[b-hebrew] "Oak Tree" in Biblical Hebrew

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Apr 18 10:39:37 EDT 2011

Aijalon vs. Elon
There are at least two cities called “Aijalon” in the Bible (some analysts 
have seen four such cities), plus the Aijalon Valley.  I believe that all 
spellings in Hebrew of “Aijalon” as a city name are identical:  )YL-WN.
What I will refer to as the “other Aijalon” is in Zebulun, east of Acco in 
Lower Galilee.  That Aijalon is associated with Elon at Judges 12: 11-12.  
How is “Elon” spelled?
At Judges 12: 11, all sources agree that “Elon” is spelled exactly like “
Aijalon”, namely:  )YL-WN.  [Note the interior yod/Y.]
But the sources I consulted split as to the spelling of “Elon” in the very 
next line of text, at Judges 12: 12.  Three sources dropped the interior 
yod/Y, giving the following contracted spelling as what’s in the Hebrew text 
at Judges 12: 12:  )L-WN.  Only one source gave the full spelling, being the 
same as at Judges 12: 11:  )YL-WN.
Can anyone clarify the spelling of “Elon” at Judges 12: 12?  In some 
manuscripts, perhaps even being the majority and/or the most authoritative, is it 
spelled without the interior yod/Y?  If so, then at Judges 12: 11 it’s in 
full form as )YL-WN, whereas at Judges 12: 12 it’s in [or at least often it’
s in] contracted form as )L-WN.
The name “Elon” is often thought to mean “oak tree”, thereby signifying 
something that is “strong”.  For example:
“E’-lon (oak, strong).  …4.  A Zebulunite who judged Israel for ten years 
and was buried in Aijalon.  Elon and Aijalon are (in Hebrew) composed of 
precisely the same letters….”  “The System Bible Study” (1922), at p. 129.
Thus a personal name that means “oak” or “strong” is closely associated 
with the name of the other Aijalon.  As a geographical place name, “Aijalon” 
likely means:  “place of oak/pistachio/strong trees”.
Words that are usually spelled )YL + ending normally have a shortened form 
that is spelled )L + ending.  Thus “rams”, though usually spelled )YL-YM, 
can also be spelled in shortened form as )L-YM, as at Job 42: 8.  If the 
sources I consulted above are correct, then of even more direct relevance here, “
Elon” as a personal name can be spelled with or without an interior yod/Y:  
)YL-WN or )L-WN.  Only the first, full spelling is identical to the 
spelling of “Aijalon”.  Certainly the interior vav/W in all of these names is 
merely plene spelling, and thus is optional and could be deleted.  Accordingly, 
)L-N at Genesis 13: 18 can be viewed on one level as being a shortened form 
of )YL-WN, with each referring both to some kind of “strong tree” and to 
the city of “Aijalon”, a place notable for its strong trees.
Jim Stinehart

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