🔼The name Pelonite: Summary
- A Certain One
- From the verb פלה (pala), to be distinct or separated, in turn from the root פלל (palal), to distinguish or discern.
🔼The name Pelonite in the Bible
The name Pelonite is an ethnonym; it states where someone is from, and that would be Pelon (or something like that) in this case. No such place is mentioned in the Bible, but there are a few ideas how to handle that. The Pelonites of the Bible are:
- Helez the Pelonite (פלוני). The Chronicler mentions him among the mighty-men of David (1 Chronicles 11:27), and later as one of the twelve army sub-commanders of David's army (1 Chronicles 27:10). The author of the Book of Samuel calls this man Helez the Paltite (פלטי), which could mean that Helez came from an otherwise unknown town called Palet (or something like that), or that he was a descendant of a man named Palti or Paltiel (2 Samuel 23:26).
- Ahijah the Pelonite (פלני). This name again shows up only in the Chronicler's list of mighty-men (as father of Eliam; 1 Chronicles 11:36). The author of 2 Samuel calls this man Ahithophel the Gilonite (גלני), which denotes someone from Giloh.
🔼Etymology of the name Pelonite
The name Pelonite may not actually be a name. The version without the central ו (waw) is identical to the pronoun פלני (peloni), meaning "a certain one," which in turn derives from the verb פלה (pala), meaning to be distinct or separated:
Root פלל (palal) is all about distinguishing and discerning, and often emphasizes representation of something unseen or not present. It's frequently used in the sense of to entreat or pray on someone's behalf.
Noun תפלה (tepilla) means prayer. Noun פליל (palil) describes an inspector or umpire and noun פלילה (pelila) refers to the place at which an umpire operates; a judge's office. Adjective פלילי (pelili) means "for a judge" or "to be judged" and noun פליליה (peliliya) means verdict or assessment. Noun פול (pol) means beans (and was probably imported but fits right in).
Verb פלה (pala) means to be distinct or separated. Pronoun פלני (peloni) refers to "a certain person/place."
Verb פלא (pala') means to be extraordinary. Nouns פלא (pele') and מפלאה (mipla'a) refer to extraordinary things or deeds. Adjective פלאי (pil'i) means extraordinary.
Verb אפל ('pl) means to disappear, depart or set (of the sun). Nouns אפל ('opel), אפלה ('apela), מאפל (ma'apel) and מאפליה (ma'pelya) mean darkness. Adjective אפל ('apel) means gloomy. Adjective אפיל ('apil) means late or belated (i.e. long unseen).
Verb נפל (napal) means to fall (down, down to, into or upon). The plural form נפלים (napalim) literally means 'fallen ones' or 'settled ones'.
Noun נפל (nepel) refers to an abortion or untimely birth. Noun מפל (mappal) describes that what falls. Nouns מפלה (mappala) and מפלה (mappela) mean ruin, and noun מפלת (mapplet) refers to a ruined thing or a falling.
It's quite possible that the Chronicler didn't feel like giving the traitor Ahithophel as much screen time as the author of Samuel did. The Chronicler hardly even mentions him (1 Chronicles 27:33-34 versus 2 Samuel 15:12 to 17:23 and 23:34), and it seems likely that he called Eliam the son of Some Guy Named Ahijah, or Ahijah What's His Name?
Similarly, Helez the Paltite could be a descendant of Palti or Paltiel, the unfortunate other husband of Michal, the wife of David. The Chronicler doesn't want to mention him and calls his son A Certain Helez. But it's also possible that Helez came from a place called Palat, which didn't exist anymore by the time the Chronicler was writing, and the reference was deemed obsolete.
For a meaning of the epithet Pelonite, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Such A One, but also declares it an ethnonym of "a place otherwise unknown". NOBSE Study Bible Name List leaves the meaning of Pelonite blank, and BDB Theological Dictionary briskly declares all three occurrences scribal errors.