OG


OG (Heb. עֹג ,עוֹג), ruler of *Bashan, one of the Amorite kings in the Transjordan area during the time of Moses. The Bible remembers Og as belonging to the race of giants "who was left of the remaining Rephaim," and special attention is paid to the description of his huge iron bedstead (Deut. 3:11). The kingdom of Og comprised Bashan and the Hermon region, and extended to the Jordan river to the west (Josh. 12:4–5). Three or four of the cities of his kingdom are mentioned in the Bible – *Ashtaroth, which was apparently his capital and known as the capital of the realm (Tell el-Amarna letters, no. 197, possibly also Karnaim, cf. Gen. 14:5); Salcah (Josh. 12:5; 13:11, et al.); and *Edrei (Num. 21:33; Josh. 13:12, 31). From this it would appear that his kingdom was one of the remaining *Hyksos kingdoms whose cities at that time were scattered in Palestine. It is also possible that this kingdom was established by Amorites who invaded the area in the time of the Egyptian-Hittite struggle during the reign of Ramses II (13th century). Og was defeated by the Israelites when the eastern side of the Jordan was conquered by those who left Egypt (Num. 21:33, 35; Deut. 3:1ff.). Half of the tribe of Manasseh took Og's land as their inheritance (Josh. 13:31). This victory greatly strengthened the spirit of the people. "Sixty towns … fortified with high walls, gates, and bars" were then conquered (Deut. 3:4–5). Echoes of this victory, which was of exceptional importance, are also encountered in later passages (Josh. 13:12; Ps. 135:11; 136:20; Neh. 9:22).

[Josef Segal]

Og and Sihon in the Aggadah

Sihon and Og were the sons of Ahijah, whose father was the fallen angel Shamḥazai (Nid. 61a), and of Ham's wife (Yal. Reub. on Gen. 7:7). Og was born before the Flood and was saved from it by Noah on the promise that he and his descendants would serve Noah as slaves in perpetuity (PdRE 23). Sihon and Og were giants, their foot alone measuring 18 cubits (Deut. R. 1:25). Og is identified with Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, who received him as a gift from Nimrod. So that he could not claim reward in the world to come for his services to his master, God paid him in this world by making him a king (Sof. 21:9; ed. M. Higger (1937) 366 and PdRE 16). During his reign he founded 60 cities, which he surrounded with high walls, the lowest of which was not less than 60 miles in height (Sol. ibid.). When Og, who was present at the feast Abraham made on the occasion of Isaac's weaning, was teased by all the great men assembled there for having called Abraham a sterile mule, he pointed contemptuously at Isaac, saying, "I can crush him by putting my finger on him," whereupon God said to him, "Thou makest mock of the gift given to Abraham – by thy life thou shalt look upon myriads of his descendants, and thy fate shall be to fall into their hands" (Gen. R. 53:10). Sihon, appointed by the other kings as guardian of Ereẓ Israel, extracted tribute from them (Num. R. 19:29). Sihon and Og were even greater enemies of Israel than was Pharaoh (Mid. Ps. 136:11). When Moses was about to attack them, God assured him that he had nothing to fear, for He had put their guardian angels in chains (ibid. and Deut. R. 1:22). Though Moses was undaunted by Sihon, he did fear Og because he had been circumcised by Abraham (Zohar, Num. 184a) and because of the possibility that the latter's merit might stand him in good stead for having been the "one who escaped and told Abraham" (Gen. 11:13; Nid. 61a). Moses' fears were unfounded, however, in that Og's real motive had been to bring about the death of Abraham so that he could marry Sarah (Deut. R. 1:25).

Sihon was left to his own resources by Og, who was confident of his brother's ability to conquer Israel unaided (Song R. 4:8). Og himself met his death when a mountain three parasangs long, which he had uprooted to cast upon the camp of Israel, was invaded by ants dispatched by God as he carried it upon his head toward his destination. The perforated mountain slipped from Og's head to his neck, whereupon Moses struck him upon the ankle with an ax and killed him (Ber. 54a–b). Though the victory over Sihon and Og was as important as the crossing of the Red Sea, Israel did not sing a song of praise to God upon it as they had upon Pharaoh's destruction, the omission not being made good until the time of David (Mid. Ps. 136:11).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Aharoni, Land, 191; Noth. Hist Isr, 159–60; idem, in: BBLA, 1 (1949), 1ff.; Bergman (Biran), in: JPOS, 16 (1936), 224–54; Y. Kaufmann, Sefer Yehoshu'a (1959), 166. IN THE AGGADAH: Ginzberg, Legends, index.


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.