Orpah (Hebrew: ערפה, ʻOrpāh; "Name means::gazelle) was a Moabitess and the wife of Chilion, the son of Elimelech. (Ruth 1:4 )
Orpah is definitely a descendant of Moab. Beyond this, the Bible says nothing of her ancestry or her descendancy. The rabbinical literature states that she was the sister of Ruth, a princess of the royal house of Moab, and a daughter or other descendant of King Eglon of Moab, whom Judge Ehud assassinated in 2662 AM. Certain works identify Orpah as the mother of four Philistine giants who fought against King David. (cf. 2_Samuel 21:22 ) At least one tradition states that she was the mother of Goliath. This last identification is extremely unlikely, because Moab was situated to the east of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, while Philistia occupied the modern Gaza Strip.
Orpah married Chilion in 2682 AM but had no children by him. In 2692 AM, he and his brother Mahlon died. Her mother-in-law Naomi had decided to return to her own country. At first, Orpah was willing to follow. But Naomi reminded her that she could not hope to have any sons to replace the husbands whom Orpah and Ruth (wife of Mahlon) had lost, and even were she to bear any more, the two sisters-in-law would have to wait a long time for those sons to come of age. Orpah decided to return to her mother's house.
The Bible says no more about her. Modern commentators are divided as to whether she acted properly or improperly. At least one commentator points out that Orpah faced a difficult choice: to return home and remain an outcast for having married a foreign visitor, or go to the land of Israel and convert to a religion that places many strictures on personal conduct. But many other commentators see in Orpah and Ruth a picture of two persons who hear the message of God and respond differently. One chooses to follow the world, and the other chooses to follow God—a more difficult road that leads to a greater reward.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Lauterbach JZ, et al., "Orpah," The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906. Accessed January 21, 2009.
- ↑ Levin M, "The Fall of the House of Orpah," Torah.org, 2005. Accessed January 21, 2009.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Heller Z, "The Book of Ruth: An Exploration of Jewish Femininity," Torah.org, 2000. Accessed January 20, 2009.
- ↑ "Orpah," Women in the Bible, n.d. Accessed January 21, 2009.