🔼The name Ziklag: Summary
- A Pint Of Liquid Metal
- From (1) the verb צוק (suq), to smelt copper, and (2) the noun לג (log), a pint.
🔼The name Ziklag in the Bible
The name Ziklag (spelled ציקלג in Chronicles and צקלג everywhere else) belonged to a town in the territory of Judah (Joshua 15:31), but became inhabited by people from the tribe of Simeon (Joshua 19:5, 1 Chronicles 4:30).
When the Philistines invaded Canaan, they settled on Judah's coast and annexed several major cities and smaller settlements, among which Ziklag. When David fled from Saul to the territory of the Philistines, he befriended Achish, son of king Maoch of Gath, and he and his household lived with Achish until David asked for a village for him and his 600 men to live in. Achish gave him Ziklag, and David and his people moved right in (1 Samuel 27:6).
Then one day, while David and his men were on a raid with the Philistines, the Amalekites came to Ziklag and burned it down and abducted the women and children (1 Samuel 30:1). After much weeping and a vague ritual that involved an ephod (30:7), David and company gave chase. They caught up with the Amalekites, smote them severely and liberated the captives and took their loot (30:17-19). From the loot of the Amalekites, David sent portions to the main cities of Judah as gifts (30:26), and not long after that, Saul fell in battle and the kingdom became David's (1 Samuel 31:8, 2 Samuel 1:1, 4:10).
Besides the mighty-men list that the Chronicler shares with Samuel, the Chronicler submits an additional list of mighty-men (1 Chronicles 12:1) and men of Manasseh (12:20) who joined David at Ziklag. Nehemiah reports that after the exile in Babylon, Ziklag still existed and became peopled by people from Judah (Nehemiah 11:28).
🔼Etymology of the name Ziklag
Scholars appear to agree that it's not immediately obvious where the name Ziklag comes from or how it might be formed. But assuming it's Hebrew, and knowing that this whole Ziklag transaction occurred right around the time at which Israel achieved iron smelting capabilities and became a force to be reckoned with in the Levant, it's not that great a leap to derive the first element of our name from the צוק and יצק cluster of roots:
The verb צוק (suq) means to press someone into giving up something. It's used to describe putting pressure on someone so that this person gives up certain information. It's also used to describe laying siege to a city in order to force its surrender and loot it. Nouns צוק (soq), צוקה (suqa) and מצוקה (mesuqa) mean distress or oppression. Noun מצוק (musaq) means place or agent of pressure or distress.
This verb also describes the production of metal from ore (although some insist this is an identical but other verb). The noun מצוק (masuq) would literally describe an place or agent of the verb, which in this case obviously describes a smeltery.
Note that the production of metal requires a whole set of technologies, skills and inventions. Copper production heralded the modern age— with all its wonders and horrors — and the rise of this technology was in the late Stone Age easily as earth-shattering as the rise of digital technology is in modern times.
The verb יצק (yasaq) means to pour and is used for oil, water, blood and liquefied metal. Nouns יצקה (yesuqa), מוצק (musaq) and מוצקת (museqet) refer to a casting, or an object made from cast metal. Note the similarities between the latter two derivatives and the latter two of the verb צוק (suq).
The second part of our name could be construed to come from the noun לג (log), which is a unit of volume, and a small one at that:
The noun לג (log) is a measure of volume, about a third of a liter. It may be that this word served as a proverbial small measure of something that usually came in large quantities.
For a meaning of the name Ziklag, NOBSE Study Bible Name List proposes an inexplicable Winding and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has a rather desperate Outflowing Of A Fountain.
Here at Abarim Publications we're guessing that the name Ziklag is intimately connected to Israel's fledgling iron technology, and marks the very humble beginnings of successful iron smelting in Israel. The name Ziklag means A Pint Of Liquid Metal.