🔼The name Zepho: Summary
- Watch, Gaze
- From the verb צפה (sapa), to cover.
🔼The name Zepho in the Bible
There's only one man named Zepho in the Bible. Zepho was a son of Eliphaz, who was a son of Esau, the brother of Jacob, and his Hittite wife Adah (Genesis 36:11). Zepho became a chief of Edom (Genesis 36:15). For unclear reasons, the Chronicler calls this man צפי, Zephi (1 Chronicles 1:36).
🔼Etymology of the name Zepho or Zephi
The names Zepho and Zephi come from the verb צפה (sapa), meaning to cover.
Verb צפה (sapa) speaks of covering, whether a literal covering of an item with an overlay like gold or the figurative covering of watchman's surroundings by his watchful gaze. In cognate languages this verb also means to hope.
Noun צפיה (sippiya) means lookout post and noun מצפה (mispeh) means watchtower. Noun צפוי (sippuy) means plating, noun צפית (sapit) means rug or carpet, and noun צפת (sepet) refers to the plated capital of a pillar.
Verb צוף (sup) means to flow or float on top of something else. Noun צוף (sup) describes a honeycomb, or rather the structure of hexagonal cells upon which honey floats. Verb צפה (sapa) means outflow.
Verb צפן (sapan) means to hide or store up. Nouns צפין (sapin) and מצפון (maspon) describe a mass of predominantly static wealth. Noun צפון (sapon) means north, as for unexplained reasons the Bible considers the north a place of gathering. Noun or adjective צפוני (seponi) means northern or northern one.
Verb שפן (shapan) isn't used in the Bible but in cognate languages it means to hide. Noun שפן (shapan) describes a kind of cud-chewing, rock-dwelling animal with no divided hoofs, commonly (rather oddly) interpreted as rock-badger or coney.
For a meaning of the name Zepho, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Watch.
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Expectation, and notes that there are several known Latin names with the same meaning (such as Elpidius, Speratus, Expectatus).
BDB Theological Dictionary lists our names under צפה I, translates them with Gaze, Gazing, but adds a question mark, apparently to indicate that this is just one of many possibly interpretations.