Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home


SEPHARVAIM (Heb. סְפַרוַיִם ,סְפַרְוָיִם), one of the cities from which the king of Assyria brought settlers to Samaria, after the conquest of the Kingdom of Israel (II Kings 17:24). Sepharvaim is also mentioned among the city-states which, as King Sennacherib of Assyria boasts, were unable to hold out against the king of Assyria (I Kings 18:34; 19:13 = Isa. 36:19; 37:38).

Two principal suggestions have been made for the identification of the city. Some identify it with Sippar, one of Babylonia's leading sacred cities, on the ground that it is mentioned together with Babylon and Cuthah (II Kings 17:24), and indeed the annals of Sennacherib tell of the deportation of inhabitants from both Sippar and Cuthah. The identification of Sippar with Sepharvaim is supported by the forms ספרים (I Kings 17:31) and ספריים (1QIsaa 36:19; 37:13), (Heb. ספרוים) being apparently a scribal error due to the similarity of the letters vav and yod. The name (Heb. ספרוים) appears to be the dual form, indicating a twin-city, and in fact Sippar consisted of Si-ip-ar ša Šamaš and Si-ip-ar ša A-nu-ni-tum ("Sippar of the god Shamash" and "Sippar of the goddess Anunitum").Others identify Sepharvaim with Sibraim (Ezek. 47:16), situated in Syria between Damascus and Hamath. This identification is based on the fact that in II Kings 18:34 Sepharvaim is mentioned together with Hamath and Arpad, and that the Peshitta of Ezekiel 47:16 reads Sepharvaim instead of Sibraim. The gods of Sepharvaim, *Adrammelech and *Anammelech (II Kings 17:31), were worshiped, according to the proponents of the first identification, in Sippar in Babylonia, and according to the proponents of the second, in Sibraim in Syria. It is difficult to decide definitely in favor of one rather than the other identification. The suggestion that the biblical passages are to be explained as referring at times to Sippar and at times to Sibraim is not very probable, since in four of the passages (I Kings 18:34; 19:13; Isa. 36:10; 37:15) the three cities Hamath, Ivvah (Avva), and Sepharvaim are named together, showing that the same Sepharvaim is meant in all of them, and it is difficult to suppose that a different one is intended in I Kings 17:31.


G.R. Driver, in: Eretz Israel, 5 (1959), 18–20 (Eng.). See commentaries to II King 17–18 and Isaiah 36–37.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.