The word miz•rach comes from the root za•rach, which means to shine. The most common word that connects to za•rach is ‘she•mesh’ (sun). East in Hebrew is then the direction from which the sun shines.
“The two tribes and the half tribe have received their inheritance on this side of the Jordan near Jericho eastward, toward the sunrise”
Another example where the word translation is ‘east’ comes with a reference to a city:
“And the people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho”
A more interesting meaning of ‘east’ relates to the word ‘orient.’ Orient means the East. It is a traditional designation for anything that belongs to the Eastern world or the Middle East, Near East, or the Far East, in relation to Europe. In English, it is largely a metonym for and coterminous with the Continent of Asia.
From both perspectives, the orient is the east. From orient came the word ‘orientation,’ which is defined as ‘align’ or ‘position’ (something), relative to the points of a compass or other specified positions or guide (someone) physically in a specified direction. It is clear that etymologically and practically we need the east to know where we are positioned at any given time. In other words, we need the east to be oriented. We need the east because the light comes from there. Light in Hebrew is ‘or,’ and from here it is simple to figure from where the orient has received its name.