Og Melech haBashan

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    I’m teaching about Bnei Yisrael’s battle with Og (parshas Chukas, Perek yud-aleph), and I would love to find out approximately how tall Og was. I’ve searched, but was not successful and I’m wondering if anyone out there knows of some medrash…



    try yalkut me’am loez devarim 3:11


    Well, if you take the Medrash litterally, his ankle was 30 Amos high. MOSHE rabbeinu was ten Amos tall, his stick was ten Amos, and he jumped ten Amos to hit his ankle. An ankle is usually around a Tephach from the soul. A person is considered three Amos tall, not including the head, so the ankle is an 18th of the height. That would put his shoulders at 540 Amos high.

    The only problem is, being that he wasn’t quiet built to normal proportions, we can’t really tell if his ankle was higher relatively, or lower, than other humans. It would seem that he was way more muscular than his height would account for, since he was able to lift a mountain.

    The Torah says that his bed was 9 Amos wide. It uses the term Arisa which some say means his crib. So, a normal person’s bed is three times longer than its width. A normal person’s bed is like four or more times the length/width of a bassinette. That means, his bed as an adult should have been at least 85 Amos.


    I once did the math but don’t remember the answer. I believe a Gemara (maybe Rashi Al Hatorah, but somewhere) says that Moshe Rabbeinu was 10 Amos tall, had a 10 Amah axe, and jumped and cut off Og’s ankle. If we take this Medrash literally, that means that Og’s ankle was 30 Amos tall. I asked a doctor what percentage of the body goes up to the ankle and calculated from there. It was somewhere around 1/15th the height, if I recall correctly.

    lebidik yankel

    Biologists believe that a giant cannot look like a human. The reason is that someone with a body 4x4x4 is not twice 2x2x2, but eight times bigger. So the legs need to be eight times the size. So even though a normal person may be 1x1x3, Og was 9×4. (See Ibn Ezra)


    Different sources regarding the height of the giants discussed by the torah.

    Rashi (Zvachim) says that Og didn’t die during the mabul because he stood next to the teivah and he was too tall to drown. This implies that he was taller than even the mountains which were covered by water.

    We also find the description of the Giants given by the miraglim that “we were like grasshoppers in their eyes”. There are several interpretations of this but according to those who understand this literally (e.g. the Gra) this fits with Rashi’s pshat

    Pirkei Drabi Eliezer says that the teivah had a ladder on the outside. Og survived the mabul by sitting on one

    of the rungs. According to this he was much smaller.

    The pasuk says that Og’s bed was 9×4 armlengths according to the armlength/amah of “ISH” (a man). An amah is between 18-24 inches. This would make Og about 13.5-18 feet tall.

    Rashi learns that the “ISH” in this pasuk means Og himself and therefore you cant use this pasuk as proof of his height.

    The Ibn Ezra quoted above says that this would require Og to have a greatly misshaped body if his arms were only a ninth of his height and therefore he learns that the armlength used above to measure is the same one that we use.

    According to what was mentioned in the above post that a giant would require large legs to support his body, it could be according to Rashi that the pasuk is telling you exactly that, that he was so misformed because of his great size.

    The Rashbam has a different beautiful approach that the reason that the pasuk describes his bed is because it is giving us his dimensions as a baby. “His cradle was 9×4 amos according to the amah of an “ish” – full grown person.” according to this he was much larger as an adult.

    The pasuk in Nach that describes Golias says that he was a descendant of the giants and he was 6 and a half amos tall (10-13 feet). This sounds more like those that argue with rashi’s pshat but it could be that this was after many generations of mixed-breeding so he wasn’t so big.

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