🔼The name Parvaim: Summary
- Ancient Oriental Traditions
- Scientific Scrutinies
- From the Sanskrit adjective purva, east or antiquity.
- From the Hebrew verb פרר (parar), to split or break apart.
🔼The name Parvaim in the Bible
The name Parvaim occurs only once in the Bible and belongs to the place from whence at least some of the gold came with which king Solomon adorned the temple of YHWH in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 3:6). The name Parvaim does not occur anywhere else in classical literature (although some have equated it with Farwah in Yemen), and since the amount of gold that was used for the temple was enormous (1 Kings 6:20-22) and probably did not come from one particular mine or even from one particular supplier, Parvaim is probably not a specific city or even a specific location but something more general, such as "the open market" or "the getting place" or something along those lines.
And at least a substantial portion of the temple's gold came from king Hiram of the Phoenicians and Tarshish (1 Kings 9:11-14, 10:22), from Ophir (9:28) and from Sheba (10:10). These three sources supplied precisely 120 talents each, which in turn indicates that these gestures are also symbolic. The temple in Jerusalem, after all, was a joint venture and a global center of learning rather than a local cultic hub (10:23-25).
Solomon's total annual income of gold was 666 talents, which equals about 30,000 kg, but it should be noted that the economy worked differently back then, and gold did not have the same status as it does today. Today gold is mostly a kind of money, and represents a store of economic value. In Solomon's time, the economy was much simpler and people lived mostly in family groups that pooled and shared their resources. Trade between population centers was often based on barter and money was not as necessary for everyday life. This in turn meant that gold didn't mean much for common people, and it was really only appreciated by thinkers who noted that gold didn't rust or deteriorate. Unlike papyrus, vellum or even stone, information stored in gold could be preserved forever and that was its main function for most of mankind's history.
🔼Etymology of the name Parvaim
The name Parvaim appears to be a plural form of some word פרו (prw) and although it's ultimately unclear where the name Parvaim comes from, an excellent candidate is the Sanskrit word purva, which means either "east" or "ancient". A similar link between east and antiquity exists in Hebrew in the verb קדם (qadam), hence names such as Kedemah and Kadmonite, and the use of this Sanskrit equivalent appears to suggest that Solomon obtained much of his templar "gold" from the wisdom of the far eastern traditions. This would put our name Parvaim on a par with the name Moses, which means "drawn out" and appears to refer to the wisdom of the local or Levantine ancients that was handed over, or "extracted" from the past via oral tradition.
Another possible source of our name, and a pretty strong association in any case, is the verb פרר (parar), to split or break apart:
The verb פרר (parar) means to split, divide and usually make more, expand or multiply. This root belongs to an extended family that also contains פרץ (paras), to break (through), פרש (paras and parash), to spread out or declare, פרס (paras), to break in two or divide, and פאר (pa'ar) means to branch out or to glorify.
The Bible is not concerned with political goings on and only with the evolution of the wisdom tradition, and thus with the rise of information technology (from cave paintings to blockchain). That said: our word "science" comes from the Greek verb σξιζω (schizo), which means to split, divide and make more.
Verb פרה (para) means to bear fruit or be fruitful. Noun פרי (peri) means fruit in its broadest sense. Noun פר (par) means young bull and פרה (para) means young heifer. Note that the first letter א (aleph) is believed to denote an ox-head, while its name derives from the verb אלף (aleph), to learn or to produce thousands. The second letter, ב (beth) is also the word for house (or temple or stable). The familiar word "alphabet," therefore literally means "stable of bulls" or "house of divisions" or "temple of fruitful learning".
Noun פרא (para') is a word for wild donkey. The young bovines were probably known as fruits-of-the-herd, but donkeys in the Bible mostly symbolize lone wanderings and humility.
Noun פור (pur) means lot (hence the feast called Purim). Noun פורה (pura) denotes a winepress and פרור (parur) a cooking pot.
For a meaning of the name Parvaim, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Oriental Regions. Neither NOBSE Study Bible Name List nor BDB Theological Dictionary offer explanations of this name.
Here at Abarim Publications we surmise that Parvaim deliberately refers to both Ancient Oriental Traditions and Scientific Scrutinies.