Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
Linguists have identified two separate roots צוד (sud) in the Hebrew of the Bible, but the meanings of these two are so adjacent that one may wonder whether the native users of classical Hebrew concurred with this divergence.
The root-verb צוד (sud I) means to hunt (or fish), which obviously was the ancient equivalent of our trip to the supermarket. Its purpose was to acquire food and one's skill to catch a prey was on a par with one's ability to survive (Genesis 27:3, Leviticus 17:13, Micah 7:2). Later this verb entered into the game of "hunting" for souls (Ezekiel 13:18, 20). This verb's derivatives are:
- The masculine noun ציד (sayid), meaning hunting (Genesis 27:30) or game (Genesis 25:28).
- The masculine noun ציד (sayyad), meaning hunter (Jeremiah 16:16 only).
- The feminine noun מצד (mesad), meaning fastness (Judges 6:2) or stronghold (Jeremiah 48:41). Since a stronghold is an instrument of defense rather than hunting, BDB Theological Dictionary wonders whether the original meaning of this word may have been hunting-place. HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament proposes relations to an Arabic word meaning castle or fortress.
- The masculine noun מצוד (masod), a word that occurs only in plural and probably means something like siege works (Ecclesiastes 9:14 only).
- The exact same masculine noun מצוד (masod), but now meaning hunting implement or net (Proverbs 12:12, Job 19:6 and Ecclesiastes 7:26 only - the latter occurrence is a plural form).
- The feminine noun מצודה (mesoda), meaning net (Ecclesiastes 9:12, Ezekiel 19:9 only).
- The exact same feminine noun מצודה (mesoda), but now meaning fastness or stronghold (Isaiah 29:7, Ezekiel 19:9 only).
- The similar feminine noun מצודה (mesuda), meaning net (Ezekiel 13:21) or prey (Ezekiel 13:21).
- The exact same feminine noun מצודה (mesuda), but now meaning fastness or stronghold (1 Samuel 22:4, Job 39:28, Psalm 18:2).
The assumed root צוד (swd II) isn't used as a verb in the Bible; only derivatives remain:
- The masculine noun ציד (sayid), meaning provision or food (Nehemiah 13:15, Job 38:41, Psalm 132:15).
- The feminine equivalent צידה (seda), also meaning food (Genesis 42:25, Joshua 1:11).
- The denominative verb ציד (sid), meaning to supply oneself with food (Joshua 9:12 only).
None of the sources reports a basic meaning of these roots but it seems that the emphasis lies in a general strengthening of either nation or individual. That general meaning neatly ties the forts and strongholds to the verb to hunt in a root that means to fortify, and that root to the root that deals with food.