The Gemara in the last Perek of Berochos (referenced by the last Rashi of Parshas Chukas)tells about the encounter of Moshe with the giant Og...

Moshe was ten Amos tall - (between 15-20 feet, based on the question of the size of an Amah) and he jumped ten Amos and hit Og's knee.

Does anyone take this literally? Obviously not, since all the picture books of the Parsha show Moshe as a normal sized person - not 2 or 3 times taller than the rest of the people.

On the other hand, if we do take this literally, perhaps all the pictures must be changed!

Do any Meforshim deal with this?

  • 1
    I thought he hit Og's ankle Sep 27, 2015 at 21:03
  • 5
    So you're asking a stirah from pictures?
    – user613
    Oct 7, 2015 at 5:07
  • 1
    From memory the shemen hamishcha (annoiting oil) had miraculous properties I believe one of them was making people tall. Will have to find source for this. Feb 15, 2019 at 9:21
  • @DanielRoss Indeed. See Rashi, I Shmuel 17:38.
    – Meir
    Feb 15, 2019 at 14:56

2 Answers 2


Guide for the Perplexed 2:47

What Scripture says about Og, "Behold, his bedstead was an iron bedstead, nine cubits its length," etc. (Deut.), does not belong to this class of figures, for the bedstead (eres, comp. arsenu, Song of Sol. i. 16) is never exactly, of the same dimensions as the person using it; it is not like a dress that fits round the body; it is always greater than the person that sleeps therein; as a rule, is it by a third longer. If, therefore, the bed of Og was nine cubits in length, he must, according to this proportion, have been six cubits high, or a little more. The words, "by the cubit of a man," mean, by the measure of an ordinary man, and not by the measure of Og; for men have the limbs in a certain proportion. Scripture thus tells us that Og was double as long as an ordinary person, or a little less. This is undoubtedly an exceptional height among men, but not quite impossible. (Friedlander translation)

Rambam clearly disagrees with, or does not take literally, the Talmudic account of Moshe and Og.

  • very many mefarshim there follow suit, but some ask a stirah... Feb 15, 2019 at 19:24

I got something from here

Moshe Rabeinu was ten amos tall משה רבינו עשר אמות היה שנאמר ויפרש את האהל על המשכן. מי פרשו? משה רבינו פרשו T he Mishkan was ten amos high, and the verse tells us that Moshe Rabeinu spread the covering over its top. This leads Rav to the conclusion that Moshe Rabeinu was ten amos tall. Pardes Yosef (to Shemos 40:19) asks how this information can lead to a conclusion regarding Moshe’s height. Would it have not been possible for Moshe to stand on a platform or on a ladder and spread the cover without himself being so tall? He explains that our Gemara must be of the opinion that Moshe’s spreading the cover over the top of the Mishkan is defined as a service, and, as such, the one performing the service may not have an interposition between his feet and the floor (see Zevachim 26a). Therefore, it could not have been that Moshe was standing on a ladder or any other raised surface.
Pardes Yosef adds that this explanation is indicated in the words of the question and answer of the Gemara. The Gemara asks, “Who spread the cover over the tent?” The answer given is that it was Moshe, as the verse (Shemos 40:19) says, “And he spread the cover over the tent.” Apparently, if we have an explicit verse which states this fact, what is the purpose of the Gemara’s question and answer? It must be that the Gemara is coming to emphasize that this task was a service assigned to Moshe, and it was not allowed to be done by anyone else other than him. And now that the Gemara determined that the spreading of the cover over the tent was a service, the next point is that Moshe could not have been standing on top of anything while he spread it, so he must have been tall enough to do it directly. R’ Shimi b. Chiya told Rav that according to his explanation, Moshe was blemished, because the proportion of his body, which was huge, to his arms, which are understood to be regular sized, was disproportionate. Rav corrected R’ Shimi, and he told him that Moshe’s arms were also large, and therefore in proportion to the rest of his body. The Achronim note that the question of R’ Shimi seems surprising, because Moshe was a levi, and blemishes are not a factor to disqualify a levi from his service to either open and close the gates of the Mikdash or to sing. Chasam Sofer explains that R’ Shimi’s question was that al- though Moshe’s blemish would not disqualify him from service in the Mikdash, this physical blemish would disqualify him from serving as a judge on the Sanhedrin. The Gemara in Yevamos (101b) learns from a verse in Shir HaShirim (4:7) that a judge of the Sanhedrin could not have a blemish. Gri”z points out that as a levi Moshe’s blemish was not a fac- tor, but we know that Moshe served as a kohen during the dedica- tion of the Mishkan, and having a blemish would not have al- lowed him to serve in this role.

  • I don't see how this answers the question at all. It provides more detail about Moses's bring tall, but still doesn't tell us whether that tallness is literal or allegorical.
    – msh210
    Feb 15, 2019 at 6:53
  • But it does answer the question part, "Does anyone take this literally?"
    – LN6595
    Feb 15, 2019 at 19:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .