In tomorrow’s Torah reading of Dvarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22), Moses recounts the Israelites’ defeat of Og, king of Bashan, previously described in the book of Numbers. Here the text notes that “only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of the r’fa’im”—a turn understood by the King James Version and by most rabbinic commentators to mean “giants.” According to this interpretation, Og was part of a race of antediluvian giants who once lived in the southern Levant, and Bashan a kingdom in what is now northwestern Jordan or the Golan Heights. A number of modern scholars, however, have noted that a word nearly identical to r’fa’im means “shades” or “ghosts” in ancient languages closely related to Hebrew, and have gathered other evidence to support the contention that Og was the ruler of a mythical land of the dead.
Was Og, King of Bashan, a Giant or a Ghost?
Iran’s Attack on an Israeli Ship Is a Diplomatic Opportunity
Today Prime Minister Netanyahu confirmed that the explosions that blew two holes in an Israeli-owned cargo ship on Friday were the work of Iran. The incident was followed by airstrikes on military targets in the vicinity of Damascus, likely carried out by the IDF—which might have been retaliation, but might also have been routine attempts to curtail the Iranian military buildup in Syria. But irrespective of its military response, Yoav Limor urges Jerusalem to act diplomatically as well: