🔼The name Sion: Summary
- Elevated, Cloudy, Extraction
- From the verb נשא (nasa), to lift up.
🔼The name Sion in the Bible
The name Sion (שׂיאן) — not to be confused with Shion (שׁיאון) or Zion (ציון) — occurs only one time in the Bible. It is the name of a mountain better known as Mount Hermon, which served as marker of the border of the territory conquered by Israel under Moses (Deuteronomy 4:48).
🔼Etymology of the name Sion
The name Sion may be a contraction of the Sidonian name for this mountain: Sirion (as Alfred Jones proposes), but spelled as it is in Hebrew, it looks like it's a derivation of the verb נשא I (nasa), meaning to lift up:
Verb נשא (nasa') describes an upward motion, generally of something that is being pulled up and out so as to remove it. This verb occurs very often and can usually be translated with (1) to lift or lift up, (2) to bear or carry, and (3) to take or take away. An identical verb (or rather the same one used in a specialized way) means to loan on interest. The practice of loaning on interest causes the principal sum to slowly but surely evaporate and was prohibited under Mosaic law. A third identical verb (or again the same one) means to deceive or beguile.
Noun משאת (mas'et) reflects all nuances of the parent verb: uprising (of smoke), uplifting (of hands), utterance (of an oracle), a burden or that what's carried. Noun נשיא (nasi') describes a lifted-up one, i.e. (1) a captain or chief, or (2) a mist or vapor. Note this keenly observed connection between paying interest and being formally governed.
Noun משאה (massa'a), describes clouds. It's spelled the same as the noun משאה (mashsha'a), a loan. (It's also spelled the same as משאה, mesho'a, ruin or desolation, from the whole other verb שוא, shw'). Noun משא (mashsha) means a lending on interest. Noun משאון (mashsha'on) means guile. Plural noun משואות (mashshu'ot) means deceptions.
Noun משא (massa') means (1) a load or burden, or (2) utterance or oracle. Noun שיא (si') means loftiness or pride. Noun שאת (se'et) means dignity, swelling or outburst, a rising-up. This noun is spelled the same as שאת (she't), ruin or devastation, from the verb שאה (sha'a), to be noisy or ruinous.
The verb נשה (nasha) is a specialized form of the previous. It either means to lend on interest or to forget, or rather to have a memory slowly evaporate away. Noun נשיה (neshiya) means forgetfulness or oblivion. Noun נשי (neshi) means debt. Noun משה (mashshe) means loan, and is spelled identical to the following.
Verb משה (masha) means to draw or draw out, and appears to specifically describe a drawing out of waters: to extract from water.
For a meaning of the name Sion, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Elevated and Alfred Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has the similar Lifted Up. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't interpret our name but does list it under the root נשא I (nasa), meaning to lift up.
Still, it needs to be considered that this verb has not so much to do with physical elevation but rather with fleeting resources and exhaustion. Perhaps this mountain was volcanic: Cloudy or Smokey Mountain. And perhaps it was the site of an excavation and was named Extraction.