Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
( ῾Ρεμφάν v. r. ῾Ρεφάν ) is named in Acts 7:43 as an idol worshipped by the Israelites in the desert, in a passage quoted by Stephen from Amos 5:26, where the Sept. has ῾Ραιφάν (v. r. ῾Ρομφᾶ ), for the Heb. כַּיּוּן, Chiun.
You have taken up the tabernacle of Molek and the star of your god Rephan, the idols you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Babylon. __ Acts 7:43 (NIV)
You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god—which you made for yourselves. –Amos 5:26 (NIV)Or lifted up Sakkuth your king / and Kaiwan your idols, / your star-gods; Septuagint lifted up the shrine of Molek / and the star of your god Rephan, / their idols
Much difficulty has been occasioned by this corresponding occurrence of two names so wholly different in sound. The most reasonable opinion seemed to be that Chiun
was a Hebrew or Shemitic name, and Remphan an Egyptian equivalent substituted by the Sept. The former, rendered Saturn in the Syriac, was compared with the Arabic and Persian Kaywan, “the planet Saturn,” and, according to Kircher, the latter was found in Coptic with the same signification; but perhaps he had no authority for this, excepting the supposed meaning of the Hebrew Chiun.
They, indeed, occur as such in the Coptic-Arabic Lexicon of Kircher (Ling. Egypt. Restit. p. 49; Edip. Egypti, 1, 386); but Jablonski has long since shown that this and other names of planets in these lexicons are of Greek origin, and drawn from the Coptic versions of Amos and the Acts (Jablonski, Remphan Egyptior., in Opusc. ii, 1 sq.). Egyptology has, moreover, shown that this is not the true explanation. Among the foreign divinities worshipped in Egypt, two, the god Renpu, perhaps pronounced Rempu, and the goddess Ken, occur together. [Thus], it will be desirable to speak, on the evidence of monuments, of the foreign gods worshipped in Egypt, particularly Renpu and Ken.
Besides those divinities represented on the monuments of Egypt which have Egyptian forms or names, or both, others have foreign forms or names, or both. Of the latter, some appear to have been introduced at a very remote age. The foreign divinities that seem to be of later introduction are not found throughout the religious records, but only in single tablets, or are otherwise rarely mentioned, and two out of their four names are immediately recognised to be non- Egyptian. They are Renpu, the goddesses Ken, Anta, and Astarta. The first and second of these have foreign forms; the third and fourth have Egyptian forms: there would therefore seem to be an especially foreign character about the former two.
(1.) Renpu, pronounced Rempu (?), is represented as an Asiatic, with the full beard and apparently the general type of face given on the monuments to most nations east of Egypt, and to the Rebu or Libyans. This type is evidently that of the Shemites. His hair is bound with a fillet, which is ornamented in front with the head of an antelope.
(2.) Ken is represented perfectly naked, holding in both hands corn, and standing upon a lion. In the last particular the figure of a goddess at Maltheiyyeh, in Assyria, may be compared (Layard, Nineveh, ii, 212). From this occurrence of a similar representation, from her being naked and carrying corn, and from her being worshipped with Khem, we may suppose that Ken corresponded to the Syrian goddess, at least when the latter had the character of Venus. She is also called Ketesh, which is the name in hieroglyphics of the great Hittite town on the Orontes. This in the present case is probably a title, קְדֵשָׁה it can scarcely be the name of a town where she was worshipped, applied to her as personifying it.
(3.) Anata appears to be Anaitis. and her foreign character seems almost certain from her being jointly worshipped with Renpu and Ken.
(4.) Astarte is of course the Ash-toreth of Canaan. On a tablet in the British Museum the principal subject is a group representing Ken, having Khem on one side and Renpu on the other; beneath is an adoration of Anata. On the half of another tablet Ken and Khem occur, and a dedication to Renpu and Ketesh.
Their names occur as early as the period of the 18th and 19th dynasties, and it is therefore not improbable that they were introduced by the Shepherds. Astarte is mentioned in a tablet of Amenoph II, opposite Memphis, which leads to the conjecture that she was the foreign Venus there worshipped, in the quarter of the Phoenicians of Tyre, according to Herodotus (2, 112). It is observable that the Shepherds worshipped Sutekh, corresponding to Seth, and also called Bar (that is, Baal), and that under king Apepi he was the sole god of the foreigners. Sutekh was probably a foreign god, and was certainly identified with Baal. The idea that the Shepherds introduced the foreign gods is therefore partly confirmed.
As to Renpu and Ken we can only offer a conjecture. They occur together, and Ken is a form. of the Syrian goddess, andi also bears some relation to the Egyptian god of productiveness, Khem. Their similarity to Baal and Ashtoreth seems strong, and perhaps it is not unreasonable to suppose that they were the divinities of some tribe from the east, not of Phoenicians or Canaanites, settled in Egypt during the Shepherd period. The goddess Ken would suggest such worship as that of the Bibylonian Mylitta, but the thoroughly Shemitic appearance of Renpu is rather in favor of a [Mesopotamian] source.
The mention of Chiun or Remphan as worshipped in the desert shows that idolatry was, in part at least, that of foreigners, and no doubt of those settled in [Upper] Egypt. The golden calf, at first sight, would appear to be an image of Apis of Memphis, or Mnevis of Heliopolis, or some other sacred bull of Egypt; but it must be remembered that we read in the Apocrypha of “the heifer Baal” (Tobit 1:5), so that it was possibly a Phoenician or Canaanitish idol. The best parallel to this idolatry is that of the Phoenician colonies in Europe, as seen in the idols discovered in tombs at Camirus in Rhodes by M. Salzmann. and those found in tombs in the island of Sardinia (both of which there are specimens in the British Museum).
We can now endeavor to explain the passages in which Chiun and Remphan occur. The Masoretic text of Amos 5:26 reads thus: “But ye bare the tent [or “tabernacle”] of your king and Chiun your images, the star of your gods [or “your god”], which ye made for yourselves.”
In the Sept. we find remarkable differences; it reads, Kai Καὶ ἀνελάβετε τὴν σκηνὴν τοῦ Μολόχ, καὶ τὸ ἄστρον τοῦ θεοῦ ὑμῶν ῾Ραιφάν, τοὺς τύπους αὐτῶν οὕς ἐποιήσατε ἑαυτοῖς . The Vulg. agrees with the Masoretic text in the order of the clauses, though omitting Chiun or Remphan. “Et portastis tabernaculum Moloch vestro, et imaginem idolorum vestrorum, sidus dei vestri, quae fecistis vobis.” The passage is cited in the Acts almost in the words of the Sept.: “Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them” (Καὶ ἀνελάβετε τὴν σκηνὴν τοῦ Μολόχ, καὶ τὸ ἄστρον τοῦ θεοῦ ὑμῶν ῾Ρεμφάν, τοὺς τύπους ο Þ ς ἐποιήσατε προσκυνεῖν αὐτοῖς ).
A slight change in the Hebrew would enable us to read Moloch (Malcam or Milcom) instead of “your king.” Beyond this it is extremely difficult to explain the differences. The substitution of Remphan for Chiun cannot be accounted for by verbal criticism. The Hebrew does not seem as distinct in meaning as the Sept.; and if we may conjecturally emend it from the latter, the last clause would be “your images which ye made for yourselves;” and if we further transpose Chiun to the place of “your god Remphan,” in the Sept., את סכות מלכם would correspond to את כוכב אלהיכם כיון ; but how can we account for such a transposition as would thus be supposed, which, be it remembered, is less likely in the Hebrew than in a translation of a difficult passage?
If we compare the Masoretic text and the supposed original, we perceive that in the former כיון צלמיכם corresponds in position to כוכב אלהיכם, and it does not seem an unwarrantable conjecture that כיון having been by mistake written in the place of כוכב by some copyist, צלמיכם was also transposed. It appears to be more reasonable to read “images which ye made”‘ than “gods which ye made,” as the former word occurs.. Supposing these emendations to be probable, we may now examine the meaning of the passage. The tent or tabernacle of Moloch is supposed by Gesenius (Thesaur. s.v. סַכּוּת ) to have been an actual tent, and he compares the σκηνὴ ἱερά of the Carthaginians (Diod. Sic. 20:65).
But there is some difficulty in the idea that the Israelites carried about so large an object for the purpose of idolatry, and it seems more likely that it was a small model of a larger tent or shrine. The reading Moloch appears preferable to “your king;” but the mention of the idol of the Ammonites as worshipped in the desert stands quite alone. It is perhaps worthy of note that there is reason for supposing that Moloch was a name of the planet Saturn, and that this planet was evidently supposed by the ancient translators to be intended by Chiun and Remphan. The correspondence of Remphan or Raiphan to Chiun is extremely remarkable, and can, we think, only be accounted for by the supposition that the Sept. translator or translators of the prophet had Egyptian knowledge, and being thus acquainted with the ancient joint worship of Ken and Renpu, substituted the latter for the former, as they may have been unwilling to repeat the name of a foreign Venus.
The star of Remphan, if indeed the passage is to be read so as to connect these words, would be especially appropriate if Remphan were a planetary god; but the evidence for this, especially as partly founded upon an Arabic or Persian word like Chiun, is not sufficiently strong to enable us to lay any stress upon the agreement.
In hieroglyphics the sign for a star is one of the two composing the word Seb, “to adore,” and is undoubtedly there used in a symbolical as well as. a phonetic sense, indicating that the ancient Egyptian religion was partly derived from a system of star-worship (Ancient Egyptians, pl. 30 a). We have, however, no positive indication of any figure of a star being used as an idolatrous object of worship.
From the manner in which it is mentioned, we may conjecture that the star of Remphan was of the same character as the tabernacle of Moloch, an object connected with false worship rather than an image of a false god. According to the Sept. reading of the last clause, it might be thought that these objects were actually images of Moloch and Remphan; but it must be remembered that we cannot suppose an image to have had the form of a tent, and that the version of the passage in the Acts, as well as the Masoretic text; if in the latter case we may change the order of the words, gives a clear sense.
As to the meaning of the last clause, it need only be remarked that it does not oblige us to infer that the Israelites made the images of the false gods, though they may have done so, as in the case of the golden calf; it may mean no more than that they adopted these gods. It is to be observed that the whole passage does not indicate that distinct Egyptian idolatry was practiced by the Israelites.
We may reasonably infer that while the Israelites sojourned in Egypt there was also a great stranger- population in the Lower Country, and therefore that it is probable that then the Shepherds still occupied the land.
See Schroder, De Tabernac. Alolochi et Stella Dei Remph. (Marb. 1745); Maius, Dissert. de Kium et Remphan (1763); Journ. Sac. Lit. Oct. 1852, p. 1039; Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 669, 670. (See CHIUN).
Source: https://www.studylight .org/encyclopedias/mse/r/remphan.html
REPHAN re’ făn (LXX ̔Ραιφὰν; NT ̔Ρομφά, G4854, plus numerous variants, meaning uncertain). KJV REMPHAN, rĕm’ fen (Acts 7:43).
The name of an astral deity associated with the planet Saturn, quoted in Acts 7:43 from the LXX tr. of Amos 5:26. Here the MT has kiyyûn. This is equal to the Akkad. kaiwanu, meaning “Saturn.” The Heb. has substituted the vowels of siqqus, “detested thing,” for the vowels of the Akkad. word to reflect the detestability of the pagan god. How the LXX came to have the unexpected ̔Ραιφὰν is uncertain. It may be the result of a mistaken transliteration or a form of Repa, an Egyp. name for the god of the planet Saturn, substituted by the Alexandrian trs. for the less intelligible kiyyûn. (Biblicaltraining .org/library/rephan)