🔼The name Lehi: Summary
- From the noun לחי (lehi), jaw.
🔼The name Lehi in the Bible
There's only one town called Lehi in the Bible, and it features in a highly symbolic scene involving the judge Samson (Judges 15:9).
In the wake of Samson's retaliation campaign for being swindled out of his wife, the Philistines invade Judah and "spread out in Lehi". The name Lehi means Jaw (see below) and this "hooking the jaw" clearly demonstrates the Philistines' intended subdual of the Israelites. The men of Judah ask Samson to surrender and be tied up, to which he concedes. But when he arrives in Lehi to face the subduers, Samson breaks the ropes, picks up a fresh donkey's jawbone and bludgeons a thousand men to death with it (Judges 15:15).
Samson calls that place Ramath-lehi, and a conveniently emerging spring from "a split in the hollow place" in Lehi he calls En-hakkore.
🔼Etymology of the name Lehi
The name Lehi is the same as the noun לחי (lehi) meaning jaw:
The noun לחי (lehi) means jawbone or cheek. It's not clear where this noun comes from, and creative observers might be forgiven to see a resemblance with the particle ל (le), meaning for, and the noun חי (hay) meaning life. The jaw allows food to be chewed, and it's essential in speaking. And when one dominates the jaw of an animal (or human, for that matter), one dominates the whole animal.
For a meaning of the name Lehi, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Cheek, Jawbone and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Jawbone.
BDB Theological Dictionary does not translate Lehi but does confirm that it is identical to the noun לחי (lehi) meaning jaw.