🔼The name Harsha: Summary
- Enchanter, Engraver, Quiet Professor
- From the root חרשׁ (harash), to carve data.
🔼The name Harsha in the Bible
There's only one man named Harsha in the Bible. His name occurs twice, but in the exact same context. Both Ezra and Nehemiah report the "sons" of Harsha to have returned from Babylon with the Zerubbabel wave (Ezra 2:52 and Nehemiah 7:54). Note that both Ezra and Nehemiah also mention a place called Tel-harsha (Ezra 2:59, Nehemiah 7:61).
🔼Etymology of the name Harsha
The name Harsha comes from any of the root חרשׁ (harash):
Verb חרש (harash I) means to engrave or cut into something, often with the objective of storing information. Noun חרשׁ (harash) means engraver or cutter (of a wide range of materials). Noun חרשׁת (haroshet) means a carving. Noun חרישׁ (harish) means a plowing or plowing time, and nouns מחרשׁה (maharesha) and מחרשׁת (mahareshet) mean ploughshare (and remember the strong Biblical connection between spreading seeds and spreading words).
Perhaps a whole other verb (and perhaps the same one) is חרש (harash II), to be silent or to be deaf. How these two verbs relate isn't clear but perhaps information technology was reckoned as "speech yet silent" and "hearing yet deaf", or else the intersection might lay on the esoteric nature of information technology. Then as today, people who are highly skilled in it may seem like magicians to the rest of us. Adjective חרשׁ (heresh) means deaf and adverb חרשׁ (heresh) means silently or secretly.
Noun חרש (horesh) appears to refer to wooded heights. How that word fits in isn't clear (most scholars assume a 3rd verb: harash III) but it may connect to the rest via the noun חרש (heresh), magic. This rare noun is proposed to come from yet another identical verb, harash IV, but here at Abarim Publications we find this noun to match the previous stock neatly. Particularly when a craft is new and it's not clear what a new technology is supposed to do, scammers of all sorts arise.
Verb חרש (haras) was originally spelled identical to the previous (the difference between שׂ and שׁ originated in the Middle Ages). It means to scratch or lacerate, but instead of storing good information this root emphasizes deletion of bad information (a similar duality exists in the verb זרע, zara', to scatter to sow, and זרה, zara, to scatter to winnow).
Noun חרשׂ (heres) means earthenware or rather a fragment of earthenware. Noun חרס (heres) denotes an eruptive disease characterized by itchy skin irritation (note the alternation between the letters שׂ, sin, and ס, samekh). The feminine plural noun חרסות (harsit) or חרסית (harsit) mean potsherds.
Noun חרס (heres) is an unusual word for the sun and although scholars see no connection with the previous, here at Abarim Publications we surmise that the ancients saw a connection between baked clay and a tanned skin, both protective and both provoked by exposure to a source of heat.
The letter א (aleph) upon which our name ends is probably prosthetic. It looks snazzy but adds no further meaning.
For a meaning of the name Harsha, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names figure it has to do with the root חרשׁ IV and read Enchanter. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't translate our name but does list it under חרשׁ IV. The preference for verb IV is of course entirely arbitrary, and this name may just as well mean Engraver or even Quiet Professor.