🔼The name Chephirah: Summary
- From the noun כפר (kapar), village.
🔼The name Chephirah in the Bible
The town of Chephirah belonged to the Gibeonites, prior to Joshua's conquest of Canaan (Joshua 9:17). The Gibeonites had heard what Israel had done to Jericho and Ai and decided to trick Joshua into leniency. They donned the oldest clothes they could find, met with Joshua at Gilgal and made him believe that their clothes were new when they had left their homes.
Their request for peace was granted, but when the elders discovered that they had been duped, they made the Gibeonites slaves for the rest of their existence. Their cities Gibeon, Chephirah and Beeroth were assigned to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:26). Their fourth city, Kiriath-jearim, went to Judah (Joshua 15:60).
🔼Etymology of the name Chephirah
The name Chephirah derives from the verb כפר (kapar):
The verb כפר (kapar) describes the formation of any sort of protective perimeter around any sort of vulnerable interior.
Noun כפר (koper) describes the price of a human life, i.e. the purchasing price and maintenance costs of keeping a person out of slavery. This is not simply a single sum of money but rather an economic protective layer of all sorts of hedges and investments. The noun כפרים (kippurim) is in fact a plural of the previous and denotes a massive free-buying and free-keeping of many people at once. Noun כפרת (kapporet) is the technical term for the cover of the Ark of the Covenant; the Mercy Seat.
Nouns כפר (kapar) and כפר (koper) mean village, but emphasize not the mere huddling together of folks, but rather any rudimentary social stratification that mimics the natural formation of eukaryotic cells, with cell walls, organelles and a nucleus that hosts the wisdom tradition.
For a meaning of the name Chephirah, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names simply read Village.