🔼The name Naphish: Summary
- Revival, Expansion
- From the noun נפש (nepesh), breath or life.
🔼The name Naphish in the Bible
The name Naphish belongs to one of the twelve sons of Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar (Genesis 25:15, 1 Chronicles 1:31). The descendants of Naphish settled close enough to the tribes of Gad and Reuben, on the east side of the Jordan, that they could be attacked and displaced (or destroyed) by them (1 Chronicles 5:19).
🔼Etymology of the name Naphish
Scholars don't agree on which language the name Naphish comes from, but it's clear that it derives from a root that exists all over the Semitic spectrum:
The noun נפש (nepesh) means life or breath and appears to stem from a verb that means to be or become more spacious, to expand. In the Bible this word is most often translatable with "life" or "breath" but traditional translations also use the unfortunate word "soul." In the Bible, one does not have a soul; one is a soul.
The idea of a personal or private soul that exists as an ethereal expression of the self, which exists separate from the body, and which can both change but is also eternal, is purely pagan and certainly not supported by Biblical Scriptures. The Bible supports the idea of one global nepesh, which is the biosphere, of which all living things are nodes. None of these nodes can exist outside the biosphere and all separation from it results in disintegration.
In Hebrew, the name Naphish would mean something like Refresh or Desire(d), but it's possible that it was derived from the Arabic usage of this root, which apparently also may mean to enlarge (and possibly also in Hebrew, as reflected in Isaiah's statement "Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth without measure"; Isaiah 5:14).
NOBSE Study Bible Name List appears to go with the Arabic secondary meaning and translates Naphish with Numerous. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Refreshment "after the Syriac usage" and Increase "after the Chaldee and Arabic". BDB Theological Dictionary does not offer an interpretation of our name but does list it under the verb נפש (napash).