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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 6: Harmony of the Law, Part IV, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

Deuteronomy 3

Deuteronomy 3:1-11

1. Then we turned, and went up the way to Bashan: and Og the king of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei.

1. Conversi autem aseendimus per viam Basan et egressus est Og rex Basan nobis in occursum, ipse et universus populus ejus ad praelium in Edrei.

2. And the Lord said unto me, Fear him not: for I will deliver him, and all his people, and his land, into thy hand; and thou shalt do unto him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon.

2. Et dixit Jehova ad me, ne timeas illum, nam in manu tua dedi eum, et universum populum ejus, ac terram ejus: faeiesque ei quemadmodum fecisti Sihon regi AEmorrhaeorum qui habitabat in Hesbon.

3. So the Lord our God delivered into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people: and we smote him, until none was left to him remaining.

3. Tradidit itaque Jehova Deus noster etiam Og regem Basan, et universum populum ejus: percussimus eum, ut non reliquerimus ei superstitem.

4. And we took all his cities at that time; there was not a city which we took not from them, threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan.

4. Cepimus quoque omnes urbes ejus eo tempore: non fuit urbs ulla quam non ceperimus ab eis, nempe sexaginta urbes, omnem regionem Argob regni Og, in Basan.

5. All these dries were fenced with high walls, gates, and bars; besides unwalled towns a great many.

5. Omnes autem istae urbes erant munitae muris altis, portis et vectibus: praeter urbes non muratas multas valde.

6. And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city.

6. Quas vastavimus, quemadmodum fecimus Sihon regi Hesbon, vastando omnem urbem, viros, mulieres, et parvulos.

7. But all the cattle, and the spoil of the cities, we took for a prey to ourselves.

7. Omnia autem jumenta et spolia urbium praedati sumus nobis.

8. And we took at that time, out of the hand of the two kings of the Amorites, the land that was on this side Jordan, from the river of Arnon unto mount Hermen;

8. Tulimus itaque eo tempore terram; e manu duorum regum AEmorrhaeorum quae erat trans Jordanem a torrente Arnon usque ad montem Hermon.

9. (Which Hermon the Sidonians call Sirion, and the Amorites call it Shenir;)

9. (Sidonii vocant Hermon, Sirion, et Emorrhaei vocant eum Senir.)

10. All the cities of the plain, and all Gilead, and all Bashan, unto Salchah, and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan:

10. Onmes urbes planitiei, et totum Gilad, et omnem Basan usque ad Salchah, et Edrei, urbes regni Og in Basan.

11. For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron: is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man.

11. Solus quippe Og rex Basan remanserat ex reliquis gigantibus: ecce Iectus ejus, lectus ferreus, nonne est in Rabbath filiorum Ammon? novem cubitorum longitudo ejus, et quatuor cubitorum latitudo ejus ad cubitum hominis.


4. And we took all the cities. He here more fully relates what He had brieflytouched upon in Numbers. He says that sixty, well-fortified cities were taken, besides the villages. Hence we infer both the extent of the country, and also the special power of God in the aid He afforded them, in that they took, in so short a time, so many cities well closed in, and begirt with high walls; as if they were merely travelling, through a peaceful land in security, and with nothing to do.

After the eighth verse, lie repeats connectedly what he had separately related respecting the two kingdoms; and in order that the places might be more certainly identified, he mentions two other names for mount Hermon, stating that it was called Sirion by the Sidonians, and Shenir by the Amorites. Finally, he adds that Og, king of Bashan, was a giant, and the only survivorof that race. As a memorialof his lofty stature, he alleges his iron bedstead, the length of which was as much as nine cubits, according to the common measure of that period. By this circumstance he again magnifies the marvellous help of God, in that he was overcome by the children of Israel, who might, by his stature, have singly terrified a whole army.

The enormous stature of the giants is apparent from this passage. Herodotus records,  136 that the body of Orestes, disinterred by command of the oracle, was seven cubits in length. Pliny,  137 although he does not cite his authority, subscribes to this testimony. Gellius  138 thinks that this was fabulous, as also what Homer  139 writes with respect to the diminution of men’s height in process of time; but his erroneous view is confuted by almost universal consent. What Pliny  140 himself relates is indeed incredible, that in Crete a body was discovered, by an opening of the earth, forty-six cubits long, which some thought to be the body of Orion, and others of Etion. But if we believe that there were giants, (which is not only affirmd by the sacred Scriptures, but also recorded by almost all ancient writers,) we need not be surprised if they were more than eight cubits in height. Although, however, the race of giants began to disappear in the time of Moses, still, in after ages, there existed persons who approached to this ancient stature,  141 as in the time of Augustus and Claudius there was one man about ten feet in height, and another nine feet nine inches. Moses, therefore, intimates nothing more than that this monstrous race of men gradually died out, so that the enormous height of Og, king of Bashan, was an unusual sight.



Herod, Clio, Section 68.


Pliny, 7:16.


Gellius, lib. 3:10.


Homer, I1. lib. 12:381-3, 446-9; lib. 20:286, 7.


Pliny, lib. 7:16.


Fr. “Comme sous l’empire d’Auguste il y avoit un homme haut de dix pieds, et sous l’empire de Claude un un peu moindre;” as under the empire of Augustus there was a man ten feet high, and, under that of Claudius, one somewhat shorter. Pliny, loc. cit., records the exhibition at Rome, by the Emperor Claudius, of an Arab named Gabbara, whose height was nine feet nine inches; and adds, that in the reign of Augustus, there lived two persons, Posio and Secundilla, who were half a foot higher than Gabbara, and who, on account of their wonderful size, were buried in the cemetery of the Sallustian gardens.

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