🔼The name Lasea: Summary
- Bushy, Overgrown
- Faint, Weary
- From the adjective λασιος (lasios), bushy, overgrown.
- From the verb lasso, to make faint or weary.
- From the noun ליש (layish), lion.
🔼The name Lasea in the Bible
The city of Λασαια (Lasaia, Lasea) is mentioned only once in the Bible, and that's quite extraordinary because this name does not occur in any other classical Greek text we possess.
According to Acts 27:8, Lasea was a city on or near the coast of Crete, near a port called Kaloi Limenes, which every translation insists on translating as Fair Havens. The ship Paul was travelling with to Rome stayed there for some time. That journey ended with the shipwreck on the coast of Malta.
It seems odd that the author of Acts uses for a reference the name of a place that was obviously so relatively obscure that no other extant ancient Greek text mentions it. It may well be that the story of Acts follows the genre of Greek maritime narratives that often contained subliminal information in the relationship between the names of locations and other literary characters.
🔼Etymology of the name Lasea
There's really nothing in Greek or Latin that equals the name Λασαια, but there are a few common words that might be associable with it. Pliny makes mention of a place called Λασια (Lasia), which appears to have been another name for Lesbos (and Lesbos is directly north of Crete where Malta is directly west).
Lasia is the feminine form of the masculine Greek adjective λασιος (lasios), meaning shaggy or wooly when it describes animals, and bushy or overgrown when it describes geography. The noun λασιον (lasion) denotes a rough cloth, and λασιων (lasion) means thicket. Probably of a whole other category, but not entirely without similarities to our name is the noun λασανα (lasana), denoting a trivet; a stand for a pot, or a night-stool; a toilet.
In Latin there is the verb lasso, meaning to make faint or weary, to tire or fatigue, and the adjective lassus, lassa, lassum, meaning faint, languid, weary. According to Lewis and Short (A Latin Dictionary), these words are kindred to similar words in Sanskrit, which demonstrates that the root is very old, and which would explain our name's unusual form.
Most striking, however, is the similarity between our name Lasea and the Old Testament name Laish, which was destroyed by a band of Danites. Modern Kaloi Limenes is situated close to the village of Lentas, which probably derives from Λεοντας (Leontas), meaning Lion, whereas the name Laish comes from the Hebrew word ליש (layish), meaning lion:
The unused verb ליש (lysh) probably meant to be strong (it does so in cognate language). Noun ליש (layish) is a lesser used one of a few words for lion.
The name Lasea doesn't mean anything directly in either Greek or Latin and might not be from either language. Speakers of either language might associate to it a meaning of Bushy, Overgrown, or Fatigued.
Speakers of a Semitic language, however, would probably think of the word for Lion, and might possibly associate Lasea with the story mentioned in Judges 18 (and read our article on Exodus for a look at what the story of the roving Danites might mean).