🔼The name Kartan: Summary
- Town, Urban Center
- From the noun קריה (qiryah), city, from the root קרר (qarar), to compact.
🔼The name Kartan in the Bible
The name Kartan occurs only once in the Bible. It's the name of one of one of three cities that were donated to the Gershonites by the tribe of Naphtali (Joshua 21:32). Kartan is not mentioned among the cities that were situated in the territory allotted to the tribe of Naphtali (Joshua 19:32-39), so it was possibly created by Naphtali at some point. The Chronicler tells of this same transaction but calls this town Kiriathaim (1 Chronicles 6:76).
🔼Etymology of the name Kartan
The name Kartan comes from the noun קריה (qiryah), meaning city, which itself derives from the verb קרה (qara), meaning to meet or get together:
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."
The letter ן (nun) upon which our name ends may be a remnant of the familiar waw-nun couple, it may be a diminutive form, and it may be a corruption of the plural ים of Kiriathaim.
For a meaning of the name Kartan, NOBSE Study Bible Name List seems to take the final nun to be a diminutive, and reads Town, which would be a small city.
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names believes that the final nun is due to an ancient dual form and reads Two Cities.
BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't propose an interpretation of Kartan but does list it under the verb קרה (qara), meaning to meet or get together.