& Meaning •
Meaning and etymology of the Hebrew name Ephah
The name Ephah is applied to both men and women in the Bible. A woman named Ephah is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 2:46. She is a concubine of Caleb (not the famous friend of Joshua but the other Caleb, the son of Hezron) and the mother of Haran, Moza and Gazez. male Ephah's are a son of Midian, son of Abraham with Keturah (Genesis 25:4). An Ephah, son of Jahdai, is mentioned in the genealogy of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:47).
The name Ephah comes from the Hebrew root group (`up I & II):
• The verb (`up), meaning to fly. This verb is used for birds (Isaiah 31:5) and angels ()Isaiah 6:2. Derivative ('op) denotes flying creatures; insects (Leviticus 11:20) and birds (Genesis 78:27). Derivative ('ap'ap) means eyelid in all the straight-forward uses of the body part (Psalm 132:4), but also, curiously enough, as the "eyelids of dawn," i.e. the breaking of dawn (Job 3:9).
• The verb (`up II), meaning to be dark (Job 11:17). Derivatives of the latter are gloom and darkness; Isaiah 8:22; Job 11:17; Job 10:21; Am 4:13. The later two texts uses the derivation (epa) which is the same as the name.
What the original name giver meant to say with the name Ephah is not clear, but it means both Volant and Darkling. Here at Abarim Publications we suggest that the two meanings of are connected in a fundamental meaning of to cover (see note below). That way, the name Ephah may mean Covering. In that sense, the name Ephah reflects somewhat the same idea as the name Lot.
NOBS Study Bible Name List translates this name with Dark One; Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Darkness.
Note: None of the sources reports a connection between the two meanings of , but we would like to submit the following:
Perhaps the eye lid is connected with flight through its wing-like properties and thus came to denote the organ that makes the eye dark, hence that phenomenon that places the sun under the horizon. But perhaps darkness was seen as a winged entity that covered light with its wings, and hence it was applied back to birds. We note that is one of a few words for darkness, and the existence of these suggests specification. Other words for darkness:
('opel 145), darkness with all the various symbolic connotations of gloom and spiritual darkness.
('arapel 1701), darkness from a verb that means drip, hence the derivative ('arip), cloud.
(hoshek), darkness, from a root that also yields the word (hasok), obscure.
(salmawet), deep darkness, from the root (salal), be or grow dark, which is identical to the verb (salal), sink, be submerged), and which also yields (sel), shadow).
In addition we note that the more usual word for wings or winged creature is (kanap). The verb connected to this word is used by Isaiah to mean hide or enclose (30:20).
Our conclusion is that the base, even recessive, meaning of lies in a covering or stretching out overhead.
Other names that (may) have to do with darkness:
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