Og’s bed (engraving circa 1770 by Johann Balthasar Probst)

According to several books of the Old Testament, Og ("gigantic"; Hebrew: עוג‎, cog ˈʕoːɡ; Arabic: عوج‎, cogh [ʕoːɣ]) was an ancient Amorite king of Bashan who, along with his army, was slain by Moses and his men at the battle of Edrei (probably modern day Daraa, Syria). The internal chronology of the Deuteronomistic History and the Torah would suggest Og's overthrow and the conquest of Canaan by Israel around c. 1500 to 1200 BC.

Og, the giant of the Amorites, is equally considered a folk legend, around whom gathered many Jewish legends: according to some traditions he lived to be 3,000 years old and clung to Noah's ark during the Deluge.[1] In Islamic lore he is referred to as ‘Uj ibn Anaq (‘Ûj ibn ‘Anâq عوج بن عنق), evidently one of the giants mentioned in the Qur'an (jababirat or jabbirun).

Og is mentioned in Jewish folklore as being alive from the time of Noah up until the time of his death in battle with the Jews. It is also written in the Midrash[2] that he had a special compartment in Noah's Ark just for him. Aggadah suggests an alternative to this; that he sat upon the top of the ark, riding out the flood for the duration of the storm from this location.


An Amorite king

Og is first mentioned in the Book of Numbers, specifically the 21st and 32nd chapters. He was an Amorite, not unlike his neighbor Sihon of Heshbon, whom Moses had previously conquered at the battle of Jahaz. He ruled a very considerable and fertile land, which extended from the fork of the Yarmuk river to the undefined basaltic lands of Hauran to the east. Bashan, which contained some "sixty walled cities" with great bars and gates and many unwalled towns, had capitols at Ashtaroth and Edrei in the region of Argob. Being an Amorite, he likely embraced the customs and clothing of his people. Perhaps he stylized the full beard, shaved upper lip, and colorfully woven tunics so customary for many Amorite Kings who resided at the ancient center of Mari[original research?]. His capital at Ashtaroth was also a worship centre to the fertility goddess, and this city is probably modern Tell Ashareh, where there still exists a 70-foot mound.

Battle with Israel

According to the Bible, the Israelites invaded Bashan and conquered it from the Amorites. Dt 3:1: "Next we turned and went up along the road toward Bashan, and Og king of Bashan with his whole army marched out to meet us in battle at Edrei." Dt 3:2: "The LORD said to me, "Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you with his whole army and his land. Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon." Dt 3:3: "So the LORD our God also gave into our hands Og king of Bashan and all his army. We struck them down, leaving no survivors." Dt 3:4: "At that time we took all his cities. There was not one of the sixty cities that we did not take from them—the whole region of Argob, Og's kingdom in Bashan." Dt 3:5:"All these cities were fortified with high walls and with gates and bars, and there were also a great many unwalled villages." Dt 3:6: "We completely destroyed [a] them, as we had done with Sihon king of Heshbon, destroying [b] every city—men, women and children." Dt 3:7: "But all the livestock and the plunder from their cities we carried off for ourselves."

The land of Bashan was famous for its prized cattle and oak groves. Lions also once roamed the area in ancient times. Og's kingdom was given to the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh (Num. 21:32-35; Deut. 3:1-13). Og's destruction is chanted in ballads of praise and song in (Ps. 135:11; 136:20) as one of many great victories for the nation of Israel. In the book of Amos 2:9 there seems to be a symbolic reference to Og as "The Amorite" whose height was like the height of the cedars and whose strength was like the oaks.

A remnant of the Rephaim

Rujm el-Hiri dating from the third Millennium BC in the Golan Heights is probably the source of the legends about "a remnant of the giants" for Og.[3]

In Deut. 3:11 and later in the book of Numbers and Joshua, Og is pronounced as the last of the Rephaim. Rephaim is a Hebrew word for giants. Deut. 3:11 declares that his "bedstead" (translated in some texts as "sarcophagus") of iron is "nine cubits in length and four cubits in width" (13.5 ft x 6 ft) according to the standard cubit of a man. It goes on to say that at the royal city of Rabbah of the Ammonites, his giant bedstead could still be seen as a novelty in those days (The era in which the narrative was written). If the giant king's bedstead was built in proportion to his size as most beds are, he may have been 13 feet in height. However, Rabbinic tradition has it, that the length of his bedstead was measured with the cubits of Og himself. The Talmud further documents that Og was so large that he sought the destruction of the Israelites by uprooting a mountain so large, that it would have crushed the entire Israelite encampment. Moses, fulfilling the LORD's injunction not to fear him, seized a spear of ten cubits length, and jumped a similar vertical distance, succeeding in stabbing Og in the ankle. The LORD then caused Og's teeth to lengthen until they grew into the mountain he held aloft; millions of ants then swarmed into his mouth, killing him.[4] It is noteworthy that the region north of the river Jabbok, or Bashan, "the land of Rephaim", contains hundreds of megalithic stone tombs (dolmen) dating from the 5th to 3rd millennia BC. In 1918, Gustav Dalman discovered in the neighborhood of Amman Jordan (Amman is built on the ancient city of Rabbah of Ammon) a noteworthy dolmen which matched the approximate dimensions of Og's bed as described in the Bible. Such ancient rock burials are seldom seen west of the Jordan river, and the only other concentration of these megaliths is to be found in the hills of Judah in the vicinity of Hebron, where the giant sons of Anak were said to have lived (Numbers 13:33)[citation needed].

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.

The book enjoyed considerable currency for several centuries, especially due to having been taken up by the Manichaean religion.The term og in this modern world means to be a famous member of a group of people [gangs] who appears to lead a different life from the society.


In "Pantagruel", Rabelais lists Hurtaly (a version of Og) as one of Pantagruel's ancestors. He describes Hurtaly as sitting astride the Ark, saving it from shipwreck by guiding it with his feet as the grateful Noah and his family feed him through the chimney.


  • Kosman, Admiel: "The Story of a Giant Story - The Winding Way of Og King of Bashan in the Jewish Aggadic Tradition", in: HUCA 73, (2002) pp. 157–190.

See also


  1. ^ Jastrow, M, McCurdy, J. F., Jastrow, M, Ginzberg, L & McDonald, DB (1901-19-06). "Jewish Encyclopedia: Ark of Noah". JewishEncyclopedia.com. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1780&letter=A. Retrieved 2007-10-24. 
  2. ^ Talmud Bavli Zabahim 113b; Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer (Heigar) “Chorev” Ch. 23 ד"ה וזה אשר תעשה; Yalkut Shimoni, Torah, Parashas Noach, Remez 55 ד"ה זכר ונקבה יהיו; Yalkut Shimoni, Torah, Parashas Noach, Remez 56 ד"ה ד"א ויהי לשבעת; Yalkut Shimoni, Job, Remez 926 ד"ה +לט+ התקשר רים. These sources were found using Bar Ilan CD.
  3. ^ From Og's Circle to the Wise Observatory, Yuval Ne'eman, Tel Aviv University
  4. ^ Talmud Bavli: Berachot 54b

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