🔼The name Zina: Summary
- Harlotry, Shiftiness
- From the noun זנה (zanah), to be a harlot.
🔼The name Zina in the Bible
The name Zina occurs only once in the Bible, but it's a bit of a mystery why. In 1 Chronicles 23:10 we are told that Shimei the Gershonite had four sons, among whom Zina (זינא). But in the next verse, this man is called Zizah (זיזה). And to make the confusion complete: in the verse prior, we learn that Shimei had not four but three sons, and their names are nowhere near similar to the four listed in the next verse.
There are basically two ways to explain all these discrepancies: (1) either the Chronicler had no idea what he was doing, but somehow managed to write a world hit, or (2) we moderns have no idea what the Chronicler is up to, but the ancients did, and that's why this Book wasn't discarded for junk but rather venerated like the Word of God. Here at Abarim Publications, we opt for the latter, and although we too are clueless about the meaning of all this, we're pretty sure that when Scripture Theory becomes a serious science, there will be answers.
🔼Etymology of the name Zina
The name Zina is obviously a commentarial amendment of the name Zizah, which means Abundance or Moving Around. It appears, quite tellingly, to hail from or refer to the verb זנה (zanah), meaning to be a harlot or to move around for sustenance:
The verb זנה (zanah) means to fornicate or be a harlot, or to put it somewhat more technical: to shift allegiance out of perceived need for sustenance. This activity may describe both the deeds of a loose or destitute woman, and that of a whole nation, but never an individual man or national king (or deity).
Nouns זנונים (zenunim), זנות (zenut) and תזנות (taznut) refer to various degrees of sexual, political or theological shiftiness.
Verb זון (zun) appears to mean to be well provided for (which is the whole point of fornication). Noun זן (zan) describes a wide assortment [of whatever goodies].
The meaning of the artificial name Zina should probably be sought in its conjunction with the proper name Zizah. If Zizah means Shifty (as in moving around), then Zina means Shifty (as in moving around mentally). If Zizah means Abundance, then Zina means Over-Indulgence. If Zizah means Not Tied Down, then Zina means Unstable.
Note that the gender of names in the Bible are not related to the gender of the bearer of the name. Feminine words may well serve as names for men, and masculine words can be names of women. In this case, a man is named Harlotry, which would be a typically feminine trait.