AVEN (ā'vĕn, Heb. ’āwen, vanity). Evidently a valley in Syria, dedicated to heathen worship (Amos.1.5), and thought by some to be Baalbek.
AVEN ā’ vən
, LXX ὄν emptiness, wickedness
1. In Hosea 10:8 it is used either as abbreviation for Beth-Aven, or as a figure of speech to indicate the centers of idolatry at Dan and Bethel established by Jeroboam and other places in Samaria. In Joshua 7:2 Bethel and Beth-Aven are distinguished, but Hosea 10:5 (cf. Hos 4:15; 5:8) identifies the two. Some suggest that Beth-Aven was the original name of Ai (cf. G. E. Wright, Biblical Archaeology, p. 80).
2. As an element of compound names it occurs at Joshua 7:2; 18:12; 1 Samuel 13:5; et al. It may possibly be a substitute for an earlier Canaanite element, just as Bosheth is a substitute for Baal. In Amos 1:5 the “valley of Aven” may be an example of such substitution. The RSV alternate reading “On” (Heliopolis) may point to modern Baalbek (so BDB). The valley of Aven is located between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges in the Aramaean kingdom of Damascus. However, many scholars emend the text at this point.
3. The KJV tr. Ezekiel 30:17 as “Aven,” (RSV “On”). The LXX reads ἡλίου πόλειος, which is normal Gr. for Heb. ’ôn, so perhaps ’āwĕn here is a pun on ’ôn or perhaps simply a mistake in vocalization.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
awen "emptiness," "vanity": Used in Eze 30:17 for On or Heliopolis, in Egypt. See ON. As a term of contempt Hosea calls Beth-el "Beth-aven" (4:15; 10:5). So Amos speaks of some valley near Damascus as "the valley of Aven" (that is, of the idol, 1:5), in which Baalbek (Heliopolis) was situated. The word is rendered "idol" in Isa 66:3.