🔼The name Hamath-zobah: Summary
- Beautiful Heat, Fortress Of The Garrison
- From (1) the verb חמם (hamam), to be hot, and (2) the verb צבה (saba), to swell up.
🔼The name Hamath-zobah in the Bible
The name Hamath-zobah occurs only one time in the Bible. In 2 Chronicles 8:3 we read that king Solomon went to Hamath-zobah and captured it.
🔼Etymology of the name Hamath-zobah
The name Hamath-zobah obvious consists of two elements, and both elements are names on their own. The first element is the same as the name Hamath, which comes from the verb חמה (hmh), meaning to surround or guard:
The verb חמם (hamam) means to be hot and is sometimes used to describe mental agitation. Nouns חם (hom) and חמה (hamma) mean heat. Adjective חם (ham) means hot. The noun חמן (hamman) denotes a kind of mysterious small pillar (perhaps a device?).
The verb יחם (yaham) also means to be hot, but mostly in a mental sense: to be exited or angered. The noun חמה (hema) mostly refers to a severe mental "burning": anger or rage.
The verb חמה (hmh) is not used in the Bible, but in cognate languages it means to surround, guard or protect. Perhaps this verb has nothing to do with the previous and only accidentally looks similar, but perhaps it ties into the fact that natural open fires aren't very warm and smelting metals require sophisticated ovens. Noun חם (ham) means father-in-law and its feminine equivalent, חמות (hamot), means mother-in-law — and note that the Trojan theme of the "girl" kept in the city of her forceful lover is very common in classical literature. Noun חומה (homa) describes a protective wall.
The noun חום (hum) describes a color or pattern of coloration of sheep and goats. It's not clear whether this pattern resembled sparks, fire or enclosures, or perhaps that this word in not related to the previous.
Noun חמת (hemet) means waterskin and may derive from a wholly different verb. Still, the verb נהר (nahar) means both to flow (of water) and to shine (of light) and a waterskin filled with water is not unlike a kiln containing a very warm fire.
The verb צבא (saba') means to ally; to combine and integrate. It describes the formation of a distinct group, its inner economy and its interactions with neighboring groups. It's often used for military encounters but certainly not restricted to that use. Noun צבא (saba') describes a group that functions internally and externally as a distinct unit: a team, a league, a sodality, a collective, an army division.
Verb צבה (saba) means to swell up, but tends to describe the growing, getting better organized and more thoroughly engaging of the troop described by noun צבא (saba'). Noun צבה (sabeh) mostly describes a physical swelling. Noun צבי (sebi) mostly describes a swelling in the social sense: a becoming more honored or increasing in perceived beauty. In later parts of the Bible the verb צבה (saba) may be used to mean to wish. Noun צבו (sebu) means "desired thing."
Noun צבי (sebi) describes a gazelle, and is identical to the one meaning beauty but may also reflect the gazelle's herd behavior. Noun צביה (sebiya) also means gazelle.
Noun צב (sab) probably stems from an otherwise unused root צבב (sabab) and means cart. It's unclear how it fits in but perhaps as a thing upon which to pile things? Identical noun צב (sab) is thought to describe a kind of lizard (listed as unclean), possibly also because this animal tended to congregate.
For a meaning of the name Hamath-zobah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Fortress Of Zobah, but refrains from translating the name Zobah. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names doesn't recognize Hamath-zobah as a name (which is curious because the King James does), but translates Hamath with Defence or Citadel and Zobah with Depression (as mentioned above, apparently after an Arabic verb). The name Hamath-zobah according to Alfred Jones would thus mean something like The Citadel Of The Low Lands. Here at Abarim Publications we guess that our name originated in a military fort of some sort and simply means Fortress Of The Garrison.