🔼The name Zorah: Summary
- Leprous, Hornet
- From the verb צרע (sara'), to be duplicitous or bi-colored.
🔼The name Zorah in the Bible
The name Zorah belongs to a city that was situated in the lowland of the territory originally allotted to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:33). Somehow Zorah came to be in Danite hands (Joshua 19:41), and rose to fame as the birthplace of Samson, the legendary strong man and thirteenth judge of Israel (Judges 13:2).
After Samson's death, the Danites of Zorah and a neighboring town called Eshtaol begin roaming the land of Ephraim, loot the house of Micah and swipe his house-priest and idols, continue to Laish, murder the peaceful local townsfolk, rename the place Dan, and settle in (Judges 18).
Much later, Zorah appears to be back in Judean hands (the Danites appear to have left it abandoned after their move to Laish/Dan), because king Rehoboam of Judah fortifies some cities, including Zorah of Judah (2 Chronicles 11:10). After the exile, Zorah is again repeopled by Judeans (Nehemiah 11:29).
The people of Zorah go by two different ethnonyms. In 1 Chronicles 2:54, Salma of Judah is called the father of the צרעי (Zorites), but in 1 Chronicles 2:53 and 4:2 they are called צרעתי (Zorathites).
BDB Theological Dictionary reports that Zorah's modern name is Sar'a, and that it is located 15 miles west of Jerusalem.
🔼Etymology of the name Zorah
The name Zorah is almost identical to the noun צרעה (sirah), a collective word meaning hornets:
It's not clear what the unused verb צרע (sara') may have meant, but possibly to be duplicitous or multifarious.
Noun צרעת (sara'at) describes a wide spectrum of skin diseases marked by a coloration of the skin (including leprosy), and the denominative verb צרע (sara') means to be diseased or have patches of different skin color.
Noun צרעה (sirah) refers to the hornet, probably because of its bicolored body.
For a meaning of the name Zorah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Hornet. The always slightly more inspired Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) proposes Nest Of Hornets, and explains this with "i.e. place of troublesome men". BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret our name.