🔼The name Rizpah: Summary
- Pieced Together, Cooking Stone
- From the noun רצפה (rispa), either pavement or cooking stone, from the verb רצף (rasap), to piece together.
🔼The name Rizpah in the Bible
Rizpah is the daughter of Aiah and the unfortunate concubine of king Saul. Rizpah's two sons Armoni and Mephibosheth are hanged by the men of Gibeon, along with the five sons of Saul's daughter Merab (2 Samuel 21:8). Merab's response to this horrible event isn't recorded but Rizpah stays with the corpses of her sons and guards them for a whole season, and guards them day and night from being violated by animals.
Rizpah is also briefly mentioned in the events leading up to the assassination of general Abner, where Saul's son Ish-bosheth accuses Abner of having had intercourse with her. Abner neither denies nor confirms but gets angry about Ish-bosheth's insolent inquiry. Saul had already died when this was supposed to have happened (2 Samuel 3:7).
🔼Etymology of the name Rizpah
The name Rizpah comes from the word group רצף (rasap):
The verb רצף (rasap) means to fit or piece together. Nouns רצפה (rispa) and מרצפת (marsepet) both mean pavement. Noun רצפה (rispa) appears to denote a cooking stone or glowing coal and may derive from a different verb.
The name Rizpah is identical to either of the two nouns רצפה, but for undisclosed reasons, scholars assume that Rizpah was named after a cooking stone and not after a pavement. The word רצפה meaning cooking stone or coal is used in the famous scene in which Isaiah sees the Seraphim and kisses the coal (Isaiah 6:6). The other occurrence of this word is when Elijah the Tishbite suffers his breakdown and is awoken by an angel who has his breakfast sizzling on a hot stone (1 Kings 19:6). After that Elijah has his famous theophany at Horeb (19:9-14).
For a meaning of the name Rizpah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Glowing Coal. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has A Baking Stone.
It may not be immediately clear what the original name-giver meant to say with this name, but perhaps she was hot as a stove, or else meticulously pieced together. Note that Rizpah's story emphasizes the integrity of her sons' bodies, which, we may assume, were pieced together as marvelously as David's was woven (Psalm 139:13).