🔼The name Shiphrah: Summary
- Beauty, Harmony
- From the verb שפר (shapar), to be pleasing or harmoniously composed.
🔼The name Shiphrah in the Bible
The name Shiphrah occurs once in the Bible. She and Puah are the two midwives who Pharaoh commands to kill all Hebrew babies (Exodus 1:15). The midwives don't comply and the people grow numerous. So numerous even that when the Exodus commences, there are 600,000 males.
Critics argue that this number must be symbolic, because a mere two midwives can't bring about the babies of 600,000 couples. The obvious counter-argument (without denying that the number may indeed be symbolic) is that Shiphrah and Puah weren't the only two midwives, but rather the two representatives of the midwife guild. The chances are excellent that Pharaoh and Shiphrah and Puah never actually met, and that the whole affair was dealt with through messengers and ministers and all that.
🔼Etymology of the name Shiphrah
The name Shiphrah comes from the root שפר (shapar), meaning to be pleasing:
The verb שפר (shapar) means to be pleasing, and more specific to be peacefully or harmoniously calm and composed. Noun שפר (sheper) means beauty or loveliness. Noun שפרה (shipra) means fairness or clearness. It's used only once in the Bible, and describes an aspect of the sky. Noun שופר (shopar) or שפר (shopar) denotes a ram's horn made into a trumpet (the regular word for horn, קרן, qeren, also comes from a verb that means to shine). Noun שפרור (shaprur) or שפריר (shaprir) apparently denotes a kind of canopy, under which peace and stability may be achieved.
Our name Shiphrah is identical to the derived feminine noun שפרה (shipra), meaning fairness.
For a meaning of the name Shiphrah, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names and NOBSE Study Bible Name List both read Beauty. BDB Theological Dictionary does not translate this name.