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Zephathah meaning

צפתה
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🔼The name Zephathah in the Bible

The name Zephathah occurs just once in the Bible. It's the name of a valley in which king Asa of Judah came face to face with Zerah the Cushite and his army of a million men (2 Chronicles 14:10). More specifically: they met at Mareshah in the valley of Zephathah.

The situation being grim, Asa called out to YHWH and He ran the Cushites off. The Israelites gave chase and killed whoever they could catch and went on to destroy the region of Gerar too while they were at it.

🔼Etymology of the name Zephathah

The name Zephathah appears to derive off the form צפה (sph):

🔼Zephathah meaning

If our name indeed comes from either of the verbs צפה (sph), it appears to be an older spelling (צפת, spt in stead of צפה, sph) in turn made feminine with a final ה (he).

Of the sources we routinely consult, only Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) dares to propose a translation of our name, which is Watch-tower. But this seems to be a rather inconsiderate name for a valley, and perhaps this name isn't taken from the צפה (sapa I), meaning to watch, but rather from the verb צפה (sapa II), meaning to lay out. That would give our name the meaning of Covered or Carpeted. With what exactly this valley would be covered remains a mystery, but it does seem to hint at a reason why Zerah and his army chose to be there.

Neither NOBSE Study Bible Name List nor BDB Theological Dictionary interprets our name. BDB ostensibly lists it alphabetically under צפת (spt), and not below either of the proposed verbs צפה (sph).

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