🔼The name Abiram: Summary
- Father Of Loftiness, (The) Exalted One Is (My) Father
- From (1) the noun אב ('ab), father, and (2) the verb רום (rum), to be high.
🔼The name Abiram in the Bible
There are two men named Abiram in the Bible and both are rather unfortunate. The first Abiram is a son of Eliab (Numbers 16:1). Together with his brother Dathan, and Korah the son of Izhar, On the son of Peleth and 250 leaders, he rises up against Moses and Aaron to complain about the organizational structure of Israel. When Moses gives them a chance to repent, Abiram and Dathan refuse to show up (16:12). Because of their insurrection, the earth opens and Abiram and Dathan plus their families, and Korah are swallowed up alive by Sheol.
The second Abiram is a son of Hiel of Bethel, living during the time of king Ahab (1 Kings 16:34). This Hiel decides to rebuild Jericho, even though this is forbidden (Joshua 6:26). He loses his first son Abiram as he lays the foundation of the town, and his youngest son Segub, when the gates go up.
🔼Etymology of the name Abiram
The name Abiram consists of two elements. The first element is the familiar Hebrew word אב ('ab), meaning father:
The noun אב ('ab) means father, but describes primarily a social relationship rather than a biological one. That social fatherhood was the defining quality of the community's alpha male, the one around whom all economy revolved and from whom emanated all instructions by which the 'sons' (בן, ben) operated. It's unclear where this word אב ('ab) comes from but the verb abu means to decide.
The post-fixed letter י (yod) creates a possessive. The compound אבי (abi) means either my father, or father of, depending on the context.
The second element of the name Abiram comes from the verb רום (rum), meaning to be high, lofty or arrogant:
The verb רום (rum) means to be high or high up in either a physical, social or even attitudinal sense, and may also refer to the apex in a natural process: the being ripe and ready-for-harvest of fruits. Subsequently, our verb may imply a state beyond ripe (higher than ripe, overripe), which thus refers to rotting and being maggot riddled. This means that to the ancients higher did not simply mean better, and an arrogant political status that was higher than it should be equaled rot and worms (Acts 12:23).
Derived nouns, such as רום (rum) and related forms, describe height or pride. Noun רמות (ramut) describes some high thing. The noun ארמון ('armon) refers to a society's apex: a citadel or palace. The noun ראם (re'em) describes the wild ox, which was named possibly for the same reason why we moderns call a rising market a "bull" market. The similar verb ראם (ra'am) means to rise.
The important noun רמון (rimmon) means pomegranate and the pomegranate became the symbol for harvest-ready fruit (see our full dictionary article for more on this). Overripe items might suffer the noun רמה (rimma), worm or maggot, or the verb רמם (ramam), to be wormy.
For a meaning of the name Abiram, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads The Father Is Exalted. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names offers Father Of Loftiness, and BDB Theological Dictionary concludes (The) Exalted One Is (My) Father.