The Hebrew version of the name is Shim’on (verbal root: Shin-Mem-Ayin-Nun), and as you say, it is generally derived from the verb “shama’” (Shin-Mem-Ayin) = “listen, hear” or “answer (a prayer)”. (The character Nun is a typical ending for abstract nouns.) So the translation given on the data base “hearkening, listening” (as a noun) is correct. In the Hebrew bible, Simon’s mother Lea
says: “The Lord has given me this son also, because he heard (shama’) that I was not loved” (Gen 29,33).
Still the origin of the name is debated, and despite the perfect name giving motive, a number of scholars seem to favour “hyena dog” as a translation. Now I don’t know, what a hyena dog looks like, but this comparison is probably not very flattering to the child. There is said to be an Arabic parallel to this, but I can’t verify this, as I don’t know any Arabic. So I should say: forget about the hyena dog!
In most bibles you will find the spelling Simeon
, but the E just represents the character Ayin (I have used an apostrophe to mark it). In the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint) the name reads Symeon (with an ypsilon and an omega), same in the Latin translation (Symeon).
But then in the New Testament it is Simon
, and this may have to do with a second root of the name, and this one’s Greek. Maybe those with profund knowledge of ancient Greek names can help at this point, because I haven’t been able to find good proof for this. The Greek word “simos” means “with a flat nose”, and it said to have influenced the name Simon
in times of Hellenism (I found this in: Das große Vornamen-Lexikon, Duden 2003). I presume, here Simon
may be a short form of the name Simonides, but I am not sure at all about this. – Not very flattering either, I’m afraid, but such were the old Greeks (and Romans).
The word “simony” for the practice of buying or selling spiritual or Church benefits, by the way, goes back to Simon
the sorcerer: he tried to buy the gift of passing on the holy spirit by placing his hands on others from the apostles (Acts 8). – Personally, I wouldn’t hesitate to call anybody doing things like that a “hyena dog” …Andy
;—) (with the long, not flat nose)