Zuph (Heb. Tsuph, צוּŠ, honey-comb [Gesen.] or moist [Fürst]; Sept. Σούφ v.r. Σώφ and Σούπ; but in 1Sa 9:5 Σίφ, apparently reading צַעŠ, Tsiph, as the text of the Heb there does), the name of a man and of a place.

1. A Kohathite Levite, the son of Elkanah and father of Tohu, or Toah or Nahath in the ancestry of the prophet Samuel (1Sa 1:1; 1Ch 6:35 [Heb. 20]). B.C. cir. 1310. In the parallel passage (1Ch 6:26) he is called ZOPHAI.

2. A district (אֶרֶ, land) at which Saul and his servant arrived after passing through those of Shalisha, of Shalim, and of the Benjamites (1Sa 9:5). It evidently contained the city in which they encountered Samuel (ver. 6), and that, again, if the conditions of the narrative are to be accepted, was certainly not far from the "tomb of Rachel," probably the spot to which that name is still attached, a short distance north of Bethlehem. The name Zuph is connected in a singular manner with Samuel. One of his ancestors (see above) was named Zuphl (1Sa 1:1; 1Ch 6:35) or Zophai (ver. 26), and his native place was called Ramathaim- zophim (1Sa 1:1). The name, too, in its various forms of Zophim, Mizpeh, Mizpah, Zephathah, was common in the Holy Land, on both sides of the Jordan. The only possible trace of the name of Zuph in modern Palestine, in any suitable locality, is to be found in Soba, a well known place about seven miles due west of Jerusalem, and five miles south-west of Naby Samwil. This Dr. Robinson (Bibl. Res. 2, 8, 9) once proposed as the representative of Ramathaim-zophim; and although on topographical grounds he virtually renounces the idea (see the, foot-note to the same pages), yet those grounds need not similarly affect its identity with Zuph, provided other considerations do not interfere. If Shalim and Shalisha were to the north-east of Jerusalem, near Taiyibeh, then Saul's route to the land of Benjamin would be south or south-west, and pursuing the same direction lie would arrive at the neighborhood of Soba. But this is at the best no more than conjecture, and unless the land of Zuph extended a good distance east of Soba, the city in which the meeting with Samuel took place could hardly be sufficiently: near to Rachel's sepulcher. The signification of the name Zuph is too doubtful to be of use in identifying the place. Zophim is usually considered to signify watchmen or lookers-out, hence prophets, in which sense the author of the Targum has actually rendered 1Sa 9:5 "they came into the land in which was a prophet of Jehovah." Rabbi Schwarz regards the name Zuph as having the same root (from צָפָה, to spy out), and thinks it denotes an eminence or look-out. He also (Palest. p. 156) ingeniously traces Saul's route, and seeks to identify "the land of Zuph" with Ramathaim-zophim itself. Wolcott (in the Biblioth. Sacra, 1, 604) suggests that the city of Ziph (so the name reads in. the Kethib and Sept.) gave its name to this whole region; but this town was too far south for that. It is probable that the district in question was a wide one, at least from north to south, and extended from the hills of Ephiraim to the vicinity of Bethlehem. SEE RAMAH.

Bible concordance for ZUPH.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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