1. Certain names and places of near sound with 'Salim.'
Let us begin with Salim, and thence look after its neighbour 'Aenon.' We may be a little helped in our inquiry by that passage in Genesis 33:18: "And came to Shalem, a city of Sychem." There are some versions, and the authors of the tables, have upon these words built I know not what city Salem near Sychem. But neither the Jews nor Samaritans acknowledge any such thing. For the Jews render it, and that not without reason, "And Jacob came safe into the city of Shechem."
II. Salim, in the Greek interpreter, according to the Roman copy is the name of a place, Joshua 19:22; where the Hebrew runs thus, "And the coast [of Issachar] reacheth to Tabor, and Shahazimah, and Beth-shemesh." But the Greek "And the confines touched upon Gethbor, and upon Salim near the sea, and Bethsamosh."
The Masorets observe that Shahazimah, which is written with a Vau, should be written by a Jod; which also these interpreters acknowledge (which is worthy our taking notice of); but then they divide the word into two parts, and write it Shahaz at the sea: but why they should turn Shahaz into Salim, it is something difficult to guess.
It seems probable that Selame, which Josephus, in the account of his own life, makes mention of, as fortified by himself, amongst other towns in Galilee, is the same with this Salim, mentioned by the Seventy; and that the rather, because there it is reckoned up with mount Tabor.
III. Saalim, in the Alexandrian copy, answers to the Hebrew Shaalim, 1 Samuel 9:4. In the Complut. Sallim; in the Roman Segalim; where the Targum, instead of in the land of Shalishah, hath in the land of the south: and instead of in the land of Saalim, it hath in the land of Methbara. But why both here and also 2 Kings 4:42, they should render Baal-shalisha by the land of the south, we find some kind of reason in the Gemarists, who upon this place have this note:
"There was no country throughout the whole land of Israel where the fruits of the earth were so forward as in Baal-Shalisha." Now such a country they call southern fields; or literally, made south; "because the sun both riseth and sets upon them." But why they should render the land of Saalim, the land of Methbara is something more unintelligible, unless it should be with some respect to mount Tabor, which we find mentioned in the following chapter, verse 3; and so Methbara, should be "the plain of Tabor."
If now the reader can pitch upon any of these places we have already named, or any other he may have met with in his reading, as that which our evangelist here meaneth, let him consider whether the article near to may properly be prefixed to it, and yet St. John hath it near to Salim which gives some ground of conjecture that the passage is to be understood not of any town or city, but of some other matter; which, by way of exercitation, it may not be amiss a little to enlarge upon.