🔼The name Timnah: Summary
- Allotted Portion
- From the verb מנה (mana), to count or assign.
🔼The names Timnah and Timnathah in the Bible
There are two towns named Timnah (תמנה) and two named Timnath (תמנת) in the Bible, but the chances are excellent that they're all the same:
- Timnah was a town in the territory that was allotted to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:57; תמנה). It's possibly the same as תמנת (Timnath), which was the place where Judah son of Jacob and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went to meet with his sheep shearers (Genesis 38:12). Judah's widowed daughter-in-law Tamar famously took this opportunity to trick Judah into impregnating her. The result of their union was the twins Perez and Zerah (Genesis 38:29-30). But on the other hand: at the time in which the story of Judah and Tamar played, there was no territory allotted to the tribes yet and Timnah and Timnathah may very well have been the same as the following:
- A town on the border between the territories of Judah and Dan (which would be in the north of Judah, close to the sea shore). The border of Judah was said to run through it (Joshua 15:10; called תמנה) but the town itself was assigned to Dan (Joshua 19:43; called תמנתה). At some point between the conquest and the time of the judges, this Timnah or Timnathah was part of the territory that was lost to the Philistines (2 Chronicles 28:18; תמנה), and that makes it probably the same town as the Timnathah were Samson saw the Philistine woman he married (Judges 14:1-5; תמנתה). The ethnonym Timnite (תמני) is applied once in the Bible, to the unfortunate father of Samson's bride (Judges 15:6).
🔼Etymology of the names Timnah and Timnathah
The names Timnah and Timnathah come most probably from the verb מנה (mana) meaning to count or assign:
The interrogative pronoun מן (man) means "what?" but the preposition מן (min) means "out of" or "from". The latter is often deployed as prefix, in which only the מ (m) is written. Nouns formed from "מ plus root" commonly describe an "agent" or "place-of" whatever the action of the root describes.
Noun מן (men) describes a harp string and is an Aramaic loan word.
Verb מנה (mana) means to count or assign. Nouns מנה (mana) and מנת (menat) mean portion or part. Noun מנה (maneh) is a unit of weight; the mina. And noun מנה (moneh) means time (not clock time but as in ten "times").
🔼Timnah and Timnathah meaning
For a meaning of the name Timnah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Allotted Portion (NOBSE works off the New American Standard which completely ignores the variant Timnathah and reads Timnah consistently). Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names also doesn't acknowledge the variant spelling, and reads Portion Assigned for Timnah. BDB Theological Dictionary lists both Timnah and Timnathah under the verb מנה (mana), and reads "prob.=" Portion, Territory for both.