The Website for Book Lovers

Legands of the Jews > Volume 3 >

Prev | Next | Contents


The war with Sihon took place in the month of Elul. In the following month of Tishri they rested on account of the holy days, but immediately after these they set out to battle against Og. [682] This king did not hasten to his brother's aid, although he was only one day's distance from him, for he felt sure Sihon could conquer Israel without his assistance. [683] He erred in this, however, as in some other matters. In the war of the four kings against the five, it was Og who had brought to Abraham news of his nephew Lot's bondage, assuming that Abraham would surely hasten to his kinsman's aid, be killed in battle, and thus enable Og to get possession of the beautiful Sarah. God, however, leaves no man unrewarded or unpunished. To reward him for hastening with quick steps to advise Abraham of Lot's captivity, God granted him life for five hundred years, but he was eventually killed because it was only a wicked motive that had induced him to perform this service for Abraham. He did not, as he had hoped, gain Sarah, but was slain by her descendant Moses. [684]

The battle against Og took place in Edrei, the outskirts of which Israel reached toward nightfall. On the following morning, however, barely at gray dawn, Moses arose and prepared to attack the city, but looking toward the city wall, he cried in amazement, "Behold, in the night they have built up a new wall about the city!" Moses did not see clearly in the misty morning, for there was no wall, but only the giant Og who sat upon the wall with his feet touching the ground below. [685] Considering Og's enormous stature, Moses' mistake was pardonable, for as a grave-digger of later times related, Og's thigh-bone alone measured more than three parasangs. "Once," so records Abba Saul, "I hunted a stag which fled into the thigh bone of a dead man. I pursued it and ran along three parasangs of the thigh-bone, yet had not reached its end." This thigh-bone, as was later established, was Og's. [686]

This giant never in all his days made use of a wooden chair or bed, as these would have broken down beneath his weight, but sat upon iron chairs and lay upon iron beds. He was not only of gigantic build and strength, but of a breadth also that was completely out of proportion even with his height, for his breadth was one half his height, whereas the normal proportion of breadth to height is as one to three. [687] In his youth Og had been a slave to Abraham, who had received him as a gift from Nimrod, for Og is none other than Eliezer, Abraham's steward. One day, when Abraham rebuked him and shouted at him, Eliezer was so frightened that one of his teeth fell out, and Abraham fashioned out of it a bed in which he always slept. Og daily devoured a thousand oxen or an equal number of other animals, and drank correspondingly, requiring daily not less than a thousand measures of liquids. [688] He remained in Abraham's service until Isaac's marriage, when Abraham gave him his freedom as a reward for having undertaken the labor of wooing Rebekah for his son, and of fetching her to his house. God also rewarded him in this world, that this wicked wight might not lay claim to a reward in the world to come. He therefore made a king of him. [689] During his reign he founded sixty cities, that he surrounded with high walls, the lowest of which was not less than sixty miles in height. [690]

Moses now feared to wage war against Og, not only on account of his giant strength and huge size, which Moses had now witnessed with his own eyes, but he also thought: "I am only one hundred and twenty years old, whereas he is more than five hundred. Surely he could never have attained so great an age, had he not performed meritorious deeds." [691] Moses also remembered that Og was the only giant that had escaped the hand of Amraphel, and he perceived in this a token of God's special favor toward Og. [692] Moses feared, moreover, that Israel in the recent war against Sihon might have committed sins, so that God would not now stand by them. "The pious are always afraid of the consequences of sin, and therefore do not rely upon the assurances God had made to them;" hence Moses now feared to advance upon Og even though God had promised him aid against his enemies. [693] God, however, said to him: "What is thy hand, [694] his destruction has been decreed since the moment when he looked with evil eyes upon Jacob and his family when they arrived in Egypt." For even then God had said to him: "O thou wicked knave, why dost thou look upon them with all evil eye? Verily, thine eye shall burst, for thou shalt fall into their hands." [695]

Og met his death in the following fashion. When he discovered that Israel's camp was three parasangs in circumference, he said: "I shall now tear up a mountain of three parasangs, and cast it upon Israel's camp, and crush them." He did as he had planned, pulled up a mountain of three parasangs, laid it upon his head, and came marching in the direction of the Israelite camp, to hurl it upon them. But what did God do? He caused ants to perforate the mountain, so that is slipped from Og's head down upon his neck, and when he attempted to shake it off, he teeth pushed out and extended to left and right, and did not let the mountain pass, so that he now stood there with the mountain, unable to throw it from him. When Moses saw this, he took an axe twelve cubits long, leaped ten cubits into the air, and dealt a blow to Og's ankle, which caused the giant's death. [696]

This was the end of the last of the giants, who was not only last in time, but also in significance, for despite his height and strength, he was the most insignificant of the giants who perished in the flood. [697]

With Og's death all his lands fell to the lot of the Israelites without another sword's stroke, for God has so ordained it that al of Og's warriors were with him at his encounter with Israel, and after Israel had conquered these, only women and children remained in all the land. Had Israel been obliged to advance upon every city individually, they would never have finished, on account of the number of the cities and the strength of the hosts of the Amorites. [698]

Not alone Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, were such giants and heroes, but all the Amorites. When Hadrian conquered Jerusalem, he boasted of his victory, whereupon Rabba Johanan, the son of Zakkai, said to hi: "Boast not of thy victory over Jerusalem, for, had not God conquered it for thee, thou shouldst never have gained it." He thereupon led Hadrian to a cave where he showed him the corpses of the Amorites, each of which was eighteen cubits, and said: "When we were worthy of victory, these fell into our hands, but now, on account of our sins, dost thou rule over us." [699]

The victory over Sihon and his hosts was as great as that over Pharaoh and his hosts, and so was the victory over Og and his hosts. Each of these victories was as important as that over the thirty-one kings that Joshua later captured, and it would well have behooved Israel to sing songs of praise to their Lord as after Pharaoh's destruction. David later made good this omission, for he intoned a song of praise in gratitude for the victory God had lent to Israel over Sihon and Og. [700]

Without direct assistance from God these victories would not have been possible, but He sent hornets upon them, and their destruction was irrevocable. Two hornets pursued ever Amorite; one bit one eye, the second the other eye, and the poison of these little creatures consumed those bitten by them. [701] These hornets remained on the east side of the Jordan, and did not pursue Israel's march to the regions west of the Jordan, nevertheless they wrought great havoc among the Canaanites of the region west of the Jordan. The hornets stood on the eastern bank of the Jordan, and spat their venom across to the opposite bank, so that the Canaanites that were hit became blind and were disarmed. [702]

When God promised Moses to send an angel to Israel, he declined the offer with the words: "If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence," whereupon God replied: "Thou complainest because I desire to send only an angel to assist thee to conquer the land. As truly as thou livest, I shall now send thee not even an angel, but a hornet to destroy the enemies of Israel. It is, however, for thy sake alone that I deliver the enemy into Israel's hands, and not as if Israel deserved it through their own good deeds." [703]

Og's bed, fashioned out of ivory, that measured nine arms' length, taking the giant's arm as a standard, [704] Og had preserved in the Ammonite city Rabbah, for he knew that Israel would penetrate neither to the land of the Ammonites nor of the Moabites, because God had prohibited them from coming too close to Lot's descendants. [705] He likewise forbade them to wage war with the Edomites; in this way Esau, a son kind to his father Isaac, was rewarded by not having his descendants, the Edomites, molested by Israel. God said to Israel: "In this world ye shall have no sway over the mountain Seir, Edom's realm, but in the future world, when ye shall be released, then shall ye obtain possession of it. Until then, however, beware of the sons of Esau, even when they fear ye, much more so when ye shall dwell scattered among them." [706]

Prev | Next | Contents

The Heptameron: The Very Naughty Book By Margueritte de Navarre

Princess Belle Etoile
The Beautiful Illustrations of a Dark Fairy Tale

WW1 Poster
World War One Propaganda Posters

Charles Dickens Mistress
A Victorian Scandal: Charles Dickens and The Actress

Art of Albrecht Durer
The Art of Albrecht Durer