🔼The name Barhumite: Summary
- One From Bahurim, He Who Puts To Flight
- From the verb ברח (barah), to run away or run through.
🔼The name Barhumite in the Bible
The name Barhumite occurs only once in the Bible. It's the cognomen of a man named Azmaveth, who was counted among king David's mighty-men (2 Samuel 23:31). This man is also mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:33, but there he's referred to as a Baharumite.
It's not clear why Azmaveth is known by two distinct but obviously related personal epithets. Most scholars seem to believe that Barhumite (ברחמי) comes from Baharumite (בחרומי) by means of transposition of the letters ח and ר, but an explanation of why someone would do that isn't offered. But the name Baharumite may indicate someone from a place called Bahurim.
Perhaps Azmaveth was indeed from Bahurim and was thus rightly and originally known as a Baharumite. But as his fame rose, he may have earned a telling nickname that was a slight but catchy departure from his real name (possibly comparable to names like Dennis the Menace, or Sirus the Virus):
🔼Etymology of the name Barhumite
Despite the claim of a large majority of scholars, that Barhumite comes from the verb בחר (bahar), the name Barhumite looks very much like it's an adjective derived from the verb ברח (barah), meaning to run away or run through:
The verb ברח (barah) means to run away or run through. The noun בריח (beriah) is an architectural term denoting a conjunctive runner that keeps panels or other construction segments together. The similar adjective בריח (bariah) means fleeing and the noun מברח (mibrah) meaning either flight or fugitive.
For a meaning of the name Barhumite, NOBSE Study Bible Name List declares Barhumite to be "another form of Baharumite," but that's oversimplified. Alfred Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names features no separate entries for Barhumite and Baharumite and discusses both under Bahurim. BDB Theological Dictionary briskly declares "בחרומי Baharumite 1 Chronicles 11:33 = ברחמי 2 Samuel 23:31" and submits nothing more.
Here at Abarim Publications we guess that Azmaveth was known as a Baharumite because he came from Bahurim, but also as a Barhumite because his skills and prowess caused many enemies to run for their lives. Barhumite literally means Flight Causer, or more prosaically: He Who Puts To Flight.