🔼The name Cherith: Summary
- Community Of Misfits, Off The Main Stream
- From the verb כרת (karat), to round up and cut off.
🔼The name Cherith in the Bible
🔼Etymology of the name Cherith
The name Cherith comes from the verb כרת (karat), to corral together up and cut off:
The verb כרר (karar) is one of a few that describes a circular motion, and particularly a repeated circular motion: a swirl. This verb has the added nuance of amassing something within the circle so formed.
Noun כר (kar) means pasture, a defined region where herds roam and are kept. Identical noun כר (kar) describes a [male] lamb, probably literally as a "unit of herd." Similar noun כר (kor) is a unit of volume. Noun כרכרה (kirkara) is a diminutive and feminine version of כר (kar) and describes some domesticated animal. Noun ככר (kikkar) refers to any "round thing," from a large region to a circular lid or loaf of bread.
Verb כור (kar) means to contain by surrounding or winding about (like a turban). Noun כר (kar) appears to describe a bundle upon a pack animal. Noun כור (kur) describes a smelting pot or furnace; noun כיר (kir) refers to a cooking-furnace, and noun כיר (kir) or כיור (kiyor) describes a cooking pot or laver.
The noun כר (kar) was also used to describe an instrument of war, probably a device that could bundle or leverage force; perhaps a catapult of some sort.
Noun מכרה (mekora) or מכורה (mekurah) literally describes location or agent of the verb כור (kar). In practice it describes the contracting of nomadic social groups into a defining shared cultural identity and ultimately the emergence of a formal nation. Similar noun מכרה (mekera) describes the effect of a sword: probably a forced compliance to a dominating convention.
Verb כרה (kara) emphasizes the accumulative clause of our root. It may describe digging a grave, well or pit but with the understanding that something will be deposited in these holes. This verb may also be used to describe acquisition by means of international trade, or even the concentration of people, goods and merriment in a feast. Noun כרה (kara) refers to the structure created to collect in, and noun מכרה (mikreh) to the act or result of it.
Verb כרת (karat) describes the cutting off what was first rounded up and isolated. This verb may simply describe a cutting down of trees, but it also describes the "cutting" of a covenant. It also describes the social principle by which weaker members of society are isolated and driven out, often to be adopted by another society which not rarely elevates these rejects to an elite class. Noun כריתות (keritut) means dismissal or divorce.
For a meaning of the name Cherith, NOBSE Study Bible Name List simply reads Cut and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Separation. BDB Theological Dictionary does not offer an interpretation of this name but does list it under the verb כרת (karat).
The nuance of this story escapes many, it seems. The Bible is only concerned with the evolution of the wisdom tradition, which is the not-centralized quest for the knowledge of God's creation and a convention to express it in, so as to share it with an as broad as possible society. The word מורה (moreh) is related to the familiar word Torah, and may both mean teacher or rain. In other words: the drought from which Israel under king Ahab was suffering refers also to a lack of liquidity in wisdom.
The Temple in Jerusalem was the celebrated global hub of wisdom but wisdom didn't originate there; it came from all over the world. Cultures are in the Bible always represented by rivers, and the brook Cherith represents a group of people who knew things that weren't discussed in the Temple of Jerusalem; foreigners and weirdoes. They were the equivalent of a camp of Gypsies; the people of "stammering lips and a foreign tongue" in the words of Isaiah (Isaiah 28:11).
The ravens which fed Elijah hail back to the raven which Noah released and which roamed about for weeks before it found dry land to settle on. The word for raven is ערב ('oreb), which in turn comes from the verb ערב ('arab), to criss-cross, to traverse, to be a nomad (this verb is also where the name Arabia comes from).
The story of the brook Cherith tells that during a wisdom-drought in Jerusalem Elijah joined a camp of foreign nomads, who fed him bits and pieces of information from far away. Likewise when Paul experienced his famous conversion on the road to Damascus, he went to Arabia for a stint before going to Jerusalem, that is to say, he listened carefully to all rumors and stories that drifted his way before deciding that Jerusalem was the place to be (Galatians 1:17). Paul's leaving Titus on Crete (Titus 1:5) repeats the structure of YHWH leaving Elijah at the brook Cherith.