Shiphrah – Good Alternative to Sophia?

I was reading something recently and came across the name Shiphrah (pronounced shee-fra).

Seems to me that Shiphrah (also spelled Shifra, Shifrah, and other ways) might interest parents who like the name Sophia, but want something a bit more exotic.

Where does the name Shiphrah come from? Well, we know of it through the Exodus — Shiphrah was one of two midwives who disobeyed the Pharaoh’s order to kill Hebrew baby boys — but its origin and meaning are unknown.

That hasn’t stopped people from making guesses, of course. Definitions I’ve come across include “beauty,” “brightness,” “fairness,” “clearness,” “cleanse,” “fruitful,” “smoothed over,” “straightened,” and “calmed.” (Some of these interpretations assume Shiphrah is a job description rather than a personal name.)

What do you think of the name Shiphrah? Is it a good alternative to Sophia, or not so much?

Source: Kadari, Tamar. “Shiphrah: Midrash and Aggadah.” Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 20 March 2009. Jewish Women’s Archive.


5 thoughts on “Shiphrah – Good Alternative to Sophia?

  1. I’m familiar with the Hebrew name but have always seen it transliterated as “Shifra.” There’s a Jewish organization for women with unplanned pregnancies called In Shifra’s Arms. http://www.inshifrasarms.org/

    “Shiphrah” is a very confusing spelling; I initially read it as Ship-ra.

  2. Good point about the spelling. It looks like most parents would agree. The name is rare in the U.S., but when parents do decide to use it, Shifra is the preferred spelling.

  3. Another Sophia substitute I’ve stumbled across is Apphia (AF-ee-uh or AP-fee-yah.) Apphia was an early christian martyr mentioned in Philemon.

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