🔼The name Jorkeam: Summary
- Green People, Grasslike Folks
- From (1) the verb ירק (yaraq), to be thin or green, and (2) עם ('am), people or kinsman.
🔼The name Jorkeam in the Bible
The name Jorkeam (or Jorkoam as some translations have it) occurs only once in the Bible. It's the name of a "son" of Raham, son of Shema of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:44), but that probably means that Jorkeam is a town and Raham is either its founder or else the patriarch of its governing elite.
Some scholars say Jorkeam is the same as the Jokdeam mentioned in Joshua 15:56 but there's really no proof for that, or any indication in the text that might render credence or validity to the suggestion.
🔼Etymology of the name Jorkeam
The name Jorkeam consists of two elements. The first part probably comes from the verb ירק I (yaraq I), meaning to be green:
The verb רקק (raqaq I) means to be thin or weak. Adjective רק (raq) means thin. Adverb רק (raq) means only or solely. Noun רקיק (raqiq) denotes a thin cake or wafer of unleavened bread. Noun רקה (raqqa) denotes the part of the head called temple.
Identical verb רקק (raqaq II) means to spit and noun רק (roq) means spittle.
Root ירק (yaraq I) denotes a color ranging from green or pale to ashen or dusky-white or even silver. Note that in nature, small and thin things are often green (leaves, grasses), whereas bigger things are usually not (fruits, tree trunks). Noun ירק (yereq) means green or green things. Noun ירק (yaraq) means herbs or herbage. Noun ירוק (yaroq) also means green thing. Noun ירקון (yeraqon) means either mildew or paleness. Adjective ירקרק (yeraqrag) means greenish or pale-green.
Identical verb ירק (yaraq II) means to spit.
The second part of our name is equal to the familiar noun עם ('am), meaning people:
The verb עמם ('mm) probably expressed to be inclusive or comprehensive. Its rare uses in the Bible relate to making secrets or making info available to an in-crowd. Preposition עם ('im) means 'with', מעם (me'im) means 'from', and עמה ('umma) means 'beside'. Noun עם ('am) means a people, ranging from all of mankind to the in-crowd of a small village. Noun עם ('am) refers to one's (paternal) kinsman.
The name Jorkeam literally means Green People, but it's not clear what that might have meant to a Hebrew audience. Perhaps Green People were thought of as excellent in propagation, or perhaps they were vegetarians. More likely, however, is that Green People represented a society in which all members were like blades of grass, with very little diversification and social stratification. People that were known as green probably exhibited a very low level of social sophistication.
For a meaning of the name Jorkeam, Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) proposes Paleness Of The People but does not explain why that would be better than Green People.
Neither NOBSE Study Bible Name List nor BDB Theological Dictionary offer interpretations of the name Jorkeam but BDB does list it under the verb ירק I (yaraq I), meaning to be green.