Bible Prophecy Research 
Title: Gilgal Rephaim (or Circle of the Refaim)
Submitted by: (Ronni)
Date: May 30, 1998

Gilgal Rephaim


Table of Contents

{A} Did Biblical Giants Build the Circle of the Refaim?
{B} Gilgal
{C} Giants
{D} Rephaim



Article by Israeli Journalist/Author, Barry Chamish ( 12/97

[please note: some definitions and comments have been added and are indicated by {..}]

One of the last great barely known wonders of the ancient world is a Stonehenge-like monument sitting atop Israel's Golan Heights. Called Gilgal Refaim (The Circle Of The Refaim) in Hebrew, the monument consists of five concentric stone rings whose diameter is 155 meters.

The best preserved of the rings is the outermost, whose height reaches 2 meters and thickness 3.3 meters. Some of the stones used to create the ring weigh twenty tons. The total weight of the stones is 37,000 tons.

Circle of the Refaim
Graphic provided by Barry Chamish

gilgal.gif (15344 bytes)

In the middle of the rings is a cairn 1, topped by a tumulus 2, measuring twenty meters across.


{1} cairn - a heap of stones set up as a landmark, monument, tombstone, etc. {2} tumulus - a domelike swelling or mound formed in congealed lava; a barrow (Webster's Dictionary)

Despite the obvious attraction to archaeologists, the rings remained hidden while the suspicious Syrian regimes held the Golan Heights and were only opened to inspection after Israel won the area in the Six Day War of 1967.

One feature of the rings has particularly fascinated the few people who have studied them. It is the meaning of two large openings, somewhat like doorways, one facing northeast, the other southeast.

In 1968 Professor Yonathan Mizrahi of the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University and Prof. Anthony Aveni of Colgate University discovered that in 3000 BCE, the first rays of the summer solstice would have appeared directly through the northeast opening as seen from the central tumulus. At the same time, the southeast opening provided a direct view of Sirius.

One function of the circles then, was an astronomical observatory and stellar calendar. Or was it?

Prof. Mizrahi is doubtful. "Why would they have undertaken such a massive building project, collecting 37,000 tons of stone and painstakingly laying them down to last forever, when the same task could have been completed using one rock and a stick?"

In fact, no one knows why the site was built -- thus speculation is rife. Micah Ankouri, for instance, writing in Teva Ve'aretz (Land and Nature) spends five pages trying to provide a connection between the circles and Far Eastern mandalas. He concludes that Gilgal Refaim was an "astronomical observatory providing social harmony through its communal construction and proof of the perfection of the universe."

The astronomical dating confirms lichenometric tests and carbon dating of potsherds found on the site. In fact, the professors erred on the side of conservatism. The sherds dated to the Early Bronze Age, 3rd millenium BCE, 5000 years ago. A three layered burial monument was added to the central cairn a thousand years later. Thus, the circles pre-date the pyramids and Babylonian temples, making them the oldest astronomical complex in the Middle East.

The mysteries continue. Gilgal Refaim is the only megalithic astronomical complex on earth built of loose stones. It resembles more ruins found on Malta and in Zimbabwe than European sites
built at the same time and possibly for the same purpose.

But despite the similarity of purpose, supposedly the simple nomads of the region had no contact with Europe. Nor were the shepherd tribes prone to massive building projects. Gilgal Refaim
was the only such undertaking in the Middle East at the time. There was no apparent cultural reason for this unique engineering project.

For those seeking a possible UFO connection: the circles were built on a flat plateau. No one could have seen the shape of the monument from ground level and there were no hills nearby to gaze upon it. Yet the monument could only have been appreciated from above. It was as likely a message to the stars as a stellar observatory.

In the general region of the rings are hundreds of dolmens 3 , similar in appearance to those found in northern Britain and France. Moshe Hartal, Chief Archaeologist of the Golan explains, "We have identified 8,500 dolmens of twenty separate styles on the Golan Heights. Each tribe had its own dolmen style. The biggest dolmen stones weigh over 50 tons and are seven metres in height. Graves are found within some domens but not all. Their function was not purely funereal."


{{3} dolmen - a structure usually regarded as a tomb, consisting of two or more large, upright stones set with a space between and capped by a horizontal stone. (Webster's Dictionary)


The Palestinian dolmens "are usually very simple: one or more horizontal blocks were laid over a few vertical ones averaging a meter (39 in) or less in height, with a low entrance on one side. These may have been monuments to the dead, designed as imitations of everyday dwellings...Originally, they were probably covered with small stones and earth, which has been washed away. Occasionally, one or two circles of small stones surrounded them. Nearly always they are clustered in 'fields' or groups, mostly in northwestern Jordan on the slopes above the east bank of the Jordan River, or in upper Galilee..." (Nelson's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts; page 75). }

If the dolmens surrounding Gilgal Refaim were an integral part of the site, then it was an enormous project encompassing more area than at the Giza pyramids. Hartel is reluctant to draw such a
conclusion, taking the more conservative view that the dolmens were built over time around the attraction of the circles.

One fact stands out. The local nomadic tribes of the time did not build any other remotely similar monument. Circle building was not a fashion of the era among the herdsmen and that, combined with their unsuitable, primitive technology, seems to rule out their construction of the circles.

If the local inhabitants didn't build the rings, then who did? Surpisingly, there is strong evidence that the biblical giants or Refaim were the architects and engineers who constructed the monument.

Consider the following biblical clues, written in modern terminology (The Book, Tyndale House Publishers):

Genesis 14:5, we are told the Refaim inhabit the place called Ashtherot-Karnaim. Just ten miles from the rings is the site of an ancient Canaanite city called Ashtherot. It is named after the Canaanite goddess of war and, contradictorily, love. Ashterot was the Canaanite name for Sirius, from which the Hebrew name Esther was derived.
Joshua 12:4, we learn that "King Og of Bashan, the last of the Refaim, who lived at Ashtarot... ruled a territory stretching From Mount Hermon in the north...
1 Chronicles 6:71, we are told that the half-tribe of Manasseh later inhabited "Golan," in Bashan.
most explicit description of the size of the people of Bashan is found in Deuteronomy 3. King Og is attacked and defeated. "King Og of Bashan was the last of the great Refaim. His iron bedstead is kept at Rabbah... and measures thirteen and a half feet long and six feet wide." In the same chapter we are informed that "The Sidonians called Mount Hermon, 'Sirion.'"
Deuteronomy, we are told that the Refaim "were a large and powerful tribe, as tall as the Anakim (giants)."
Chronicles 20, the last of the Anakim is killed. "A giant with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, whose father was also a giant,... was killed by David's nephew Jonathan. These giants were descendants of the giants of Gath and were killed by David and his soldiers."

The respected Jerusalem biblical author, Rabbi Yisrael Herczeg, hardly an advocate of ancient alien theories, nonethless confirms the possibility that giant heavenly beings or their descendants could have constructed the circles.

"The Jewish oral tradition says Og, the King of Bashan, stowed away on Noah's ark and was the only survivor of the flood outside Noah's family. Og was descended from the Nefilim, deities who fell from the heavens."


"No, more like fallen angels. Og had children with Noah's daughters and they were hybrid giants called the Anakim or Refaim. They existed in ancient times and the Bible records their presence in the Golan Heights. They could have built Gilgal Refaim."

Written by Barry Chamish

{B} Gilgal


(Josh 4:19-20 KJV) "And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho. {20} And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal."

Commentary to above verse from - The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament:

"Joshua led the people to Gilgal, their first encampment in Canaan, about two miles from Jericho. There the 12 stones... taken out of the Jordan were set up, perhaps in a small circle. The name Gilgal means "circle," and may have been taken from an ancient circle of stones of pagan significance. If so, the more recent circle commemorating Yahweh's great work would serve to counteract the idolatrous association of the site."


{C} Giants


(Gen 6:4 KJV) "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."

1. The word "giants" in this verse has been translated from the Hebrew word 'nephiyl' or 'Nephilim' [Strong's 5303]. "It means a bully, a tyrant, a giant. It appears three times in the O.T. There was much controversy concerning these individuals. Since the etymology is uncertain, there is much speculation among reputable scholars. The translation 'giants' in the KJV came from the Septuagint and may be misleading. Does Gen 6:4 refer to the fall of angels? Were they apostates? It is possible that the word means 'heroes' or 'fierce warriors.' Until more evidence becomes available, perhaps it is wise to do as the RSV and NIV translations did, to render it "Nephilim."

(The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible)


2. "The form of the Hebrew word [Nephilim] denotes a plural verbal adjective or noun of passive signification, certainly from 'napal', 'to fall,' so that the connotation is 'the fallen ones,' clearly meaning the unnatural offspring that were on the earth in the years before the Flood, 'and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them' (Gen 6:4). The mention of the great stature of the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, in the evil report that the ten spies brought of the land of Canaan (Num 13:33) together with the LXX rendering, 'gigantes,' suggested the translation 'giants.' They were exceedingly wicked and violent so that 'every intent' of the thought of men's hearts 'was only evil continually' (Gen 6:5).

(Unger, "The New Unger's Bible Dictionary", page 471.)


3. "The Hebrew word for giants (nephilim) literally means the fallen-down-ones because these tall celestial beings fell from the sky. Their half-breed progeny and their descendants are often mentioned in the early books of the Old Testament until the last of them were finally killed off. They were known as the Rephaim, Emim, Anakim, Horim, Avim, and Zamzummim. Some scholars speculate that this tradition of giants born from the union of gods and humans formed the basis for the demigods of Greek mythology."

(Raymond E. Fowler, The Watchers)


4. "Apparently these unnatural offspring, the Nephilim, were monstrous and they have been memorialized in the legends and myths of every ancient culture on planet Earth... The Nephilim also seem to be echoed in the legendary Greek demigods. Throughout Greek mythology we find that intercourse between the gods and women yielded half-god, half-man Titans, demigods, or heroes which were partly terrestrial and partly celestial. Hercules is but one example. The seductions attributed to Zeus include Thetis, Dione, Leda, Metis, and Europa."

(Chuck Missler, "Alien Encounters"; page 206.)


5. "That ancient figment, concerning the intercourse of angels with women, is abundantly refuted by its own absurdity; and it is surprising that learned men should formerly have been fascinated by ravings so gross and prodigious."

(John Calvin, Commentary on Genesis, Volume 1 (Chapters 1-23))


{D} Rephaim

(Gen 14:5 KJV) "And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims [7497] in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim,"

(Deu 2:10-11 KJV) "The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; {11} Which also were accounted giants [7497], as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims."

(Deu 2:20 KJV) "That also was accounted a land of giants[7497]: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims;"

(2 Sam 5:18 KJV) "The Philistines also came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim [7497]."


[Strong's 7497]. rapha', raw-faw'; or raphah, raw-faw'; from H7495 in the sense of invigorating; a giant:--giant, Rapha, Rephaim (-s). See also H1051.

"Rephaim ('shades, ghosts') - the aboriginal giants who inhabited Canaan, Edom, Moab, and Ammon. (Unger, "The New Unger's Bible Dictionary", page 471.)


In Canaanite/Ugaritic mythology, Rephaim or "shades" are deities of the underworld. Compare this to:


(Psa 88:10) "Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah ."


(Job 26:5) "Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof."

The word "dead" in these verses is translated from "rapha" [Strong's 7496] which "describes those flaccid, feeble, weak persons who are living in Hades. They were languid, devoid of blood and animal life, but not lacking the powers of the mind, such as memory [ghosts, in other words]. They were the dead inhabitants of the netherworld, the ghosts of the dead, shades in Sheol." (The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, page 1777). Note that while H7497 and H7496 are both "rapha", they are still distinguishable, but nonetheless, related in the Hebrew.