🔼The name Hararite: Summary
- Mountaineer, Mountain-Dweller
- Curser, Cursed
- From the noun הר (har), mountain.
- From the verb ארר ('arar), to curse.
🔼The name Haararite, Hararite or Harorite in the Bible
The three ethnonyms Haararite (a.k.a. Ararite), Hararite and Harorite are so closely related that we might have considered them variants of the same, if two of them didn't occur side by side, suggesting that they are quite different indeed.
In 2 Samuel 23:11 we read about David's mighty-man Shammah, the son of Agee a הררי (harary). A few verses later, in 2 Samuel 23:33, we again hear of Shammah the הררי (harary), but immediately following, the author mentions Ahiam the son of Sharar the האררי (ha'arary). This close proximity of these two ethnonyms seems to suggest that a הררי (harary) is not the same as a האררי (ha'rary). But on the other hand, it's not unusual that the same name is spelled two ways in the same Biblical statement.
And to make things even more complicated: in the parallel text of 1 Chronicles 11 no mention is made of Ahiam the son of Sharar the האררי but we do find one Shammoth the הרורי (harory; 1 Chronicles 11:27), whom the author of 2 Samuel 23 calls Shammah the חרדי (harody or Harodite; 2 Samuel 23:25).
Why Chronicles and Samuel differ isn't known but some scholars figure the Chronicler made an error. There are quite a few discrepancies between these two books, and to blame them all on scribal error leaves the Chronicler a bumbling amateur. In fact, in order to accidentally turn Samuel's חרדי (harody) into the Chronicler's הרורי (harory) requires the latter to mistake the letter ח (heth) for a ה (he) and the ד (daleth) for a second ר (rosh).
Here at Abarim Publications, we like to think that the Chronicler wasn't an amateur but in fact much smarter than all of us. But see our article on the name Harodite for some argumentation.
🔼Etymology of the name Haararite, Hararite or Harorite
Our three ethnonyms appear to point at a town of the name הרר (harar) or something to that extent. This town is not otherwise mentioned in the Bible, but scholars expect its name to derive from the word הר (har), meaning mountain:
The noun הר (har) is the Bible's common word for mountain or hill. Intuition dictates that the root of the word for mountain probably has to do with being elevated, but that's not correct. In Hebrew thought, a mountain is not something that's high but rather a lot of something gathered. And so, a mountain became synonymous for a large but centralized group of people (Jeremiah 51:25), or even gods (Isaiah 14:13).
The obviously related verb הרה (hera) means to be or become pregnant. An association with the previous noun is obvious, although not because the stomach of a pregnant woman resembles a mountain. The Bible depicts nations as individual women even more than as mountains; the words אמה ('umma), meaning people and אם ('em), meaning mother are closely related. A pregnant woman is to her husband what a conceiving nation is to its deity.
However, an ethnonym in Hebrew is an adjective, and these names may not point at a town of origin but to a certain quality these gentlemen were known for. They may have been known as Mountaineers or Hillbillies. The letter ה (he) may even be regarded as the definite article, meaning 'the,' which would turn our names into variations of "the אררי" which could be derived from the verb ארר ('arar), meaning to curse:
The verb ארר ('arar) originally meant to bind and came to mean to curse, bind with a spell or hinder with obstacles. The oft occurring passive participle ארור ('arur) describes a cursed one. Noun מארה (me'era) means a curse.
🔼Haararite, Hararite or Harorite meaning
For a meaning of the names Haararite (a.k.a. Ararite), Hararite and Harorite, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names read Mountaineer. BDB Theological Dictionary cites Gesenius who proposed Mountain-Dweller.
But to a Hebrew audience, these names also sounded like The Curser or even The Cursed.