🔼The name Seirah: Summary
- Bristly, Goat
- From the root שער (s'r), which expresses intense negative emotion and the experience of violence.
🔼The name Seirah in the Bible
The name Seirah (which is actually spelled "Seirath," and only the King James Version prints it that way) occurs only once in the Bible. It's the name of the city to which the judge Ehud escaped after he had killed king Eglon in his castle (Judges 3:26).
🔼Etymology of the name Seirah
The name Seirah, or rather Seirath, is the name Seir with the letter ת (taw) stuck to it. This final letter taw is probably an ancient equivalent of what in the time of the writing of the Bible had become the final ה (he), namely a feminine extension. Since the English language doesn't reflect genders, we're a bit stuck with interpreting the name Seirah, but it would be something like She-Seir or Lady-Seir. And like the name Seir, the name Seirah is probably associated with the following root cluster:
The general root שער (s'r) appears to primarily express intense negative emotion or the experience of violence. Curiously, it also yields words that have to do with hair.
Noun שער (se'ar) means hair or hairdo, and noun שערה (sa'ara) denotes a single hair. The derived denominative verb שער (sa'ar) would literally mean to be hairy or "hairish" but in fact is solely used to mean to be very afraid. Taking the liberty to back-engineer this verb yields the observation that a single hair would have to be associated with a single fear, a full head of hair with lots of concerns, and a bald pate with either a stoic mastery or else a blissfully empty head.
Noun שער (sa'r), means horror. Adjective שעיר (sa'ir) means hairy. Noun שעיר (sa'ir) denotes a he-goat (a bristly guy or a fear guy?) and its feminine counterpart שעירה (sa'ira) means she-goat. Noun שערה (se'ora) means barley, the bearded grain.
Verb שער (sa'ar) means to sweep or whirl away, usually in relation to a storm wind. Nouns שער (sa'ar) and its feminine counterpart שערה (se'ara) mean storm. These words also occur in an alternative spelling, namely as the verb סער (sa'ar), to storm, and nouns סער (sa'ar) and סערה (seara), storm.
In the Middle Ages, scholars began to add dots and points to the Scriptures. All previous words they equipped with a dot on the left tooth of the letter ש, hence שׂ (sin), whereas the following words were spelled with a dot to the right, hence שׁ (shin). To the original authors and the first thousand years of their readers, this difference did not exist.
Verb שער (sha'ar) exists in other languages with the meaning of to break, tear through or split, which obviously repeats the general theme of the experience of violence. The adjective שער (sho'ar) means horrid or disgusting, and nouns שערורה (sha'arura), שערוריה (sha'aruriya) and שעררית (sha'arurit) denote horror or horrible things.
Much more neutral are the nouns שער (sha'ar), gate, and שער (sho'er), gatekeeper or porter. These words suggests that the ancients associated a hair emerging from skin to traffic emerging from a city gate, like words flowing from an overfilled heart. This in turn suggests that when a grieving person pulls his or her hair out, he or she becomes silent with grief.
The verb שער (sha'ar) is also used to mean to calculate or reckon, obviously with an emphasis on the verbal conveyance of something internally experienced. Noun שער (sha'ar) is also used to mean "fold" in the sense of "a hundred fold."
For a meaning of the name Seirah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Rough. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names curiously omits the name Seirah, but reads Rough, Bristly for Seir. BDB Theological Dictionary lists the name Seirah under the root שׂער (s'r I) and endorses the interpretation of Gesenius, who proposed Goat.