🔼The name Lebo-hamath: Summary
- Coming Onto Fortification, Realm Of Hamath
- From (1) the particle ל (le), to or towards, (2) the verb בוא (bo'), to come, and (3) probably the verb חמה (hmh), to protect or surround.
🔼The name Lebo-hamath in the Bible
Whether Lebo-hamath is actually a name is quite dubious. The phrase לבא חמת occurs in Numbers 13:21 and 34:8 and לבוא חמת happens in Joshua 13:5, Judges 3:3, 1 Kings 8:65, 2 Kings 14:25, 1 Chronicles 13:5, 2 Chronicles 7:8, Ezekiel 47:20 and Amos 6:14, and לבוא־חמת occurs in Ezekiel 48:1.
Yet all translations read "entrance of Hamath" or something similar in Kings, Chronicles and Ezekiel 48:1, and only the New American Standard and the New International Version read Lebo-hamath or Lebo Hamath in all except in Kings and Chronicles. Only the New American Standard reads Lebo-hamath in Ezekiel 48:1.
It appears that the lebo-part is a very common word and should probably be read as part of the narrative and not the name. Hamath was a well attested city, and the lebo-prefix does not create a separate entity, just like the phrases לבוא מצרים and לבא מצרים (lebo-mizraim), which occur together seven times in the Bible, do not create a place in addition to the well-known Mizraim.
🔼Etymology of the name Lebo-hamath
Our pseudo-name Lebo-hamath consists of three elements, the first one being the prefix ל (le), meaning to or towards:
The particle ל (le) means to or onto and may describe a physical or mental motion toward or a behavioral effort, an evolutionary one or express determination or purpose. The name of this letter, lamed, describes a cattle prod or goad.
The second part of our name comes from the very common verb בוא (bo'), meaning to come:
The very common verb בוא (bo') means to come, or rather: to move from a condition of wide dispersal toward a focal point of contraction. Noun באה (bi'a) means entrance or entry. Noun מבוא (mabo') denotes the act of entering, or the place where the verb is performed, namely an entrance. A specific use of this noun describes the place where the sun "comes" or sets, causing this noun to be synonymous with the west. Noun תבואה (tebu'a) denotes an item that experiences the verb, or specifically: a field upon which harvesters collect the yield in order to stack it at a central point of storage.
The third part is the same as the name Hamath, and probably derives from the verb חמה (hmh), to protect or surround:
The verb חמם (hamam) means to be hot and is sometimes used to describe mental agitation. Nouns חם (hom) and חמה (hamma) mean heat. Adjective חם (ham) means hot. The noun חמן (hamman) denotes a kind of mysterious small pillar (perhaps a device?).
The verb יחם (yaham) also means to be hot, but mostly in a mental sense: to be exited or angered. The noun חמה (hema) mostly refers to a severe mental "burning": anger or rage.
The verb חמה (hmh) is not used in the Bible, but in cognate languages it means to surround, guard or protect. Perhaps this verb has nothing to do with the previous and only accidentally looks similar, but perhaps it ties into the fact that natural open fires aren't very warm and smelting metals require sophisticated ovens. Noun חם (ham) means father-in-law and its feminine equivalent, חמות (hamot), means mother-in-law — and note that the Trojan theme of the "girl" kept in the city of her forceful lover is very common in classical literature. Noun חומה (homa) describes a protective wall.
The noun חום (hum) describes a color or pattern of coloration of sheep and goats. It's not clear whether this pattern resembled sparks, fire or enclosures, or perhaps that this word in not related to the previous.
Noun חמת (hemet) means waterskin and may derive from a wholly different verb. Still, the verb נהר (nahar) means both to flow (of water) and to shine (of light) and a waterskin filled with water is not unlike a kiln containing a very warm fire.
The phrase Lebo-hamath probably denoted the outer reaches of the land that was controlled by the people of Hamath. There wasn't much in the way of border markings in the ancient world, and the realm of a king stretched as far as his army could, and that probably only demonstrated once every few years or so.
Lebo-hamath was probably a collective term for settlements that still paid taxes to Hamath, or it denoted a unified road system with Hamath at the center. It probably does not mean the "entrance to Hamath," as may translations have but rather a circular limit of influence. It would probably be best translated as the "onto where Hamath comes" or the "realm of Hamath".