The second death of the Rephaim: Job 13.4 not really a reference to Rephaim after all

The Rephaim are ancient hero-kings who are able to be summoned from the land of the dead, especially by offering them copious amounts of alcohol. But, alas, these curious persons are only mentioned in a few verses. Seeking to increase the number of biblical references to Rephaim, Christopher Hays recently argued that the Rephaim also appeared in Job 13.4.

The verse forms part of Job’s speech to his three friends, and comes at a point where Job criticises their poor attempts to account for God’s horrific treatment of himself:

ואולם אתם טפלישקר רפאי אלל כלכם

This is usually translated along these line: “But you are smearers of lies, worthless physicians all of you.”

Hays contends that רפאי is not the construct form of רֹפְאִים (doctors, physicians, healers), but of רְפאִים (Rephaim). That is, רפאי in Job 13.4 should not be understood as an attributive (epexegetical) genitive (“physicians of [worthlessness]”) but as a genitive of association: rephaim[-gods], or “false oracles”.

Alas, the addition of another reference to Rephaim has been short-lived in biblical scholarship. A short but comprehensive refutation of Hays’ argument has now been made by Françoise Mies. Both articles are quite short to read:

Christopher Hays, “What Sort of Friends? A New Proposal Regarding “ropei(m)” and “tpli(m)” in Job 13,4.” Biblica 90 (2009): 394-399.

Françoise Mies, “‘Que sont mes amis devenus?’ Note sur Job 13:4.” Vetus Testamentum 61 (2011): 104.

Stevie Rae and Rephaim by Neon Stitches
Stevie Rae and Rephaim by Neon Stitches