🔼The name Riphath: Summary
- Fruit, Grain, Crushers
- From the noun ריפה (ripa), some sort of beaten and dried grain or fruit.
- From the verb רפא (rapa), to heal.
🔼The name Riphath in the Bible
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Riphath
The origin and meaning of the name Riphath is unclear, but it's possibly related to the unused root ריף (ryp):
Noun ריפה (ripa) is used only twice but it appears to describe a kind of grain or fruit that was spread out, possibly to dry, and then beaten.
The word ריפה and the name ריפת are really quite similar, since in times before the final version of the Bible was written, a final ה was often spelled as ת. Hence many names that end with a ת can be traced back to words that are spelled the same as the name but with the more modern ה instead of the ת. But since we don't know how to translate the word ריפה, we also don't know what to do with the name ריפת. Our best guess: The name Riphath means Tutti-Frutti.
But perhaps (and this is a long shot) the word ריפה denoted a kind of fruit which was thought to have healing powers, and the root ריף (ryp) is related to the root רוף (rup) and ultimately רפא (rapa), meaning to heal:
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.
To add to the confusion, in 1 Chronicles 1:6 this descendant of Gomer is called דיפת, Diphath — the letters d (ד) and r (ר) look much alike. Maybe this discrepancy is due to a scribal error, and maybe the man simply had two names.
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names refers to a root that doesn't exist. Jones erroneously points at Job 26:11, where the verb רפף (rapap), meaning to shake or tremble is used. And so Jones reads Crusher, but again, this is dubious. NOBSE Study Bible Name List and BDB Theological Dictionary don't even try to translate this name.
Whatever Riphath may have been supposed to mean, the intent is lost for good. But to a Hebrew audience, the name Riphath may have sounded like Healers.