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Kiriath-jearim meaning

קרית יערים
קרית היערים

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🔼The name Kiriath-jearim in the Bible

Kiriath-jearim is the name of a Gibeonite city that would eventually fall within the borders of the territory allotted to the tribe of Judah.

We hear first of Kiriath-jearim when the indigenous Canaanite tribe of the Gibeonites trick Joshua into saving them by making him believe that they came from a distant land (Joshua 9:15). When Joshua figures out that he's been duped, the Gibeonite towns of Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath-jearim are annexed (Joshua 9:17) and the Gibeonites made slaves (Joshua 9:27).

When Judah claims its land, Kiriath-jearim became known as Baalah (Joshua 15:9, 1 Chronicles 13:6) and Kiriath-baal (Joshua 15:60, 18:14). It was obviously situated at the north or north-western border of Judah because it also served as a marker for the territory of the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:14).

In the time of the judges, a band of six-hundred Danites came from the north looking for better lands and camped near Kiriath-jearim on their way to sack Laish, and called it Mahaneh-dan, but that name doesn't seem to have stuck (Judges 18:12). Much later, when the Philistines delivered the Ark of the Covenant back to Israel, it ended up in the house of Abinadab of Kiriath-jearim (1 Samuel 7:1).

By the time the Chronicler was writing, Shobal the son of Hur son of Ephrathah and Caleb son of Hezron of Judah was considered the "father" of Kiriath-jearim, which probably means that his descendants formed its main rulers and citizens (1 Chronicles 2:50). These descendants are listed in 2:53, namely the Ithrites, Puthites, Shumathites, Mishraites, Zorathites and Eshtaolites.

In the days of Jeremiah there was a prophet named Uriah, son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim, who proclaimed much the same messages as Jeremiah did. King Jehoiakim had him arrested and executed (Jeremiah 26:20).

Nehemiah's list of returnees from the exile in Babylon also contains the name Kiriath-jearim (Nehemiah 7:29), but Ezra calls this place Kiriath-arim (Ezra 2:25). See our article on that name for a discussion on this discrepancy.

Our name Kiriath-jearim is spelled with a maqqep only in 1 Samuel 6:21 (קרית־יערים), and in Jeremiah 26:20 the jearim-part is prefixed with the particle of motion: קרית היערים.

🔼Etymology of the name Kiriath-jearim

The name Kiriath-jearim obviously consists of two elements. The first part is the same as the name Kiriath, which is identical to an older variant of the Biblical noun קריה (qiryah), meaning city. It derives of the verb קרה (qara), meaning to meet or get together:

The second part of our name is a regular plural form of the noun יער (ya'ar), meaning forest, from the unused root יער I:

🔼Kiriath-jearim meaning

For a meaning of the name Kiriath-jearim, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and BDB Theological Dictionary read City Of Forests. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes City Of Woods, and adds: "i.e. full of woods or trees".