Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Solar Powered Giants or Orion's Belt Loosened?

As stated in the last post, my intent is to post at least three posts this week with each having its own personality. This one is a bit more on the esoteric side and the next will, hopefully, be more of a mathematical calculation.

This week's Parsha tells us that the spies sent into Canaan were witness to giants dwelling in the land. Rav Yehonasan Eibshitz zt"l wonders why there are no longer giants roaming the Earth. He then cites from various statements of Chazal that maintain that these giants are called "Anakim" in the Torah because the were "maanik" (block out) the sun when they would stand up. (Tiferes Yehonasan Bamidbar 13:28)

Rav Eibshitz then contends that their supersize and strength came from magical powers that they would draw from the sun. Since such magical powers have ceased to exert power in today's society, these beings can no longer exist. (Ibid.) In biblical times, however, such powers were around and in order to effectively combat them, Moshe, and later Yehoshua, caused the sun to stand still when battling these formidable foes. The sun would be positioned and stalled in order to cut the power source of these warriors. (Ibid. 13:30)

Another celestial suggestion as to who these giants may have been can be found be focusing on a later verse that states that they were the offspring of the Nephilim. (Bamidbar 13:33) Rashi comments that these Nephilim were Shemchazai and Azael that fell from heaven in the times of Enosh (Adam's grandson). (Rashi Bamidbar 13:33) Rashi appears to be paraphrasing the Yalkut Shimoni that tells over a fascinating story.

The Yalkut Shimoni mentions that in the times of Enosh there were some angels (Shemchazai and Azael) that wished to prove that they could withstand the pressure to sin if they were only given the chance to descend to the earthly realm. Hashem granted their wish and they "fell" to Earth. They are called Nephilim because the root of the word is "nephal" which means to fall. Once on Earth they began to sin and they started to try and intermarry with human women. There was one woman that withstood their advances, Istahar, and for her piety she was placed in the heavens as a star in the star cluster called Kimah, the Pleiades. (Yalkut Shimoni Bereishis 366)

Interestingly enough, the word Nephla, of the same root as Nephilim, is the Aramaic word for the constellation Orion, Kesil. (Targum Iyov 9:9) It is even more fascinating to note that the young girl, Istahar, was placed in the Pleiades which, according to Chazal, are supposed to project the opposite influence to Orion. (Berachos 58b) If these angels fell from the heavens from the region of Orion (perhaps meaning that they were considered to be angels that exert the influences associated with this constellation) then it would almost be as if Hashem was saying that this girl was able to counteract the influence of these beings so she would forever be memorialized in the area of the sky that demonstrates the ability to withstand Orion.

No comments: