🔼The name Abel-mizraim: Summary
- Stream Of Egypt, Stream Of Sieges
- From (1) the noun אבל ('abel), stream or brook, and (2) the name Mizraim (Egypt), from root צור (sur).
🔼The name Abel-mizraim in the Bible
The place called Abel-mizraim is mentioned only once in the Bible, in Genesis 50:11. It's the location, close to the threshing floor of Atad, beyond the Jordan, where Joseph leads the seven day lament over his deceased father Jacob. When the Canaanites saw what was going on, they saw two things: (1) There were people mourning, and (2) they looked like Egyptians. Hence they named the place Abel-mizraim. After the week of lament, Jacob's body was transported to the family grave; the cave of Machpelah at Mamre, where also Abraham, Sarah, Rebekah and Leah lay interred (Genesis 50:13).
🔼Etymology of the name Abel-mizraim
The name Abel-mizraim consists of two elements. The first element Abel (which is not the same name as that of Abel, the son of Adam and Eve), comes from the root group אבל. This element occurs in multiple names, where it usually is translated with meadow or brook. But the word is also identical to the root meaning to mourn (as used in Genesis 50:11), and that seems to serve the context quite well:
The verb בלל (balal) means to mix something with oil, usually flour products, usually as ritualistic food preparation. The emphasis of this verb lies on saturation and overflowing: to fill something with oil until it can absorb no more and begins to reject an excess of oil. Noun בליל (belil) describes a very rich mix for animals to eat. Noun שבלול (shabbelul) describes a snail, or an animal that looks saturated with oil. Nouns תבל (tebel) describes sexually incompatible partners, and noun תבלל (teballul) tells of insoluble material that obstructs a person's eye.
The verb יבל (yabal) speaks mostly of a flowing along some course, which of course requires the bottom of the course to be saturated and reject any further absorption. Noun יבל (yabal) means water course or conduit, noun יובל (yubal) means stream and noun אובל ('ubal) means stream or river. Adjective יבל (yabbal) means suppurating (discharging pus from a wound). Noun יבול (yebul) denotes produce from the soil and noun בול (bul) means produce or outgrowth. Noun יובל (yobel) or יבל (yobel) describes "a carrier" or "a producer" or "something that drives a flow" (e.g. a trumpet, or the principle of Jubilee). Noun תבל (tebel) refers to the whole world-economy.
Verb אבל ('abel) is like the previous ones in that it describes a drive of liquid or semi-liquid elements along some collective course. It's often used to describe a collective mourning, which either happened in a procession or else contagious enough to drag others along. Nouns אבל ('ebel) and אבל ('abel) both mean mourning, but the latter is also the word for actual water stream or brook. In cognate languages this verb is used to describe the driving of camels. There is even a sporadically used adverb אבל ('abal), which in older texts expresses solemn affirmation (verily, truly, yes indeed I'm totally going along with you there) but later texts appear to put somewhat of a breaking force on the momentum ("yes!... but").
The second part of the name Abel-mizraim is Mizraim, which is the Hebrew word for Egypt. The name Mizraim is probably a transliteration of a word out of another language, but as is it looks like a dual form of the word מצור (masor) means siege, entrenchment. It comes from a root group that consists of five identical roots of the form צור:
- Verb צור (sur I) probably means to lean or incline. Noun צואר (sawwa'r) means neck and צורון (sawwaron) means necklace.
- Verb צור (sur II) means to confine, secure or besiege. Noun מצור (masor) means siege and מצורה (mesura) means stronghold. This verb relates to verb צרר (sarar I).
- Verb צור (sur III) means to be an adversary. It relates to צרר (sarar II).
- Verb צור (sur IV) means to form or fashion. Noun צורה (sura) means form and noun ציר (sir) means image. This verb relates to יצר (yasar).
- Verb צור (sur V) probably relates to verb צרר (sarar III) and probably means to be sharp. The important noun צור (sur) means rock, and is equivalent to the Greek noun πετρα (petra), from which comes the name Peter.
- Verb צרר (sarar I) means to bind and relates to צור (sur II). Adjective צר (sar) means narrow. Nouns צר (sar) and צרה (sara) mean distress and yield denominative verb צרה (sara), meaning to suffer distress. Noun צרור (seror) means bundle or parcel. Noun מצר (mesar) means distress.
- Verb צרר (sarar II) means to show hostility and relates to verb צור (sur III). Noun צר (sar) means adversary. Noun צרה (sara) means vexer or rival-wife. Denominative verb צרר (sarar) means to create a rival wife.
- Verb צרר (sarar III) probably means to be sharp and relates to צור (sur V). Nouns צר (sar), צר (sor) and צרור (seror) mean flint or pebble.
Verb יצר (yasar) means to fashion or form and relates to צור (sur IV). Noun יצר (yeser) denotes that what is formed, and noun יצרים (yesurim) means forms or members.
Verb צרה (srh) probably describes the bleeding of an odoriferous tree. Noun צרי (sari) denotes a kind of costly balsam.
For a meaning of the name Abel-mizraim, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Meadow Of Egypt, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Mourning Of The Egyptians and BDB Theological Dictionary suggests Meadow Of Egypt. But following the suggestion of HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament about the meaning of the word אבל, the name Abel-mizraim may also mean Stream Of Egypt.