🔼The name Kibroth-hattaavah: Summary
- Graves Of Desire
- From (1) the verb the verb קבר (qabar), to bury, and (2) the verb אוה ('wh), to desire.
🔼The name Kibroth-hattaavah in the Bible
There's only one place called Kibroth-hattaavah in the Bible. It's the place where Israel was struck by a plague from YHWH as a result of their grumbling. This was right after they received the quails (Numbers 11:34). Before Israel crossed the Jordan into Canaan, Moses recounted the highlights of their journey, and remembered that they had provoked the Lord to anger at Kibroth-hattaavah (Deuteronomy 9:22).
Our name is spelled קברות התאוה in Numbers 11:34-35, and קברת התאוה in Numbers 33:16-17 and Deuteronomy 9:22.
🔼Etymology of the name Kibroth-hattaavah
The name Kibroth-hattaavah consists of two elements. The first part is a plural form of the noun קבר (qeber), meaning grave, taken from the verb קבר (qabar), meaning to bury:
The verb קבר (qabar) means to bury deceased humans. Nouns קבר (qeber), קברה (qebura) and קבורה (qebura) mean grave or burial.
The second part of our name is the word תאוה (ta'awa), meaning desire, from the verb אוה ('wh II), meaning to desire:
There are four different verbs אוה ('wh), which all appear to express a desire or movement toward something. Noun אי ('i) means coast, which has been mankind's preferred place to settle since time immemorial. Nouns או ('aw), מאוי (ma'away), אוה ('awwa) and תאוה (ta'awa) all mean desire. The noun אות ('ot) means mark or sign, and humanity's earliest marks were not to assert private ownership but rather a collective identity: something to draw toward and gather around. Noun אי ('i) means jackal, and noun איה (ayya) means hawk or falcon. These creatures were possibly named after their supplicatory calls, or else their rapturous method of predation.
The conjunction או ('o) means "or." The interjection אי ('i) expresses regret: "alas!" Adverb אי ('i) may serve as a particle of negation ("to be desired" and thus not so), or as an interrogative adverb, meaning "where?", usually in rhetorical questions. The substantive אין ('ayin) expresses negation or nothingness and occurs hundreds of times in the construct מאין (m'ayin), which literally means "from where is not?", as introduction to a rhetorical question concerning something that is true in all known parts of the world: "where isn't it so that such and such, hmm?"
Right before the noun תאוה (ta'awa), sits the definite article ה (he), meaning the, or rather those of, because in Hebrew the use of the definite article is rare and demands a certain degree of emphasis.
For a meaning of the name Kibroth-hattaavah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List has Graves Of Lust. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names also proposes Graves Of Lust, and adds for badly needed clarity "i.e. graves of the people who lusted". BDB Theological Dictionary has the slightly less enthusiastic and probably slightly more correct The Graves Of Desire.