Giant Librarians of Debir, or Who is stronger: Yahweh or some iron chariots?

Bob Seidensticker
Bob Seidensticker

Bob Seidensticker blogs at Cross Examined: Clear Thinking About Christianity. The blog can be found on the “Atheist Channel” on Patheos – a site also known for hosting the blog of novelist Mike Bird, whose fantasy novels have been described as “more like LOTR than the Narnia Chronicles”.

In a recent post, Bob examines examples in the Bible where Yahweh gets defeated in battle by other gods. As Bob says, these narratives are often quickly explained away in Christian commentaries on the Old Testament, given that the Bible’s acceptance of the existence of other gods beside Yahweh is something that many Christian commentators are keen to suppress. Yet the idea that Yahweh is one god among other gods is regularly affirmed throughout the majority of the books of the Old Testament (and continues in early Christianity, although the other gods are demoted to demons). Have a read of Religious Diversity in Ancient Israel and Judah, edited by John Barton and Francesca Stavrakopoulou (2010) for a recent treatment of the many divinities who were worshiped in ancient Israel and Judah.

When Bob describes Yahweh’s defeat by iron chariots in Judges 1.19, he makes mention of Kiriath Sepher (“City of Scribes”), otherwise known as Debir, a  city possibly inhabited by giant librarians – according to one children’s book.

Have a read of Bob’s full post here.


Giant Librarians of the Ancient World

Big Bad Bible GiantsI learned something I never knew about Giants from the best basic guide to Giants of the Bible. According to Big Bad Bible Giants, authored by Ed Strauss and illustrated by Anthony Carpenter (Zondersexist, 2005), the Bible tells the story of an ancient city populated by Giant librarians!

The Giant Librarians of Debir
The Giant Librarians of Debir

This is not something I’ve discovered in any biblical commentary, because Big Bad Bible Giants has the scoop. It’s all a matter of almost logical inference from three things that the Bible tells us: (1) the city of Debir was also known as Kiriath-Sepher (“The City of Scribes”); (2) Othniel defeated the inhabitants of Debir; and (3) some of the inhabitants of Palestine were Giants. Ed Strauss’s conclusion is that Othniel must have defeated a group of Giant librarians in the city of Debir:

Giant libraries
In Joshua’s day, about 600 years after Abraham, the giant Anakites had a city in south Canaan called Debir (Joshua 11:21). The giants called it Kiriath Sepher, which means “City of Scribes” or “City of Books.” The city’s other name was Kiriath Sannah, which means “City of Instruction” (Joshua 15:49). Bible scholars believe Kiriath Sepher was a major center of learning and culture for all of Canaan. It probably had a huge library full of scrolls, and was the city where giants went to learn.
Can’t you just picture a dozen heavy, hairy giants sitting around mumbling loudly as they read? You can be sure they weren’t sitting in ordinary-sized desks!
What were their books about? No idea. All the monster scrolls seem to have been torched when the Israelites conquered the city (Judges 1:11-13).
 –  Ed Strauss, Big Bad Bible Giants

Ah yes – there would be traces of these giant books and giant libraries around today, if only the Israelites hadn’t destroyed them all. Ed Strauss also offers us a picture of Othniel’s defeat of the city of Debir, the city of Giant librarians: 

We don’t know the details of this battle and how well the giants fought, whether they made their last stand at the library…
 –  Ed Strauss, Big Bad Bible Giants
Ah – the Last Stand of the Giants at the Library. Mark my words – there’s a film in that!
And as a special bonus, a great track from the era of “the Dunedin Sound”: