Hebrew | Francais


> > Archive

Shabbat Parashat Shelach 5777

Parashat Hashavua: Refaim, Eimim, Anakim, Nefilim, and Yerushalmim

Harav Yosef Carmel

The spies, who returned from their survey of the Land, described it and put special stress on the fearsome giants who occupied it (Bamidbar 13:27-33). This depiction is repeated in Sefer Devarim (1:28).

Various giants lived in different places in the Land historically and at the time of Moshe. There are nefilim (one of the names for giants) in the Land (which can, although does not have to, refer to Eretz Yisrael) at the time before the flood (Bereishit 6:4). Yehoshua found giants in Chevron but destroyed them (Yehoshua 11:21). We find some on the eastern bank of the Jordan in the story of the four kings and the five kings (Bereishit 14:5). In Sefer Devarim, we find interaction between eimim and refaim and between the Moavites, who lived in present day Jordan (2:10-11). After Yehoshua finished his conquest of Eretz Yisrael, there were giants remaining only in the Plishti areas of Azza, Gat, and Ashdod (Yehoshua 11:22). These were killed at the time of Shaul and David. While Goliat, who was killed at the hands of David, was the most famous of them (Shmuel I, 17:4,50), later sections of Shmuel (II, 21:16-22) describe the demise of others at the hands of David’s servants and relatives.

In the listing of geographic locations of the Tribe of Yehuda, we learn of the following border location: “The border went to the Valley of Ben Hinom to the shoulder of the Yevusites to the south – this is Yerushalayim. The border went to the top of the mountain which overlooks the Valley of Hinom to the west, which is the edge of the Valley of Refaim to the north” (Yehoshua 15:8). The border went from the Valley of Ben Hinom, from its convergence with the Kidron Stream (near the City of David) in the direction of the top of the mountain (the place where Montefiore’s windmill was built), to the west of Gei Ben Hinom, and north of the edge of the Refaim Stream (where the old first train station was). Thus, the place that we now call Emek Refaim is the place that is mentioned in Sefer Yehoshua. As the Refaim Stream moves westward toward the Mediterranean Sea, it flows into the Soreq Stream, which spills into the Sea in the area of the Plishtim (between Ashdod and Azza). Since roads are usually built in wadis along rivers and streams, the road that led from the Plishtim to Jerusalem ended at Emek Refaim, and thus the attacking Refaim would have come from there to terrify and endanger the inhabitants of Yerushalayim.

How fortunate are we that in the same place that the giants of all different types and names endangered the people, we witness great blessing: “It will still happen that old men and women will sit in the streets of Jerusalem and a man will hold a walking stick due to advanced age. The streets of the city will be full of young boys and girls playing in its streets” (Zecharia 8:4-5).

Top of page
Print this page
Send to friend


We daven for a complete and

speedy refuah for:

Lillian bat Fortune

Eliezer Yosef ben Chana Liba

Yehoshafat Yecheskel ben Milka

Ro'i Moshe Elchanan ben Gina Devra

Together with all cholei Yisrael


Hemdat Yamim

is dedicated

to the memory of:

those who fell

in wars

for our homeland

Eretz Hemdah's beloved friends

and Members of

Eretz Hemdah's Amutah

Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l

whose yahrtzeit

is the 10th of Iyar

Rav Reuven Aberman


who passed away

on 9 Tishrei, 5776

Mr. Shmuel Shemesh 
who passed away on

Sivan 17, 5774

R' Eliyahu Carmel,

Rav Carmel's father,

who passed away on

8th of Iyar 5776

Mrs. Sara Wengrowsky

bat R’ Moshe Zev a”h.

who passed away on

10  Tamuz  5774

Rav Asher Wasserteil z"l

who passed away on

Kislev 9, 5769

R' Meir ben

Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld


R ' Yaakov ben Abraham & Aisha


Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l

Hemdat Yamim

is endowed by

Les & Ethel Sutker

of Chicago, Illinois
in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker

Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l

site by entry.
Eretz Hemdah - Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies, Jerusalem All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy. | Terms of Use.