🔼The name Shuni: Summary
- Unknown, but perhaps Of The Glyph (or Silence or Tooth).
- Perhaps from the verb שאן (sha'an), to be quiet, or the verb שנן (shanan), to sharpen, to be teethed.
🔼The name Shuni in the Bible
There is only one man named Shuni in the Bible and he is mentioned twice. Shuni is one of the seven sons of Gad and one of the sixty-six original Israelites who journeyed from Canaan to Egypt, to join Joseph, his wife and two sons (Genesis 46:16). By the time of the second census, the sons of Gad had all formed large families (totaling 40,500 people), including Shuni, whose progeny had formed the Shunites (Numbers 26:15). And note that in Hebrew the name Shuni and the ethnonym Shunite is spelled the same.
🔼Etymology of the name Shuni
It's not clear where the name Shuni comes from but possibly from an alternate spelling of the verb שאן (sha'an), to be quiet:
The verb שאן (sha'an) literally means to be undisturbed. In practice it denotes being comfy, relaxed and at ease. Adjective שאנן (sha'anan), means unmoved in the sense of being perpetual, inattentive or complacent.
Or else from any of the following שן-words:
The root שנן (shanan) speaks of repetition or the creation of distance between elements, often preceded by a breaking apart, and followed by a removal or even storage.
Verb שנן (shanan) means to sharpen, and sharpening is achieved by removing material by repeatedly stroking a blade against a whetstone. This verb is also used in the sense of sharpening a mind by repeating the same exercise. Noun שן (shen) means tooth. Noun שנינה (shenina) denotes a "sharp" word; a taunt.
Verb שנה (shana) means to change or create a difference — of one's mind, or one's clothes, and this mostly through repetition. Noun שנה (shana) means year.
Perhaps formally separate but obviously related, or else the very same verb שנה (shana) means to repeat or reoccur. Noun שנים (shenayim) or שתים (shetayim) is the common word for two or a pair. Adjective שני (sheni) or שנית (shenit) means second and noun משנה (misneh) means second, double, or copy. Noun שנאן (shin'an) is used as a superlative in figures of speech (i.e. expressions like double-down, super-double-good).
Noun שני (shani) denotes the color purple. This noun might formally derive from a third wholly separate verb of unclear meaning but obviously reminds of the many times a garment has to be dipped in dye to have its color changed.
Verb ישן (yashen) means to sleep, which seems to indicate that the ancients related one's daily activities to a forward stroke of one's mental blade against the whetstone of life, whereas sleep counted as the trailing stroke backward and removal of the burr. Adjective ישן (yashen) means sleeping or sleepy, and is obviously similar to its sibling noun ישן (yashen), which means old. Nouns שנה (shena), שנא (shena') and שנת (shenat) mean sleep.
Verb שנא (sane') is commonly translated with to hate but actually lacks the angry emotion that our English word conveys. It rather means to reject, create distance from and send away. Adjective שניא (sani') means hated (i.e. the hated wife), and noun שנאה (sin'a) means a hating or hatred, which comes down to a separating or a sending away.
The letter י (yod) upon which our name ends, may either create an adjective (such-and-such-like), a possessive form (my such and such), or may be a remnant of יה (Yah), which is short for יהוה, which is the name YHWH.
For a meaning of the name Shuni, NOBSE Study Bible Name List has Fortunate, which is rather difficult to explain (the name Gad means "Fortunate") and may in fact be an error. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names goes with the verb שאן (sha'an) and pins the final yod on the adjectival form and reads Tranquility. BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret our name, or propose a joint root with Shunem.