🔼The name Tiphsah: Summary
- Passage, Understanding Of A Toddler
- From the verb פסח (pasah), to be under-supplied or under-equipped.
🔼The name Tiphsah in the Bible
There appear to be two towns named Tiphsah mentioned in the Bible:
- In translations of 1 Kings 4:24 we read how king Solomon had dominion over everything west of the River (Euphrates), from Tiphsah to Gaza. The Hebrew text, however, speaks much more poetically of Solomon's dominion (רדה, rada) over the whole other side (עבר, 'eber, from the verb to cross over, hence the name Hebrew) of the Flow (נהר, nahar; a flow of water or of light; related to the words נר, ner, and ניר, nir, meaning lamp). Note the poetic symmetry with the name Ur of the Chaldeans.
- When Menahem usurped the throne of Israel, he marched onto Tiphsah and destroyed its region (and pregnant women) from the border of Tirzah on (2 Kings 15:16), which makes it probable that this Tiphsah was a local town and not the same as the previous, Babylonian one.
🔼Etymology of the name Tiphsah
The name Tiphsah comes from the verb פסח (pasah), which means to be infantile or poorly informed. The letter ת (taw) with which our name begins is probably a formative and does not alter the core meaning of our name:
The verb פסח (pasah) describes the existence of a shortage, and that shortage may lead to an impaired mobility or an intense desire or a debilitating indecisiveness. It's the Bible's common verb for being lame.
The Bible's common verb for being blind is based on a verb that means to have too much (namely skin where it shouldn't be, namely over the eyes). Hence the proverbial duo of "the lame and the blind" more generally describes everybody burdened by not having enough of something, and everybody burdened by having too much of something. Note that all humans are born lame and most die blind, which associates our verb פסח (pasah) with being child-like and immature.
Noun פסח (pesah) is the word commonly translated with Passover. Adjective פסח (piseah) means lame or cripple.
Most commentators appear to insist that our verb פסח (pasah) means to pass over, since it yields the word for Passover and Passover is all about mass murder and skipping predestined houses. Hence NOBSE Study Bible Name List translates our name with Passage, Crossing, and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Passage and adds, "i.e. of the river Euphrates". BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret our name but does list it under their article on פסח I (psh I), to pass or spring over.
Here at Abarim Publications we interpret Passover somewhat different and also surmise that the authors of 1 Kings 4:24 were less concerned with the political reach of king Solomon's reign and far more with the effects of his knowledge and skills. It seems to us that the authors meant to say that Solomon's proverbial wisdom covered and harvested all previous traditions and invigorated mankind's level of understanding from that of a toddler to that of a strong man. In that sense, the name Tiphsah means Understanding Of A Toddler.