Stories of the Nephilim and Rephaim
King Og. The Patriarchs. Gilgal Rephaim.
The above map was created to help you better understand the lay of the land for the lost history of the tribes of the Nephilim. This is a continuation of the story of the Nephilim from Mesopotamia, their homeland. In some Bibles and in some of the books of the apocrypha the Nephilim are described as giants. In the Book of Enoch they are of a monstrous size. So far there have been no bones found. Stories and newspaper articles cite examples but when investigated the evidence is nowhere to be seen. There are those who have spent much time and effort to locate the skeletons of giants but have come up empty handed; a lot of stories with no proof. So it is not as if no one has looked for them. They have not been found because they simply do not exist. Archaeologists have been digging around dolmens in many different places in different countries for the past one hundred years and yet they have not found any ancient bones that would suggest there were giants. They have found normal sized bones but none from true giants.
The Bible names these Nephilim tribes, with the Rephaim being the most notable, as the Anakin, Avim, Emim, Gibborim, Horim, Zamzummim and the Zuzim (and others). They had a king Og of Bashan , a Rephaim, who according to folklore slept on a huge bed which had a frame of iron. It was about fourteen feet long and six feet wide. (See Deuteronomy 3:11) This bed supposedly made its way to Rabbah a walled Ammonite city to the south. So we know that at least this part of the legend is from the Iron Age. This fits in very well with archaeological dating of the dolmens which are scattered over a large area on this map and continuing south. The Iron Age in the Levant begins at about 1,200 - 1,000 BC. This is about the time of King David who slew Goliath - a Nephilim and the time of the extermination of this race of people. After David there is no mention of the Nephilim in the Holy Land. They are referred to as shades and the dead. Og was the last of the Rephiam (but not Nephilim) according to the Bible. Today the Valley of the Rephiam is a part of Israel just south of Jerusalem by a few miles. It took some time to finally kill them off - around a thousand years. These stories would not begin to be written until after 900 BC. Moses is supposed to be the one who slew Og (Numbers 21:34-5) and died at the age of 120 years old around 1400-1300 BC which would predate the Levant Iron Age. This 1400 date is used based on Egyptian sources at the time of the Exodus. The 1300 date is closer to the Jewish date. The dates that refer to this ancient history are still opinions and interpretations. Even the date for the Exodus is uncertain. But some Egyptian dates are firm. It is attributed to Moses that he also made a bronze snake to protect the people from dying from snake bite. The Late Bronze Age in the Levant dates to about 1550-1200/1150 BC so Moses according to archaeological dating could have lived in the Bronze Age and perhaps the Iron Age as well given the question of exactly when these ages actually happened. So, lets say that at the time of the slaying of King Og Moses was alive. This would be in the Iron Age and predating Goliath from Gath. As with other events on this web site we are on a cusp of time. It could go either way. The dilemma is this: If we go by Egyptian dates then Moses is before the Iron Age and therefore could not have slain King Og. Or this legend was written in the Iron Age which includes an earlier story of Moses and Og and that the iron bed was added to the story hundreds of years after events. Or archaeological dating is off and Moses and Og did fight and that Og did have an iron bed. For sake of argument lets say the last assumption is correct in that Moses and Og lived in the Iron Age. This leads us to Gilgal Rephaim.
The earliest date for Gilgal Rephaim is around 3,000 BC based on the radiocarbon dating of potsherds, lichenometric tests and the astronomical alignment of the summer solstice. One other date is 4,000 BC but how that date was arrived was not noted. At about 1,000 BC the central carin was constructed and is considered to be a dolmen albeit a very large one. So it appears that Gilgal Rephaim was built over a span of about 2,000 years. Perhaps a better term is repurposed. Gilgal Rephaim was built first as an astronomical observatory and cultic center and then only later was an elaborate cairn built at its center. No bones found which is probably due to earlier looting. Since this structure was an agricultural calendar it would not have been accurate 2,000 years later (concerning alignments of certain constellations and stars such as Sirius) and that may have allowed the building the cairn at its center. This tomb has been associated by some with the king of the Rephaim - King Og. I think this is entirely possible even probable. Built at such an early date it is around two thousand years before the Iron Age. The later central carin is constructed during the Iron Age and built for a person of the greatest renown. It is a cosmic location that marked the solstices and equinoxes. The Biblical tale of the defeat of the Rephaim includes Moses, the greatest of the prophets, and Og the king of the "giants". A very powerful story in and of itself. Og is elevated by association of being defeated by Moses. He must have been powerful and well known to the writers of this story. (Actually, Moses is supposed to have written it.) King Og was the King of Bashan which includes the Golan Heights on which Gilgal Rephaim is built. It is the high ground on which many dolmens are also built. King Og is presumably from the Iron Age the time of the construction of the cairn. Therefore, King Og could have been buried within Gilgal Rephaim. I like to think so.
There are many myths about King Og. Some appear in Rabbinical literature, some in the Old Testament, some in Muslim literature and some in extrabiblical literature. In all cases Og is a giant of giants. The earliest mention of Og is in regards to Noah. Og is supposed to have survived the flood with Noah's help. And this story is because of the Nephilim conundrum: that the Nephilim survived the great flood when everyone else perished. It is because the Nephilim show up to fight the Hebrews (post flood) and second, to answer the verse "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that..." (Genesis 6:4). Its the "after that" that is the problem. Despite all the philosophical gymnastics it remaims the same. The Nephilim were there before the flood and the Nephilim were there after the flood. What is most unusual is that this myth incorporates Og the King of Bashan. Any Nephilim would suffice to explain away this problem but Og is specifically identified. An even more astounding myth within Rabbinical literature is that Og fled to Palestine where there was no flood (Rashi to Niddah). Imagine that.
Today some theologians point to a second "irruption" as the answer. The word irruption means an act of rushing, breaking in, intrusion, raiding or sudden increase.
Another myth about this king famous to the ancients is with Abraham. According to tradition Og was supposed to have informed Abraham of Lots abduction by King Chedorlaomer. Accordingly Og and Abraham were familiar with one another. Its not like Og suddenly shows up, Og and Abraham had some kind of implied relationship. Abraham was after all living among the Nephilim who happened to inhabit Canaan. Og in both of these stories has his own hidden agenda. After Noah's Ark finally rest on solid earth Og tries to seduce Sarah, Noah's wife. As for Abraham Og hopes that Abraham will be killed in his rescue attempt of Lot and thereby being able to marry Sarah, Abraham's wife. Once again we see the sexual underlying theme of the Nephilim. As a side note: Abraham was living in or very near Hebron which was built by the Nephilim Arba, father to Anak. Originally this city was named Kirjath-arba and later became Hebron. You can read about it in Numbers 13. Also according to Wikipedia there is one of the rare concentrations of dolmens within Israel in the hills of Judah in the vicinity of Hebron.
"According to Mohammedan tradition, Og was a son of Noah's sister, and survived his uncle 1,500 years, being killed by Moses".
This is interesting in that one of the myths of Noah and the Ark is that one of the women aboard was pregnant with a Nephilim child (that would be Ham's wife) and thus, of course, did the Nephilim appear after the flood. There seems to have been an obsession with the Nephilim not only with Noah and Abraham but in general. Not surprising considering who they really were for they really were the men of renown. All of these stories were written after the demise of the Nephilim and constitute part of giants in folklore.
There is a substory and it is of the birth of Noah whose father was Lamech son of Methuselah. Noah as a baby according to the apocryphal Book of Noah when he opened his eyes "the whole house glowed like the sun". Deeming that the supernatural was involved his father questioned his wife on her fidelity in that she had relations with an angel and therefore Noah would be considered a Nephilim the result of the mating of a human woman with an angelic man - a Watcher (derived from the Greek egregoris or grigori). She denies that this had happened which was true and confirmed by Enoch. Methuselah questioned his father Enoch on this subject. (He had to visit Heaven to do so.) Enoch confirmed that Noah was in fact Lamech's son and adding that it was in the time of Jared, his father, that the transgression of the rebel angels happened and that they descended from Heaven onto Mount Hermon which is adjacent to the northern tip of Golan which is in Bashan and can be seen from Og's capitol cities near Argob in Bashan's southeastern part.
One tradition has Og living up to 3,000 years and another is just 900 years. He must have been an outstanding warrior/leader/king to have accrued such a fantastic history. His supposedly long life allows him to interact with the greatest religious leaders across a very long span of time. This chronology of long life for both Og and the patriarchs makes it difficult for Biblical scholars to date these events accurately. Good thing we have the Egyptians.
In writing this page I wondered if Og was in the Ugarit texts from Phoenicia and he may be. Here is what I found under Og on Wikipedia:
Og in non-Biblical inscriptions
A reference to "Og" appears in a Phoenician inscription from Byblos (Byblos 13) published in 1974 by Wolfgang Rölling in "Eine new phoenizische Inschrift aus Byblos," (Neue Ephemeris für Semitische Epigraphik, vol 2, 1-15 and plate 1). It appears in a damaged 7-line funerary inscription that Rölling dates to around 500 BC, and appears to say that if someone disturbs the bones of the occupant, "the mighty Og will avenge me."
A possible connection can also be made with the much older Ugaritic text KTU 1.108, which uses the term "king" in association with the root /rp/ or "Rapah" (the Rephaim of the Bible) and geographic place names that probably correspond to the cities of Ashtaroth and Edrei in the Bible, and with which king Og is clearly associated (Deuteronomy 1:4; Joshua 9:10; 12:4; 13:12, 31).
"Ogias the Giant"
The 2nd century BC apocryphal book "Ogias the Giant" or "The Book of Giants" depicts the adventures of a giant named Ogias who fought a great dragon, and who was supposedly either identical with the Biblical Og or was Og's father.
There were legends of the Nephilim this far north. At Baalbek for instance it was to have been constructed by a Nephilim named Djenoun or perhaps this is the name of his tribe. In any case we have a Nephilim name associated with megalithic building which in folklore is not unusual.
For those of you who are really into the Nephilim you would be familiar with certain names associated with this area. First is Argob. Biblically speaking it is the volcanic plateau or tract that is located on the above map in the lower right corner. The cities of the giants is said to have resided there. The cities that Porter, Graham, Thomson, Burckhardt and others visited were on the very rim of this island of rock. There are also dolmens there as well (high ground). This raised volcanic table-like piece of land is also known as the Lejah and to the Greeks and Romans as Trachonitis. To the west of it is the Hauran and is where most of the agricultural work was done. It is very fertile due to its volcanic heritage and does not contain the basalt boulders and rock like the land nearer the plateau. It is in the Hauran that the capital city of Og known as Edrei and today as Dar'a was located. This Canaanite city (not my term) is considered as one of Syria's oldest cities. King Og reportedly had residence in two different cities, Ashteroth and Edrei. Ashteroth also known as Ashteroth-Karnaim is supposedly located about eight miles to the northwest which could be today known as Tell Ashareh. It is beyond the city of Muzayrib and to the north by about two miles.
"It is significant, however, that Eusechius and Jerome record the existence in their day in Batanea of two places called Astaroth-Karnaim, 'which lay 9 R. m. [Roman miles] apart, between Adara (Edrei) and Abila' of the Decapolis; one of them, 'the city of Og' (say) 6 R. m. from Edrei, the other 'a very large town of Arabia [in which] they show the house of Job'." (Encyclopædia Biblica: A Critical Dictionary of the Literary, Political and Religious History, the Archæology Geography and Natural History of the Bible edited by the Rev Thomas Kelly Cheyne and John Sutherland Black 1899)
But this is not certain as other scholars locate this city within the Golan Heights. This confusion lay in the name itself as in Ashtoreth, Ashtaroth and Ashtoroth. But from what I have read the weight of the argument rests with Ashteroth being eight miles to the northwest.
"Edrei was Og's great industrial and political capital, but Ashtaroth was his sacred and ecclesiastical capital,  and the sites and ruins accord with this view. Edrei stood on the cross-road and meeting-place of industry and commerce, and the ruins tell of large resources and great prosperity. Ashtaroth stood on a sacred mound, apart from the highways of secular life, and the scattered ruins and foundations on Tell Ashtarah are such as might be expected in connection with the worship of the local deity."
(An Account of Palmyra and Zenobia with Travels and Adventures in Bashan and the Desert by Dr. William Wright 1895)
Dr. Wright also mentions that he could see the tell from a high point at Edrei.
Heshbon, the royal city of King Sihon, today known as Chesban is located about sixteen miles east from the Jordan River and south of Edrei. There are Roman ruins on the site including a large reservoir with nearby a collection of dolmens and stone circles on a hill to the west. Those Romans were everywhere.
King Og is sometimes referred to as being an Amorite king with Sihon as the king of the Hesbon Amorites. But I do not think Og was an Amorite, he was a Rephiam. One reason for this allusion to being an Amorite may be from the verse of Genesis 14:13 as it reads: "And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram." This reference to "one that had escaped" is about the story of Noah and his helping Og escape the flood and "the plain of Mamre the Amorite" to explain his genealogy. But another tradition has Og escaping from the battle with Chedorlaomer at Ashteroth and informing Abram (Abraham) of what has happened to Lot which whether true or not makes more sense. Another reason may be by association. The Bible lists the five western Amorite kingdoms as Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon. To the east are two more kingdoms considered as Amorite and they are Hesbon and Bashan. So if Bashan is considered as Amorite so would Og. In Amos 2:9 we read: "Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath." So from this sentence this Amorite was a giant (most likely Og) and therefore linking the Amorites with the Nephilim. But Amorites lived in the lands to the east as well which would include Sumeria which is also mentioned by Amos. But these eastern Amorites are not considered as giants:
"Before and during the Ur III period, Amorites held royal commissions, appeared in military service to the crown, and were litigants in lawsuits. Amorites were interpreters, mayors, farmers, and weavers. Although some documents suggest that Amorites were rude, agricultural folk, others show them peacefully integrated within Mesopotamian society."
(Myths of The Archaic State: Evolution of the Earliest Cities, States and Civilizations by Norman Yoffee 2005)
No mention of giants, which is my point. The Amorites were not giants (Nephilim) they were Semites. And these particular Semites described in the above passage were most likely Arabian also known as the Southern Semites. The Amorites are considered as Semetic as are the Hebrews and Arabs. But I do not think that the Nephilim were Semetic, the Nephilim were a race unto themselves. What I think is clouding the issue is that the Nephilim were most likely political partners with the Amorites and since it seems that they more or less were cohabitants of the land were assumed as one and the same. I supposed Canaanite and Nephilim could be considered in the same light as the Nephilim are termed by some archaeologists as the "aboriginal giants of Canaan." And that would make them Canaanites. That would refer to them in a regional way rather than racial. The Biblical boundaries for the Land of Canaan is from Numbers 34: "The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Command the Israelites, and say to them: When you enter the land of Canaan (this is the land that shall fall to you for an inheritance, the land of Canaan, defined by its boundaries), your south sector shall extend from the wilderness of Zin along the side of Edom. Your southern boundary shall begin from the end of the Dead Sea on the east; your boundary shall turn south of the ascent of Akrabbim, and cross to Zin, and its outer limit shall be south of Kadesh-barnea; and then it shall go on to Hazar-addar, and cross to Azmon to the Wadi of Egypt, and its termination shall be at the sea."And it goes on for the other boundaries. Part of the eastern boundary is the Jordan River which the Israelites had to cross to enter the land of Canaan. In other words Bashan is not Canaan. That is not to say the Nephilim did not live in the land of Canaan which they most likely did but as far as Og is concerned he did not live in Canaan nor was he an Amorite or a giant despite scholarly and Biblical claims to the opposite. So as I see it there are basic linguistic problems with the stories of the Nephilim. One problem is a confusion of definitions with those definitions being for the Amorites, Canaanites and Nephilim.
And for Og this is what I think: Og was a true heroic figure from the Iron Age. He was not a giant (only in the minds of men) but could have been very strong and tall and he lived where legend says he lived in Edrei. Og had a second city named after the goddess Ashteroth a local version of Astarte a Syro-Canaanite goddess of love and war also know as "the queen of heaven". So he was a religious man of the times, pagan but religious. He engendered huge respect considering what has been said of him. He may arisen to that rarefied level of myth maker through his military prowess. For the myths of Og seem to have reached Ugarit of the Phoenicians and to the Aegean through the Greek retelling of this myth as Ogygos of Bocotia. There is also a tenuous linguistic link with the Egyptian Anukis of Thebes.
It is odd in the way Og has been written about though. To begin at the time of Moses, as a comparison, Og and his army are out to defeat Moses and perhaps kill all of them off. So in this regard he is a definite adversary - the powerful bone breaking giant we have come to love and admire. But the other stories are much more gentle with him. In the Noah myth he is helped by Noah to survive the flood. Apparently not the literary beast he was to become which is interesting seeing how the Nephilim are portrayed particularly in the Book of Enoch. Not only that but the Nephilim, these so-called ravenous beasts were the very cause for the flood in the supernatural explanation within the story of the Watchers. So, what was Noah thinking? Abraham converses with Og and there is no shown animosity between the two. In one myth Og is teased after the birth of Isaac about his prediction that Abraham would have no children. Not exactly what you would you say to a dangerous giant sitting next to you who thought otherwise. However, it does take a hero to slay a hero and thus does Moses (who was somewhere around 100 years old or more) to deliver that killing blow. So Og is curiously uncoupled from the legends of menacing giants and not only that he is put into very good company. Unbelievable it is but in his legend he knows Noah, Abraham and Moses three of the greatest Biblical heavyweights in prehistory. Two of the three are from Mesopotamia. So old King Og is of truly mythical and may I say awesome proportions.
So I hope my little personal history on King Og is of a help and that it clarifies why, given Og's fantastic life story, he is really the only candidate you can point to as being of such stature as to be buried at Gilgal Rephaim. This king had a reputation that today we can not begin to appreciate.