🔼The name Milcom: 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 Milcom in the Bible
The name Milcom (which is pretty much the same as the name Malcam) occurs four times in the Bible, three times in conjunction with king Solomon, and once in Zephaniah's prophecy of judgment on idolaters (Zephaniah 1:5).
1 Kings 11:5 tells how in his latter days king Solomon follows his wives to serve other gods: Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians and Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. When the Lord subsequently instructs the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite to tell Jeroboam, son of Nebat, that Solomon will lose his empire and Jeroboam will be given sway over ten tribes of Israel, he also mentions Israel worshipping the god Chemosh of Moab (1 Kings 11:33). It's not until the reforms of king Josiah, three centuries after Solomon, that Solomon's high places of idolatry are demolished (2 Kings 23:13).
Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) states that Milcom is another name for Molech, also an Ammonite god. But note that in 2 Kings 23:10 Molech is mentioned separately from Milcom in verse 13, and while 1 Kings 11:5 mentions Milcom of Ammon, verse 11:7 speaks of Molech.
🔼Etymology of the name Milcom
The name Milcom 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 this name's final letter ם (mem) comes from is disputed. One possibility is that the name Milcom comes from the Moabite language, and simply ended up like this due to linear transliteration. But to a Hebrew audience, this final mem may certainly have represented meaning. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) recognizes in the names Malcam and Milcom intensitive forms of our noun מלך (melek), and translates Malcam with Most High King, and, curiously, Milcom with just High King.
But this final mem could also be construed as the masculine plural pronominal suffix. That would give the names Malcam and Milcom the meaning of Their King. This latter interpretation is favored by NOBSE Study Bible Name List. BDB Theological Dictionary refrains from interpreting these names.