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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The New Testament Greek word: σειρα

Source: https://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/s/s-e-i-r-a.html

σειρα

Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary

σειρα

The noun σειρα (seira) means cord or rope: the thing to tie something up with, most specifically ending in a noose or lasso. When the horse culture emerged from the Asian steppes, the noun σειραφορος (seiraphoros) could describe a wrangler (he who carries a lasso), or a trace-horse (he who is bound to the horse that's doing the actual pulling). In the New Testament our noun occurs only once, namely in 2 Peter 2:4, where it is used to describe bindings of darkness.

The familiar name Sirius, of the proverbial "Dog" of Orion, derives from the adjective Σειριος (seirios), which in turn comes from our noun σειρα (seira) and means the Bound One.

It's not clear where our word comes from, but some propose a connection to the verb ειρω (eiro), which means to bind in rows (of beads in an ornament) and which is spelled identically to the verb ειρω (eiro), to say or ask, hence the verb ερομαι (eromai), which became ερωταω (erotao), to ask. The leading σ might be explained as a remnant of the preposition εις (eis) meaning in, to or toward, but whatever the pedigree, this curious phenomenon of the fast-and-loose leading sigma has resulted in a small cluster of semi-twin words; see below for a sample.

Others propose instead that our word was imported into Greek from another language. That other language would then most likely be Semitic — since the Greek alphabet is an adaptation of the Semitic one, and was most probably introduced into the Greek speaking world along with native Semitic words that described the rudiments of complex thought — which brings our noun σειρα (seira) in close phonetic proximity of names like Sarah and Seir.

The curious case of the alternating leading sigma

The name of the letter sigma is thought to stem from the verb σιζω (sizo), meaning to hiss: the sound made when something very hot is rapidly cooled by water. This verb is featured most notably in the scene in which Odysseus plunges a hot stake into the Cyclops' eye. The Greek word for fig, namely συκον (sukon), is of unclear origin, but a candidate is the Hebrew noun שקמה (siqma), meaning sycamore. The prophet Amos (8th century BC) was a proverbial grower of "siqmayim" (Amos 7:14).

With that in mind:

  • The names Selloi and Selene, are thought to relate to the names Hellen and Helen (see our article on the name Hellas for a lengthy look at this)
  • The noun σεβας (sebas), reverential awe, from the verb σεβομαι (sebomai), to revere, appears to relate to the noun βασιλευς (basileus), meaning king.
  • The verb στρεφω (strepho), to turn, relates to the verb τρεπω (trepo), to turn (not to be confused with τρεφω, trepho, to raise up).
  • The verb στελλω (stello), to put or set, relates to the verb τελλω (tello), to accomplish (see ανατελλω, anatello, to rise).
  • The verb σκελλω (skello), to curl from dryness, relates to the adjective κυλλος (kullos), bent or deformed. There might even be a link between the adjective σκολιος (skolios), bent from dryness, and the familiar noun κολοσσος (kolossos), which denotes a forbidding statue.
  • Tolkien's Souron, likewise, appears to be a leading-sigma-augmented version of the noun ουρον, ouron, urine, from the PIE root "hwers-", meaning to rain or drip, hence also the name of the sky-father Uranus (Ουρανος, Ouranos). This is actually quite clever, as the Hebrew verb for to urinate, namely שתן (satan), is suspiciously similar to the familiar pseudo-name שטן (satan), or satan. From the verb ομειχω (omeicho), to urinate, comes the noun μοιχος (moichos), adulterer.
  • The Greek verb ερπω (herpo), to creep, hence the word herpes, relates to the Latin verb serpo, to creep, from which we get our English word serpent.
  • The noun συς (sus), meaning pig, relates to the noun υς (hus), also meaning pig. The former is the one favored by Homer. The latter occurs in the New Testament.
  • The Greek noun υλη (ule), wood or building material, relates to the Latin equivalent silvas, wood or woodland.
  • The name Pan, παων (paom), appears to relate to the verb σπαω (spao), to draw or pull close (and see our article on αυλος, aulos, flute, and αυλη, aule, sheep pen).
  • The noun οδος (hodos), meaning road, is thought to derive from the PIE root "sodo-", to set out.
  • The English noun steer relates to the Greek noun ταυρος (tauros), bull.