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One of the most popular Psalms, number 135, praises God for killing mighty kings. It then lists Sichon, King of Amorites, and Og, King of Bashan. According to the Midrash, Sichon and Og were more than just belligerent kings, they were powerful giants. Little is said about Sichon other than that “Sichon and Og were the sons of Ahijah, the son of Shamhazai”(Niddah 61a). Og, however, is the subject of a great many legends.

According to tradition, Og survived the great flood by holding on to the Ark. Noah agreed to transport and feed him in return for the promise of Og’s service afterwards (Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 23). Later, it is said, Og was the one who came to tell Abraham of Lot’s captivity (Genesis 11:13)–his motive, however, according to the Midrash, was not noble. He hoped that Abraham would be killed in war so that he might marry Sarah.

Midrash Rabbah Genesis 53:10 notes that the “great feast” that Abraham held in honor of Isaac’s weaning was actually “a feast for great people, Og and all the great men of the time were there….[Og said] ‘is he [Isaac] not puny? I can crush him by putting my finger on him.’ Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him: ‘What do you mean by disparaging My gift! By your life, you will yet see countless thousands and myriads of his descendants, and your own fate will be to fall into their hands.’”

When the Israelite’s had to fight Og and his army (Numbers 21), Moses needed reassurance from God, which is explained thus in the Talmud:

He [Og] said: “How large is the camp of Israel? Three parsangs…” He went and uprooted a mountain of the size of three parsangs and carried it on his head [to throw onto the camp]. But the Holy One, blessed be He, sent ants that bored a hole in it, so that it sank around his neck….[Moses] then took an axe ten cubits long, leaped ten cubits into the air, and struck him on his ankle and killed him (Berachoht 54b).

Copyright © 2011 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

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