SHAPHAN (Heb. ןָפָש; "rock badger, hyrax, coney"), son of Azaliah, Josiah's scribe and the head of one of the most influential and pro-Babylonian families in the last days of Judah (II Kings 22:3). Shaphan was one of the messengers sent by the king to the prophetess Huldah concerning the finding of the new book in the Temple (II Kings 22:14; see *Deuteronomy). Later, his sons were supporters of the prophet Jeremiah. One of them, *Ahikam, used his influence to save *Jeremiah from death when the latter prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem (Jer. 26:24). A second son, *Elasah, one of the men sent to Babylon by Zedekiah, took Jeremiah's letter to the elders in exile (Jer. 29:3). Mention is made of two or more sons of Shaphan, *Jaazaniah and *Gemariah. Jaazaniah is only mentioned among the elders in Jerusalem seen by Ezekiel in a vision in Ezekiel 8:11. The information about Gemariah is more definite. It was in his chamber at the Temple gate that the scribe Baruch read Jeremiah's scroll "to the people" in the reign of Jehoiakim (Jer. 36:10ff.). Shaphan's son Micaiah was present, but he himself was sitting with other officials in conference. Apprised by Micaiah, they warned Baruch to go into hiding with Jeremiah, and they later pleaded with the king not to burn the scroll. The family's sympathy with the prophet was further evidenced by the fact that Jeremiah was put under the guardianship of Shaphan's grandson, Ahikam's son *Gedaliah, who was appointed governor of Judah by the Neo-Babylonian captors of Jerusalem (Jer. 39:14; 40:5).
S. Yeivin, in: Tarbiz, 12 (1941), 255ff.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.