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AENON (ē'nŏn; in Aramaic means springs). A place near Salim, where John the Baptist was baptizing during the time Jesus was baptizing in Judea (John.3.22-John.3.23). The site of Aenon is unknown. Two possibilities are suggested for Salim—one east of Mount Gerizim, the other six miles (ten km.) south of Scythopolis. There are springs near both places. It would have been unnecessary to mention “much water” (John.3.23) if Aenon had been close to the Jordan River. John seems to have moved from “Bethany on the other side of the Jordan,” where we find him in John.1.28.

AENON e’ nŏn (Αἰνών, G143). Aenon is mentioned only once in the Bible: “John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there” (John 3:23). A discussion took place here about John’s role over against the ascending popularity of Jesus (3:25-30). Earlier John reports that John the Baptist was baptizing in “Bethany beyond the Jordan” (1:28). The episode in Aenon occurred possibly about six months after the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus at this time had left Jerusalem, apparently traveling N by way of Samaria to Galilee (4:3).

The location of Aenon is disputed. This is also the only occurrence of the name Salim (Σαλίμ, G4890) in the NT. Some scholars follow Eusebius (Onomasticon 40) and place Salim in the Jordan Valley about eight m. S of Scythopolis and Aenon nearby. There is a Tel Shalem located about this distance S of Bet Shean.

However, the Johannine reference to “much water” at Aenon would suggest locating the place outside the Jordan Valley (otherwise the reference would be irrelevant). The meager Johannine details would point to a place N of Jerusalem to the W of the Jordan Valley. About three to four m. E of Nablus (Shechem) lies present-day Salim. Albright identifies this place with ancient Salim and adds: “nor can it be quite accidental that there is an ’Ainun in the immediate vicinity” (Archaeology of Palestine [1960], 247). In 1962 a survey of the area revealed an extensive tell with architectural remains in the vicinity of modern ’Ainun. Surface sherds indicated significant occupation during the Rom. period. This location is near the sources (some springs—cf. the meaning of Arab. ain) of Wadi Fari’a and it could properly be said that “there was much water there.” The discussion in John 3:25-30 suggests that Jesus and His disciples were not too far from Aenon. As a result of the controversy, Jesus proceeded to Galilee by way of Samaria (4:3-5). Hence, the location of Aenon in Wadi Fari’a is preferable.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

See discussion under SALIM.