How does the Encyclopaedia Judaica define Rephaim?


The Jewish Virtual Library, employing the Encyclopaedia Judaica as a source, provides us with a good example of how very slowly and carefully one must go when seeking to discern issue related to giants.

For some related info, see my books (on which I am offering a money saving deal:
What Does the Bible Say About Angels – A Styled Angelology
What Does the Bible Say About Demons – A Styled Demonology

The Jewish Virtual Library, employing the Encyclopaedia Judaica as a source, provides us with a good example of how very slowly and carefully one must go when seeking to discern issue related to giants.

For some related info, see my books (on which I am offering a money saving deal:
What Does the Bible Say About Angels – A Styled Angelology
What Does the Bible Say About Demons – A Styled Demonology
The Paranormal in Early Jewish and Christian Commentaries: Over a Millennia’s Worth of Comments on Angels, Cherubim, Seraphim, Satan, the Devil, Demons, the Serpent and the Dragon


The primary issue, as I have noted 1,001 times, is that the term giant is a generic term that only means taller than average. I have also noted that Hebrew males of biblical times averaged 5.5 ft. (which means that females averaged less). Thus, a stand-alone reference to giants is a reference to nothing.

In this case, the following was written regarding Rephaim:
“…a people distinguished by their enormous stature. Especially singled out are Og king of Bashan (Deut. 3:11) and the powerful adversaries of David’s heroes (II Sam. 21:16, 18, 20)…The Bible’s emphasis on the size and might of the Rephaim is responsible for the Septuagint’s renderings gigantes and titanes as well as for gabbārē of the Peshitta and gibbarāyyā of the Targums. The Genesis Apocryphon (21:28) on the other hand prefers the noncommital rephāʾayyā.”

Now, when I read something like this, my reaction is that it is virtually meaningless and that which follows is my thought process as to why that is the case.

So, taking it slowly and carefully:
1. “enormous stature” is a generic term: enormous to whom, to males who averaged 5.5 ft.?

2. I am unsure how it can be that Og is “singled out” when, well here goes the slowly and carefully part, despite the implication, Deuteronomy 3:11 does not tell us anything about his personal height (no does the Bible as a whole anywhere). It tells us the size of his bed and many extrapolate his personal height from this.
Now, that may very well make for an accurate account of his personal height. However, if you measured the height of my bed, you could subtract a foot from it and get a pretty accurate conclusion about my personal height. But, if you did the same with my bed’s width and did the same, you would conclude that I am about five times wider than I actually am.
My only point is that there may have been various reasons for him having a very large bed and we must consider them—even if they are arguments from silence (as is the claim that the size of his bed must reflect his personal height.
Perhaps he lived the lifestyles of the rich and infamous, or he shared his bed with his harem, or he his newborn infant slept on his bed—even experience how much room an infant takes up on a bed! Well, I am jesting about the last one but I think my point is made: we can only claim that we can assume how tall Og was but we are never told how tall he was.

3. “adversaries of David’s heroes” keep in mind that the citation is supposed to tell us that these adversaries are of “enormous stature.” Yet, II Sam. 21:16, 18, 20 states:
“And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David…And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant…And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant.”
I suppose that we are supposed to pour preconceived meanings into the term “giant” yet, note that no specific heights are provided and the term giant is rapha’ and so this is a case of attempting to use a term to define the same term. We are told that the Rephaim were of enormous stature because a text about Rephaim tells us noting about stature: enormous or otherwise.
Yet, this did refer to Goliath and we know that he was—how tall exactly? Well, there is a discrepancy about his height between Greek and Hebrew manuscripts so that he was just shy of 7 ft. or just shy of 10 ft. And being 6 ft. even myself, I can tell you have someone who is just shy of 7 ft. is certainly an enormous giant to someone who is 5.5 ft.: especially when they are a fearsome warrior.
Lastly, it is from v. 20 that many people claim that giants had six fingers and six toes and so anyone alive today with six fingers or toes has Nephilim or Rephaim genetics. However, the Bible knows of no such thing as that giants had six fingers and six toes but only notes that one single such person did.

4. So when the statement make a claim to “The Bible’s emphasis on the size” the fact is that there is hardly an “emphasis” at all but the emphasis is more about “might.”

5. Septuagint/LXX: gigantes and titanes, Peshitta: gabbārē, Targums: gibbarāyyā, and Genesis Apocryphon: rephāʾayyā. Basically, Septuagint/LXX has giants and titans, Peshitta and Targums have gibbowr, and Genesis Apocryphon: repha.
And so, keeping in mind that this is about Rephaim, Septuagint/LXX has giants and titans which is interesting in that gigantes literally means earth-born and is a term that is used of Titans in Greek mythology. However, let us not be myopic and think: Titans were of enormous stature so therefore, Rephaim were of enormous stature because there are more reasons why this term is used. Note that the term gigantes is also used of Nephilim in Genesis 6 and the issue is the same: the question of why?
It will seem fairly reasonable to conclude that the translators of the Septuagint/LXX were playing upon Greek culture and employing the term as to make a point, a correlation. But again: why?
Perhaps it was that Nephilim and Rephaim were of enormous stature but there is also another aspect which is that the Titans were hybrids and they were also tyrannical. Thus, the correlation could be due to height, being hybrids or being tyrannical: or any combination of any one, two or all three of these. The fact is that we do not have much on which to go in terms of deciding one, two or three (except that the Nephilim were hybrids but the Rephaim were not). In other words, it is just as easy and commonsensical to conclude that Nephilim and Rephaim were being referred to as such as both were legendary or mythical and/or even infamously tyrannical as were the Titans.
Peshitta and Targums have gibbowr which is also a term used of Nephilim, and of regular humans and of God since it merely means might/mighty. Thus, this would go to the point I just made about the reasons for the correlation to Titans. For some odd reason, many think that “The Gibborim” are a people group, a clan, a tribe but such is not at all the case.

The Genesis Apocryphon does well by keeping repha (aka rapha) as repha.

The Encyclopaedia also refers to the “second use Rephaim designates ‘shades’ or ‘spirits’” but, at least at this point, my interest was the first usage so I will leave it at that and hope this served as a lesson in how to double check sources that are even scholarly. This is because, frankly, my conclusion is that the statement I reviewed is essentially not in the least bit helpful and yet, many people involved in pop-research of Nephilim and giants will take such statements, run with them, claim to be citing scholarly sources and end up inventing tall tales of their own.


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