🔼The name Kiriathaim: Summary
- Double Cities
- From the noun קריה (qiryah), city, from the root קרר (qarar), to compact.
🔼The name Kiriathaim in the Bible
There are two towns named Kiriathaim in the Bible:
- One of the cities that were built by the tribe of Reuben in the lands east of the Jordan (Numbers 32:37). It was situated on or close to a hill, perhaps Pisgah (Joshua 13:19), but that area became dominated by Moab soon after the conquest. By the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Kiriathaim of Reuben was Moabite and would be overrun by the rapidly expanding empire of Babylon (Jeremiah 48:1, 48:23, Ezekiel 25:9, only in Ezekiel spelled קריתם).
- A city in the area given to the tribe of Naphtali, which was later surrendered to the Levite sub-clan of the Gershomites (1 Chronicles 6:76). In Joshua 21:32 this town is called Kartan, and the Gershomites are called Gershonites.
In Genesis 14:5 occurs the name Shaveh-kiriathaim, which Luther interpreted as "the field of Kiriathaim". Later translations print Shaveh-kiriathaim.
🔼Etymology of the name Kiriathaim
The name Kiriathaim is a dual or plural version of the name Kiriath, which in turn 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 Kiriathaim, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads the elegant Twin Cities. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names opts for Double City, and BDB Theological Dictionary carefully agrees with a "perhaps" Double City.