🔼The name Mispar: Summary
- Number, Record Keeper
- From the noun ספר (seper), a record.
🔼The name Mispar in the Bible
There's only one man named Mispar in the Bible, and he's also called Mispereth (מספרת). He is one of the few men listed by name, who joined Zerubbabel and Jeshua the high priest in the second wave of returnees from the Babylonian exile back to Canaan (Ezra 2:2). Ezra calls this man Mispar but Nehemiah calls him Mispereth (Ezra 2:2, Nehemiah 7:7).
🔼Etymology of the name Mispar
The names Mispar and Mispereth both come from the word cluster that's formed around the noun ספר (seper), meaning book or more general: a writing:
The root ספר (spr) has to do with information technology: the efficient storage, retrieval and sharing of data. Long before fiction and recreational reading was a thing, record keeping was mostly a mathematical and economic enterprise, mostly conducted by specialized priests. The invention of the alphabet made writing easy and elevated every common man to the priestly level, and allowed everybody to study whatever they wanted. This allowed a deluge of original thought to enter collective consciousness, which in turn raised the level of human diversity, and thus complexity and thus cultural bliss.
Noun ספר (seper) denotes any kind of record, historical records, legal documents, prophetic messages, and so on. Noun ספרה (sipra) means book or a bundled collection of records. Denominative verb ספר (sapar) means to write or produce a ספר (seper): to carefully observe, to recount, to record. Noun ספר (sopor) or ספור (sopor) means scribe; someone who produces a ספר (seper). Noun ספר (separ) means census. Noun ספרה (sepora) means number, sum or amount. And noun מספר (mispar) means number.
The name Mispar is the same as the noun מספר (mispar), meaning number or recount, and the name Mispereth might simply be an older spelling of the feminine form of that noun. It's by no means unusual that men in the Bible have names that are really feminine nouns, or that women have names that are masculine nouns.
For a meaning of the name Mispar (and Mispereth) NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Writing. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Number, "i.e. a few". BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret either version of this name but does list them both under the word-cluster ספר (seper).