🔼The name Kohath: Summary
- Gathering, Congregation
- From the verb יקה (yaqa), to obey.
- From the verb קוה (qawa), to gather into strength, to hope.
🔼The name Kohath in the Bible
Kohath is a son of Levi and brother of Gershon, Merari and Jochebed (Genesis 46:11, Numbers 26:59). He is the father of Amram, who marries his aunt Jochebed (Exodus 6:20). Their children, Moses, Aaron and Miriam are thus grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Levi. The descendants of Kohath are the קהתי, the Kohathites (Numbers 26:57). Their special charge is care for the holy items and furnishings when the tabernacle is dismantled and Israel is underway (Numbers 4:15).
🔼Etymology of the name Kohath
Some commentators (NOBSE Study Bible Name List, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) relate this name to a root that may or may not be used in the Bible (yes, namely in Genesis 49:10, says Alfred Jones; no say most others) but which occurs in cognate languages: the verb קהת (qahath), meaning to collect or assemble.
Others rumor about another unused root that means allegiance, or relations with the verb קהה (qaha), be blunt or dull, as used in Jeremiah 31:29 or Ecclesiastes 10:10.
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names points towards the Shiloh prophecy of Genesis 49:10, one of two places in the Bible where the word קהת occurs not in the meaning of the name Kohath (the other being Proverbs 30:17). Jones generously translates this word here with gathering ("and to him shall the gathering of the people be"), but others are not so sure. The meaning of this word is somewhat disputed, reveals HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Most popular translations derive it from the noun יקהה (yiqha), meaning obedience, from the assumed root יקה (yqh):
It's not clear what the unused verb יקה (yaqa) may have meant but cognates suggest to be pious and careful of one's religious duties. The noun יקהה (yiqha) means obedience.
The Septuagint, however, and with it some modern translations, connect this word to קוה (qawa), to gather, hope, expect, and translate this word with expectation:
The verb קוה (qawa) describes the act of combining a multiple of strands and coiling those into a single, much stronger cable. It is used to mean to gather or collect, but also in the sense of to hope or eagerly await.
Deriving from the strong cable-making sense, the nouns קו (qaw) and קוה (qow) mean line or measuring line. Noun תקוה (tiqwah) means cord. The exactly identical noun תקוה (tiqwah) means hope. Noun מקוה (miqweh) also means hope. Noun קוקו (qawqaw) means might or strength.
Deriving from the collecting sense, the noun מקוה (miqweh) means collection or collected mass. Noun מקוה (miqwa) means reservoir.
The contexts of both occurrences of the illusive word קהת and thus the name Kohath, seem to favor the meaning of Obedience, which would also make the most sense as meaning of the name of this famous Levite.
For a meaning of the name Kohath, NOBSE Study Bible Name List appears to join Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names, or goes with קוה (qawa II) and reads Assembly. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Congregation. BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret our name and lists it alphabetically, and not under some specific root.