🔼The name Beth-rapha: Summary
- House Of Healing
- From (1) the noun בית (beth), house, and (2) probably the verb רפה (rapa), to heal.
🔼The name Beth-rapha in the Bible
The name Beth-rapha occurs only once in the Bible. It's possibly the name of a son of Eshton, son of Mehir of Judah, but more probably a village in the territory of Judah of which Eshton was the "father," which means either the founder or the chief at the time of writing (1 Chronicles 4:11).
🔼Etymology of the name Beth-rapha
The name Beth-rapha consists of two elements. The first part is identical to the common Hebrew word בית (bayit) meaning house:
The noun בית (bayit) means house. It sometimes merely denotes a domestic building, but mostly it denotes the realm of authority of the house-father, or אב (ab). This ab is commonly the living alpha male of a household, but may very well be a founding ancestor (as in the familiar term the "house of Israel"). The אב (ab) may also be a deity, in which case the בית (bayit) is that which we know as a temple.
In the larger economy, a house interacts with other houses. These interactions are governed by the אב (ab), or "father" and executed by the בנים (benim), or "sons": those people living in the house, irrespective of any biological relation with the אב (ab). The "sons" combined add up to אם ('em), which means both "mother" and "tribe".
The second part of our name comes from the following word cluster:
The verb רפא (rapa') means to heal or rather to restore or even repair. Noun רפאה (repu'a) describes a remedy, and nouns רפאות (rip'ut), מרפא (marpe') and מרפה (marpe) mean a healing or a restoration.
The verb רפה (rapa) means to lower, sink down, let drop or be slack, whether literally or figuratively. Since healing often had to do with bringing a fever down, this verb and the previous are obviously akin. Adjective רפה (rapeh) means slack or weak.
The difficult noun רפאים (repai'm) refers to the "sunken ones," i.e. ghosts or shadows of people that are no longer alive. This is probably best understood as the waning legacy of foregone generations that still influence and shape our world today, even though the members of that generation are dead, inert and decomposing in the ground.
For a meaning of the name Beth-rapha, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads a daring but rather unjustifiable House Of A Giant. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) says he goes with the verb רפא (rapa'), but connects that verb with the meaning of רפה (rapa) and reads House Of The Feeble. BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret Beth-rapha and lists it under "beth," without suggesting which of the two verbs the second part of the name might come from.
It appears that the second part of the name Beth-rapha is most similar to the verb רפא (rapa'), meaning to heal or make healthy, and a Hebrew audience would probably think that Beth-rapha means House Of Healing. Perhaps Eshton was a proto-physician or herbal wizard of sorts.