Although only mentioned by name twice in the Bible, Orpah is an important person to us for her life and actions teach us important truths.  Let’s read Ruth 1:1-4, “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.”

The book of Ruth begins by telling us of a famine in Bethlehemjudah.  Elimelech and his wife, Ruth (along with their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion) leave Bethlehem (which means ‘house of bread’) to live in the country of Moab, a heathen country. Elimelech died there and Ruth’s sons took women of Moab as their wives.  Mahlon married Orpah.  Chilion married Ruth.  Soon, Mahlon and Chilion died.  Naomi heard that the famine in Bethlehemjudah was over and decided to return to her home.

As Naomi began her journey home, Orpah and Ruth followed her.  Naomi tried to dissuade them by saying, “Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?” (Verse 11).  We then read in verse 14, “And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.”

Notice the difference between Orpah and Ruth.  Orpah KISSED Naomi, but Ruth CLAVED unto Ruth.  Orpah had some degree of affection for her mother-in-law, but Ruth absolutely refused to leave her.  Both of these women had said they would return with Naomi in verse 10, “And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people”, yet only Ruth persisted and did what she said she would do.  Often, when there is a profession of faith, there will be a test to determine the reality of the profession.  Sadly, it appears that Orpah’s profession was not real.

This is the last time we read of Orpah in the Bible.  There is no link in the Bible to say that she was the great-grandmother of Goliath.  However, there is the Rabbinical Aggadah which state that the real name of Orpah was ‘Harafu’ and that she did find a new husband.  In those days there were still giants living in Moab and Orpah became the wife of one of these giants. She bore him four sons. Their names were Ishbibenob, Saph, Lahmi and Goliath.  This is purportedly the same Goliath that was defeated by David.

David was Ruth’s great-grandson.  Ruth 4:13-17 tells us, “So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.”

The Rabbinical Aggadah is defined as: the nonlegal or narrative material, as parables, maxims, or anecdotes, in the Talmud and other rabbinical literature, serving either to illustrate the meaning or purpose of the law, custom, or Biblical passage being discussed.

I see no harm in accepting that Orpah might have been Goliath’s great-grandmother, but we should take the Word of God to be our authority, not the works of others.  (343.2)  (DO)