Trevor & Julie Peterson 06peterson at
Wed Dec 18 22:18:30 EST 2002

Fred wrote:

> I just wonder if anybody could help me out with some insight on the
> "rephaim". Are we to think of them as "giants" (as in LXX), as "the weak
> ones", "the shades" or the "departed spirits"? Are there any clues to get
> from the study of the Hebrew language, or is the word totally out there in
> the mist? What would you say is the best translation of the word?

The form seems to have something to do with healing, but it's unclear how
that helps. I don't need to suggest that you look at biblical usage.
Otherwise, you should probably peruse the primary and secondary literature
regarding the Ugaritic rapi'uma, starting with KTU 1.20-22. HALOT cites
various studies that should get you going. Speaking of HALOT, it divides the
references to inhabitants of Canaan from references to otherworldly beings
as two separate entries, while pointing out possible connections between the
sense of the two. The idea suggested is that the power of the spirit beings
is recalled in the size of these more substantial giants.

Hopefully that's of some help.

Trevor Peterson

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