🔼The name Amram: Summary
- Riveted, Enthralled
- People Of Exaltation, A People Exalted
- From the verb עמר ('aram), to bind or grip.
- From (1) the noun עם ('am), people, and (2) the verb רום (rum), to be high.
🔼The name Amram in the Bible
There are two Amrams mentioned in the Bible. The lesser known Amram is named among the Israelites who married and divorced foreign wives during the purification rallies of Ezra (Ezra 10:34). The famous Amram is the father of Moses, Aaron and Miriam. He is a son of Kohath, who is a son of Levi. Amram's wife Jochebed was his father's sister (Exodus 6:20)
🔼Etymology of the name Amram
As indicated by some scholars, the name Amram clearly resembles the verb עמר ('aram), meaning to bind or grip:
The root עמר ('amar) means to grip or bind, to deal tyrannically with, or to be enthralled by and worship.
Noun עמר ('omer) means sheaf or describes a unit of measure (like our "bushel"). Denominative verb עמר ('amar) means to bind in sheaves. Noun עמיר ('amir) denotes a row of fallen grain.
The additional letter mem could be a remnant of a plural form, or even some other word. Still other scholars insist that the name Amram doesn't come from עמר, but consist of two elements:
If the name Amram consists of two elements, the first element comes from the assumed root עמם:
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 second part of the name Amram comes from the verb רום (rum), meaning high or lofty:
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.
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads People Of Exaltation. NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads A People Exalted.
BDB Theological Dictionary lists the above mentioned possibility, but also insists on the existence of the root עמר III, which in cognate languages means to live, to live long or even to worship (being in the "grip" of life or of devotion).
BDB doesn't translate the name, or explains where the letter mem may have come from, but it may be a remnant of a plural. That way the name Amram may also mean Long Lives or Worshippings.