🔼The name Bor-ashan or Chor-ashan: Summary
- Well Of Smoke, Smoking Furnace
- From (1) either the noun בור (bor), a well, or the noun כור (kur), a furnace, and (2) the noun עשן ('ashan), smoke.
🔼The name Bor-ashan or Chor-ashan in the Bible
It's not clear whether Bor-ashan is supposed to be a Biblical name or not. If it is, then it occurs in 1 Samuel 30:30, where it is listed as one of the Judean cities that received gifts from David, taken from the band of Amalekites who had raided David's headquarter in Ziklag.
The problem is that some Hebrew manuscripts read Chor-ashen (כור עשן; note that the Hebrew letters ב (beth) and כ (kaph) are somewhat similar), the Septuagint reads Βηρσαβεε (Bersabee, which would be the same as Beersheba if the Septuagint hadn't translated that name instead of transliterate it), and the Vulgate skips this name altogether and speaks of "the lake Asan". In English, the older translations speak of Chor-ashan or Chorashan (King James, Darby, Young) but younger versions prefer Bor-ashan or Bor Ashan (ASV, NAS, NIV, JSP).
Most scholars assume that Bor-ashan or Chor-ashan is the same city as the one in Judah simply called Ashan (Joshua 15:42).
🔼Etymology of the name Bor-ashan or Chor-ashan
The name Bor-ashan or Chor-ashan consist of two elements. In case of Bor-ashan, the first part comes from the noun בור (bor), meaning well:
The verb ברר (barar) essentially means to clean, purify or clarify. Usually, whatever needs to be purified is first pulverized and then sorted: the useful elements are gathered and stored, and the fluff, chaff, dust and other garbage is either blown away by wind, washed away by water, burned with fire or simply scooped up and physically dumped somewhere. In the case of metal ore, the material is heated so that the good stuff flows out and separates by its nature from the bad stuff and its nature.
Derived adjective בר (bar) means pure or clean and identical noun בר (bar) denotes a kernel of grain or corn. Noun בר (bor) denotes a kind of material that was used in the metal purification process, and identical masculine noun בר (bor) means cleanness or pureness. Feminine noun ברית (borit) denotes a kind of soap (and is spelled identical to the word meaning covenant; see below). Noun בר (bar) describes a field (perhaps a freshly plowed, cleaned and ready-to-sow one?), and the masculine plural noun ברברים (barburim) denotes a kind of bird known literally and for unknown reasons as "cleany-cleanies".
Verb באר (ba'ar) describes writing on tablets of stone. Nouns באר (be'er), באר (bo'r) and בור (bor) mean well or pit, and obviously not merely refer to physical cisterns but rather to centers of learning and information technology (because yes, writing is information technology and then as hip as blockchain is now).
Verb ברא (bara' I) denotes the creative activity of God, which (as we know from modern cosmology) predominantly has to do with giving elements the freedom to sort themselves into constructions that are deemed stable by the laws that govern creation (and which ultimately describe freedom). Noun בריאה (beri'a) denotes a creation, "an entirely new thing".
Verb ברא (bara' II) means to be fat, and since fat is essentially an organic storage of energy, this verb is in modern terms neatly explained by relativity theory. Since anything unstable falls apart when exposed to energy, only stable compounds can gain mass. Likewise, a fat guy is clearly at peace and well provisioned (and not on the run or forced to labor half starving). Adjective בריא (bari') means fat and consequently healthy and prosperous. Verb ברה (bara) means to eat. Nouns בריה (birya) and ברות (barut) mean food.
Noun ברית (berit) means covenant and occurs all over the Bible. Although it's not wholly clear how it technically relates to the above, the gist of it is clear. A covenant clears up a working relation between parties and leads to peace, prosperity and ultimately more clarity and cleanness between said parties. Note that it is spelled the same as the word for soap (see above, and see our article on Soap in the Old World).
In case of Chor-ashan, the first part is כור (kur), meaning smelting pot or furnace:
The verb כרר (karar) is one of a few that describes a circular motion, and particularly a repeated circular motion: a swirl. This verb has the added nuance of amassing something within the circle so formed.
Noun כר (kar) means pasture, a defined region where herds roam and are kept. Identical noun כר (kar) describes a [male] lamb, probably literally as a "unit of herd." Similar noun כר (kor) is a unit of volume. Noun כרכרה (kirkara) is a diminutive and feminine version of כר (kar) and describes some domesticated animal. Noun ככר (kikkar) refers to any "round thing," from a large region to a circular lid or loaf of bread.
Verb כור (kar) means to contain by surrounding or winding about (like a turban). Noun כר (kar) appears to describe a bundle upon a pack animal. Noun כור (kur) describes a smelting pot or furnace; noun כיר (kir) refers to a cooking-furnace, and noun כיר (kir) or כיור (kiyor) describes a cooking pot or laver.
The noun כר (kar) was also used to describe an instrument of war, probably a device that could bundle or leverage force; perhaps a catapult of some sort.
Noun מכרה (mekora) or מכורה (mekurah) literally describes location or agent of the verb כור (kar). In practice it describes the contracting of nomadic social groups into a defining shared cultural identity and ultimately the emergence of a formal nation. Similar noun מכרה (mekera) describes the effect of a sword: probably a forced compliance to a dominating convention.
Verb כרה (kara) emphasizes the accumulative clause of our root. It may describe digging a grave, well or pit but with the understanding that something will be deposited in these holes. This verb may also be used to describe acquisition by means of international trade, or even the concentration of people, goods and merriment in a feast. Noun כרה (kara) refers to the structure created to collect in, and noun מכרה (mikreh) to the act or result of it.
Verb כרת (karat) describes the cutting off what was first rounded up and isolated. This verb may simply describe a cutting down of trees, but it also describes the "cutting" of a covenant. It also describes the social principle by which weaker members of society are isolated and driven out, often to be adopted by another society which not rarely elevates these rejects to an elite class. Noun כריתות (keritut) means dismissal or divorce.
The second part of our name is the same as the noun עשן ('ashan), meaning smoke:
The negative root עשן ('sn) has to do with smoke as a sign of destruction and disintegration (not the pleasant smoke of incense). Noun עשן ('ashan) means smoke in that same sense. Verb עשן ('ashan) means to smoke in the sense of to burn up, to destroy, and is also used to mean to be violently angry, to fume. Adjective עשן ('ashen) means smoking, fuming.
🔼Bor-ashan or Chor-ashan meaning
For a meaning of the name Bor-ashan, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and BDB Theological Dictionary read Smoking Pit. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) who works off the older Bible versions, prefers the reading of Chorashan and translates it with Smoking Furnace.