🔼The name Zophai: Summary
- Honeycomb-like, Of A Honeycomb, Honeycomb Of Yah
- From (1) the noun צוף (sup), honeycomb, and possibly (2) יה (yah), the shortened name of the Lord.
🔼The name Zophai in the Bible
The name Zophai occurs only once in the Bible. In 1 Chronicles 6:26 he is listed as a son of Elkanah of Levi, and an ancestor of Samuel. This Zophai is probably the same as the Zuph (צוף), son of Elkanah mentioned in 1 Chronicles 6:35.
🔼Etymology of the name Zophai
The name Zophai consists of two elements. The first part probably comes from the noun צוף (sup), meaning honeycomb:
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.
The letter י (yod) upon which our name ends, may either create an adjective (honeycomb-like), a possessive form (my honeycomb), or may be a remnant of יה (Yah), which is short for יהוה, which is the name YHWH, or Yahweh.
For a meaning of the name Zophai, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Honeycomb Of The Lord (taking the final yod for a remnant of YHWH). NOBSE Study Bible Name List forgoes treating this name. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't translate our name but does equate Zophai with Zuph, and confirms that the name Zuph is identical to the noun צוף (sup), meaning honeycomb.