To Be a Giant
Updated: Aug 3, 2022
Og, Melech Bashan, or Og, the King of Bashan, has a special place at our family seder. During the songs that follow the festive meal, Og is mentioned. All of the singing in the room stops while family members each try saying Og's name in their own theatrical way. For the extended family it is a treasured tradition. I smile when I think about our seder memories, but it has been special to learn about Og as a giant and a legend.
Sefer Devarim is the last book of the Torah. It is a retelling of the story of the Israelites by Moses as he draws near to his death. Some of the stories in Devarim are repeated, some are slightly changed and some are new.
Og, the King of Bashan, is mentioned a number of times in Parshat Devarim; in fact, he is mentioned in the midrash in other places as well. In some ways his story has the same mystical undertones as the legends of Serach bat Asher, whom I wrote about a few weeks ago. https://www.wordshavewings.net/post/serach-bat-asher-the-memory-keeper King Og, though, is killed in battle, so even his status as a giant does not make him invincible.
Although there is much to write about in Parshat Devarim, this beginning of the end of the five books, I was intrigued by the description of the giant iron bed that was fashioned for King Og, so that he could fit his huge frame onto it comfortably. I began to daydream about giants, which led to this poem. There is much left to learn about the topic and fate of giants in torah. I look forward to exploring it more!
To Be a Giant: Part One
To be a giant is to be 10 feet tall
or 100 feet tall;
as tall as a mountain,
as high as the sky.
To be a giant is to have a voice that roars like thunder
and hands that can stretch across the ocean.
To be a giant is to wear shoes as large as ships,
to tower above the heads of humans,
to sleep in iron bed as large as an ark.
To be a giant is to see the world from above.
When you are a giant everyone must look up at you
and you must look down upon them.
It is difficult to find common ground.
To be a giant is to be a myth;
To be a giant is to be noticed,
giants are not invincible.
To Be A Giant: Part 2
To be a giant is to overcome fears,
to rise above your demons
and to seek justice in the darkest corners.
To be a giant is to reach even higher.
To be a giant is daring to stand tall for those who cannot.
To be a giant is to make yourself small so others can be large
and to be a giant is not being embarrassed to look up to others.
To be a giant is not about long arms or broad chests,
but to use long arms to lift others up
and broad chests to offer comfort.
To be a giant is to find the common space between you and others.
To be a giant is to stand tall whether you reach 4 feet or 10 feet or 100 feet.
To be a giant is to share the view from on high.
giants have the privilege of lifting others upon their shoulders.
To Be a Giant: Part 3
הַנְּפִלִ֞ים הָי֣וּ בָאָרֶץ֮ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵם֒ וְגַ֣ם אַֽחֲרֵי־כֵ֗ן
It is said that once there were giants upon the earth.
They are still here.
Deuteronomy 3:11 (from Sefaria)
Only King Og of Bashan was left of the remaining Rephaim. His bedstead, an iron bedstead, is now in Rabbah of the Ammonites; it is nine cubits long and four cubits wide, by the standard cubit!
כִּ֣י רַק־ע֞וֹג מֶ֣לֶךְ הַבָּשָׁ֗ן נִשְׁאַר֮ מִיֶּ֣תֶר הָרְפָאִים֒ הִנֵּ֤ה עַרְשׂוֹ֙ עֶ֣רֶשׂ בַּרְזֶ֔ל הֲלֹ֣ה הִ֔וא בְּרַבַּ֖ת בְּנֵ֣י עַמּ֑וֹן תֵּ֧שַׁע אַמּ֣וֹת אׇרְכָּ֗הּ וְאַרְבַּ֥ע אַמּ֛וֹת רׇחְבָּ֖הּ בְּאַמַּת־אִֽישׁ׃
For more information on Og, the King Bashan, please check out: