🔼The name Zereth: Summary
- Highest, Ripest
- Adversary, Sharp, Distress
- From the verb צהר (sahar), to be high or ripe.
- From the verbs צרר (sarar), to bind, to be hostile, to be sharp.
🔼The name Zereth in the Bible
🔼Etymology of the name Zereth
It's not immediately clear where the name Zereth comes from, but some scholars appear to assume that it's a contracted version of a (hypothetical) noun צהרת, from the root צהר, which itself is of contested meaning:
The unused verb צהר (sahar) probably meant something like to be at an apex (and not to be bright, as many scholars appear to think). Noun צהר (sohar) means roof or top. It's used as a synonym for midday, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. It may also refer to the highest degree of merriment or justice.
Noun יצהר (yishar) refers to fresh olive oil; the unprocessed product of the olive tree (the concepts of ripeness and highness correlate in Biblical thought). The denominative verb צהר (sahar) means to press oil (to process the high/ripe things).
However, the word צרת occurs as-is in the Bible, as a noun meaning distress (Genesis 35:3, 45:21, Judges 10:14, 2 Chronicles 20:9, Psalm 77:2, Isaiah 46:7) or rival (1 Samuel 1:16), and as an imperative meaning bind (Deuteronomy 14:25) or besiege (Deuteronomy 20:12, Ezekiel 4:3). All these words come from the following root cluster:
- 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.
For a meaning of the name Zereth, NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names both go with the root צהר, interpret it as being bright and translate our name with Splendor. Here at Abarim Publications we hold that the root essentially denotes a maximum elevation and would translate the name Zereth rather with Highest or Ripest.
But there seems to be more relation with any of the roots צרר (sarar) and the name Zereth also means Distress.
BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't offer an explanation of our name and lists it alphabetically, below the last of the צרר roots.