ORPAH (Heb. עָרְפָּה), Moabite woman. Elimelech and Naomi, driven by famine from Beth-Lehem in Judah, settled in Moab. After Elimelech's death, their two sons, Mahlon and *Chilion, married Orpah and *Ruth. After her two sons died, Naomi set out for home and tried to persuade her daughters-in-law to remain behind in Moab, their native land. Orpah obeyed, while Ruth insisted on accompanying her mother-in-law (Ruth 1:4–14).
[Nahum M. Sarna]
In the Aggadah
Orpah was a daughter of Eglon, king of Moab (Ruth R. 2:9). She was called Orpah because she turned her back (oref, "nape of the neck") on her mother-in-law (Ruth R. 2:9). She is identified with Harafu, the mother of four Philistinian giants of whom Goliath was one (II Sam. 21:18). They were vouchsafed to her because she shed four tears for Naomi, but all of them were slain by David (Sotah 42b). Goliath's punishment was delayed for 40 days (I Sam. 17:16), as a reward for Orpah's accompanying Naomi on the way for 40 paces (Ruth R. 2:20).
Orpah was killed by David's general, Abishai, when she attempted to prevent him from reaching her son Ishbibenob (Sanh. 95a).
Ginsberg, Legends, index; I. Ḥasida, Isheiha-Tanakh (1964), 353.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.