🔼The name Kadmiel: Summary
- El Is The Ancient One, God Of Old, Eastern Deity
- From (1) the noun קדם (qedem), antiquity or east, and (2) אל ('el), the name El or the word God or god.
🔼The name Kadmiel in the Bible
It's not completely clear how many different men named Kadmiel appear in the Bible, and although most commentators count two, it really seems that there's just one.
Kadmiel is first mentioned as one of the Levites who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:40, Nehemiah 7:43, 12:8). This Kadmiel is mentioned in the enigmatic construction "the sons of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodaviah" and it is neither clear how Kadmiel and Jeshua (and Hodaviah) relate (although Jeshua appears to be Kadmiel's son; Nehemiah 12:24), nor whether this Jeshua is the famous one or a namesake.
Apparently, these same Jeshua and Kadmiel stood side by side to oversee the workers on the temple (Ezra 3:9). These overseers had brought their sons and brothers and were joined by the sons of some Judah and those of Henadad, and one is left to wonder why the workers needed such vast oversight. The obvious answer is that the temple of Zerubbabel, like the temple of Solomon, was not merely a brick and mortar building but rather the physical representation of something much more vast, much more complex and much more global (compare 1 Kings 5:13-18 to 10:23-25).
Both Jeshua and Kadmiel are mentioned among the Levites who stood on the Levite platform when the Book of the Law was recited (Nehemiah 9:4-5), and among the Levites who were among the signers of the sealed document (Nehemiah 10:9). In this particular context, Jeshua is called the son of Azaniah, which some commentators take as a reference to a wholly other Jeshua and thus a wholly other Kadmiel. To us here at Abarim Publications these considerations lack the degree of promise of substance required to warrant pursuit, but that's just us. Perhaps there's great treasure here for the right kind of eyes.
🔼Etymology of the name Kadmiel
The name Kadmiel consists of two elements, the final one being אל, El, the prominent Canaanite deity whose name became applied to the God of Israel, or the common abbreviation of Elohim, the genus God:
In names אל ('el) usually refers to אלהים ('elohim), that is Elohim, or God, also known as אלה ('eloah). In English, the words 'God' and 'god' exclusively refer to the deity but in Hebrew the words אל ('l) and אלה ('lh) are far more common and may express approach and negation, acts of wailing and pointing, and may even mean oak or terebinth.
The first part of our name comes from the word קדם (qedem), antiquity or east, and since Babylon and Persia were proverbially in the east, this name suggests that the "return" to Canaan was not merely a trip to the motherland but rather a step up in complexity and sophistication relative to the culture that had abducted the Jews:
The root קדם (qdm) deals with former things and may simply refer to antiquity but more specifically a more primitive social state: more social dispersal, less social cohesion and connectedness, less economic and technological complexity and thus less specialization and ultimately less personal freedom of being.
Noun קדם (qedem) may mean antiquity but it may also mean east (the place of sunrise). The denominative verb קדם (qadam) means to be or do earlier, to anticipate, to be in front, to meet.
The adverb קדם (qedem) means eastward (or toward a condition of more dispersal and less complexity). Noun קדמה (qadma) may refer to antiquity or a former (less complex) state. Noun קדים (qadim) means easter or eastern and is often used to indicate a destructive wind that blows toward the east. Adjectives קדמון (qadmon) and קדמני (qadmoni) mean eastern or former.
For a meaning of the name Kadmiel, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads God Is The Ancient One and BDB Theological Dictionary suggests the similar El Is The Ancient One. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Going Before God.
What the original name-giver meant to say is no longer clear, of course, but our name Kadmiel appears to primarily proclaim that God is able to call his people from the farthest diaspora and onto a place of unity, like once the waters gathered and became dry land (Genesis 1:9, Isaiah 11:12).