🔼The name Tophel: Summary
- Whitewash, Folly
- From the verb תפל (tapal), to be tasteless or foolish.
🔼The name Tophel in the Bible
The name Tophel occurs only once in the Bible. It belongs to a city which Moses used to pinpoint the location of Israel when he spoke the words of Deuteronomy, at the end of their arduous, forty-year journey. They were located in the wilderness, in the Arabah, opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel and Laban and Hazaroth and Dizahab (Deuteronomy 1:1), eleven days away from mount Horeb, on the route from mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea (Deuteronomy 1:2).
🔼Etymology of the name Tophel
The name Tophel comes from either of the two roots תפל (tpl):
The verb תפל (tapal) means to be tasteless or foolish (as eating and learning are very closely kindred). Adjectives תפל (tapel) and תפלה (tipla) mean tasteless or foolish. Noun תפל (tapel), which possibly derives from a different root, means whitewash.
For a meaning of the name Tophel, NOBSE Study Bible Name List goes with תפל II and reads Lime; Cement. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names sees more in תפל I and has Insipid. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't translate this name, but does list it under the verb תפל II, which seems to be in favor of the interpretation of NOBSE. To a Hebrew audience, Tophel probably meant both.