🔼The name Amam: Summary
- Gathering Place
- From the verb עמם ('mm), to include.
- From the verb אמם ('mm), to be a people.
🔼The name Amam in the Bible
The name Amam occurs just one time in the Bible. A town called as such is mentioned among the cities that marked the southern border of the territory of Judah (Joshua 15:26). If one went any further south, one would end up in Edom.
🔼Etymology of the name Amam
It's not crystal clear where the name Amam might come from or what it was supposed to mean. It's not very hard to guess what it would have meant to a Hebrew audience though. There are basically two ways of dealing with this name. NOBSE Study Bible Name List, apparently, takes this name from the verb עמם ('mm):
The verb עמם ('mm) probably expressed to be inclusive or comprehensive. Its rare uses in the Bible relate to making secrets or making info available to an in-crowd. Preposition עם ('im) means 'with', מעם (me'im) means 'from', and עמה ('umma) means 'beside'. Noun עם ('am) means a people, ranging from all of mankind to the in-crowd of a small village. Noun עם ('am) refers to one's (paternal) kinsman.
The intrepid Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names), on the other hand, insists that our name comes from the verb אמם ('mm). The theory of Jones has the obvious advantage of connecting our name to a root that is exactly alike:
The unused verb אמם ('mm) probably meant to originate in a social sort of way. Noun אם ('em) means mother, but — as do the words אב ('ab), father, and בן (ben), son — primarily refers to a social function rather than a mere biological relation. Hence noun אמה ('amma) refers to a "mother" city or a "mother" land, and אמה ('umma) means tribe or people (and is obviously comparable to עם, 'am, meaning people in a socially inclusive way).
The noun אמה ('ama) describes a female servant, and female servants were of course as much "included" in the master's house as did some of the including themselves as in early Biblical times, surrogate motherhood was a common function of female servants (see our expanded article for a discussion of this). The common hypothetic particle אם ('im) means "if," and an if-statement essentially proposes inclusion.
For a meaning of the name Amam, NOBSE Study Bible Name List proposes Gathering Place. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads People. BDB Theological Dictionary declines from translating this name.