🔼The name Hiram: Summary
- Most Noble, High Born
- Brother Of The Lofty
- From (1) the noun חר (hor), nobleman, and (2) the verb רום (rum), to be high.
- From (1) the noun אח ('ah), brother, and (2) the verb רום (rum), to be high.
🔼The name Hiram in the Bible
There are two men named Hiram in the Bible, and both are closely related to the building of the temple of Solomon (and see our article on the name Hannibal for a further discussion on Phoenician influence on Israel):
- The king of Tyre, who supplied building materials and workers to David in order to have his house built (2 Samuel 5:11, 1 Chronicles 14:1), and later to Solomon to build the temple of YHWH (1 Kings 5:1). Hiram and Solomon made a peace pact (2 Samuel 5:2), and Solomon gave Hiram's men food and lodging and signed twenty cities in Galilee over to him. Upon inspection, Hiram didn't like these towns very much and the area in which they were situated was called Cabul ever since (1 Kings 9:13). Still the two stayed friends, and somehow Hiram gave Solomon also some cities, which the latter fortified and peopled with folks from Israel (2 Chronicles 8:2). And when Solomon built his celebrated fleet to trade for gold with Ophir, king Hiram sent sailors to man the vessels (1 Kings 9:27, 10:11, 2 Chronicles 8:18). Note that king Hiram is called Huram (חורם) in Chronicles, and Hirom (חירום, Hirom) in 1 Kings 5.
- The famous craftsman of Tyre, the "widow's son" from the tribe of Naphtali, who king Solomon contracted to create all the bronze items for the temple (1 Kings 7:13). He is mostly called Hiram, but in 1 Kings 7:40 he's called חירום (Hirom) and in 2 Chronicles 4 he's known as חורם (Huram). 2 Chronicles 4:16 even speaks of Huram-abi.
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Hiram
There is no consensus among the consulted sources about the etymology of our name Hiram. NOBSE Study Bible Name List (we assume) and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names think that the name Hiram comes from the noun חר (hor), meaning noble or nobleman, from the root חרר (hrr II):
The root חרר (harar) describes a society's central and enclosed source of heat. It thus may express a geographical depression, but more so a being hot and ultimately a being a ruler (whether by might, political clout or wisdom).
Verb חרר (harar I) means to be hot, burned or charred. Noun חרר (harer) denotes a parched place and noun חרחר (harhur) describes a violent heat or fever. The unused verb חרר (harar II) means to be free in cognate languages, which is the opposite of being a slave. Noun חר (hor) means noble or nobleman. The unused verb חרר (harar III) appears to refer to the enclosure of kilns and ovens, as the first ones were most likely build in natural hollows. The nouns חר (hor) and חור (hor) mean hole or cavern, but obviously relate to the previous word in that freemen surround themselves with walls and armies.
Verb חרה (hara) means to burn or ignite (in the Bible solely in an emotional way: to get angry). Noun חרון (haron) describes the burning of anger. Noun חרי (hori) refers to a general burning.
Verb חור (hawar) means to be or grow white (like ash or baked bricks). Nouns חור (hur) and חורי (huray) refer to any white stuff, including garments and linen, and noun חרי (hori) describes white bread or cake.
Verb נחר (nahar) looks very much like a passive or reflexive version of חרר (harar) or its participle. This verb isn't used in the Bible but nouns נחר (nahar) and נחרה (naharah) describe the vigorous snorting of a horse, and noun נחיר (nahir) means nostril (which in turn reminds of a cavern).
The final letter mem of Hiram could be explained (as does Jones) by taking it to be an intensive. Hence Jones translates our name with Most Noble, and NOBSE reads Highborn.
But NOBSE might also have taken our name from the ubiquitous verb רום (rum), meaning to be high:
The verb רום (rum) means to be high or high up in either a physical, social or even attitudinal sense, and may also refer to the apex in a natural process: the being ripe and ready-for-harvest of fruits. Subsequently, our verb may imply a state beyond ripe (higher than ripe, overripe), which thus refers to rotting and being maggot riddled. This means that to the ancients higher did not simply mean better, and an arrogant political status that was higher than it should be equaled rot and worms (Acts 12:23).
Derived nouns, such as רום (rum) and related forms, describe height or pride. Noun רמות (ramut) describes some high thing. The noun ארמון ('armon) refers to a society's apex: a citadel or palace. The noun ראם (re'em) describes the wild ox, which was named possibly for the same reason why we moderns call a rising market a "bull" market. The similar verb ראם (ra'am) means to rise.
The important noun רמון (rimmon) means pomegranate and the pomegranate became the symbol for harvest-ready fruit (see our full dictionary article for more on this). Overripe items might suffer the noun רמה (rimma), worm or maggot, or the verb רמם (ramam), to be wormy.
BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't translate the name Hiram, but decrees that it is an abbreviated form of the name אחירם (Ahiram), and that name (says BDB) consists of the verb רום (rum), meaning to be high, and the common noun אח ('ah), meaning brother:
The noun אח ('ah) means brother, or more broadly: a fellow member of a social economic node (a "house") within a broader economic whole.
This word's lavish inclusion in names strongly suggests that the deity was reckoned by this word — in modern times we mostly speak of Our Father in Heaven but in antiquity the deity appears to have also been addressed as Our Brother. The New Testament appears to entertain that dynamic in the tenet that the Word is God's Son, and all who have the Word are godly brothers. Also note the similarity with the verb חוה (hawa), to show, tell, make known.
The noun אחוה ('ahawa) means brotherhood and אחות ('ahot) means sister.
BDB Theological Dictionary equates the name Hiram with Ahiram, and that name they translate with Brother Of (The) Lofty.