🔼The name Chephirim: Summary
- From the noun כפר (kapar), village.
🔼The name Chephirim in the Bible
It's not certain whether Chephirim is a name or not. As a matter of fact, only the New American Standard (NAS) translation of the Bible prints the name Chephirim here. All other major translations read "the villages". BDB Theological Dictionary, however, supports the decision of the NAS council, and equates Chephirim with Chephirah.
If it is a name, it's the name of a village or perhaps a cluster of settlements on the plain of Ono, where Nehemiah was invited to for a meeting with Sanballat and Geshem, who didn't like the fact that the wall around Jerusalem had been resurrected. Nehemiah figured that these enemies of his were planning to harm him, and declined to show (Nehemiah 6:2).
Apparently, clusters like this were not uncommon in Israel. There is, for instance, the town called Netophah, which was the hub of a cluster of villages of the Netophathites, which also included Bethlehem of Judah.
🔼Etymology of the name Chephirim
The name Chephirim looks like a plural noun taken 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.
Neither NOBSE Study Bible Name List nor Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names treats the "name" Chephirim, and only BDB Theological Dictionary reads Villages.