🔼The name Edom: Summary
- From the verb אדם (adom), to produce or be red.
🔼The name Edom in the Bible
Edom bordered Israel on the south and was a kingdom long before Israel (Genesis 36:31). Edom and Israel skirmished throughout their existence. King Saul battled them (1 Samuel 14:47) but David conquered them (2 Samuel 8:14) and Edom remained under Israel's control until the reign of Jehoram (2 Kings 8:20).
The ethnonym אדמי, Edomite, occurs only sporadically in the Bible (Deuteronomy 23:8, 1 Samuel 21:8, 1 Kings 11:14), and is spelled without the signature letter waw. That means that Edomite is spelled the same as Adamite (one of Adam).
🔼Etymology of the name Edom
In the famous soup-scene where Esau receives his nickname Edom, the author seems to engage in word play. The word for soup (נזיד, nazid) comes from the verb זיד / זוד (zid/ zud), meaning to 'boil' in the literal sense, but figuratively to act proudly or presumptuously. This verb is used in the sense of boiling only once, in our soup-scene. All other occurrences of this verb have to do with arrogance or otherwise aggressive attitudes. It stands to reason that a Hebrew audience understood the aggression to be the literal meaning of this verb, and the meaning of to boil the figurative charge.
When Esau walks in, tired from the field, he demands that Jacob gives him of 'that red stuff, that red stuff.' The word for 'red stuff' is אדם (adom); a word highly similar to the name Edom. The identical root אדם ('dm) is the source for the name Adam. Another derivation is אדמה (adama), meaning field. Esau is a 'man of the field' and even though the word adama is not used but rather שדה (sadeh), also meaning field, the association is clear:
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.
Jacob gives Esau of the red stuff and wings him out of his birth-right. At least, that what he hopes. But just to be sure, he tries to deceive his blind father by dressing up as Esau. Not very clever, especially since the bigger blessing was his already, and Isaac bestowed it on Jacob out of faith, and not because he was tricked (Hebrews 11:20).
The name Edom means Red or Ruddy.