🔼The name Shaalbim: Summary
- Jackals, Place Of Foxes
- From the noun שועל (shu'al), jackal or fox.
🔼The name Shaalbim in the Bible
The name Shaalbim occurs twice in the Bible. It's the name of a city of unclear location, but probably in or near the territory assigned to the tribe of Dan. It's mentioned together with Aijalon, which was a city of Dan, as one of the cities in which the Amorites remained while they forced the Danites into the hill country (Judges 1:35). Only when the house of Joseph became strong, the Amorites were subdued (Judges 1:35).
Shaalbim is mentioned again in 1 Kings 4:9, where we learn that Ben-deker, one of Solomon's twelve deputies, held sway over Shaalbim. He also controlled Beth-shemesh, which was a city of Judah, and Judah was just south of Dan.
It's been suggested that the "land of Shaalabbin" as mentioned in 1 Samuel 9:4 also in one breath with Aijalon, was the larger area in which Shaalbim was situated. If that is so, then David's mighty-man Eliahba the Shaalbonite possibly hailed from Shaalbim (2 Samuel 23:32).
🔼Etymology of the name Shaalbim
The name Shaalbim appears to be a plural form of the word for fox or jackal as it occurs in other Semitic languages (but see for another possibility our article on the name Shaalabbin). In Hebrew this creature was known as שועל (shu'al):
The unused verb שעל (sha'al) probably had to do with being low or concave. Its derived nouns are used a mere few times: noun שעל (sho'al) appears to describe a cupped or hollow hand and noun משעול (mish'ol) apparently describes a hollow road between vineyards. Noun שועל (shu'al) describes a fox or jackal, which was apparently proverbially known as a hollow-backed, sneaky, begging low life.
For a meaning of the name Shaalbim, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Jackals, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Place Of Foxes and BDB Theological Dictionary carefully suggests "perhaps" Haunt Of Foxes.