🔼The name Ephron: Summary
- Place Of Dust / Ore / Malleability / Young Ones
- From the verb עפר ('aphar), to be malleable or dust-like.
🔼The name Ephron in the Bible
The name Ephron is applied three times in the Bible, although they all may have something to do with each other:
- The first Ephron we meet in the Bible is a Hittite, a son of Zohar, from whom Abraham purchased the cave at Machpelah in order to bury Sarah (Genesis 23:8). Ephron wanted to give the place to Abraham but Abraham insisted to pay the fair price of four hundred shekels, and so he did and became the owner of land near Hebron. Note that this name is spelled עפרון (with the waw-nun extension) seven times in the cycle, but four times עפרן (without the waw; probably an older spelling variant). Also note that Stephen appears to equate this Ephron with Hamor, the father of Shechem (Acts 7:16).
- Then there is a village named Ephron, which was located near Bethel, about 40 kilometer from Hebron. This village is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 13:19 only, but since all that area was Hittite, it's not unthinkable that Ephron the village was named after Ephron the man. Some texts state that this name ought to be spelled עפרין.
- And finally there's a mountain named Ephron, which was situated somewhere in the north of the territory of Judah, which was probably associated with Ephron the village (Joshua 15:9).
🔼Etymology of the name Ephron
The name Ephron comes from either of the two roots עפר:
The unused verb עפר ('apar) probably described the condition between a consistent solid and either dust or a liquid, when the material is not exactly a formless liquid but can still be easily manipulated or scooped up. Note that in the Biblical symbolic jargon, fact-based knowledge equals dry land, and the unknown equals liquid. Our verb also describes the situation that occurs when facts are being learned from unclearness, or when an adored theory turns to dust by the sledge-hammer of an inexplicable event.
The ubiquitous noun עפר ('apar) is used to describe dust, loose earth, debris or ruins, mortar or metal ore. Noun עפר ('oper) refers to a young stag or a young male deer (in other languages this word may describe the young of any animal, for obvious reasons).
Noun עפרת ('operet) denotes some kind of metal, probably lead. Lead, of course, is highly malleable at room temperatures and can be easily melted in a domestic fire or hearth (metals like copper and iron require highly efficient ovens).
The waw-nun extension of our name usually works to localize or personify a root. The name Ephron would thus mean Dust-Man or Malleable, or something to that extent.
For a meaning of the name Ephron, NOBSE Study Bible Name List appears to take the waw-nun extension quite liberally as a kind of adjective-maker and reads Fawn-like. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names sees in our waw-nun form an intensitive and proposes A Great And Choice Fawn. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't translate our name but does list it under root עפר.