🔼The name Tel-melah: Summary
- Mound Of Salt
- From (1) the noun תל (tel), mound, and (2) the noun מלח (melah), salt.
🔼The name Tel-melah in the Bible
The name Tel-melah occurs in one context in the Bible, mentioned by both Ezra and Nehemiah, namely as one of the places of exile from which returnees came who couldn't prove that their families truly originated in Israel, and who were subsequently handed their hats (Ezra 2:59, Nehemiah 7:61).
The Jews were sent home along with instructions and substantial means to rebuild the temple of YHWH in Jerusalem (and pray for the Persian king and sons while at it — Ezra 6:10) and it may be rightly assumed that there were fellow exiles whose families didn't come from Israel at all but who wouldn't mind partaking in the blessings of the Jews.
🔼Etymology of the name Tel-melah
The name Tel-melah consists of two elements, the first one being תל (tel), which is a mount formed from covering over ruins:
The verb תלל (talal) means to accumulate or repeatedly cover over, and that in a destructive sense. Noun תל (tel) describes an artificial mound of many layers of destruction and rebuilding. Such mounds would obviously be found on desirable and contended locations. Quite telling, the derived verb התל (hatal) means to mock a person. Noun התלים (hatulim) means mockery.
The second part of our name is the same as the noun מלח (melah), meaning salt:
The verb מלח (malah) probably means to make dry or to absorb. The noun מלח (melah) would literally mean "dry maker" and was the regular word for salt. Salt, of course, dried food and by doing so preserved it for long periods of time. That means that "salting" something didn't simply mean to give it a salty taste but rather to dry and thus disinfect something (whether with or without actual salt). Noun מלחה (meleha) might mean saltiness but generally means dry or dryness.
For a meaning of the name Tel-melah, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names read Hill Of Salt. BDB Theological Dictionary does not offer an interpretation of our name and lists it under the noun תל (tel).