A seaport on the Red Sea in the territory of Edom. It is named along with Ezion-geber in the account of Israel's journey round the land of Edom (Deuteronomy 2:8). It appears as Ailath, and Alion in the Septuagint, and in Josephus as Ilanis (Ant., VIII, vi, 4), while Eusebius (Onomasticon) has Aila. From this we may gather that the Aramaic Ilan or Ilana was in use as well as the Hebrew 'elath or 'eloth. The name, "grove," was doubtless derived from the presence of certain sacred trees. It may be identical with El-paran of Genesis 14:6, and Elah of Genesis 36:41. When David conquered Edom, Elath passed into the hands of Israel (2 Samuel 8:14). It was a position of great importance in connection with the trade with South Arabia. Here the merchant fleets of Solomon and Jehoshaphat were fitted out, and hence, they sailed (1 Kings 9:26; 2 Chronicles 8:17; 1 Kings 22:48).
In the reign of Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, Edom shook off the hand of Judah (2 Kings 8:20), but under Amaziah and Uzziah it was again subdued (2 Kings 14:7,10,22). Finally it was taken from Ahaz by Rezin, king of Syria. The Jews were driven out and the Syrians (Edomites?) took permanent possession (2 Kings 16:6). It is identical with the modern `Aqaba, at the head of the gulf of that name.
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