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Gath-hepher meaning

גתה חפר
גת החפר
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🔼The name Gath-hepher in the Bible

The name Gath-hepher occurs twice in the Bible. In Joshua 19:13 it is mentioned as an eastern border point of the territory allotted to the tribe of Zebulun, and this places Gath-hepher firmly in the area called Galilee.

Gath-hepher's modest star rose to great heights when it became the home town of Jonah the prophet (2 Kings 14:25), and in the deliberately humorous gospel of John, the blundering Pharisees demonstrate their ignorance when they first don't recognize Jesus as the Christ, secondly their own man Nicodemus as a follower of Christ, and thirdly fail to remember that the prophet Jonah was from Gath-hepher in Galilee (John 7:52).

Note that in Joshua, our name is spelled גתה חפר (Gittah-hepher), with the ה (he) that marks a "motion towards," postfixed to the Gath-part, whereas in 2 Kings it's spelled גת החפר (Gath-hahepher), with the ה (he) prefixed to the hepher-part.

🔼Etymology of the name Gath-hepher

The name Gath-hepher obviously consists of two elements. The first part of our name is identical to the name Gath, which is the same as the noun גת (gat), meaning winepress:

The second part of our name is identical to the name Hepher and comes from either of the two verbs חפר (hapar/haper):

🔼Gath-hepher meaning

For a meaning of the name Gath-hepher, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names assume the existence of an unused noun derived from the verb חפר I (hapar), meaning to dig. Hence NOBSE reads Winepress Of The Pit and Jones has Winepress Of The Well. BDB Theological Dictionary takes the hepher-part as an expression of the verb חפר I (hapar), and translates our name with Wine-Press Of Digging.

It should be noted that the name Gath-hepher could also be taken to mean Winepress Of Shame.

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