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Title: Rephaim  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Giant (mythology), Valley of Rephaim, Amorite, Bashan, Nephilim, Biblical Hittites, Zuzim (biblical people), Emite, Rujm el-Hiri
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Rephaite (Heb. plural רפאים, Rephaim) is a Northwest Semitic term that occurs in the Hebrew Bible as well as other, non-Jewish ancient texts from the region. It can refer either to a race of giants, or to dead ancestors who are residents of the Netherworld.

Race of giants

In the Hebrew Bible, "Rephaim" can describe an ancient race of giants in Anak, according to Deut 2:11, was a Rephaite.

The area of Moab at Ar, (the region East of the Jordan) before the time of Moses, was also considered the land of the Rephaites. Deuteronomy 2:18-21 refers to the fact that Ammonites called them "Zamzummim", which is related to the Hebrew word זמזם, which literally translates into "Buzzers", or "the people whose speech sounds like buzzing." In Arabic the word زمزم (zamzama) translates as "to rumble, roll (thunder); murmur". As in Deut 2:11, the Moabites referred to them as the Emim.

Long dead ancestors

Rephaim have also been considered the residents of the Netherworld (

Various ancient Northwest Semitic texts are also replete with references to terms evidently cognate with Rephaim as the dead or dead kings; see KAI 13.7-8, 14.8, 177.1; CTA 6.6.46-52, CTA 20-22 = KTU 1.161 (see the article by M.S. Smith, “Rephaim,” in the Anchor Bible Dictionary). Lewis (1989)[4] undertakes a detailed study of several enigmatic funerary ritual texts from the ancient coastal city of Ugarit. Lewis concludes that the Ugaritic Funerary Text (KTU 1.161 = Ras Shamra 34.126) provides important evidence for understanding Ugarit's cult of the dead, wherein beings called rapi'uma, the long dead, and malakuma, recently dead kings, were invoked in a funeral liturgy, presented with food/drink offerings, and asked to provide blessings for the reign of the current king. The many references to repha'im in the Hebrew Bible in contexts involving Sheol and dead spirits strongly suggests that many ancient Israelites imagined the spirits of the dead as playing an active and important role in securing blessings, healing, or other benefits in the lives of the living.[5]

See also


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