JAIR (Hebr. Ya'ir and Ya'ir): An Old-Testament name which takes two forms and originally had as an element a divine name which has sloughed off. Ya'ir (II Sam. xxi. 19) was a Bethlehemite, and father of the Elhanan who slew Goliath of Gath, or his brother (I Chron. xx. 5). Ya'ir (Esther ii. 6) is the father of Mordecai, and also the name of a strong clan in the district east of the Jordan. With the last this article is concerned.

Judges x. 3-5 speaks of a Jair who was one of the minor judges and ruled Israel twenty-two years, a period which falls within the interregna of the greater judges, and is included in the chronology which reckons 480 years between the Exodus and Solomon (I Kings vi. 1). Nöldeke identifies this Jair with the eponymous ancestor of the Jair clan. Though Jair the judge can find no place in the history of Israel, the Judges passage is serviceable in investigating the clan. The thirty cities there mentioned (the Hebrew for "cities" involves a word-play between the words for city and colt which the Greek poleis and polous reproduces) suggest thirty divisions of the clan, and in one of these cities, Camon, Jair is said to have been buried. Camon suggests the Kamun which Antiochus III. took on the march from Pella to Gephrun (Polybius, V., lxx. 12), which is located on an old road by the identification of Pella with the modern Tabakat Fahil and of Gephrun with Kazr Wadi el Ghafr, not far from Irbid. A Kamm and Kumem were located by Dr. Schumacher from six to ten miles east of Irbid. Kamm is a ruined city of considerable extent, Kumem a modern village a mile south of the road with remains of an old wall still showing; the former may be the Camon of Judges, and may indicate the region of the cities of Jair south of the Yarmuk and in the northern part of Gilead.

Other Old-Testament passages speak of the tents (or tent-villages) of Jair. Num. xxxii. 41 tells of the conquest of these tents, but does not state the place of departure or the time: the intention of the compiler was to place it in the time of Moses; but that was not the original meaning, and the event must have taken place from a starting-point in the West Jordan land and when Israel was growing strong in the early days of the kingdom. The conclusion of commentators that the thirty cities grew from earlier "tent-villages" disregards the fact that this was not a region frequented by nomadic herders. Consequently the "tent-villages" of Jair indicate nomadic settlements, the "cities" rather the habitations of the settled portions of the clan, the former, on the basis of I Kings iv. 13, to be placed on the border of the desert. Yet this passage is a later addition and is not in the Septuagint. Deut. iii. 14 makes Jair conqueror of the whole region of Argob: Josh. xiii. 30 gives to Jair sixty cities. According to I Chron. ii. 23, the shepherds of the clan were in early times subdued. Num. xxxii. 41 makes Jair belong to the tribe of Manasseh. According to I Chron. ii. 21-23 the Judahite Hezron married a daughter of Machir, whose grandfather, Jair, possessed twenty-three towns in Gilead, representing a mingling of the two tribes in which Judah took the leadership. But this expresses a relationship of post-exilic times, and the number of cities has diminished. This account forms the bridge to the story in I Macc. v. 24-54 of the removal of the Gileadite Jews for security of life to Jerusalem: it was in part the Jews of the cities of Jair on whose account Judas was concerned. The passage in the Chronicler seems to have been taken in part from an old source.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Kuenen, De Stam Manasse, in ThT., xi (1877), 478 sqq.; G. Schumacher, Northern Ajlun, pp. 137-138, London, 1890; idem, Das südliche Basan, in ZDPV, xx (1897), 109, 173; DB, ii. 540; EB, ii. 2315; JE, vii. 65-66.


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