🔼The name Capernaum: Summary
- Village Of Consolation, Protected By Being Sorry
- From (1) כפר (kapar), village, and (2) the verb נחם (naham), to be sorry or to comfort.
🔼The name Capernaum in the Bible
Capernaum is a sea-coast village of Galilee, probably somewhere on the border between the territories of Naphtali and Zebulun. Jesus moved there from Nazareth, right after his temptations by satan (Matthew 4:13). It was also the home of Peter (Matthew 8:14), and that of the centurion whose servant Jesus healed (Matthew 8:5).
Since Capernaum became Jesus' home town and many of his miracles occurred there, the people of Capernaum had a front row seat to much of his ministries. The conversion rate was disappointing, however, and Jesus pronounced a pretty sturdy curse of his village: "And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You shall descend to Hades, for if the miracles that happened in you would have happened in Sodom, it would have remained until today..." (Matthew 11:23).
The name Capernaum occurs 16 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
🔼Etymology of the name Capernaum
The name Capernaum (Καπερναουμ) is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew כפר נחום (kapar nahum), which obviously consists of two elements.
The first part of our name is the word כפר (kapar), meaning village:
The verb כפר (kapar) describes the formation of any sort of protective perimeter around any sort of vulnerable interior.
Noun כפר (koper) describes the price of a human life, i.e. the purchasing price and maintenance costs of keeping a person out of slavery. This is not simply a single sum of money but rather an economic protective layer of all sorts of hedges and investments. The noun כפרים (kippurim) is in fact a plural of the previous and denotes a massive free-buying and free-keeping of many people at once.
Nouns כפר (kapar) and כפר (koper) mean village, but emphasize not the mere huddling together of folks, but rather any rudimentary social stratification that mimics the natural formation of eukaryotic cells, with cell walls, organelles and a nucleus that hosts the wisdom tradition.
The second part of our name is the same as the name Nahum, which comes from the verb נחם (naham), meaning to be sorry:
The verb נחם (naham) basically means to be sorry. It may mean to have regret but also to have compassion and often to comfort and console whoever one is sorry for. This verb often describes God's attitude toward mankind.
Noun נחם (noham) means sorrow or repentance. Nouns נחום (nihum) and נחמה (nehama) mean comfort or compassion. Noun תנחום (tanhum) meaning consolation.
The whole name Capernaum translated means Village Of Consolation or even Protected By Being Sorry, but most commentators translate it with Village Of Nahum. Note that the famous Biblical author and prophet Nahum was an Elkoshite, which would denote someone from Elkosh. Also note the pleasing associative similarity between our name Καπερναουμ (Capernaum) and the verb κυβερναω (kubernao), to steer or govern.