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?
In Yemen, Iran Is Preparing for Its Next War with Israel
In the past few weeks, Houthi rebels backed by Iran have escalated their attacks on Saudi and Emirati positions in Yemen. On September 4, they also launched multiple ballistic-missile and drone attacks on several Aramco facilities within Saudi Arabia. The U.S. removed some of its anti-missile batteries from Saudi Arabia a week later, rendering the kingdom even more vulnerable. The Houthis—who mark every missile and drone launch by chanting their slogan, “God is great, death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam!”—are part of the network of militias and proxy groups Tehran dubs the “axis of resistance,” which also operate in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip. Michael Segall writes: