🔼The name Nephisim: Summary
- Expansions, Revivings
- From the noun נפש (nepesh), breath or life.
🔼The name Nephisim in the Bible
The name Nephisim (נפיסים) or Nephushim (נפוסים), depending on the manuscript we consult, belongs to an ancestor of a family of Nethinim (temple servants) who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel and Jeshua (Ezra 2:50). Nehemiah mentions the same person, but calls him Nephishesim (נפישסים) or Nephushesim (נפושסים; Nehemiah 7:52).
🔼Etymology of the name Nephisim
The name Nephisim, Nephushim, Nephishesim or Nephushesim is a plural form derived from a root נפס (nps) but no such root exists in the Hebrew of the Bible. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) declares that נפס (nps) is the Chaldean or Syriac version of the familiar Hebrew noun נפש (nepesh), which primarily denotes a living being and secondarily may have to do with to enlarge:
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.
For a meaning of our name, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Expansions (from the secondary meaning of the root). Neither NOBSE Study Bible Name List nor BDB Theological Dictionary offers an interpretation of our name.