🔼The name Zin: Summary
- Thorn, Barb, Decompilation
- Dry Place, Tradition
- From the noun צן (sen), thorn or barb, possibly related to the verb יצא (yasa'), to go out or forth.
- From the noun ציון (sayon), place of dryness.
🔼The name Zin in the Bible
The name Zin belongs to a wilderness — more fully known as מדבר־צן, midbar-sin; the wilderness-of-Zin — just south of Canaan (Numbers 13:21 and 34:4), bordering Edom (Joshua 15:1) and associated with the Sinai, Negev, Arabah and Paran regions and the town called Kadesh (Numbers 33:36).
🔼Etymology of the name Zin
The name Zin is spelled the same as the noun צן (sen), meaning thorn or barb, from the root צנן (snn):
The verb יצא (yasa') describes a divergent motion: to go out or go forth. Noun צאצא (se'esa) means offspring or produce. Noun מוצא (mosa') denotes a place, agent or act of going out: a going forth, an utterance, a source or spring of water, a place of departure, a mine. It's also the word for sunrise. The similar noun מוצאה (mosa'a) means latrine. Noun תוצאה (tosa'a) denotes a full collection of whatever goings-out.
The unused verb צנן (sanan) probably meant something as vague as to be something that extends out, since all extant nouns describe items that go out or have gone out. Nouns צן (sen), צנה (sinna) and צנין (sanin) describe thorns, hooks or barbs. Noun צנה (sinna) means coolness. Noun צנה (sinna) denotes a large shield. Noun צנצנת (sinsenet) denotes a kind of jar (with a wide mouth and narrow neck?).
The noun צאן (so'n) describes a flock of small animals like sheep or goats, which proverbially wanders about and disperses during times of carefree ease.
But it should be noted that the name Zin (צן) is not all that far removed from the name Zion (ציון), which may derive from the noun ציון (sayon) either meaning place of dryness, or sign post:
צוה ציה צי
Across several separate roots, the Bible sports an obvious connection between dry land to stand on and an established wisdom tradition to stand on. Adversely, new applications of wisdom or even new insights require new rain, which is why the word for teacher is the same as that for rain: מורה (moreh).
Verb צוה (sawa) either means to command or be dry. Noun ציון (siyun) either means signpost or dry place. Noun מצוה (miswa) means commandment but also applies to the full code of the law. Noun ציון (sayon) means dryness or parched land, and also points toward an time-honored wisdom tradition that has stopped growing because of an extended drought.
Noun צו (saw) means command. Noun צי (si) means either ship or refers to a kind of desert creature.
The power of ships, of course, is that they keep going around on their same trade routes and do everything the same each time. A desert dweller is of course also a creature that leans wholly on the "rocks" of a massively stagnant intellectual ecosystem, where very little life sprouts and grows (and please note that radically rejecting rocks won't bring back rains).
The name Zin is known in the Talmud as צין (sin), which was then associated with a mountain of that name, which in turn was associated with a kind of low palm tree named such. But this is all post-Biblical legendary theorizing.
For a meaning of the name Zin, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names goes with the Talmud and reads A Low Palm Tree. Where NOBSE Study Bible Name List derives our name from isn't clear, but they propose Lowland. BDB Theological Dictionary neither offers an interpretation nor lists our name under a specific root.
Here at Abarim Publications we prefer to stick with Biblical Hebrew instead of post-Biblical Hebrew, and are more charmed by our name's similarity with the noun צן (sen), meaning thorn or barb. Note that the name Sinai (סיני) brings to mind the word סנה (seneh), which denotes a prickly shrub of some sort.