🔼The name Carites: Summary
- Professional Soldiers, Special Forces
- From the cluster כרר (karar), to be isolated and to repeat actions.
🔼The name Carites in the Bible
The name Carites occurs twice in the Bible, in 2 Kings 11:4 and 11:19, and clearly refers to an elite class of warriors. It's not clear whether these Carites were imported from another people or had arisen from Judah internally, but they held special status due to a covenant that high priest Jehoiada made with them in order to preserve the rightful monarchy of Joash.
🔼Etymology of the name Carites
The name Carites comes from the כרר (karar) cluster of verbs, and emphasizes both the specialness of their outfit and the fact that they trained specifically and repeatedly:
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 NOBSE Study Bible Name List omits this name, and so does Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names. But the latter works off the KJV, which translates this name rather liberally as Captains. BDB Theological Dictionary also doesn't translate this name and lists it alphabetically (rather than under a specific root).
Armies in antiquity consisted mostly of civilians who were mustered away from their professions during war time. Here at Abarim Publications we're pretty sure that these Carites were Well Trained, Professional Special Forces and named as such.