🔼The name Kir: Summary
- From the noun קיר (qir), wall.
🔼The name Kir in the Bible
It's not clear who many cities names Kir are mentioned in the Bible, but here are the candidates:
- A city in Moab (Isaiah 15:1). Authorities are divided on the question whether this city Kir is the same as Kir-heres (Jeremiah 48:36) or Kir-hareseth (Isaiah 16:7) or even the next Kir.
- A city of unknown location. We hear first of this city when king Rezin of Aram joined forces with king Pekah of Israel and went to war with king Ahaz of Judah (2 Kings 16:5). But Ahaz quickly dispatched a messenger (and a lot of silver and gold from the temple of YHWH and the royal palace) to king Tiglath-pileser of Assyria and asked for military assistance. The king of Assyria responded by marching upon the capital of Aram, Damascus, killing Rezin and deporting the local Arameans to Kir (2 Kings 16:9). Around that time the Assyrians came in control of a region that stretched from the Euphrates to Egypt, so it's not inconceivable that this Kir is the same as Kir of Moab.
The deportation of the Arameans of Damascus to Kir was foretold by the prophet Amos (Amos 1:5) who also seems to suggest that they made it back home (Amos 9:7). The prophet Isaiah also mentions Kir, but it's not clear which one (if there's a difference; Isaiah 22:6). Isaiah's Kir appears to partake in an aggressive move towards Jerusalem, so maybe the second Kir was a city in Aram itself.
🔼Etymology of the name Kir
The name Kir is identical to the noun קיר (qir), meaning wall:
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."
For a meaning of the name Kir, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Wall. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has A Wall, A Fortress, but this word for wall typically doesn't refer to a military wall. BDB Theological Dictionary does not translate our name Kir but does confirm that it is identical to the noun קיר (qir), meaning wall.