24. The KJV reads Jeshimon in Numbers 21:20, 23:28 and 1 Samuel; NAS, NIV and JSP follow suit only in 1 Samuel, but not Darby and Young, who read "waste" or "desert" consistently.
There appear to be two distinct areas possibly called Jeshimon:
- The wastelands north of the Salt Sea on the Moab side, which can be surveyed from mounts Pisgah (Numbers 21:20) and Peor (Numbers 23:28). Balak took Balaam to the top of mount Peor in order to curse the people of Israel, who were below in the Jeshimon.
- A stretch of dry, barren hills west of the Salt Sea amidst the lower hills of Judah. On the southern extremity of this wasteland was a military outpost near the hill of Hachilah, where David hid from Saul (1 Samuel 23:19, 26:1 and 26:3). More to the south began the area generally referred to as the Arabah (1 Samuel 23:24).
🔼Etymology of the name Jeshimon
The name Jeshimon comes from the verb ישם (yasham), meaning to be desolate:
The verb שמם (shamem) means to be desolate, devastated or abandoned. It usually describes a literal empty place but may also be used to describe a mental state, in which case it refers to being appalled.
Adjective שמם (shamem) means devastated or deserted. Nouns שממה (shemama), שמה (shamma), שממון (shimmamon) and משמה (meshamma) denote various forms and degrees of waste, devastation, horror or appalment.
Verb ישם (yasham) is a by-form of the previous and means the same, albeit with an apparent emphasis on dry and arid lands. Noun ישימון (yeshimon, or variants) refers to desolate regions and mostly describes deserts. Noun ישימה (yeshima) describes the mental equivalent (whatever that might be).
Noun שמים (shamayim) means heavens. It's a plural form of a non-existing singular word שמי (shamay), coming from an assumed root שמה (shama). Whether or not this word is formally related to the above, to the ancients the heavens were clearly known as a vast emptiness that filled the observer with existential horror.
Equally striking is the noun שם (shem), which means name or renown. This suggests that the ancients saw someone's empty head as the same howling infinite as empty space, and all formal knowledge of the whole of creation that a person might accrue equal to this person's name.
For a meaning of the name Jeshimon, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Waste. In his article on Beth-jeshimoth, Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) invites the reader to check out his article on Jeshimon but that appears to not exist. BDB Theological Dictionary does not consider Jeshimon a name and lists all occurrences of it in its article on the noun ישימון (yeshimon), which it translates as Waste, Wilderness.