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Rhoda meaning


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🔼The name Rhoda: Summary

From the noun ροδη (rhode), rose-bush.

🔼The name Rhoda in the Bible

Rhoda was a servant girl who worked for Mary the mother of John Mark. She famously refrained from opening the door for the calling Peter, after the angel of the Lord had freed him from prison (Acts 12:13). When she ran in to say that Peter's at the door, the others snarled at her and said she was mad. It may be that Rhoda was under orders not to open the door for anyone because the believers were afraid for persecution.

Greek mythology explained that the similarly named island of Rhodes had come about from a union of Helios, the sun god, and a nymph named Ροδος (Rhodos) which is the same as the name of the island, or Ροδη (Rhode), which is the same as our name Ροδα (Rhoda) of the servant girl. This suggests that Rhoda personifies something of the legacy of Rhodes, as it helped Peter find safety (and see our article on Pyrrhus for a quick look at the relation between "history" and the Bible).

🔼Rhoda and Rhodopis, Cindy and Cinderella

The origin of the modern Cinderella story is traced to that of Rhodopis — means Red-Eyed or Rosy-Eyed; the "-opis" part comes from ωψ (ops), eye (hence also the familiar Cyclops, or Round-Eye; also see οφις, ophis, snake), and -ις (-is), the feminine adjective suffix. The comparable term γλαυκωπις (glaukopis), or Bright-Eyed was a Homeric epithet of Athena — first written down by Strabo around the year zero but possibly based on materials that had existed since deep antiquity. Author Luke's naming of the slave girl by the fire as Rhoda may very well be translated as Cinda or Cindy, and anyone up to snuff with the latest literary hits (Strabo's version), or older legends or even the classic Song of Solomon, would have recognized Luke's pun — because, no, the Book of Acts is not a compendium of anecdotes that "really happened" but rather a deeply complex and utterly brilliant commentary on the world at the time (or any time, actually), and the evolution of the wisdom tradition within it (see our articles on Malta, Agrippa, Aeneas; for a wider context, see Onesimus, Zacharias, YHWH).

The ultimate source of the story of Cinderella is the Bible, also because the ultimate source of pretty much all western archetypes is the Bible. She is the poor peasant girl who endears the king — told most clearly in the Song of Solomon (and reversed in the story of Joseph taking over the solar cult at On or Heliopolis, the Hebrew take on the Greek story of the less successful Icarus). As the embodiment of everything sweet, she is Naamah: any sort of artistic expression, the proverbial "sister" of all domestication, government and technology. She is Damascus or Aram. She is Esther of Persia. She is Venus the Morning Star, of whom Isaiah cried, "How you have fallen from heaven, O Star of the Morning" (Isaiah 14:12). She is Artemis. She is Hellen of Troy. And she is the Phoenix, the eagle-like bird who rises from the ashes of her demise — the Phoenicians had once been instrumental in the construction of Solomon's Temple but had fallen from grace by the time of the exile (Ezekiel 28:12), only to resurrect as the Syrophoenician mother and her demonized daughter in Roman times (Mark 7:26), an obvious commentary on once glorious Tyre and its unfortunate colony of Carthage.

The shoe — a glass slipper in the version told by the Brothers Grimm and a sandal everywhere else — derives from the Levirate Law, first demonstrated in the closely comparable case of Boaz and Ruth: "Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning the redemption and the exchange of land to confirm any matter: a man removed his sandal and gave it to another" (Ruth 4:7). This is how John the Baptist came to declare that he was unworthy to unstrap Jesus' sandal (Luke 3:16), implying that Jesus was the true kingly husband of the queenly society, and John had no claim to any of that — Jesus and John relate like light and water, which when working together not only bring about Homer's famous rose-fingered dawn but also the rainbow, the sign of the covenant (Genesis 9:12-13), hence also Joseph's varicolored tunic (Genesis 37:3); see our article on the verb נהר (nahar), meaning both to shine (what a star does) and to flow (what a river does).

In the song of Solomon, Cinderella is the Shulammite, blackened by the sun and hated by her brothers (Song of Solomon 1:6). By the time of the Brothers Grimm, Cinderella is blackened by soot and hated by her two step-sisters. As everybody in the 19th century still understood, these are Ecclesia and Synagoga. Cinderela has always been Enlightenment.

Cinderella's signature sandal makes its entry in the Song of Solomon, in which the King exclaims: "How beautiful are your feet in sandals!" (Song of Solomon 7:1). This observation returns, of course, in Isaiah's famous statement: "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation..." (Isaiah 52:7, Romans 10:15), which Paul incorporates in his version of Isaiah's godly armor: "having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace" (Ephesians 6:15; see Isaiah 11:5 and 59:17).

The most blatantly exegetical Cinderella sandal, however, is offered by Ezekiel, who has the male protagonist say to the female one: "I also clothed you with embroidered cloth and put sandals of thahash skin on your feet" (16:10). We don't exactly know what kind of an animal the thahash was, but this word occurs more than a dozen times in the Bible, this once to describe Cinderela's sandals and all the other times to describe the outer layer of the tabernacle (see our article on Thahash).

From the tabernacle, the original Tent of Meeting, naturally grew Solomon's Temple, then Zerubbabel's Second Temple, and finally the Body of Christ: "Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make τριβος (tribos), smooth, in the desert a highway for our God" (Isaiah 40:3).

🔼Etymology of the name Rhoda

The name Rhoda is identical to the common Greek noun ροδη (rhode), meaning rose-tree or rose-bush. The word for a single rose is ροδον (rhodon), from whence comes our word rhododendron, literally meaning rose-tree, and the name of the color red. It may be that for the Greeks the name Ροδος (Rhodes, the island) sounded like Rose Place (although the name actually may come from the Phoenician word for snake, says the Encyclopedia Britannica; but see our article on Rhodes for a look at that).

Some related words are ροδιτης (rhodites), meaning rose-flavored; ροδοκροος (rhodokroos), meaning rose-colored; and the delightfully imaginative word ροδοκολπος (rodokolpos), meaning rosy-bosomed.

🔼Rhoda meaning

The name Rosa means Rose-Bush or Rose-Tree. In our article on the name Rhodes we consider that this name may reflect the many centers of "wisdom" for which the island was famous (and see 1 Corinthians 1:20-21 for why Luke would depict Rhoda as a mere slave girl, who doesn't know wisdom if it came banging on the door).