Sepharvaim

SEPHARVAIM, SEPHARVITE (sĕf'ar-vā'ĭm, sē'far-vīt). The place from which the Assyrians brought colonists to live in Samaria (2Kgs.17.24, 2Kgs.17.31). The inhabitants of the place were called Sepharvites. The place is also referred to in the Assyrian commander’s threatening speech to Jerusalem (2Kgs.18.34; 2Kgs.19.13) as a place conquered by the Assyrian armies. Formerly Sepharvaim was identified with Sippar in Babylonia, but recently scholars have tended to reject that theory and have identified it with the Sibraim of Ezek.47.16, a place located in the region of Hamath.


SEPHARVAIM sēf’ ər vā’ əm (סְפַרְוַ֔יִם, dual form of unknown meaning). A place from which settlers were brought to re-populate Israel after the deportation to Assyria (2 Kings 17:24). Their deities included Adrammelech and Annamelech (q.v.). Sennacherib’s envoy mentioned it as a place whose gods were helpless against the Assyrians (2 Kings 18:34, et al.). There are two possible identifications: (1) The less likely is Sippar in Mesopotamia known as Sippar of Shamash and Sippar of Anunitum, thus accounting for the dual form; (2) Shabarain in Syria which was captured by Shalmanezer. Biblical Sibraim (Ezek 47:16) may refer to this site. The second possibility is more likely since it suits the Syrian context of Sepharvaim (mentioned along with Hamath in Syria) and the possible Syrian character of Adrammelech.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

sef-ar-va’-im, se-far-va’-im (cepharwayim: Sephpharouaim, Seppharoudim, Seppharoun, Seppharoumain, Eppharouaim, Sepphareim, the first two being the forms in manuscripts Alexandrinus and Vaticanus respectively, of the passages in Kings, and the last two in Isaiah):

1. Formerly Identified with the Two Babylonian Sippars:

This city, mentioned in 2Ki 17:24; 18:34; 19:13; Isa 36:19; 37:13, is generally identified with the Sip(p)ar of the Assyrians-Babylonian inscriptions (Zimbir in Sumerian), on the Euphrates, about 16 miles Southwest of Bagdad. It was one of the two great seats of the worship of the Babylonian sun-god Samas, and also of the goddesses Ishtar and Anunit, and seems to have had two principal districts, Sippar of Samas, and Sippar of Anunit, which, if the identification were correct, would account for the dual termination -ayim, in Hebrew. This site is the modern ’Abu-Habbah, which was first excavated by the late Hormuzd Rassam in 1881, and has furnished an enormous number of inscriptions, some of them of the highest importance.

2. Difficulties of That Identification:

Besides the fact that the deities of the two cities, Sippar and Sepharvaim, are not the same, it is to be noted that in 2Ki 19:13 the king of Sepharvaim is referred to, and, as far as is known, the Babylonian Sippar never had a king of its own, nor had Akkad, with which it is in part identified, for at least 1,200 years before Sennacherib. The fact that Babylon and Cuthah head the list of cities mentioned is no indication that Sepharvaim was a Babylonian town--the composition of the list, indeed, points the other way, for the name comes after Ava and Hamath, implying that it lay in Syria.

3. Another Suggestion:

Joseph Halevy therefore suggests (ZA, II, 401 ff) that it should be identified with the Sibraim of Eze 47:16, between Damascus and Hamath (the dual implying a frontier town), and the same as the Sabara’in of the Babylonian Chronicle, there referred to as having been captured by Shalmaneser. As, however, Sabara’in may be read Samara’in, it is more likely to have been the Hebrew Shomeron (Samaria), as pointed out by Fried. Delitzsch.

LITERATURE.

See Schrader, The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the Old Testament, I, 71 f; Kittel on K; Dillmann-Kittel on Isa, at the place; HDB, under the word

T. G. Pinches