🔼The name Girgashite: Summary
- Dwellers In A Clayey Soil
- Take And Stroke
- From words that describe clay or black mud.
- From the verb גרר (garar), to drag or drag away.
🔼The name Girgashite in the Bible
The Girgashites are descendants of Canaan, son of Ham, son of Noah (Genesis 10:16). During the great cadaver vision God promises the land of the Girgashites to Abram. A few centuries later God gives this land to Israel under Joshua (Joshua 24:11).
🔼Etymology of the name Girgashite
The name Girgashite is hard to explain. Alfred Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names is the only source that actually tries something. Jones proposes that the name Girgash has to do with a Chaldean word meaning clay or clod, or else with an Arabic word meaning black mud.
A Hebrew audience might have had associations with the verb גרר (garar), meaning to drag out or away:
The verb גרר (garar) means to drag or drag away, mostly in a circular or repetitive motion. Noun גרה (gera) means cud, or food that's dragged back up, chewed again and sent back down. The identical noun גרה (gera) denotes a unit of weight that served as currency. Noun גרגר (gargar) means berry and the plural noun גרגרות (gargerot) means neck, probably after their signature wagging motion.
The verb גרה (gara) means to strive or agitate strife, obviously not by means of one singular assault but rather by repeated provocations and withdrawals. Noun תגרה (tigra) means contention or opposition. Noun גרון (garon) is a second word for neck.
Verb גור (gur) means the same as the previous: to quarrel or stir up strife. Nouns גור (gor) and גור (gur) both denote lion cubs. Perhaps young male lions were named after the verb גור (gur) because they are expelled from the pride and are forced to roam adjacent territories.
The verb גור (gur), namely — or a second and identical verb — is also often used to describe to itinerate or temporary abide. Noun גר (ger) describes an itinerant; a stranger or foreigner. Noun גרות (gerut) describes a lodging place for foreign travelers. Noun מגור (magor) means dwelling place or itineration. Nouns מגורה (megura) and ממגרות (mammegurot) describes storehouses, or places were goods were temporarily stored on their way to the market.
Perhaps a third identical verb גור (gur) means to dread, but perhaps it describes dread that is built up over time and from many little threats and suspicions. Nouns מגור (magor) and מגורה (megora) mean fear or terror, but note that the former is identical to the word meaning dwelling place, mentioned above. The verb יגר (yagor) appears to be a by-form of this third verb גור (gur), and also means to dread. The adverb יגור (yagor) means fearing.
The added shin draws attention to the verb גשש (gashash), which occurs once, in Isaiah 59:10, where it means stroke, feel with the hand.
What the name of the Girgashites was supposed to mean (and in what language) is hard to establish, but to a Hebrew audience this name may have sounded like Take And Stroke. What that has to do with anything is even harder to establish, but perhaps it made people think of a thief who fondles his loot or an abductor who cherishes his abductee.
Alfred Jones translates this name with Dwellers In A Clayey Soil.