🔼The name Ramathaim-zophim in the Bible
The name Ramathaim-zophim occurs only once in the Bible, namely in 1 Samuel 1:1, where it is given as the hometown of Elkanah of Ephraim, the father of Samuel and descendant of a man named Zuph (spelled צוף, which is the singular form of the plural צופים, zophim), who presumably also gave his name to the "land of Zuph" (1 Samuel 9:5).
Ramathaim-zophim may also be associated with one of the places generally known as Ramah, but no certainty exists in this regard. Consult our article on the name Ramah for the details.
🔼Etymology of the name Ramathaim-zophim
The name Ramathaim-zophim consists of two elements, both of which are proper plural forms. The first part possibly derives from the verb רום (rum), meaning to be high:
But it may very well also derive from either of the verbs רמה (rama):
The second part of our name possibly comes from the verb צפה (sapa I), meaning to watch or look out, or is a plural of the noun צוף (sup), meaning honeycomb:
The name Ramathaim-zophim means The Heights Of The Watchmen or The Deceits Of The Honeycombs or any other combination. It may have been called this way for the simple reason that from any of its high hills, one could inspect a wide sweep or terrain for whatever reason.
But this name also tempts to suggest that it may have denoted a particular center of learning, and perhaps even a specific school of thought, and maybe even one which Jesus gently brushed aside as leading to the Kingdom of God (Luke 17:20), but that's obviously all conjecture.
Some scholars have enticingly linked Ramathaim-zophim to the illusive town of Arimathea, which may thicken the conjecture but doesn't make it less so or more true.