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Hebrew Language Blog

Shahar: The Origin of a Common Hebrew Name Posted by on Nov 13, 2016 in Hebrew Names

Hebrew names are marvelous. Every name has a meaning, every name has significance. Last time we delved into the name Tal. Today we’ll check out another name from nature: Shachar שַׁחַר.


Photo by Ayana

שַׁחַר means dawn, the faint rays of light appearing before the sunrise. As with Tal, שַׁחַר originates from the Bible too. It appears, for example, in Genesis chapter 19 verse 15:

וּכְמוֹ הַשַּׁחַר עָלָה וַיָּאִיצוּ הַמַּלְאָכִים בְּלוֹט…

[And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot…]

And also in Genesis chapter 32 verses 25 and 27:

וַיִּוָּתֵר יַעֲקֹב לְבַדּוֹ וַיֵּאָבֵק אִישׁ עִמּוֹ עַד עֲלוֹת הַשָּׁחַר…  וַיֹּאמֶר שַׁלְּחֵנִי כִּי עָלָה הַשָּׁחַר…

[And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day… And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh…]

It appears also in Joshua chapter 6 verse 15:

וַיְהִי בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיַּשְׁכִּמוּ כַּעֲלוֹת הַשַּׁחַר…

[And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day…]


From the word שַׁחַר we can derive the name of an important Jewish Prayer, one of the three prayers they pray every day: Shacharit שַׁחֲרִית. שַׁחֲרִית is the first of the three prayers of the day. Sunrise is the best time to pray שַׁחֲרִית but one can start with the crack of dawn.


Since שַׁחַר means the first light of the day, it becomes a metaphor for earliness, for start. שַׁחַר יָמָיו (Sh-char ya-mav, literally means the dawn of his days), for example, means the beginning of one’s life. It’s a literary phrase but it’s well known. For example:

מִשַּׁחַר יָמָיו יָדַע מֵאׅיר דָגָן שֶׁיּׅפְעַל לְמַעַן טוֹבַת הַמְּדִינָה

Since his early years Meir Dagan knew that he will give his best for the country


שַׁחַר is a unisex name. It fits men and women alike. Let me introduce you to one of those שַׁחַר – Shachar Hason, an Israeli comedian. Here is a segment from a comedy TV show in Israel, starring Shachar Hason in an attempt to spell another Hebrew name with only his body. Enjoy 🙂



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