🔼The name Zererath: Summary
- From the verb צרר (sarar), to bind.
🔼The name Zererath in the Bible
The name Zererath (some translations insist on Zererah) occurs only once in the Bible. When Gideon and his three hundred hooters caused the Midianites to run for their lives, they ran as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererath (Judges 7:22).
Because the Hebrew letter ר (resh) is somewhat similar in appearance to the letter ד (daleth), many scholars assume a text error and Zererath (צררת) is actually Zererah (צררה), and thus the same as Zeredah (צרדה). Zeredah is mentioned by the Chronicler as the place where Huram-abi worked his metallurgy in service of king Solomon (2 Chronicles 4:17). And since the author of Kings mentions the same endeavor, but has Hiram work in Zarethan (צרתן), many scholars go on assuming that all three names cover the same place.
Although there may be many academic benefits to the act of assuming, there's neither evidence that all this is true nor need for it to be so. Many people and places in the Bible have multiple names, and Hebrew scribes often delighted in creating words and phrases via word and letter games (such as metathesis or garbling phonetics, etcetera).
🔼Etymology of the name Zererath
The name Zererath surely comes from a feminine noun derived from any of the three verbs צרר (sarar):
- Verb צור (sur I) probably means to lean or incline. Noun צואר (sawwa'r) means neck and צורון (sawwaron) means necklace.
- Verb צור (sur II) means to confine, secure or besiege. Noun מצור (masor) means siege and מצורה (mesura) means stronghold. This verb relates to verb צרר (sarar I).
- Verb צור (sur III) means to be an adversary. It relates to צרר (sarar II).
- Verb צור (sur IV) means to form or fashion. Noun צורה (sura) means form and noun ציר (sir) means image. This verb relates to יצר (yasar).
- Verb צור (sur V) probably relates to verb צרר (sarar III) and probably means to be sharp. The important noun צור (sur) means rock, and is equivalent to the Greek noun πετρα (petra), from which comes the name Peter.
- Verb צרר (sarar I) means to bind and relates to צור (sur II). Adjective צר (sar) means narrow. Nouns צר (sar) and צרה (sara) mean distress and yield denominative verb צרה (sara), meaning to suffer distress. Noun צרור (seror) means bundle or parcel. Noun מצר (mesar) means distress.
- Verb צרר (sarar II) means to show hostility and relates to verb צור (sur III). Noun צר (sar) means adversary. Noun צרה (sara) means vexer or rival-wife. Denominative verb צרר (sarar) means to create a rival wife.
- Verb צרר (sarar III) probably means to be sharp and relates to צור (sur V). Nouns צר (sar), צר (sor) and צרור (seror) mean flint or pebble.
Verb יצר (yasar) means to fashion or form and relates to צור (sur IV). Noun יצר (yeser) denotes that what is formed, and noun יצרים (yesurim) means forms or members.
Verb צרה (srh) probably describes the bleeding of an odoriferous tree. Noun צרי (sari) denotes a kind of costly balsam.
None of the sources we routinely consult deign to propose a translation of the name Zererath, but to a Hebrew audience it would probably have sounded like Bound. The word צררת occurs with that precise meaning in Exodus 12:34.