🔼The name Arpachshad: Summary
- Unclear but possibly: Boundary Of The Chaldeans.
- Perhaps from comparable cognate words meaning just that.
🔼The name Arpachshad in the Bible
🔼Etymology of the name Arpachshad
The name Arpachshad is probably extremely old and from a language that's long since gone. And thus the original meaning of this name is unclear. BDB Theological Dictionary suggests that it is a combination of 'rp (not in Hebrew but in cognate languages) meaning extent, border; and כשד, Chesed, the Hebrew word for Chaldeans.
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reports that none less than the great Josephus had a go at the meaning of this name, and also concluded Boundary Of The Chaldeans. NOBSE Study Bible Name List remains safely quiet about the possible meaning of this name.
Since safety is relative, the Abarim Publications Editorial Team helpfully notes that in the later, Masoretic spelling, the name כשׂד is spelled with the Hebrew letter שׂ while ארפכשׁד is spelled with a שׁ.
The name Arpachshad is difficult to interpret. Since both ארף (a-r-p) and כשד (k-sh-d) do not exist in Hebrew, we should look for a possible combination of smaller words:
The Hebrew word אר is used once, as a contraction of the word יאר (the Nile; Amos 8:8), which in turn may be derived from אור ('or), light. It may even be a contraction of ארר ('arar), curse. Or ארה ('ara), pluck or gather, with derivative ארי ('ari), lion.
פך (pak) means flask or vial, from the root פכך (pkk), an unused root that probably means trickle. פוך (puk) denotes a black powder that was used as eye make-up (Jeremiah 4:30, 2 Kings 9:30).
כ (ke) means as if, but פ never occurs as a particle. For the sake of brevity (Arpachshad is already an unusually long name) the פ may be a contraction of פה (peh), mouth, or פה (poh), a particle denoting here or hither.
שד (shed) is usually translated with demon, or the object of child sacrifice (Deuteronomy 32:17). שד (shod) means havoc. שד (shad) means breast, bosom.
Whatever the name Arpachshad may mean, the meaning is deeply hidden. But perhaps there were those among the audience that were hearing Light Trickles As If He Were A Breast. Perhaps there were those who heard He Gathers Mascara Like A Demon. And surely there were some who heard Nile In A Bottle; What A Boob!