Thursday, June 07, 2018

Zina Williams

Zina (Zini to family and friends) Williams was born on Ocracoke Island in 1890. He died in 1970.

Zina is one of a number of unusual Ocracoke names. I wondered where it came from, and guessed the Bible. Sure enough, the name Zina occurs in the Bible, but only once, in an obscure passage in 1st Chronicles, chapter 23, verse 10:

"And the sons of Shimei: Jahath, Zina, and Jeush, and Beriah. These four were the sons of Shimei."

Abarim Publications has this to say about this unusual name:

"[W]e 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."

A third possibility is that Chronicles is a compilation of several authors' work...different traditions cobbled together.  We will probably never know.

But why did William Warren and Julia Nancy Williams give their son the highly unusual name Zina (their other three children were named Jordan, David, and Annie)? That too we will probably never know.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of the Ocracoke Lighthouse, with information (and an artist's sketch) about the earliest lantern room. You can read the Newsletter here:  

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