🔼The name Uphaz: Summary
- Island Of Gold Craft, Desire For Fine Gold
- From (1) the verb אוה ('wh), to desire or draw near, and (2) the noun פז (paz), finely grafted gold.
🔼The name Uphaz in the Bible
The name Uphaz occurs twice in the Bible. At first glance it appears to be the name of some place where gold or gold artifacts came from, but both contexts of this name suggest that there's more going on. After all, "the words of YHWH are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times" (Psalm 12:6) and when Jesus urged Laodicea to buy from him "gold refined by fire" (Revelation 3:18) he was obviously talking about wisdom rather than precious metals.
The first time the name Uphaz appears in the Bible is in a sermon by the prophet Jeremiah on the signature folly of the ways (Jeremiah 10:1) and customs (10:3) of the nations, who decorate their wooden effigies with silver and gold: silver from Tarshish and gold from Uphaz (10:9). This sermon is rather obviously not about precious metals but about wisdom, the acquisition of knowledge and the assignment of authority, and both Tarshish and Uphaz refer to social codes, systems of government and methods of science rather than physical centers of goldsmiths.
That Uphaz is most probably more than some ancient equivalent of Tiffany is demonstrated by the prophet Daniel, whose three week fast was rewarded with a vision of a heavenly messenger dressed in linen and with his loins girded with pure gold from Uphaz (Daniel 10:5). The rest of the heavenly messenger is described in metaphors (his body was like beryl and his face like lightning) but his loins were for real girded in Uphaz gold.
The idiom "girding up of one's loins" had to do with securing one's tunic so that a man could walk freely. The belt with which one did this was of course also suited to hang swords from, and so "girding the loins" had to do with action and specifically military action (allowing the sword to signify the word, and a swordfight to signify a debate). Paul speaks of girding one's loins with truth (Ephesians 6:14) and Peter speaks of girding the loins of one's mind with sobriety and a perfect hope (1 Peter 1:13).
The word for gold used by Jeremiah is זהב (zahab) but Daniel uses כתם (ketem). The name Tiffany, incidentally, is the anglicized version of the familiar Greek name Theophania, which combines the words θεος (theos), God, with the verb φαινω (phaino), to shine.
🔼Etymology of the name Uphaz
The name Uphaz (אופז) may have originated as a play on the name Ophir (אופר), or perhaps even vice versa since we also don't know where Ophir might have been. As is, the name Uphaz appears to consist of two parts and the first part is the same as the first part of Ophir. It comes from the verb אוה ('wh), to desire or draw near:
There are four different verbs אוה ('wh), which all appear to express a desire or movement toward something. Noun אי ('i) means coast, which has been mankind's preferred place to settle since time immemorial. Nouns או ('aw), מאוי (ma'away), אוה ('awwa) and תאוה (ta'awa) all mean desire. The noun אות ('ot) means mark or sign, and humanity's earliest marks were not to assert private ownership but rather a collective identity: something to draw toward and gather around. Noun אי ('i) means jackal, and noun איה (ayya) means hawk or falcon. These creatures were possibly named after their supplicatory calls, or else their rapturous method of predation.
The conjunction או ('o) means "or." The interjection אי ('i) expresses regret: "alas!" Adverb אי ('i) may serve as a particle of negation ("to be desired" and thus not so), or as an interrogative adverb, meaning "where?", usually in rhetorical questions. The substantive אין ('ayin) expresses negation or nothingness and occurs hundreds of times in the construct מאין (m'ayin), which literally means "from where is not?", as introduction to a rhetorical question concerning something that is true in all known parts of the world: "where isn't it so that such and such, hmm?"
The second part of our name is the same as the noun פז (paz), finely grafted gold:
The verb פזז (pazaz) means to be agile or versatile, and also specifically serves to describe finely crafted gold or gold masterly formed to fit a base shape. The noun פז (paz) describes such finely crafted gold.
For a meaning of the name Uphaz, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Island Of Gold. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't offer an explanation of this name and growls "unknown & dub". Likewise NOBSE Study Bible Name List doesn't translate this name.