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Meaning and etymology of the name Milcah

Milcah Milcah

There are two Milcah's mentioned in the Bible. The most famous one is the niece and wife of Nahor. This Milcah is the sister of Iscah and both are daughters of Haran, the brother of Nahor and Abraham. The other Milcah is one of five daughters of Zelophehad, the great-great-great-grandson of Manasseh, the oldest son of Joseph (Numbers 26:33). Her sisters names are Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah and Tirzah

The name Milcah comes from the noun malak (malak) usually translated as king but is in fact "the most common word for chief magistrate," as HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament puts it. Israel's monarchy was predicted long before it was established (Deuteronomy 17:15) but Israel's king was by no means to be an almighty tyrant. What makes the Hebrew royalty unique among the nations is that Israel's monarchy was far removed from the priesthood (1 Samuel 13:12-14), preceding the West's creed of church and state separation by over three millennia. The word malak is such an important word in the Bible that it occurs more than 2,500 times.

The name Milcah is the same as the derivative Milcah (malka), meaning queen, which occurs 35 times in Scriptures. HAW notes that the overwhelming majority of these occurrences denote foreigners, sometimes heads of state (1 Kings 10:1) but often ladies associated to a foreign monarchy but without formal authority themselves (Esther 1:9, Daniel 5:10). Hence, according to Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names, the name Milcah means Queen.

In Nehemiah 5:7, however, we find a different usage of the root malak (malak), meaning to consult. BDB Theological Dictionary proposes that this verb is a loan word from Aramaic, and since Milcah is probably more associated with Aramaic than with Hebrew, NOBS Study Bible Name List favors this root and reads Counsel.

Related names are Abimelech, Adrammelech, Ahimelech, Allammelech, Anammelech, Ebed-melech, Elimelech, Hammoleketh, Jamlech, Mahli, Malcam, Malchiel, Malchijah, Malchijahu, Malchiram, Malchi-shua, Malluch, Malluchi Melchizedek, Melech, Milcom and Molech.

A name that is derived from an alternative word for queen (or rather 'regent') is Sarah.



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