QUESTION: I was wondering about the word סתיו. Why does it mean “autumn” in modern Hebrew when it seems to mean “winter” (or end of winter) in TaNaKh (see Song of Songs 2:11)? Also, whichever season it means, which of these explanations would you find most plausible in explaining the word’s etymology: a) it’s chilly so one needs to cover up (סות in Gen 39:11, presumably some sort of garment)? b) it’s an enticing (הסתה) time to go outside after the cold season? c) or is it somehow related to סוי in Aramaic, “to gaze”, since now one can see the ground since ice has melted? Seems like biliteral סת is associated with “covering up”, because: a) סות (ibid), b) סתם “seal up” (as in Gen 26:18), c) סתר “hide”, d) סתו, “time to cover up”? Without the letter תי”ו, biliteral סו implies “covering”: d) מסוה “face covering” (Ex 34:33, which Ibn Ezra & Rashbam link with סות, although Rashi related to סוי gaze). On further reflection, Rashi suggests that סות is a “seductive colored blouse/dress” (הסתה), which would explain the feminine possessive ה”א of סותה, in the כתיב at least. Can it be that according to Rashi, covering up, gazing, and enticing are all related? Covering up in the sense of framing the way you are seen, or how others see you? So מסוה was a face covering that enabled them to gaze at Moses, and סות is a seductive colorful gown that entices man to gaze at woman? And in the winter, a covering enables you to go out and be seen? (Otherwise, you’d be stuck indoors and no one would see you) Anyway, please share your thoughts on סתיו. Speaking of which, i think I’ll head outside. Here in Massachusetts, it’s finally thawing out, we can see the ground, and it’s an enticing time to go outside after being indoors all winter… but we still have to cover up! No one is seen outside without some sort of covering. It’s still March!
P.S. ראב”ע cites an opinion that סותה is from כסות without the כ”ף , though he doesn’t accept it. Yerios Shlomo suggests it was a smock to cover oneself while pressing grapes, hence “ובדם ענבים סותה”. Also, he suggests that סתיו is end of winter since the ice has melted מס, and מ of האמתי”ו isn’t important radical, but just the סמ”ך alone can imply melting!