The Parsha Discussion: Devarim — Do You Believe in Giants?

Posted by Alex Israel on July 17, 2018
Topics: The Parsha Discussion, Devarim, Devarim (Deuteronomy)

Have you ever heard of Og the Giant? Here is one tale from the Talmud in Berakhot 54a:

What is the story of Og King of Bashan and the stone he wanted to throw at Israel?
Og said: How large is the camp of Israel? -Three parasangs (Persian unit of distance).
Og said: I will uproot a mountain the size of three parasangs and throw it upon them and kill them. He went and uprooted a mountain … and carried it on his head.
But the Holy One, blessed be God, sent ants which bore a hole in it.
It fell around his neck.
He tried to pull it off his head, he pulled with his teeth to the right and left, but could not tear it off. This is what Scripture means, “You break the teeth of the wicked” (Ps. 3:8).
As Resh Lakish explained, quoting Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish: What does “you break (shibbarta) the teeth of the wicked” mean? Do not read it as shibarta, rather as shirbavta, “you entangled”.
How tall was Moses? Ten cubits. He grabbed hold of a spear ten cubits long, leaped ten cubits, struck Og in the ankle and killed him.”

I love this story. It seems the stuff of children’s cartoons, it almost has a slapstick quality to it. One can almost picture the giant, whose ankle is 30 cubits (15 meters) off the ground, uprooting a mountain and then getting outsmarted by God with a mountain which gets stuck around his head and lodged in his teeth!

Click here to read more from Rabbi Alex Israel in this week’s Parsha Discussion on Devarim — Do You Believe in Giants?

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About Alex Israel

Alex teaches Bible at Pardes and is the Director of the Community Education Program and the Summer Program. Alex was born and raised in London. He holds degrees from London School of Economics, the Institute of Education London and Bar-Ilan University. Alex studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion under Rav Aharon Lichtenstein and Rav Yehudah Amital, and gained Rabbinic ordination from the Israeli Rabbinate. Click here to read more. You can find books written by Alex by clicking here

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