The name is preserved in Khirbat Ainun, “the ruin of the springs” (Israeli grid map reference 1897/1875), which is located just over seven miles northeast of Salim. The site, however, has no springs! William Foxwell Albright suggested that the village had moved from its original site between the powerful perennial springs of En Farah and En Duleib (Israeli grid map reference 1883/1825), which had given its name. (“Some Observations Favoring the Palestinian Origin of the Gospel of John,” Harvard Theological Review 17 [1924], p. 194.) These springs are beside Tel el-Farah and three miles from Khirbet Ainun, and Albright could suggest no reason for the transfer of the village. Roland de Vaux remedied this defect in Albright’s hypothesis by pointing out that the springs had been the home of the malarial mosquito and that the villagers must have migrated to higher ground for health reasons, while retaining the old name. (Oral communication to Boismard, “Aenon,” p. 222). This explanation, however, defeats its purpose. If the springs and pools at the original Ainun were malaria-infested, it is extremely improbable that John would have chosen it as his base of operations. Why would anyone have taken the risk of immersion there?

The decisive objection to the identification of the original Ainun with Aenon is its relationship to Salim. They are only seven miles apart, but those seven miles include two mountain ranges, Jebel Tammun and Jebel el-Kabir, and the impassable upper section of the Wadi Faria/Nahal Tirza. Not surprisingly, there is no direct path between Ainun and Salim. Finally, in the first century the nearest villages to Ainun were Baddan (today Khirbet Farwa) to the southwest and Thebez (today Tubas) to the northeast.

Since the site of Salim is certain, it would seem more profitable to look for springs in its immediate vicinity.