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Meaning and etymology of the name Rephaim

Rephaim Rephaim

The Rephaim are a tall and numerous people, related to the enigmatic Nephilim, Anakim, Emim and Zuzim (Genesis 14:5). It is said that king Og of Bashan was the last of the Rephaim (Deuteronomy 3:11). There is also mention of a Valley of The Rephaim (Joshua 15:8, 1 Chronicles 14:9, Isaiah 17:5).

The name Rephaim is curious to say the least. It most likely has something to do with the verb rapa (rapa), sink down, let drop, be slack. This verb is very common in Scriptures and is used for a wide variety of movement generally in a downward direction or as the result of depleting strength or courage or other motivation. It may mean to drop, to abandon, or refrain. Its object may be wings, hands, people, causes, the setting sun or grass that goes down in flames. It is highly significant that in Biblical necrology the word for dead people or departed spirits is derived from this same verb, namely Rephaim (repaim), see Psalm 88:10, Proverbs 2:18, 9:18 and 21:16, Isaiah 14:9, 26:14 and 26:19.

This latter word is identical to the name Rephaim. Scholars insist that the name Rephaim should be regarded as a different word than Rephaim (repaim), but we may wonder if the original audience of the Hebrew Bible was aware of that, or even cared about it. The name Nephilim, which seems to be either a synonym or else something close to one, comes from a verb that means to fall.

And while we're opposing scholarly convention, let's also point out the verb rapa (rapa), meaning to heal. Often this verb is used in the Bible to connote forgiveness and spiritual healing. See Isaiah 53:5, for instance.

The Rephaim are the Faded Ones but also the Remedies.



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