[b-hebrew] The Name "Simeon"

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Thu Dec 6 17:49:31 EST 2007


Jim,

I am afraid that your investigations into the meaning of the names of  
the children of Jacob is doomed. You are in fact falling, I believe,  
into an etymological trap neatly set up for you by the latter God  
fearing editors of the narrative.
It is possible that all these are originally and essentially scared  
names of indigenous deities held dear by the foreign born matriarchs  
and their maids, and bestowed upon their children. Later editors  
defaced the names by the additions of filler consonants and invented  
vowels so as to make them sound innately meaningful. The playful and  
obviously nonsensical etymologies attached to "explain" the names are  
but a subtle message not to take them too seriously.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Dec 6, 2007, at 10:12 AM, JimStinehart at aol.com wrote:

> The name of Jacob’s second son is “Simeon”.  Here is the relevant  
> JPS1917
> translation regarding the name “Simeon”:  “And she [Leah] conceived  
> again, and
> bore a son;  and said:  'Because the LORD [YHWH] hath heard that I  
> am hated,
> He hath therefore given me this son also.'  And she called his name  
> Simeon.”
> Genesis 29: 33
>
> In my view, there are four key Hebrew words involved here, as follows:
>
> SHIN/SIN-MEM-ayin:  shama’/“heard”
>
> SHIN/SIN-NUN-aleph:  sana’/“hated”  [At Genesis 29: 33, the form of  
> this
> word is SHIN/SIN-NUN-vav-aleph-heh.]
>
> NUN-tav-NUN:  nathan/“given”  [At Genesis 29: 33, the form of this  
> word is
> yod-tav-NUN.]
>
> SHIN/SIN-MEM-ayin-vav-NUN:  “Simeon”
>
> There are three key Hebrew true consonants here:  (1) shin/sin, (2)  
> mem, and
> (3) nun, in that order.  I myself see three levels of deliberate  
> puns here,
> with the second level pun being by far the most important.
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