🔼The name Kiriath-sannah in the Bible
The name Kiriath-sannah is a curious case. It occurs only once, in Joshua 15:49, where it is equated with the city Debir. Debir is also mentioned in Joshua 15:15, where we learn that it was formerly known as Kiriath-sepher.
The name Debir literally means "Word" and Kiriath-speher means "City Of Writing," so it's a good bet to assume that Debir was a hotspot for scribal activity or academic learning (these hotspots were apparently common; at Jabez lived three whole families of scribes — 1 Chronicles 2:55). But the unexplained mystery is why Debir is also called Kiriath-sannah and what that might mean.
The Septuagint deals with the mystery by denying its existence and reads Πολις γραμματων (Polis Grammaton; City Of Writing) for both Kiriath-sannah and Kiriath-sepher. The Vulgate goes back to the original text and reads Cariathsenna. Nowadays translations duly read Kiriath-sanneh, but pretty much every commentary declares it wrong. The reasons why are rarely submitted.
🔼Etymology of the name Kiriath-sannah
The name Kiriath-sannah 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 bit trickier to identify. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) believes it is related to an Arabic verb that means to learn, or a derived noun that means law.
Our name may also have to do with the cluster of mysterious names that contains Sinai. Our name is even spelled the same as the name Seneh, and the difference lies only in the Masoretic symbols that were added to the Hebrew text more than a thousand years after it was produced. The name Seneh probably comes from the noun סנה (seneh), which denotes a kind of thorn-bush:
The name Kiriath-sannah may have meant City Of The Thorn-Bush, which may have been some kind of code for divine revelation or encounter.
For a meaning of the name Kiriath-sannah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads City Of Destruction for inexplicable reasons.
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names goes with the Arabic root and proposes City Of Learning.
BDB Theological Dictionary assumes this name is the result of a text error and offers no further interpretation.