Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
The masculine noun כרם (kerem) means vineyard. This noun occurs all over the Semitic language spectrum but its etymology is a mystery.
Vineyards are mentioned over ninety times in the Old Testament, and in poetical and metaphorical passages the vineyard is a dominant symbol that commonly denotes the whole of mankind's culture (Genesis 9:20, Isaiah 5:1 and 65:21, but also Matthew 20:1, John 15:1, Revelation 21:24). Also read our article on יין (yayan), meaning wine.
Its derivatives or semi-derivatives are:
- The denominative verb כרם (karam), meaning to tend or dress vines or vineyards (Jeremiah 52:16, Isaiah 61:5).
- The masculine noun כרמל (karmel) meaning plantation (Isaiah 16:10), garden-growth (Leviticus 23:14). The form and meaning of these two nouns are strikingly similar. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) thinks that this is because כרמל (karmel) is a diminutive form of כרם (kerem). BDB Theological Dictionary confirms that כרמל (karmel) is ל (le) plus כרם (kerem).
- The masculine noun כרמיל (karmil), meaning crimson or carmine (fabrics or cloths). The only Biblical use of this word occurs in late description of materials used for the temple (2 Chronicles 2:6, 2:13 and 3:14 only). This noun is probably not really derivative of the noun כרם (kerem); it only looks like it (and a Hebrew audience might have erroneously thought so). BDB Theological Dictionary submits that this noun was probably imported from Persian, and it came from the Persian word that denoted the little worm from which expensive crimson dye was extracted.