|"Theoretical speculation is futile unless it is supported by quantitative evidence."|
Rephaite (Hebrew רפאים, Rephaim) is a race of giants or dead ancestors who are residents of the Netherworld that are mentioned in the Old Testament and in Hebrew scriptures.
In the Hebrew Bible, "Rephaim" can describe an ancient race of giants in Iron Age Israel, or the places where these individuals were thought to have lived. In the biblical narrative, the Israelites are instructed to exterminate the previous inhabitants of the "promised land," i.e. "Canaan," which include various named peoples, including some unusually tall/large individuals. See the passages listed below in the book of Joshua, and also Deut. 3:11, which implies that Og, the King of Bashan, was one of the last survivors of the Rephaim, and that his bed was 9 cubits long in ordinary cubits. (An ordinary cubit is the length of a man's forearm according to the New American Standard Bible, or approx. 18 inches, which differs from a royal cubit. This makes the bed over 13 feet long. Anak, according to Deut 2:11, was a Rephaite.
The area of Moab at Ar, (the region East of the Jordan) before the time of Moses, was also considered the land of the Rephaites. Deuteronomy 2:18-21 refers to the fact that Ammonites called them Zamzummim, which is related to the Hebrew word זמזם, which literally translates into "Buzzers", or "the people whose speech sounds like buzzing." In Arabic the word زمزم (zamzama) translates as "to rumble, roll (thunder); murmur". As in Deut 2:11, the Moabites referred to them as the Emim.
Rephaim have also been considered the residents of the Netherworld (Sheol in the Hebrew Bible) in more recent scholarship. Possible examples of this usage appear as "shades", "spirits" or "dead" in various translations of the Bible.
Various ancient Northwest Semitic texts are also replete with references to terms evidently cognate with Rephaim as the dead or dead kings; see KAI 13.7-8, 14.8, 177.1; CTA 6.6.46-52, CTA 20-22 = KTU 1.161 (see the article by M.S. Smith, “Rephaim,” in the Anchor Bible Dictionary). Lewis (1989) undertakes a detailed study of several enigmatic funerary ritual texts from the ancient coastal city of Ugarit. Lewis concludes that the “Ugaritic Funerary Text” (KTU 1.161 = Ras Shamra 34.126) provides important evidence for understanding Ugarit's cult of the dead, wherein beings called rapi'uma, the long dead, and malakuma, recently dead kings, were invoked in a funeral liturgy, presented with food/drink offerings, and asked to provide blessings for the reign of the current king. The many references to repha'im in the Hebrew Bible in contexts involving Sheol and dead spirits strongly suggests that many ancient Israelites imagined the spirits of the dead as playing an active and important role in securing blessings, healing, or other benefits in the lives of the living.