GIANT ENEMIES – D’varim – Deut. 1-3:22 – by Rabbi Baruch Cohon
Deuteronomy, the last book of the Torah, consists of Moses’ three farewell orations to his people. This week we will read the first one, reviewing Israel’s travels and trials en route to the east bank of the Jordan river. A major challenge faced them in the person of Og, the giant king of Bashan. Moses recalls the battle at a place called Edrei. He also recalls G-d telling him “Do not fear him, because I give him into your hands.”
Why should Moses fear Og more than the other kings who tried to block Israel’s progress? We learn that Og was a last descendant of a race of giants. Like Goliath in the career of David, this huge creature struck terror into his enemies wherever he went. No man dared fight him. So he became the champion by default. In Og’s case, we even have the dimensions of the bed he slept on – an iron bed, because as the Ramban’s commentary explains a wooden bed would break beneath his weight. Nine cubits long by four cubits wide, we read. Since a cubit is defined as the distance from a man’s elbow to the tip of his middle finger, that makes it equal to about 18 inches, a foot and a half. Therefore Og’s iron bed was at least 13’ 6” long by 6’ wide. Clearly this man dwarfed a whole modern basketball team.
And yet, not only did Moses not fear him. He defeated him and his army.
Terror – whether of physical size, numerical superiority or surprise attack – is in the mind of the object of that terror. The source of terror can be crushed.
Og was Osama. Og was Arafat. Og is Nasrallah. Og is Khamenei. And none of them ever needed a 13-foot bed.
You can contact Rabbi Baruch Cohon for further discussion and/or comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org