Thursday, April 09, 2009

What's in a name?

So as anyone who has read the Haggadah knows, there's a chunk of it which discusses the discourse between a bunch of Rabbis...

Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar ben Azariyah, Rabbi Akivah and Rabbi Tarfon.

And it got me wondering about the names... Eliezer, Yehoshua, Elazar, Azariyah and Akivah are all fairly common names, most can be found in TaNaCH and all have rather spiritual meanings, easy to discern.

And then there's the name Tarfon. Does anyone know the etymology of the name? I don't see how it can be Hebrew, since a quick look in my Hebrew-English dictionary shows that most, if not all the words with the root of Tet-Resh-Phay/Pay are rather.. dismal (the most benign meaning I found was leaf or blade). And I can't imagine any mother naming their son whose root meaning is 'prey'.

Ok, Google knows everything and so does Wikipedia... Rabbi Tarfon or Tarphon, (Hebrew: רבי טרפון‎, from the Greek Tryphon)

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