The Many Lives of Og, the Giant King of Bashan

Also on the subject of military powers not prepared for attack, the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy mention Og, ruler of the kingdom of Bashan—roughly equivalent to the modern Golan Heights—whom the Israelites, led by Moses, defeat in battle. Og is described as being an enormous man, and as “the last of the Rephaites,” who seem to be a race of giants. While the Hebrew Bible spends only a handful of verses on Og, rabbinic literature constructed an array of tales about him, linking him—or even identifying him—with a number of other characters. Stuart Halpern takes a look at these stories:

Og clung to the side of Noah’s ark during the flood, the Talmud tells us. Though God was raining down boiling water, the side of the boat miraculously cooled, allowing Og to eventually emerge unscathed on dry land. The midrashic collection Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer, in an alternate rendering, has Og sitting down on a piece of wood under the gutter of the ark, fed by Noah’s family after pledging them his undying loyalty. The medieval sage Rashi records yet another survival scene: Og ran to Israel, the land of God’s protection, which was divinely spared from the flood.

Fast forward a few chapters in Genesis, and Abraham replaces Noah as the Bible’s main character. Wouldn’t you know it, Og pops up again in a supporting role. Eliezer, a servant of Abraham mentioned in the text, in the rabbis’ creative retelling, had a secret identity. He was actually Og.

To the rabbis, Og’s many manifestations were more than an amusing series of “What ifs.” They were an extended testament to the belief that while the Jewish people would be faced throughout their history with towering forces seeking their destruction, God would ultimately provide their salvation.

Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: Hebrew Bible, Midrash

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security