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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Rephaim

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[many Reph'aim] (Heb. usually with the art. ha-Rephaim', הָרְפָאַים [see below]), a name which frequently occurs, and in some remarkable passages, as that of a race of unusual stature, who originally dwelt in the country east of the Jordan. The earliest mention of them is the record of their defeat by Chedorlsaomer and some allied kings at Ashteroth Karnaim; Genesis 14:5). They are again mentioned (15:20); their dispersion recorded (Deuteronomy 2:10; Deuteronomy 2:20), and Og the giant king of Bashan said to be "the only remnant of them" (3:11; Joshua 12:4; Joshua 13:12; Joshua 17:15). Extirpated, however, from the east of Palestine, they long found a home in the West; and in connection with the Philistines, under whose protection the small remnant of them may have lived, they still employed their arms against the Hebrews (2 Samuel 21:18 sq.; 1 Chronicles 20:4). In the latter passage there seems, however, to be some confusion between the Rephaim and the sons of a particular giant of Gath, named Rapha. Such a name may have been conjectured as that of a founder of the race, like the names Ion, Dorus, Teut, etc. (Bottcher, De Inferis, p. 96, note); Rapha occurs also as a proper name (1 Chronicles 7:25; 1 Chronicles 8:2; 1 Chronicles 8:37). It is probable that they had possessed districts west of the Jordan in early times, since the "valley of Rephaim" (κοιλὰς τῶν Τιτάνων, 2 Samuel 5:18; 1 Chronicles 11:15; Isaiah 17:5; κ . τῶν γιγάντων, Joseph. Ant. 7:4, 1), a rich valley south-west of Jerusalem, derived its name from them. That they were not Canaanites is clear from there being no allusion to them in Genesis 10:15-19. They were probably one of those aboriginal peoples to whose existence the traditions of many nations testify, and of whose genealogy the Bible gives us no information. The few names recorded have, as Ewald remarks, a Shemitic aspect (Gesch. des Volkes Isr. i, 311); but from the hatred existing between them and both the Canaanites and Hebrews, some suppose them to be Japhethites, "who comprised especially the inhabitants of the coasts and islands" (Kalisch, on Genesis p. 351). (See CANAANITE).

רְפָאַים is rendered by the Greek versions very variously (Sept. ῾Ραφαείμ, γίγαντες, γηγενεῖς, θεόμαχοι, Τιτᾶνες, and ἰατροί [Psalm 87:10; Isaiah 26:14, where it is confused with רֹפְאַים; comp. Genesis 1, 2], and sometimes νεκροί, τεθνηκότες , especially in the later versions). In the A.V. the words used for it are "Rephaim," "giants," and "the dead." That it has the latter meaning in many passages.is certain (Psalms 88:10; Proverbs 2:18; Proverbs 9:18; Proverbs 21:16; Isaiah 26:14; Isaiah 26:19). The question arises, how are these meanings to be reconciled? Gesenius gives no derivation for the national name, and derives ר=mortui, from רָפָא, sanavit, and the proper name Rapha from an Arabic root signifying "tall," thus seeming to sever all connection between the meanings of the word, which is surely most unlikely. Masius, Simon, etc., suppose the second meaning to come from the fact that both spectres and giants strike terror (accepting the derivation from רָפָה, remisit, "unstrung with fear," R. Bechai, on Deuteronomy 2); Vitringa and Hiller from the notion of length involved in stretching out a corpse, or from the fancy that spirits appear in more than human size (Hiller, Syntagn. Hermen. p. 205; Virg. AEn. ii, 772, etc.). J. D. Michaelis (ad Lowth S. Poes. p. 466) endeavored to prove that the Rephaim, etc., were troglodytes, and that hence they came to be identified with the dead. Passing over other conjectures, Bottcher sees in רָפָא and רָפָה a double root, and thinks that the giants were called רְפָאַים (languefacti) by a euphemism; and that the dead were'so called by a title which will thus exactly parallel the Greek καμόντες, κεκμηκότες (comp. Buttmann, Lexil. ii, 237 sq.). An attentive consideration seems to leave little room for doubt that the dead were called Rephaim (as Gesenius also hints) tfrom some notion of Sheol being the residence of the fallen spirits or buried giants. The passages which seem most strongly to prove this are Proverbs 21:16 (where obviously something more than mere physical death is meant, since that is the common lot of all), Isaiah 26:14; Isaiah 26:19, which are difficult to explain without some such supposition, Isaiah 14:9, where the word עִתּוּדַים (Sept. οἱ ἄρξαντες τῆς γῆς ), if taken in its literal meaning of goats, may mean evil spirits represented in that form (comp. Leviticus 17:7), and especially Job 26:5-6. "Behold the gyantes (A.V. "dead things") grown under the waters" (Douay version), where there seems to be clear allusion to some subaqueous prison of rebellious spirits like that in which (according to the Hindui legend) Vishnu the water-god confines a race of giants (comp. πυλάρχος, as a title of Neptune, Hesiod, Theog. 732; Nork, Brammin. und Rabb. p. 319 sq.). (See GIANT). Branches of this great unknown people were the following

1. EMIM (אֵימַים; Septt. Ο᾿μμίν, Ι᾿μμαῖοι ), smitten by Chedorlaomer at Shaveh Kiriathaim (Genesis 14:5), and occupying the country afterwards held by the Moabites (Deuteronomy 2:10), who gave them the name אֵימים, "terrors." The word rendered "tall" may perhaps be merely "haughty" (ἰσχύοντες ). (See EMIM).

2. ANAKIM (עֲנָקַים ). The imbecile terror of the spies exaggerated their proportions into something superhuman (Numbers 13:28; Numbers 13:33), and their name became proverbial (Deuteronomy 2:10; Deuteronomy 9:2). (See ANAKIM).

3. ZUZIM (זוּזַים ), whose principal town was Ham (Genesis 14:5), and who lived between the Arnon and the Jabbok, being a northern tribe of Rephaim. The Ammonites who defeated them called them Zamzunzim, זִמְזֻמַּים (Deuteronomy 2:20 sq., which is, however, probably an early gloss). See Jour. Sac. Lit. Oct. 1851, p. 151 sq.; Jan. 1852, p. 363 sq.; April, 1852, p. 55 sq.; July, 1852, p. 302 sq.; Oct. 1852, p. 87 sq.; Jan. 1853, p. 279 sq. (See ZUZIM).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Rephaim'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/r/rephaim.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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