Title: The Place of the Serpent


This chapter dealt with serpentine and Underworld (Sheol) associations of the region of Bashan and Israel’s clashes with the giant Rephaim.


Bibliography from the Book


Michael S. Heiser, “Rephaim,” in Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA:
Lexham Press, 2015)


Brian Doak, The Last of the Rephaim: Conquest and Cataclysm in the Heroic Ages of
Ancient Israel, Ilex Series 7 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013)


Andrew R. George, “The Tower of Babel: Archaeology, History, and Cuneiform Texts,” Archiv für Orientforschung 51 (2005/2006): 75–95


John H. Walton, “The Mesopotamian Background of the Tower of Babel Account and Its Implications,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 5 (1995): 155–75


Martti Nissinen, “Akkadian Rituals and Poetry of Divine Love,” in Mythology and Mythologies: Methodological Approaches to Intercultural Influences; Proceedings of the Second Annual Symposium of the Assyrian and Babylonian Intellectual Heritage Project Held in Paris, France, October 4–7, 1999, Melammu Symposia 2 (ed. R. M. Whiting; Helsinki: Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 2001), 93–136


Beate Pongratz-Leisten, “Sacred Marriage and the Transfer of Divine Knowledge: Alliances between the Gods and the King in Ancient Mesopotamia,” in Sacred Marriages: The Divine-Human Sexual Metaphor from Sumer to Early Christianity (ed. Martti Nissinen and Risto Uro; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2008), 43–72


Russell E. Gmirkin, Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch, Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 433 (London: T&T Clark, 2006)


K. van der Toorn, “Nimrod before and after the Bible,” Harvard Theological Review 83.1 (January 1990)


G. del Olmo Lete, “Bashan,” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd ed. (ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst; Leiden; Boston; Cologne; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 161–63


Archie T. Wright, The Origin of Evil Spirits: The Reception of Genesis 6:1–4 in Early Jewish Literature, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 198, second series; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013)


James H. Charlesworth, “Bashan, Symbology, Haplography, and Theology in Psalm 68,” in David and Zion: Biblical Studies in Honor of J. J. M. Roberts [ed. Bernard Frank Batto and Kathryn L. Roberts; Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2004], 351–372



Additional Bibliography


Maria Lindquist, “King Og’s Iron Bed,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 73 (2011):  477-492

  • This article includes some of the lengthier commentary on the identical dimensions of Og’s bed to the bed of Marduk (noted in this chapter). I found it only after The Unseen Realm had gone to press.


H. Rouillard, “Rephaim,” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd ed. (ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst; Leiden; Boston; Cologne; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 692-700


Scott Noegel, “The Aegean Ogygos of Boeotia and the biblical Og of Bashan: Reflections of the same myth,” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 110, no. 3 (1998): 411-426


Karel van der Toorn, “Funerary Rituals and Beatific Afterlife in Ugaritic Texts and in the Bible,” Bibliotheca Orientalis 48 (1991) 40–66


C. E. L’Heureux, “The Ugaritic and the Biblical Rephaim,” Harvard Theological Review 67:3 (1974) 265–274


S. B. Parker, “The Feast of Rāpiʾu,” Ugarit Forschungen 2 (1970) 243–249


J. C. de Moor, “Rapiʾuma-Rephaim,” Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 88 (1976) 323–345


J. A. Emerton, “The ‘Mountain of God’ in Psalm 68:16,” in History and Interpretations
of Early Israel: Studies Presented to Eduard Nielsen (ed. A. Lemaire and B. Otzen; Leiden: Brill,
1993) 24–37


F. C. Fensham, “Ps 68:23 in the Light of Recently Discovered Ugaritic Tablets,”
Journal of Near Eastern Studies 19 (1960) 292–93


Henryk Drawnel, “The Mesopotamian Background of the Enochic Giants and Evil Spirits,” Dead Sea Discoveries 21:1 (2014): 14-38


Amar Annus, “On the Watchers: A Comparative Study of the Antediluvian Wisdom in Mesopotamian and Jewish Traditions,” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 19.4 (2010): 277–320





In the first footnote to this chapter I made the comment that some interpreters try to argue that the report of the spies (Numbers 13) about the giant Anakim was a lie. More specifically, I’ve come across at least one person (Gary Bates, a young earth creation apologist, in his book UFOs and the Evolution Connection) who attempts this (see my review of the book). Briefly, Bates argues that the statement in Numbers 13:33 that the Anakim encountered by the Israelite spies were of the nephilim, was actually a false report of the unbelieving spies (i.e., they lied; pp. 363-364).  There is no exegetical foundation for this view.  It is a deliberate reading inserted into the text to avoid the nephilim problem. The reason the report of the spies was called “evil” is transparent from the biblical text—they refused to trust God. We read nowhere that Israel was punished for lying, or that the people had been deceived by a lying report. We read everywhere in the Old Testament that the people did not believe the word of Joshua and Caleb—who, by the way, did not accuse the other ten spies of lying. This view is baseless. Bates shows no awareness in his book of the sorts of data that I present in The Unseen Realm with respect to Gen 6:1-4 or the later conquest encounters.


The work of Drawnel (see above under additional bibliography) has significance for the content of this chapter with respect to connections between the flood giants (apkallu), demons, and the Underworld. Annus (see above under additional bibliography) noted these connections in his important article on the Watchers/apkallu:


From many references in Mesopotamian literature we can learn that the fish-like sages [apkallu] were thought to have been created and also reside in Apsû. The seven sages were according to Bīt Mēseri III 8 ‘shining carps (purādū), carps of the sea…that were created in a stream’ (Wiggermann 1992: 108). . . . More to the point, the realm of Apsû is often confused with underworld in Mesopotamian literature. Evidence indicates that the reason for this was either a simple confusion, or Apsû itself was occasionally thought to be a netherworld inhabited by malevolent spirits (Horowitz 1998: 342). The second option seems more likely, as there are many literary references, which place underworld deities and demons in Apsû (Horowitz 1998: 343). . . . The fact that apkallus are born and often reside in Apsû, is not evidence that points to their exclusively positive character, since demonic creatures were also often thought to have their origin in the depths of the divine River. (pp. 301-303)


Annus writes a bit later (p. 311):


Thus, like the Watchers, the Mesopotamian apkallus were punished by a flood according to the Erra Epic. In 1 Enoch, the flood was considered final judgment for the fallen angels, combined with the punishment of fire (ch. 10). Some of the angels, like Asael, ‘will be led away to the burning conflagration’ on the day of great judgment (10.6). Moreover, as apkallus are sent down to Apsû, the Watchers and their sons ‘will be led away to the fiery abyss, and to the torture, and to the prison where they will be confined forever’ in 10.13 (Nickelsburg 2001: 215). The prison, where the spirits of the fallen angels are kept, is a chasm like Apsû, an abyss containing fiery pillars, and it is situated at the ‘end of the great earth’ according to the Greek version of 1 En. 18.10, or ‘beyond the great earth’ following the Ethiopic.


Those interested are invited to read Annus and Drawnel. What these connections do is (finally) answer the longstanding scholarly question of why, in the Hebrew Bible, the Rephaim are not only dead kings in Sheol but also giants, as oppose to Ugarit, which has a good amount of Rephaim material, having them only as dead kings in the Underworld. The answer is that the biblical writers connect the Rephaim back to the Nephilim (via the Anakim), which in turn connects them to the Underworld via the apkallu traditions from Mesopotamia, the original context for Gen 6:1-4.