🔼The name Salu/ Sallu/ Sallai: Summary
- Heaping Up, Highway Making
- From the verb סלל (salal), to cast or heap up.
🔼The name Salu/ Sallu/ Sallai in the Bible
These four names: סלוא (Salu), סלוא or סלא or סלו (Sallu) and סלי (Sallai) are obviously variations of a theme and are spelled and pronounced very similar:
- Salu (סלוא) is the Simeonite father of Zimri, who played a distinct role in the Peor incident, together with his Midianite woman Cozbi (Numbers 25:14).
- Sallu (סלו) is a priest who came up with Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 12:7).
- Sallai (סלי; Nehemiah 12:20) may be the Sallu of Nehemiah 12:7 (as BDB Theological Dictionary suggests) or may be not.
- Sallu (סלוא) is a Benjaminite (1 Chronicles 9:7). In Nehemiah 11:7 he is called סלא (Sallu).
🔼Etymology of the name Salu/ Sallu/ Sallai
These names seem to have to do with any of the following Hebrew verbs:
The verb סלל (salal) primarily means to cast or heap up, and is mostly used in relation to building highways. Highways, of course, come to pass when first a heap of individuals individually choose to take the same route, thus creating a natural path, after which a government of sorts piles rocks upon the path and tops it off with pavement.
In much the same way, collective handiness evolves into a natural or spontaneous cultural quality, and finally a formal technology from which even foreigners may benefit. Likewise the command to create a highway for the Lord in the desert has nothing to do with Jeeps and Land Rovers and everything with growing smarter as a natural people and finally bringing forth formal science (or language or technology). Likewise "lifting up the Lord" has nothing to do with howling inane homages toward the church ceiling, but rather with achieving responsible mastery of created nature.
Noun סללה (solela) describes a piled up mound or wall. Noun סלם (sullam) describes Jacob's ladder, which obviously wasn't actually a ladder but rather a reference to cognition. Nouns מסלה (mesilla) and מסלול (maslul) mean highway. The verb סלה (sela) is only used in the imperative form, and as a musical term that commands people not simply to rise up but to settle their verbal expressions into a harmonious whole.
Verb סלה (sala) also means to pile up but emphasizes the tossing and particularly the tossing aside of elements that won't fit a standard. This verb (or an identical other) is also used to describe the heaping up of gold bits in order to weigh them against a standard weight. This latter verb is also spelled as סלא (sala').
Noun סל (sal) probably derives from סלל (salal) and describes a kind of basket, obviously one used to pile stuff into. A most obvious discussion of this root and its methods and effects is found in the New Testament, as the various accounts of the miraculous "feeding of the multitude."
The letter י (yod) upon which the name Sallai ends, may either create an adjective (lightly), a possessive form (my frivolity), or may be a remnant of יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton יהוה, YHWH, or Yahweh.
🔼Salu/ Sallu/ Sallai meaning
Any of these names may mean any of the above. For undisclosed and untraceable reasons NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Restored for Salu. For Sallu and Sallai, NOBSE appears to go with the verb סלה I (sala I), meaning to make light of or toss aside, and reads Contempt for Sallu and Rejecter for Sallai.
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names won't have any to do with the above, and proposes that the names Salu and the two versions of Sallu are both adaptations of the name Shallai. And the name Shallai, according to Jones, comes from the verb סלל (salal), meaning to cast up or lift up. The final yod of Sallai, Jones deems the mark of the Divine, and hence Jones translates the names Salu, Sallu and Shallai with Lifted Up Of The Lord.
BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't interpret any of our names and lists them all under the verb סלה II (sala II). This may, however, simply be because BDB lists them in alphabetical order.