🔼The name Zalmon: Summary
- Place Of The Idol, Man Of The Idol
- From the noun צלם (selem), image or idol.
🔼The name Zalmon in the Bible
The name Zalmon belongs to one man and one mountain in the Bible:
- Zalmon the man is an Ahohite and one of David's mighty-men. In 1 Chronicles 11:3 this man appears to be called Ilai (עילי).
- Zalmon the mountain was located close to Shechem. The draconian judge Abimelech and his men went up there to harvest kindling to burn the nobles of Shechem in their temple of El-berith (Judges 9:48). In Psalm 68:14, David makes the enigmatic statement that when Shaddai scattered the kings, it was snowing in Zalmon. Some scholars insist that this is a different Mount Zalmon (close to the "mountain of Bashan" as mentioned in Psalm 68:15), but this is with little ground.
🔼Etymology of the name Zalmon
The etymology of the name Zalmon is mysterious, or rather, the motivation of various scholars is mysterious. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) proclaims that this name comes from an "unused root" צלם (slm) which means to be shady (probably because this root exists in other languages, like Arabic or Aramaic), and translates our name with Shady. The learned body behind NOBSE Study Bible Name List appears to agree with Jones and translates Zalmon with Dark.
A Hebrew audience, however, would probably not have bothered much with unused roots or foreign words, as in Hebrew exists the perfectly available and often used root צלם (slm), which also existed in Arabic and Aramaic (for crying out loud), where it meant what it did in Hebrew, namely to cut off or cut out:
The unused verb צלם (salam) probably meant something like to cut off or mass produce by means of an industrial stamp. Noun צלם (selem) means image or idol (and note that this definition also covers coins).
The final bit of our name is formed from the ון (waw-nun) couple which technically serves as a diminutive but in fact personifies or localizes the core idea of the root. Zalmon would thus mean "man or place of selem".
Despite the obvious similarity with the noun צלם (selem), for a meaning of the name Zalmon, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Dark and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Shady. BDB Theological Dictionary does not offer an interpretation of our name.
Here at Abarim Publications we think the name Zalmon means Place Of The Image in case of the mountain, and Image Guy for the man.
A similar name is Iconium.