🔼The name Meremoth: Summary
- From the verb רום (rum), to be high.
- From the verb רמה (rama), to deceive.
🔼The name Meremoth in the Bible
There are up to five men named Meremoth in the Bible. They appear to have been contemporaries of each other and the following list most probably overlaps somewhat:
- A son of Uriah the priest, who received the gold and silver that the returnees brought from Babylon (Ezra 8:33).
- One of the sons of Bani, who had married and would divorce his foreign wife during the Purge of Ezra (Ezra 10:36).
- Another or perhaps the same Meremoth son of Uriah, who worked on the repairs of the city (Nehemiah 3:4, 3:21). It's rare but not unheard of that strings of names were repeated across a few generations, so this may be another Meremoth and Uriah. Note that to this Meremoth no priesthood is ascribed.
- One of the priestly signers of the sealed document (Nehemiah 10:5). No genealogy is ascribed to this man, so he might have been any of the others.
- One of the priests who returned from exile together with Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 12:3, only here spelled מרמת, Meremath, and it appears that this man is called Meraioth in Nehemiah 12:15).
🔼Etymology of the name Meremoth
It's not clear where the name Meremoth comes from, but most commentators appear to insist that it derives from the verb רום (rum), meaning to be high, lofty or arrogant:
The verb רום (rum) means to be high or high up in either a physical, social or even attitudinal sense, and may also refer to the apex in a natural process: the being ripe and ready-for-harvest of fruits. Subsequently, our verb may imply a state beyond ripe (higher than ripe, overripe), which thus refers to rotting and being maggot riddled. This means that to the ancients higher did not simply mean better, and an arrogant political status that was higher than it should be equaled rot and worms (Acts 12:23).
Derived nouns, such as רום (rum) and related forms, describe height or pride. Noun רמות (ramut) describes some high thing. The noun ארמון ('armon) refers to a society's apex: a citadel or palace. The noun ראם (re'em) describes the wild ox, which was named possibly for the same reason why we moderns call a rising market a "bull" market. The similar verb ראם (ra'am) means to rise.
The important noun רמון (rimmon) means pomegranate and the pomegranate became the symbol for harvest-ready fruit (see our full dictionary article for more on this). Overripe items might suffer the noun רמה (rimma), worm or maggot, or the verb רמם (ramam), to be wormy.
Here at Abarim Publications we guess that this name was commemorative of the exile (and not of a quality of the bearer of the name; this is not at all unusual in the Bible) and comes from the verb רמה (rama II), meaning to deceive, and particularly, the noun מרמה (mirma), meaning deceit or treachery. The plural of this noun is spelled מרמות, which is the same as our name, and occurs in Psalm 10:7, 35:20 and 38:12:
The verb רמה (rama) essentially means to loosen, but is used only three times literally (twice for shooting arrows and once for hurling riders into the sea). Mostly our verb is used in the sense of playing loose with the truth, i.e. to compromise the solidness of trustworthiness and be swampy.
Hence our verb is mostly translated with to beguile, deceive or mislead. Nouns רמיה (remiya), מרמה (mirma), תרמה (torma) and תרמית (tarmit) describe various degrees and nuances of treachery, deceit and looseness in the trustworthiness department.
For a meaning of the name Meremoth, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names read Elevations and BDB Theological Dictionary does not offer an interpretation of this name.
Here at Abarim Publications, we would translate this name with Treacheries or Deceptions.