🔼The name Sisera: Summary
- Keen And Swift, See The Horse
- From a Hittite verb that means to meditate.
- From (1) the noun סוס (sus), swift one or horse, and (2) the verb ראה (ra'a), to see.
🔼The name Sisera in the Bible
Sisera is the commander of the army of Jabin, the king of Canaan who attacks Israel (Judges 4:2). Judge Deborah and general Barak mount a highly successful counter attack, but Sisera himself dies at the hand of a lady named Jael.
🔼Etymology of the name Sisera
BDB Theological Dictionary suggests that the extension -sira is common for Hittite names but gives no meaning. Fuerst's Hebrew & Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament draws towards a foreign word meaning meditator (someone who meditates) and NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Meditation as well.
To a Hebrew audience, however, the first part of the name Sisera may have reminded of the word סוס (sus), meaning swallow or horse (note that some later versions of Jeremiah 8:7 indeed use the form סיס, sis for סוס, sus):
The unused verb סוס (sus) probably meant to dart forth or be swift. The noun סוס (sus) literally means "swift one" and is applied to a bird, namely the swallow, and a large land mammal, namely the horse. The feminine version is סוסה (susa), but instead of it meaning mare (as is commonly thought) it rather refers to the horse-force of an army.
Long before any animal would become a pet, the horse was a unit of cavalry. Regular people didn't ride horses; they had mules and donkeys, and merchants didn't use horses; they had camels. Seeing a horse in the ancient world was like seeing a tank today.
The -ra part of the name may have sounded as if it came from the verb ראה (ra'a), meaning to see or look:
The verb ראה (ra'a) means to see, and by extension to understand. It may mean to become visible (of, say, an angel) or to become understandable (of, say, a theory). Noun ראה (ro'eh) means either seer, or prophetic vision, and noun מראה (mar'a) means either vision as means of revelation, or mirror. Nouns ראית (re'ut) and ראות (re'ut) mean a looking. Nouns ראי (ro'i) and מראה (mar'eh) mean sight or appearance. Adjective ראה (ra'eh) means seeing.
The original meaning of the name Sisera may have been Meditation, but to a Hebrew audience the name Sisera may have sounded as something like Keen And Swift or See The Horse.