QUESTION: Where does the name ארפכשד come from, and does it have any literal meaning?

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    QUESTION: Where does the name ארפכשד come from, and does it have any literal meaning?

    ANSWER: Josephus (Antiquities 1:6, 4) explains that אַרְפַּכְשַׁדwas the progenitor of the כשדים(Chaldeans), based on the final letters of his name, כשד(see also Jubilees 9:4 [both cited in the Encyclopedia of Talmudic Geography]). In a similar vein, Toras Emes(R. Abraham Joshua Heschel [1755-1825]) on Gen. 10:22 explains that אַרְפַּכְשַׁדis a rearrangement of the words אפר כשד Chaldean ashes, in that he was the ancestor of Abraham, who survived being cast by Nimrod into the Chaldean furnace, from which he was to have emerged as ashes. Also based on the letters כשד, the author of Shem Uneshamaadds that the initial letters ארbear the meaning “patron,” “master,” “father,” in several Semitic languages, theorizing that the name therefore means father of the Chaldeans.

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