🔼The name Karkor: Summary
- Pounded Down
- From the verb קרקר (qarqar), to pound down, possibly from קרר (qarar), to compact.
🔼The name Karkor in the Bible
The name Karkor occurs only once in the Bible. It's the name of the place where the Midianite kings Zebah and Zalmunna and their 10,000 remaining soldiers ended up after their army self-destructed due to the action of Gideon and his famous 300 men (Judges 8:10).
After Midian's decimation, Gideon quickly mustered army of men from Naphtali, Asher, Manasseh and Ephraim, and pursued Zebah and Zalmunna. When he caught them he ordered his young son Jether to kill them, but Jether declined and Gideon executed them himself.
🔼Etymology of the name Karkor
The name Karkor is identical (with a small difference in the much later added Masoretic vowel symbols) to the word קרקר (qarqar), which is used in Numbers 24:17 to describe the fate of the sons of Sheth: complete destruction.
Root קרר (qarar) means to cool off in a thermodynamic sense: to go from hot gas to cool liquid to a cold solid. Socially this would describe warring tribes "cooling off" into culturally compatible peoples and liquid trading networks and ultimately the formation of cities and solid nations. Intellectually, diverse viewpoints might congeal into local conventions and ultimately a global standard.
Adjective קר (qar) means cool. Nouns קר (qor) and קרה (qara) mean cold. Noun מקרה (meqera), meaning coolness.
Noun קיר (qir) is one of a few words for wall. It might relate to the root because bricks are congealed mud, and a wall is bricks pieced together (non-standard bricks take some puzzling and pounding). The noun קרקע (qarqa') means floor; earth trampled into a compact state. The verb קרקר (qarqar) means to forcibly compact, to pound down.
Verb קרה (qara), and its by-form קרא (qara'), mean to near, to meet or to happen upon. Noun קורה (qora) describes a rafter or beam; the things that come together to form a roof, and which obviously relate to bricks pieced into a wall. Verb קרה (qara) means to piece beams together and noun מקרה (meqareh) means literally place of beams; beam-work.
Nouns קרה (qareh) and מקרה (miqreh) mean chance or accident, fortune or fate. Noun קרי (qeri) means opposition, contrariness. At a social level, chance meetings and opposition are the very rafters that carry society's roof.
For this same reason, the nouns קריה (qiryah) and קרת (qeret) are the words for city and federation of cities.
Verb קרא (qara'), which is identical to the by-form of the previous, means to call or call near. Adjective קריא (qari') means called or summoned. Noun קריאה (qeri'a) means proclamation. And noun מקרא (miqra') means convocation or called assembly. The noun קרא (qore') describes a partridge; literally "a caller."
To a Hebrew audience, the name Karkor would mean Pounded Down, but because Karkor was probably far to the east of the Jordan, scholars appear to prefer to relate this name to Arabic. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names doesn't directly offer an interpretation of this name but refers to an Arabic word that is also a doubling of a core-word. And that Arabic word means Soft And Level Ground. NOBSE Study Bible Name List appears to agree with Jones and reads Even Ground. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't translate the name Karkor.