Sunday, September 13, 2015

Story of the Day: Noah and the Giant

Today's story is about the giant called Og in the Jewish tradition and 'Uj in the Islamic tradition. As you will see in the story, Og was the only living creature to survive the Flood without taking refuge in Noah's ark, and Og lived on until the time of Moses (Musa in Arabic), but he met his end when Moses struck him with his staff.

The story below is from the Noah page of the of the Holy Land Folklore unit (taken from Folk-lore of the Holy Land: Moslem, Christian and Jewish by J. E. Hanauer), and you can also read a story about Og, The Giant of the Flood, in the Jewish Fairy Tales unit (taken from Jewish Fairy Tales and Legends).

Noah and the Giant

The waters of the Deluge destroyed all mankind except those inside the ark and Og. The latter was so tall that when the Flood came its waters only reached up to his ankles. He repeatedly tried to destroy Noah and his crew by submerging the ark, but in vain. The pitch with which it had been coated had made it so difficult to grasp that it always slipped from his hands and came safely up to the surface.

When hungry, Og would squat down on his haunches and take up a handful of water. Straining it through his fingers, he always found a good many fish left in his grasp. These he could roast by holding them up to the sun. When thirsty, all he had to do was to put out his hands close together and catch the rain which was tumbling in bucketsful from the skies. He lived several centuries after the Flood till the time of Mûsa.

One day, as he was standing on Jebel esh Sheykh, he wanted to stride across El-Beka’a, but, misjudging the distance, he stepped, not on to the Lebanon Range, as he had intended, but far beyond it, into the great sea. At another time when, suffering from fever, he lay down to rest, he stretched from Banias, where the Jordan gushes forth, as far as the Lake Merom. As he lay thus, some muleteers passed Banias on their way southward. When they approached his face, he said to them, "I am too ill to move. For the love of Allah, when you reach my feet, drive away the mosquitoes that are tickling them and cover them up with my abâyeh [caftan]. The men promised to do as he said, but, when they reached his feet, they found no mosquitoes, but a crowd of jackals.

Og died at last by the hand of Mûsa in the following manner. In order to destroy the Israelites on their way through the wilderness, the giant pulled up a great rock out of the earth. It was so large that it would have crushed the whole camp of Israel, which covered a square league of country. Og was carrying it upon his head, meaning to drop it on the camp, when Allah sent a bird that pecked through the stone a hole so large that the mass slipped down over Og's head and on to his shoulders, in such a way that he could not get rid of it nor see where he was going. Hereupon Mûsa, whose stature was ten dra’as, and whose miracle-working rod was the same length, leapt up to the height of ten dra’as and just managed to hit Og on his ankle, so that he fell down and was killed. Stones were heaped upon his body as high as a mountain.

Moses strikes the giant on the ankle (Iraq ca. 1300)

You can see another illustration of this scene here:

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