🔼The name Geruth Chimham: Summary
- Inn Of Thirsting, Draggings Off Of The Wisdom Trade
- From (1) the noun גרות (gerut), inn, and (2) the verb כמה (kama), to thirst.
🔼The name Geruth Chimham in the Bible
It's not clear whether Geruth Chimham is actually a name, but if it is it occurs only once in the Bible, namely in Jeremiah 41:17, where the prophet mentions it as a place near Bethlehem, where he and his fellow refugees stayed on their way to Egypt. Most modern translations indeed read Geruth Chimham here, but the King James Version and the Young Translation have "the habitation of Chimham".
Since Bethlehem was the proverbial city of David, it may be that the name Geruth Chimham originated in the person named Chimham, who joined David's court in the name of Barzillai of Rogelim. When David's death drew near he charged his son Solomon to let the "sons of Barzillai" continue to enjoy his table (1 Kings 2:7).
🔼Etymology of the name Geruth Chimham
If Geruth Chimham is indeed a name, it consists of two elements, and one of the reasons why it is suspected to be a name is that the first part is a noun that is not otherwise used in the Bible. The noun גרות (gerut) looks like a normal plural form of a word גר (ger) or גרה (gera), which in turn may derive from a verb גרה (gara) or גרר (garar) or even גור (gur). But, as the older translations assumed, it may also be a proper noun derived from the verb גור (gur) and simply mean inn. The obvious objection to this assumption is that inns were quite common whereas this noun is used only once:
The verb גרר (garar) means to drag or drag away, mostly in a circular or repetitive motion. Noun גרה (gera) means cud, or food that's dragged back up, chewed again and sent back down. The identical noun גרה (gera) denotes a unit of weight that served as currency. Noun גרגר (gargar) means berry and the plural noun גרגרות (gargerot) means neck, probably after their signature wagging motion.
The verb גרה (gara) means to strive or agitate strife, obviously not by means of one singular assault but rather by repeated provocations and withdrawals. Noun תגרה (tigra) means contention or opposition. Noun גרון (garon) is a second word for neck.
Verb גור (gur) means the same as the previous: to quarrel or stir up strife. Nouns גור (gor) and גור (gur) both denote lion cubs. Perhaps young male lions were named after the verb גור (gur) because they are expelled from the pride and are forced to roam adjacent territories.
The verb גור (gur), namely — or a second and identical verb — is also often used to describe to itinerate or temporary abide. Noun גר (ger) describes an itinerant; a stranger or foreigner. Noun גרות (gerut) may describe a lodging place for foreign travelers but may also be part of the name Geruth Chimham. Noun מגור (magor) means dwelling place or itineration. Nouns מגורה (megura) and ממגרות (mammegurot) describes storehouses, or places were goods were temporarily stored on their way to the market.
Perhaps a third identical verb גור (gur) means to dread, but perhaps it describes dread that is built up over time and from many little threats and suspicions. Nouns מגור (magor) and מגורה (megora) mean fear or terror, but note that the former is identical to the word meaning dwelling place, mentioned above. The verb יגר (yagor) appears to be a by-form of this third verb גור (gur), and also means to dread. The adverb יגור (yagor) means fearing.
The second part of our name comes from the verb כמה (kama) to thirst or to yearn for liquidity in the wisdom trade:
The verb כמה (kama) means to thirst but specifically expresses a desire for liquidity in the exchange of knowledge and wisdom (rather than the light of wisdom itself, or the eventual productivity that results from having wisdom). This verb also resembles the particle of comparison כמו (kemo), "as if" or "like".
🔼Geruth Chimham meaning
For a meaning of the name Geruth Chimham, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Inn Of Chimham. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) who worked off the King James Version doesn't treat Geruth Chimham as a name and had Great Desire for Chimham. Likewise, BDB Theological Dictionary treats the Geruth-part of our name as a regular noun and lists it under the noun גר (ger), sojourner, and translates גרות (gerut) with lodging(-place).
Note the striking association with this Inn Of Longing For Liquidity In The Wisdom Trade that was located near Bethlehem, and there being no room in the inn for Mary and Joseph who ended up in a "house" in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born (Luke 2:7).