🔼The name Shaaraim in the Bible
There are what appear to be two towns named Shaaraim in the Bible, but they may very well be one and the same:
- A town in the area that became the lowland of Judah (Joshua 15:36). We hear again from Shaaraim of Judah in the aftermath of the battle of Elah. Young David had just slain Goliath of Gath and the men of Israel arose and gave chase to the perplexed Philistines. They pursued them unto the gates of Ekron, and their corpses were strewn along the way to Shaaraim, to Gath and to Ekron (1 Samuel 17:52).
- A town that was situated in the territory allotted to the tribe of Simeon (1 Chronicles 4:31). Since Simeon didn't have its own land (Genesis 49:7) and lived in Judah's land (Joshua 19:1), this Shaaraim is probably the same as the previous one.
🔼Etymology of the name Shaaraim
The name Shaaraim is a plural form of a noun that should look like שער. It would come from the following root cluster:
When the Masoretes added their symbols to the Hebrew text, they decided that the name Shaaraim was not a proper plural but rather a dual word. And when they made a distinction between the letters שׁ (dot to the right) and שׂ (dot to the left) they chose to write our name with a שׁ. But to the authors of the original text, our name related to words of the form שׁער as much as to those that came to look like שׂער. Traditionally, the name Shaaraim is explained to be associated to the form שׁער, of which there are two. In short: we have no idea to which word our name was supposed to point. Our name could mean Hairs, Horrors, Goats, Barleys, Storms, Raindrops, Gates, or Measures, but some reason, commentators prefer the noun שׁער (sha'ar), meaning gate, from the root שׁער (sh'r I).
For a meaning of the name Shaaraim, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Double Gate and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Two Gates. BDB Theological Dictionary does not translate the name Shaaraim but does list it under the root שׁער (sh'r I).