🔼The name Dumah: Summary
- (Deadly) Silence
- From the noun דומה (duma), silence of death.
🔼The name Dumah in the Bible
The name Dumah belongs to one man, and one or two towns:
- Dumah the man is the sixth son of Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar (Genesis 25:14, 1 Chronicles 1:30), who plays no further role in the Bible. In a footnote on his Bible translation of 1837, Adam Clarke states that the three names Mishma, Dumah and Massa passed into a proverb among the Hebrews, saying "Hear much, say little, and bear much," and compares it with considerable poetic license to the Stoics' maxim: "Sustain and Abstain". Here at Abarim Publications we find this connection a cute coincidence but really nothing more, unless sayings can be found to account for the names of the other sons and an explanation of why the sons of Ishmael would give rise to sayings. In fact, these three names are much more parallel with the three Japanese monkeys who portrait Confucius' famous maxim "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil:" 🙈 🙉 🙊 .
- A town in the hill country of Judah (Joshua 15:52). Some Hebrew manuscripts read רומה (Rumah), and this appears to be the favorite interpretation of most modern translations (the JSP being an exception).
- A place of unknown location. The prophet Isaiah directs a small prophecy towards it and opens it with referring to Seir. Because Seir was the home of Edom, and the name Dumah (דומה) is somewhat similar to Edom (אדום), some translations take the liberty of speaking of Isaiah's "burden of Edom," which is uncalled for. BDB Theological Dictionary suggests but Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) confidently declares Isaiah's Dumah to be the same as a place called Dumath al-Jandal in northern Arabia, which was possibly named after Ishmael's son (or vice versa). But equally possible is that Isaiah isn't directing his prophecy to any particular place, but merely declares the "burden of silence" (see etymology below).
🔼Etymology of the name Dumah
The name Dumah is identical to the noun דומה (duma), meaning the silence of death, from the root דום (dwm):
The root דמם (ddm) is all about beginnings — or rather the simplicity from whence complexity arises — from being still before the noise starts to being monochromatic before color vision starts. Verb דמם (damam) means to be still, noun דממה (demama) denotes calmness and דמה (dumma) denotes a silenced person. Noun דומה (duma) describes the silence of death, noun דומיה or דמיה (dumiya) the silence of waiting and noun דומם (dumam) the silence of inertia or inactivity.
Verb דמה (dama I) describes making a (still) image. Nouns דמות (demut) and דמין (dimyon) mean likeness. Verb דמה (dama II) means to stop, halt or arrest. Noun דמי (domi) means a halting. Whatever the unused verb דמן (dmn) might have meant, noun דמן (domen) denotes refuse and מדמנה (madmena) a manure pit.
Unused verb אדם ('dm) may have meant to produce or begin to produce. Noun אדם (adam) is one of a few words for man but means literally probably "product" or likeness-made-from-soil; man as corporeal unit of humanity. This word is never used in plural, and its feminine equivalent, namely אדמה (adama), denotes arable soil or clay-red earth.
Red is the first color a baby learns to see and red or ruddy is indeed the color of rudiment: verb אדם ('adom or 'adem) means to be red, adjective אדם ('adom) means red, noun אדם ('odem) denotes a ruddy gem, possibly quartz, noun אדם ('edom) denotes a kind of red stew, adjective אדמדם ('adamiddam) means reddish, and adjective אדמוני (admoni) means red or ruddy.
The ubiquitous noun דם (dam) means blood; the seat of life.
For a meaning of the name Dumah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names and even BDB Theological Dictionary read Silence, but only BDB adds the important distinction that our name represents not a pleasant silence but one of death and desolation.