By Mabelle Kreidi Follow Mabelle on her blog Here.
Ever wondered what the name of your Lebanese hometown means? This article will help you discover the meaning of some Lebanese villages, the roots of their names, you may or may not be surprised because many come from Syriac Aramaic, Phoenician and Hebrew. Let’s start with one of my favorites:
It comes from the Hebrew word (עקר (عقر, which means “Jurd”, Akoura thus means “Al-Jourada’”. Coincidentally, it’s from the “Jurd” of Akoura where the Maronites first emerged.
Jbeil / Byblos
Byblos appears as Kebny (𓎡𓃀𓈖𓈉) in Egyptian hieroglyphic records going back to the 4th-dynasty pharaoh Sneferu (fl. 2600 BC) and as Gubla (𒁺𒆷) in the Akkadian cuneiform Amarna letters to the 18th-dynasty pharaohs Amenhotep III and IV. In the 1st millennium BC, its name appeared in Phoenician and Punic inscriptions as Gebal (𐤂𐤁𐤋, gbl), in the Hebrew Bible as Geval (גבל); and in Syriac as gbl (ܓܒܠ). The name seems to derive from gb (𐤂𐤁, “well”) and ʾl (𐤀𐤋, “god”), the latter a word that could variously refer to any of the Canaanite Gods or to their leader in particular. The name thus seems to have meant the “Well” or “Source of the God”.
Plural form of the Syriac Aramaic word Tannura, “Tan” means smoke & “Nour” means fire or light. The original name is said to be “Betnura” as in the place of fire.
It means Swamps and water reservoirs, the plural form of “Qba” (ܩܒܳܐ) or “Qibya” (ܩܶܒܝܳܐ) which means “gathering of water”, due to the natural richness in water resource of the village.
Its derived from an old Phoenician name “Hesron”, meaning fortified or fixed between walls. The name was featured in the Torah (Although not the actual place just the name).
In Aramaic, saghar means fortress or forbidden place. Zghar-teghrine put together means the Fortress of Brawls or Fortress of Controversy.
There are two possibilities for this one:
1-From the Syriac word Bz (ܒܙ ), which means looting & stealing -> Bziza means the looted village or the stolen village.
2-Bet Azziza -> Temple of the Semite god Aziz
From Kfar Tabyuné in Syriac which means “The Village of Deers”. Kfardebian is one of the biggest villages in Lebanon.
The name “Faraya” stands for “The land of fruits and vegetables” in Phoenician due to its soil fertility.
From the Phoenician word ‘Hammon’ (חמון) which is an old Phoenician God & Hamman חמן which means stone pillar to worship the sun. Both come from the word Hama which means sun.
From Syriac ܪܫ ܡܝܐ ‘rish mayo’, which means Head of water/head of the spring.
Majdal al Meouch
Majdal comes from the Aramaic word ‘Magda’ ܡܓܕܐ meaning a high place for monitoring/guarding. Meouch can have 2 meanings, in Syriac ܥܘܫܐ ‘Awsha’ means swamp. Second meaning comes from Hebrew עושׁ (awish), -rescue-, thus a nod to the old Arabian God Yaghouth which has the same meaning as Yachoua (Jesus) “to save”. Thus Majdal al-Meouch means “The Tower of Salvation”
From Syriac ‘Gazzin’ ܓܙܝܢ which means safes/stores.
Means the tower, or ܨܪܦ (Srp) meaning “metal melting”. It can also be related to the Greek-Egyptian God Serapis.
Could be from ‘Qdah’ ܩܕܚ which has 2 meanings, lighting a fire or shaving/plucking. Could also come from ‘Qozah’ which means onion which makes Qawzah a place to plant onions.
Kfar = city/village. Killa comes from kallé in Syriac which means “the Brides” or kalla כלא in Aramaic which means “The bride”. Thus Kfar Killa means “The Bride City”.
There are probably way more villages with names rooted in Syriac/Aramaic/Phoenician and even Hebrew. If I missed your village or area let me know! And if you’re interested to know about more Lebanese villages with Syriac/Aramaic origins check “Le lexique des localités libanaises” by Anis Freiha.
Special thanks to (Twitter account) for shedding light on most of this information and on Lebanon’s Syriac Aramaic heritage.