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Meaning and etymology of the name Sharon

Sharon Sharon

Even though in our present culture the name Sharon is a popular name for girls, in the Bible it only occurs as the name of two separate regions: one is a pasture land east of the Jordan occupied to the sons of Gad (1 Chronicles 5:16), the other is the plain that covered much of the north coast of Israel (1 Chronicles 27:29). The famous phrase "I am the Rose of Sharon," is exclaimed by the bride of the Song Of Solomon (Song of Solomon 2:1 - see the note below). The only other book in the Bible in which the name Sharon occurs is Isaiah (33:9, 35:2 and 65:10).

The name Sharon is spelled identical to the word shiryan (shiryan), meaning body armor (1 Kings 22:34, Nehemiah 4:16). The prophet Isaiah uses the body armor as metaphor for righteousness (Isaiah 59:17), but it's unlikely that this devise held such a meaning to the general public. The question is: what meaning did it hold?

The word for body armor comes from the root shrh (shrh), but this word isn't used in the Bible, so we don't know what it might have meant. It's part of a series of identical roots that are all too rare to do anything with. Root shrh (shrh) is unused but yields the noun shirya (shyrya), denoting some kind of weapon, most probably a ballastic one (Job 41:26). Root shrh (shrh) is also unused but yields the noun mishra (mishra), meaning juice (Numbers 6:3). Finally the root shrh (shara) is a verb that means to let loose or release, and is used in Job 37:3 and Jeremiah 15:11.

A completely different approach is favored by NOBS Study Bible Name List, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names and even BDB Theological Dictionary which reports that the famous theologian Gesenius "plausibly connected" the name Sharon to the verb yashar (yashar), meaning to be level or straight. This verb commonly and quite frequently in Scriptures denotes compliance to a moral or ethical standard; just, law-abiding. Most derivatives of that verb have to do with just that, except the noun mishor (mishor), which means level place or plain (Isaiah 40:4, Jeremiah 21:13).

For a meaning of the name Sharon, NOBS reads Plain and Jones reads A Great Plain. But to a Hebrew audience, especially a Hebrew audience that never heard of the famous theologian Gesenius, the name Sharon sounded like Body Armor.

Other names taken from the verb yashar are Asshur, Jashar, Jesharelah, Jesher, Jeshurun and Sharon.

Note on 'Rose of Sharon':

In the Song of Solomon the bride of the story calls out something that is traditionally translated with "I am the rose of Sharon," (2:1) but 'rose' is not correct.
The word is habasselet (habasselet) and denotes a crocus or meadow saffron. But the nod towards the actual plant is eclipsed by the wonderful way this word may fall apart to a creative audience:

habab (habab) is a rare word, used only once in the Bible (Deuteronomy 33:3). It means love in the sense of the love that God feels for the people. A derivation is the word hob (hob), a rare word meaning bosom (Job 31:33).
salal (salal) means to grow dark and derivation sel (sel) means shadow.

The word that indicates this flower seems to means literally Overshadowed By God's Love.

"I am black but lovely," says Sharon's saffron (1:5 & 2:1).

Other names that (may) have to do with darkness: Bezalel, Cush, Ephah, Kedar, Kidron, Lilith, Orpah, Zillah.



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