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Meaning and etymology of the name Shinar

Shinar Shinar

Shinar is the region in southern Mesopotamia where Nimrod's kingdom commenced. It is also the location of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:2).

"The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city." - Genesis 10:10-12

The etymology or meaning of the name Shinar is not known for sure, but various possibilities exist.

Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names derives it from shr (sh'r). The root idea is to split open, to break through. Derivative shr (sha'ar) means gate.

Thus Jones reads Casting Out, or Scattering In All Manner Of Ways, but admits that "the derivation, however, is very uncertain." This explanation, for instance, fails to explain what happened to the letter nun in the name Sharon, and that's a pretty big failure.

More appealing is the root group naar (na'ar I, II & III):
naar (na'ar) means to growl.
naar (na'ar II) means shake, shake out or off.
naar (na'ar III) is the root for words like naar (na'ar), boy, youth, and naar (na'ar), youth, early life.

This root preceded by the relative particle shin, meaning who, which, that, yields That What Is Young (or Shakes, Growls).

The name Shinar may even remind a Hebrew audience of a combination of the words shen (shin), tooth, from the verb shanan (shanan), sharpen, both literally and figuratively of the mind or intellect; and rr ('ar), foe, and Aramaic loan word which is very sporadically used in the Hebrew text of the Bible. The latter may also be a contraction of the much more common word ir ('ir), city. That would bring the meaning of Shinar to Tooth Town, or City Of Wit.



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