Rephaite (Heb. plural רפאים, Rephaim; Phoenician: rpʼm) is a North-West 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 spirits who are residents of the Netherworld.

Race of giantsEdit

In the Hebrew Bible, "Rephaim" can describe an ancient race of giants in Iron Age Israel, or the places where these individuals were thought to have lived. See: Gen 14:5, 15:20; Deut 2:10-11, 2:18-21, 3:11; Josh 12:4, 13:12, 15:8, 17:15, 18:16; 2 Sam 5:18, 5:22, 23:13; 1 Chron 11:15, 14:9, 20:4. In the biblical narrative, the Israelites are instructed to exterminate the previous inhabitants of the "promised land," i.e. "Canaan," which include various named peoples, including some unusually tall/large individuals. See the passages listed above in the book of Joshua, and also Deut. 3:11, which implies that Og, the King of Bashan, was one of the last survivors of the Rephaim, and that his bed was 9 cubits long in ordinary cubits. (An ordinary cubit is the length of a man's forearm according to the New American Standard Bible, or approx. 18 inches, which differs from a royal cubit. This makes the bed over 13 feet long. 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. Deut 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". In Deut 2:11, the Moabites referred to them as the Emim.