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Meaning and etymology of the name Siddim

Siddim Siddim

The Valley of Siddim is a place full of tar pits near the Dead Sea, or perhaps there where the Dead Sea now is, because Siddim is mentioned before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). The Valley of Siddim is where the War of Four Against Five Kings was waged (Genesis 14). King Bera of Sodom and king Bisha of Gomorrah of the overcome pentapolitan coalition, flee and die in the tar pits of Siddim.

The origin of the name Siddim (a plural word) is somewhat dubious but the two most likely candidates are not all that different. One possibility is the verb sadad (sadad), to harrow (meaning to pull a plow through a field).

The other possibility is the unused root sdh (sdh). What that root means we don't know, but it yields the following derivatives: saday (saday), field, land, and sdh (sadeh) field.

BDB Theological Dictionary lists a third possibility, namely a derivation of the word shed (shed), meaning demon, a word that has to do with the Babylonian word shedu, which denotes a spirit which is either good or evil. The Valley Of Siddim would then mean the Valley Of Demons.

The word shed occurs only twice in the OT - Deuteronomy 32:17 and Psalm 106:37 - but it is doubtful that the authors meant to confirm the actual presence of potent spirit beings. Note that our word shed is spelled with a shin (dot to the right), while Siddim (Siddim) is spelled with a sin (dot to the left). These dots were put there long after the Torah was written, so in those days these letters were not visually distinguished. But the name of this region came to us through antiquity as Siddim and not as Shiddim. The name Siddim may in fact have more to do with the name Sodom than with this unusual word for (or unusual idea of) demon.

The name Siddim may mean Furrows, Divisions or Fields. For a meaning of the name Siddim, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Plains. NOBS Study Bible Name List does not translate.

For a possibly related name see Chesed.



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