The cave itself was only discovered in 2000 when road construction collapsed its hidden roof, so there is very little chance of a direct continuity relating to the function of the cave before its abandonment some 200 kya. That said I believe in site perpetuation - the idea that the role of a site or location can be carried forward unconsciously by the inhabitants of a place. Thus there has to be an importance in the name.
It would be my suggestion to look into the root of the word beyond Hebrew, in say East Semitic Akkadian, or in West Semitic Phoenician, Canaanite, or Carthaginian. This might provide even even closer idea of its root.”
Hello again Andrew,
The cave was re-discovered in 2000. That has no impact on the name unless someone can prove that it was attributed to the place in modern times. Qesem doesn’t mean ‘cave’ so, unless absolutely no-one knew of that region at any time in the past, I suggest that it is indeed an ancient name applied to more than just that relatively small underground area. I don’t see the logic in the ‘unconscious’ transmission. That might possibly apply to the ‘magical’ qualities of the place but not to the pronunciation of its name. What I do see is the vocal relaying of a name from generation to generation across a vast swathe of territory when the meaning (but not the importance of it) is already long lost.
I had come across the Hebrew ‘divination’, translation of Qesem as used in the biblical texts. It doesn’t detract from the root in Sumerian KE-SEM or KE-EZEM. Divination is also in the interpretation of the night skies and you will be fully aware that it would once have been a major element in the ‘magic’ taking place in that area – whether inside the cave or out. Having translated quite a bit of the earliest Sumerian at this stage, Hebrew is not a language that I primarily consult for similarities. It seemed to me, finding Qesem there, that this was a brilliant example of a name that couldn’t be destroyed. Kurdish qesem, the oath, is a better indicator of the antiquity and spread of the sound.
The root of the word is, as I said, to be found in the earliest form of Sumerian. All the languages you mention above derive from there. They all came after. I don’t think anyone would contest that fact with regard to Akkadian. Sumerian is the root of all the Semitic (SEM once again, from the same root and for the same reasons) languages, of Greek and Latin. See my website for a few interesting examples given in the form of translated Sumerian proverbs based on the transliterations of the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (ETCSL).
I ommitted from my previous message that KI-EZEM is given as ‘locus’ on ePSD (electronic Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary), ‘a place where something is situated or occurs’.