AIN (a'ēn, Heb. ‘ayin, eye, fountain). From the basic meaning of “eye,” the word “fountain” is derived by the vivid imagery of the East, for the spring flashes in the landscape like a gleaming eye. This differs from beer, which is a dug well. This word is usually found in such names as En Gedi and Endor.

1. A landmark on the eastern border of the Promised Land; west of Riblah (Num.34.11). It is usually thought to be the modern Ain el’ Azy, the main source of the Orontes River.

2. A southern city of Judah (Josh.15.32), later of Simeon (Josh.19.7), and still later assigned to the priests (Josh.21.16).

AIN ān (עָ֑יִן, spring). 1. A town in the NE corner of Canaan named, no doubt, for the presence of a spring there. Numbers 34:11 places Ain near Riblah (not to be confused with Riblah on the Orontes). Both the Vul. and rabbinical texts replace Ain in this text with “Daphne” which is near Lake Huleh. This latter region was known to Josephus (War IV. 3).

2. A Levitical city in the Negeb appearing in Joshua 21:16 while 1 Chronicles 6:59 essentially parallels the same list of Levitical cities and reads “Ashan” in place of Ain. Ashan seems the preferred reading (cf. Josh 15:42; 19:7) since the LXX B (21:16) reads Ashan. (See Ayin.)


J. Simons, The Geographical and Topographical texts of the OT (1959) 102, 103, 204.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(`ayin, "eye or spring (of water)"):

(1) A town in the extreme Northwest corner of Canaan, so named, most probably, from a noted spring in the vicinity (Nu 34:11). Thomson and after him Robinson make Ain the same as `Ain el-`Asy, the chief source of the Orontes, some fifteen miles Southwest of Riblah, which, in turn, is about twenty miles Southwest of Emesa (Hums). As Ain is named in connection with Lake Gennesaret, some claim that Riblah of Nu 34:11 must be another place farther South and closer to that lake.

(2) A Levitical city (Jos 21:16) in the Negeb or southern part of Judah. It was first allotted to the tribe of Judah (Jos 15:32) but later to Simeon (Jos 19:7). The fact that it is several times named in immediate connection with Rimmon has lent plausibility to the view that we have here a compound word, and that we should read En-Rimmon, i.e. Ain-Rimmon (see Jos 15:32; 19:7; 1Ch 4:32). See also AYIN.

See also

  • Ayin