🔼The name Kiriath: Summary
- From the noun קריה (qiryah), city, from the root קרר (qarar), to compact.
🔼The name Kiriath in the Bible
The name Kiriath occurs on its own only once in the Bible. It occurs many times as an element of a larger name and is closely kindred to the name קריות (Kerioth), which is endowed with an inconsequential letter waw and has the same meaning.
Kiriath is the name of one of the fourteen cities that were situated in the territory allotted to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:28). Some commentators (Alfred Jones — Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) believe that this Kiriath is the same as Kiriath-jearim, which is mentioned among the markers of the land of Benjamin, but the text clearly indicates that although Kiriath-jearim marked the border, it was assigned to Judah.
Some commentators (Jones again) believe that Joshua 18:28 speaks not of just Kiriath but Kiriath-arim, as does Ezra 2:25 (while Nehemiah 7:29 reads Kiriath-jearim). The word ערים (arim) looks like a contracted form of יערים (jearim), but is in this case probably a plural of the word עיר ('ir), which is the Bible's common word for city. In Joshua 18:28 ערים (arim) is probably part of the formula "ערים (= cities) + a number + חצרי־הן (= their villages)," which occurs all over the Book of Joshua (15:32, 15:36, 15:41, 15:45, et cetera).
🔼Etymology of the name Kiriath
The name Kiriath is an older variant of the Biblical noun קריה (qiryah), meaning city. It derives of 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."
For a meaning of the name Kiriath, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads City. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names doesn't treat Kiriath separately but translates it as City in every compound name it occurs. BDB Theological Dictionary also doesn't treat Kiriath separately but lists it under Kiriath-jearim, which BDB translates with City Of Forests.