The kingdoms of Sihon and Og (Numbers 32)

llustration: Og’s kingdom

Moses gave the Gadites, Reubenites and the half-tribe of Manasseh the territories of Sihon and Og, two kings whom the Israelites had defeated prior to crossing the Jordan into the promised land (Numbers 32:33). Because there is no extrabiblical reference to either of these names, all that is known of them comes from the Old Testament.

Og is usually referenced in the Bible as “Og (king) of Bashan”, the geographical region east of the Sea of Galilee. Og was also a member of the Rephaites (Deuteronomy 3:11), an unexplained designation that appears as well in Ugaritic texts and has often been associated with giants. According to this same verse, Og had an iron bed or couch of legendary proportions (more than 4 m long and 1,8 m wide). Joshua 12:4 also links Og with the Raphaites and furter connects him to two specific cities, Edrei and Ashtaroth.

Sihon is said to have been one of the Amorites, a western Semitic group that was well documented throughout the Near East during the Bronze Age. He is often associated with Heshbon, a kingdom whose brders extended north to the Jabbok River, west to the Jordan River and south to the Arnon River (Judges 11:22).

These kingdoms of the Transjordan stood between the Israelites and the Jordan River, which constituted Israel’s gateway into the land of Canaan. The defeat of Transjordan’s inhabitants at the hands of Israel precipitated the resettlement of the area by the tribes f Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh. So foundational were these formidable victories that their memory was attested in Israel as late as the days of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9:22).

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