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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

14 August 2009

Alon, Elon, and Elah

Q: Who in the Bible is “Alon”? What is the significance of the name; what does it mean?

A: While there is no Alon in Scripture, there are mentions of people or places named Elon. Esau’s father-in-law was Elon the Hittite (Genesis 26:34; 36:2). Jacob’s son (Esau’s nephew) Zebulun, had a son named Elon. Centuries later, the name recurred in Zebulun’s family tree: “After [Ibzan] Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel, and he judged Israel ten years. (Judges 12:11)” Elon was also town in southern Dan (Joshua 19:43) — perhaps the same town as Elonbeth-hanan in 1 Kings 4:9.

Elon (or Elah) means “terebinth tree.” The Elah Valley gained fame after David slew Goliath there (see 1 Samuel 17:1-58 and 21:9). There were also people named Elah: A tribal prince of Edom (Genesis 36:41; 1 Chronicles 1:52); a king of Israel (1 Kings 16:6-14); the father of Hoshea, Israel’s last king (2 Kings 15:30; 17:1; 18:1, 9); the second son of Caleb (1 Chronicles 4:15); and one of the returning exiles from Babylon (1 Chronicles 9:8).

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author of the book What Do Lutherans Believe, and writer of numerous published devotions, prayers, and sermons.

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