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The Daily Genealogist Name Origin: Arphaxad/Arpachshad

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Julie Helen Otto

Julie Helen Otto
Staff Genealogist

ARPHAXAD/ARPACHSHAD (m): What inspired Samuel and Abigail (Tidd) Thompson of Woburn, Mass. (parents of Samuel, Abigail, Mary, Jonathan and [later] Leonard) to name their third son Arphaxad Thompson (Woburn, Mass. 7 March 1763-15 Dec. 1771) (Woburn VRs 1:257, 2:190, 3:276) for the “third son of Shem [son of the patriarch Noah], and a remote ancestor of Abraham, according to Genesis and I Chronicles” (Clarence D. Barnhart, William D. Halsey et al., eds., The New Century Cyclopedia of Names [New York, 1954], 1:226), is not now clear, especially since “ARPACHSHAD is not necessarily a single person. From the structure of the genealogical tables the name may be that of a tribe or land of which the people were descendants from that son of Shem. The name long referred to the mountainous country on the Upper Zab, north and east of Nineveh, called by the Greek geographers ARRAPACHITIS (Gen. 10:24, 11:10)” (ibid.). The Biblically-associated names SHEM and NOAH [father and grandfather of the Biblical Arphaxad] were not used among the Woburn Thompsons, which may only deepen the mystery as to why this obscure name was chosen.

Posted by Jean Powers at 07/18/2012 07:35:00 AM | 


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