Kohen

tags:  Semitic hidden ruler pun spook name · name   —   by Gerry · May 2019 · 861 words

The name & title Cohen or Kohen is written כהן khn and means “priest”, but also “ruler”. It can even be punny-read by aristocrats as khn for “enrichment”.

In a nutshell

Cohen as a Jewish name

Wikipedia states that Cohen is a “very common Jewish surname” meaning “priest”, and lists several variants such as Cahn, Cohn, Kahn, Cowan, including heavily garbled ones like Kaner, Kagan. More are listed as Kohenitic surnames, which is explained as a subcategory of Levite surnames. Many more variants are unadmitted, such as Koon & Koons.

Cohen as an aristocratic name

However, Cohen is also an aristocratic name: ThePeerage.com lists 274 people in the British peerage named Cohen, plus many name variants, as of .

khn meaning “priest”

The word כהן khn kohen is universally translated as “priest”, with derivatives such as “priesthood” or “serving as priest”. No surprises here.

Semitic khn = priest

כוהן kwhn kohen : a Jewish priest, a cohen or kohen: a patrilineal descendant of the Biblical Aaron; (by extension) The first aliyah, traditionally reserved for a cohen if one is present; compare Ugaritic 𐎋𐎅𐎐 (khn), Phoenician 𐤊𐤄𐤍‎ (khn), Classical Syriac ܟܗܢܐ‎ (kāhənā), Arabic كَاهِن‎ (kāhin), Geʽez ካህን (kahən), Mandaic ࡊࡀࡄࡍࡀ‎ (kahna) — Hebrew (Wikt)

كَاهِن kāhin : diviner, soothsayer, prognosticator, fortuneteller, augur, forecaster; (religion) priest, father, chaplain, rector, prebend, clergyman, vicar, dominie, curate — Arabic (Wikt)

כהנא khnˀ : (Judaism) cohen; priest — Aramaic (Wikt)

𐤊𐤄𐤍 khn : priest — Phoenician (Wikt)

𐎋𐎅𐎐 khn kāhinu : priest — Ugaritic (Wikt)

khn meaning “prince”, “ruler”, “officer”

The same Biblical word kohen is in one instance translated as “officer”, and is listed in the dictionaries as such. This is also not very surprising, as priesthood has always been viewed simply as an administrative office by the aristocracy. In fact, modern dictionaries treat the “priest” as derived from the “officer” meaning. The “officer” is in turn derived from “standing”.

Hebrew khn = stationed ruler, prince, officer

כהן khn : [standing, stationed,] officer, esp. priest — Hebrew (Jastrow)

כהן khn kohen : chief ruler, priest, prince, principal officer, an acting priest (although a layman) — Old Hebrew (Strong)

And while most translations stick to “priests”, it’s not uncommon for the kohanim to be translated into “princes”, “rulers”, “officers”. Most examples are found in the King James Version.

And Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers and Zabud the son of Nathan was principal officer and the king’s friend.

KJV 1 Kings 4:5

ועזריהו בן־נתן על הנצבים וזבוד בן־נתן כהן רעה המלך

TNK 1 Kings 4:5

He leadeth princes away spoiled and overthroweth the mighty

KJV Job 12:19

מוליך כהנים שולל ואתנים יסלף

TNK Job 12:19

And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were chief rulers.

KJV 2 Samuel 8:18

ובניהו בן יהוידע והכרתי והפלתי ובני דוד כהנים היו

TNK 2 Samuel 8:18

khn meaning “being rich”

But oddly enough, the very same spelling כהן khn appears in Aramaic texts & dictionaries with a meaning of “being rich” & “enrichment”. This meaning does not fit well with the official image of an priest or officer. But for the spooks, all offices & titles seem to be mere vehicles for personal enrichment.

Aramaic khn = rich, enrichment

כהן khn : to enrich, to be enriched, to employ riches, to abound, to flourish — Aramaic (CAL)

כהין khyn kahhīn : rich, fortunate; fruitful, abundant — Aramaic (CAL)

כהינאית khynˀyt kahhīnāˀīṯ : abundantly — Aramaic (CAL)

כהינו khynw kahhīnū : prosperity, well-being, abundance — Aramaic (CAL)

מכהן mkhn mḵahhan : flourishing — Aramaic (CAL)

Priest & enrichment derived from “standing”?

How did the priest end up being spelled like “enrichment”? It may be a spook joke. But it may also be an actual etymology. Ernest Klein claims that both priest (or officer) and enrichment are further derived from כון kwn meaning “standing”: The priest as “standing before God”, and being rich as “standing well”.

I personally would rather go with Jastrow’s emphasis of the priest as a “stationed, standing officer”. Since כון kwn also means “set up” & “directed”, it would fit those governors that have been set up by “higher powers” to lord it over us.

כהן m.n. priest, ‘cohen’. [From כהן. cp. Aram. כָּהֲנָא, Syr. כָּהְנָא, Ethiop. kāhen (= priest), Arab. kāhin (= diviner, soothsayer). כֹּהֵן is prob. related to base כון (= to stand) and lit. denotes one who stands serving God. For this sense development cp. Arab. kāhana (= he assisted). For the interchangeability of ה and ו cp. Syr. כַּהִינָא (= rich, well-to-do), which according to some scholars derives from כון and lit. means ‘standing well’.] Derivatives: כהן, כֹּהֲנִי, כֹּהֶנֶת.

Klein Dictionary: כהן

tags:  Semitic hidden ruler pun spook name · name