🔼The name Tiphsah in the Bible
There appear to be two towns named Tiphsah mentioned in the Bible:
- In translations of 1 Kings 4:24 we read how king Solomon had dominion over everything west of the River (Euphrates), from Tiphsah to Gaza. The Hebrew text, however, speaks much more poetically of Solomon's dominion (רדה, rada) over the whole other side (עבר, 'eber, from the verb to cross over, hence the name Hebrew) of the Flow (נהר, nahar; a flow of water or of light; related to the words נר, ner, and ניר, nir, meaning lamp). Note the poetic symmetry with the name Ur of the Chaldeans.
- When Menahem usurped the throne of Israel, he marched onto Tiphsah and destroyed its region (and pregnant women) from the border of Tirzah on (2 Kings 15:16), which makes it probable that this Tiphsah was a local town and not the same as the previous, Babylonian one.
🔼Etymology of the name Tiphsah
The name Tiphsah comes from the verb פסח (pasah), which means to be infantile or poorly informed. The letter ת (taw) with which our name begins is probably a formative and does not alter the core meaning of our name:
Most commentators appear to derive our name from what is commonly perceived as the root פסח I (psh I), meaning to pass over. Hence NOBSE Study Bible Name List translates our name with Passage, Crossing, and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Passage and adds, "i.e. of the river Euphrates". BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret our name but does list it under their article on פסח I (psh I).
Here at Abarim Publications we surmise that the authors of this story were less concerned with the political reach of king Solomon's reign and far more with the effects of his knowledge and skills. It seems to us that the authors meant to say that Solomon's proverbial wisdom covered and harvested all previous traditions and invigorated mankind's level of understanding from that of a toddler to that of a strong man. In that sense, the name Tiphsah means Understanding Of A Toddler.