🔼The name Malcam: Summary
- Their King, Most High King
- From the noun מלך (melek), king, and possibly the 3rd person plural pronominal suffix הם (am), their.
🔼The name Malcam in the Bible
The name Malcam is applied to only one man in the Bible, although it is spelled the same as the name Milcom (also known as Malcam — Jeremiah 49:1-3, although some translations interpret מלכם here as "their king" — and perhaps also known as Molech), the main deity of Ammon, just pronounced slightly different.
Malcam the man was a son of Shaharaim and his wife Hodesh (1 Chronicles 8:9). They lived in Moab, where the god Milcom or Molech was worshipped, and it's pretty safe to conclude that Malcam was named after Milcom.
🔼Etymology of the name Malcam
The name Malcam comes from the noun מלך (melek), meaning king:
The noun מלך (melek) means king, and a king is not merely a glorified tribal chief but the alpha of a complex, stratified society, implying a court and a complex government.
The Bible insists that a society must be governed by a triad of anointed sovereigns, namely prophets, priests and the king. A good king causes his people to be prosperous and peaceful whereas a bad one causes poverty and strife. The difference between the two is dictated by how close to the Law of Nature (a.k.a. the Word of God) the king operates. A kingdom that is wholly in tune with the Law consists of only sovereign individuals and is thus without a physical king.
An Aramaic cognate verb מלך (malak) means to consult, which confirms that the concept of royalty indeed evolved from wisdom and intellectual prowess rather than brute physical or political strength, as is commonly suggested.
From this noun derives the verb מלך (malak): to be or become king, the nouns מלכה (malka) and מלכת (meleket): queen or court-lady, the noun מלוכה (meluka): kingship or royalty, and the nouns מלכות (malkut), ממלכה (mamlaka) and ממלכות (mamlakut), meaning sovereignty or kinghood.
Where the added letter mem comes from isn't immediately clear. It could be due to a direct transliteration of the Moabite name for their deity, and doesn't actually mean anything in Hebrew. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) deems the names Malcam and Milcom intensitive forms of our noun מלך (melek).
The final mem could even designate the masculine plural pronominal suffix:
The masculine pronouns הם (hem) and המה (hemma) mean "they." The feminine versions are הנה (henna) and הן (hen). The singular versions (meaning he and she) are הוא (hu) and היא (hi).
The similar verb המה (hama) means to be noisy, and that particularly of a "them". The derived masculine noun המון (hamon) denotes a noisy multitude.
The verb נהה (naha) means to wail or lament, and is probably onomatopoeic, after the sound of crying. Nouns נהי (nehi), נהיה (nihya), ני (ni) and הי (hi) all describe forms of wailing.
The verb נהם (naham) describes a muffled groaning. Nouns נהם (naham) and נהמה (nehama) mean a growling.
The noun נאם (ne'um) describes a labored utterance of a prophet in trance. Denominative verb נאם (na'am), means to utter a prophetic utterance.
Alfred Jones thinks the added mem intensifies the core noun and translates Malcam with Most High King (and Milcom with just "High King", curiously enough). NOBSE Study Bible Name List goes with the pronominal suffix and reads Their King for both. BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret these names.