Friday, August 01, 2014

How tall was Og?

Og, the giant, gets a mention in this week's sedra, which gives me a good opportunity to discuss what the Rabbis said about him and his fantastic height.

Here's the verse:
King Og of Bashan was the last of the Rephaites. His ERES was made of iron and was 9 amot long and 4 amot wide according to the ammah of a man .

**What's an Eres?**
Chizkun: A tower or a fort
Rashbam: A crib
Ramban and Rambam: A bed

**What does the Eres tell us about Og's height?**
Nothing (if you say it was a fort)
He was huge (if you say it was a crib)
He was big (if you say it was a bed)

**How big was this Eres?**
Rashi, TPJ, Ramban: We don't really know because the verse says it was 9 x 4 according to Og's own Amah. (ie 9 of his cubits x 4 of his cubits)
Ibn Ezra and Rambam: We don't measure according to his own Amah; we measure according to an ordinary porson's amah
DovBear: So this would mean the Eres was about 12 feet by 5 feet (using the biblical amah of about 17 inches)

**Does this mean Og was 12 feet tall?**
Not necessarily:
Rambam: A person is always smaller than his bed. Its not an exact fit. So if the bed was 9 amot long, Og himself was around 6 amot tall.
DovBear: using the biblical amah that means he was about 8.5 feet tall, but there is room to say he was even shorter because the amah is about 1/4 your height and the average Israelite was about 5 feet tall which gives an amah of 15 inches meaning Og was 7.5 feet tall which is huge, but perfectly possible.

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