🔼The name Iscah: Summary
- She Will Weave A Cover, She Will Look Out
- From the root סכך (sakak), to weave a protection.
🔼The name Iscah in the Bible
There's only one Iscah mentioned in the Bible. She's the daughter of Haran, and the sister of Milcah and Lot (Genesis 11:29). It's a bit peculiar that we don't hear any more of this Iscah — she is after all the niece of Abraham. Some scholars believe that Iscah is the same as Sarah, Abraham's wife. This by itself would not be that odd since Iscah's sister Milcah marries Abraham's brother Nahor. Still, in Genesis 20:12 Abraham informs Abimelech that Sarah is the daughter of Abraham's father Terah, so it seems far more likely that Iscah is not the same person as Sarah.
🔼Etymology of the name Iscah
The meaning of the name Iscah is difficult to establish. BDB Theological Dictionary deems the "etymology dubious," so dubious even that they don't even attempt one. NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names go with an unused verb סכה (sakah) or שכה (sakah), meaning to look at, which obviously ties into the following word cluster:
The root סכך (sakak) or שכך (sakak) speaks of the creation of a hedge of sorts from interwoven strands of sorts. It commonly describes how prickly branches interweave to create a defensive hedge to hide behind and to look intently out from. In a figurative sense it may describe any sort of protective thing that consists of many separate branches, and from which one looks out.
The Psalmist famously connected this verb to the formation of a human fetus (Psalm 139:13), but it also obviously links to human culture and science and technology at large. The evangelists openly referred to all this by means of the famous "crown of thorns."
Nouns מסך (masak), מסכה (mesuka) and מוסך (musak) describe coverings or screens (mostly of the tabernacle). Noun סך (sak) means throng or multitude; an "interwoven mass" of people. Nouns סך (sok) and סכה (sukka) describe a thicket or lair from where a lion would lay in wait to pounce on a prey. The latter noun is also often used to describe woven booths to stall cattle or even to house soldiers or guards. This noun occurs frequently in the legislation concerning the Feast Of Booths.
Noun שך (sok) means booth or pavilion. Noun משכה (mesukka) means hedge. Noun שך (sek) means thorn and noun שכה (sukka) means barb. Noun שכון (sakkin) means knife. This noun may actually be a loanword but it fits right in.
Verb נסך (nasak I) means to pour out. Nouns נסך (nesek), נסיך (nasik) and מסכה (masseka) mean both libation or a cast artifact. The latter is the word for the familiar Gold Calf. Identical verb נסך (nasak II) means to weave. Noun מסכה (masseka) means anything woven
Verb סוך (suk) or סיך (syk) describes the administration of oil — apparently in the expectation that this would protect the recipient, since this two-faced verb may also be used to mean to hedge in. To solve this conundrum, dictionaries propose a whole separate verb, which accidentally may also be spelled in two identical ways. Noun אסוך ('asuk) means [oil-] flask. Noun מסכה (mesuka) means hedge and is obviously similar to משכה (mesukka) meaning hedge.
Verb שוך (suk) means to hedge or fence up. It too yields a noun משכה (mesuka), meaning hedge. Nouns שוך (sok) and שוכה (soka) mean branch.
Verb שכה (saka) means to look out, keep watch or even hope for. Nouns שכוי (sekwi) and שכיה (sekiya) denote a kind of celestial sign or appearance. Noun משכית (maskit) denotes a kind of show-piece, real or imaginary.
For a meaning of the name Iscah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Watchful and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has She Will Look Out, or She Will See. Here at Abarim Publications we surmise that this name emphasizes the weaving of a protective structure, and refers to the great quest for consilience among the different disciplines of wisdom.