Orpah

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Orpah (right) leaving Ruth and Naomi. Engraving by Hendrik Goltzius, 1576.

Orpah (Hebrew: עָרְפָּה‎) is a woman mentioned in the Book of Ruth in the Hebrew Bible. She was from Moab and was the daughter-in-law of Naomi and wife of Chilion.[1] After the death of her husband, Orpah and her sister-in-law Ruth wished to go to Judea with Naomi. However, Naomi persuaded Orpah to return to her people and to her gods (Ruth i. 4 et seq.).

In rabbinic literature, Orpah is identified with Harafa, the mother of the four Philistine giants, one of whom being Goliath. These four sons were said to have been given her for the four tears which she shed at parting with her mother-in-law (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 42b). Her other name Harafa is cognate of the word for threshing; that she allowed herself to be 'threshed' by many men as one would thresh wheat (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 42b).

According to a legend in a midrash, Orpah was a sister of Ruth, and both were daughters of the Moabite King Eglon (Ruth R. ii. 9). Her name was changed to "Orpah" because she turned her back (from Hebrew: עורף‎, literally nape) on her mother-in-law (ib.; comp. Talmud Sotah l.c.).

The Sanhedrin tractate in the Talmud states that she was killed by King David's general Abishai, the son of Zeruiah.[2]

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