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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Naphtuhim

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(Heb. Naphtuhim', נִפְתֻּהַים, prob. of Egyptian origin, but of uncertain meaning [see below]; Sept. Νεφθαλείμ , Genesis 10:13; Νεφθαλίμ 1 Chronicles 1:11, v.r. Νεφθωσεείμ, Νεφθουείμ ; Vulg. Nephtheim and Nephthuim), a Hamitic tribe of Mizraim's descendants (Genesis 10:13; 1 Chronicles 10:11). The plural form of the name seems to indicate a tribe sprung from Nalphteh. Jonathan (Chald. Chron.) interprets it פנטסכנאי, Pentaschoeni, i.e., inhabitants of Pentaschoenum, a city in Lower Egypt, twenty Roman miles from Pelusium. Saadias renders it Curamanii. Bochart (Phal. 4:29) compares Nephthys, the name of an Egyptian goddess, sister and wife of Typhon; which, according to Plutarch (De Iside, c. 38), means Τῆς γῆς τὰ ἔσχατα καὶ παρόρια, the ends of'the earth or land, i.e., the sea-shore; and so the Coptic interprets Naphtuhim. Michaelis (Spicileg. 1:268 sq.) understands the name to belong to the desert between Egypt and Asia. near the Sirbonian lake, which the Egyptians call the exhalations of Typhon. See also Jablonsky, Opusc. 1:161; Schulthess, Paradies, page 152. But Miss F. Corbaux ("Rephaim," in the Journ. of Sac. Lit. 1851, page 151) identifies this tribe with the original Memphites, whose capital, "the dwelling of Ptah," Na-Ptah, is contracted in Hebrew into Naph (נָ ). "If we may judge from their position in the list of the Mizraites, according to the Masoretic text (in the Sept. in Genesis x they follow the Ludim and precede the Anamim, Ε᾿νεμετιείμ), immediately after the Lehabim, who doubtless dwelt to the west of Egypt, and before the Pathrusim, who inhabited that country, the Naphtuhim were probably settled at first, or at the time when Genesis 10 was written, either in Egypt or immediately to the west of it. In Coptic the city Marea and the neighboring territory, which probably corresponded to the older Mareotic nome, is called piphaiat or piphaiad, a name composed of the word phaiat or phaiad, of unknown meaning, with the plural definite article pi prefixed.

In hieroglyphics mention is made of a nation or confederacy of tribes conquered by the Egyptians called 'the Nine Bows,' a name which Champollion read Naphit, or, as we should write it, NAPETU, 'the bows,' though he called them 'the Nine Bows' (or 'nine peoples,' Brugsch, Geogr. Inschr. 2:20). It seems, however, more reasonable to suppose that we should read (9) PETU, 'the Nine Bows,' literally. It is also doubtful whether the Coptic name of Marea contains the word 'bow,' which is only found in the forms pite (S. masc.) and phit (M. fern. 'a rainbow'); but it is possible that the second part of the former may have been originally the same as the latter. It is noteworthy that there should be two geographical names connected with the bow in hieroglyphics, the one of a country, MERU-PET, 'the island of the bow,' probably MEROE, and the other of a nation or confederacy, 'the Nine Bows, and that in the list of the Hamites there should be two similar names, PIhut and Naphtuhim, besides Cush, probably of like sense.

No important historical notice of the Nine Bows has been found in the Egyptian inscriptions: they are only spoken of in a general manner when the kings are said, in laudatory inscriptions, to have subdued great nations, such as the Negroes, or extensive countries, such as Kish, or Cush. Perhaps, therefore, this name is that of a confederacy or of a widely spread nation, of which the members or tribes are spoken of separately in records of a more particular character, treating of special conquests of the Pharaohs or enumerating their tributaries." "It appears more probable, however, to identify the Naphtulhim with the city of Naphata or Napata, the capital of an ancient Ethiopian kingdom, and one of the most splendid cities in Africa (Strabo, 17, page 820; Pliny, Hist. Nat. 6:35; Ptolemy, 4:7). Strabo states that Napata was the royal seat of queen Candace, a fact which may connect one of the most ancient tribes of the Old Testament with an incident in apostolic history (Acts 8:27). The city and its territory lay upon the southern frontier of Mizraim, at the great bend of the Nile in Soudan, and having the desert of Bahiuda on the south. The ruins of the city on the banks of the river are extensive and splendid, consisting of pyramids, temples, sphinxes, and sculptures. The modern name is Meroe or Merawe; though some geographers do not adopt this view (Ritter, Erdkunde, 1:591). The connection of this city with Egypt is shown by the character of its ruins. There, is a temple of Osiris and another of Ammon; and there is a necropolis on whose gateway Osiris is figured receiving gifts as the god of the lower world. Two lions of red granite of beautiful workmanship were found here, and brought to England by lord Prudhoe, afterwards duke of Northumberland. They are at present in the British Museum (Hoskins, Travels, pages 161, 288; Lavard, Nin. and Bab. page 157; Kalisch, On Genesis, page 265; Smith, Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Geog. 2:396)."


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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Naphtuhim'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/n/naphtuhim.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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