🔼The name Zophim: Summary
- Coverings, Watchmen
- From the verb צפה (sapa), to cover.
🔼The name Zophim in the Bible
🔼Etymology of the name Zophim
The name Zophim is a masculine plural form presumably derived 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 (rabbit).
For a meaning of the name Zophim, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Watchers and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Watchmen.
BDB Theological Dictionary appears to not regard Zophim as a name, which in modern times is a view shared only by the Darby translation of the Bible ("And he took him to the watchmen's field, to the top of Pisgah"). BDB thinks that the usage of the verb צפה (sapa I) in Numbers 23:14 is similar to those in Isaiah 52:8 and Ezekiel 33:2-6.