Glubb had called it the Thermopylae of Syria, and like the Cilician gates presented a geographical conduit for travel further south along the king’s highway. The Edrei gap was the narrow winding passage leading from the plains spilling from the Golan into the country overlooked by Ramoth Gilead. Further to the northeast volcanic lava flows prevent the passage of horses, and to the west the steep defiles of the emerging Golan prevent the rapid passage of the hordes of war.
The falling sun of the afternoon bathed our first visit of the valley with pastel shades, and the quiet lapping of the creek along the floor of the wadi hardly portrayed the vicious nature of the engagements that would soak these few yards with sanguine punctuation. Izzer looked at us puzzled, as if we were mad. Why aren’t you looking at the fine ruins of Bozrah, the best Roman amphitheater in the world only a few miles to the east? There is nothing here! But like Abraham, and his sons after him, a view of the world emerged in their minds that others could not visualize. This was the place of real engagements where men could see the demise of empires before their faces, amid the cries and stench of battle. For Abraham, living in tents and engaged in the care of flocks, attachment was only to a land towards which the wisdom of an unseen deity was guiding him. For Jacob Edrei was a place where engagement was possible with Laban who challenged his departure towards the land of inheritance with greater forces. It was here that Jacob stood for the values of a land and inheritance not visibly marked by stones or through teraphim carefully tucked deep within the camel’s stuff.
Edrei or modern Da’ara made famous recently in the uprising of the Syrian revolts, was already a famous city in biblical history, for it was here that Og king of Bashan had made his last futile stand against the children of Israel. Num 21:33; Deut 1:4; 3:1,10; Josh 12:4; 13:12,31; 19:37 What appears more amazing is the underground construction of a complete city, giving a level of security for the defenders not commonly seen elsewhere. (1) The ruins are described as being fourteen miles (23km) in circumference by Burckhardt.(2) The remarkable fact of the defeat of Edrei is that it appears there was no loss of life of Israel’s soldiers. Note the confusion that existed when Israel were defeated at Ai and there was a small loss of troops. This would not have been the case if there was a historical precedent prior to the events of Joshua 7.
The defeat of Og has religious overtones. His residence was at Ashtaroth, a derivative of Astarte, a pagan deity, and it was at Ashteroth Karnaim (The two horned (or moon shaped) Ashtaroth that Chedorlaomer had previously demonstrated his religious authority in a chapter marking the fight between their god El, and the most high El (El Elyon) Gen 14:5. The same religious overtones are likely seen in Jericho the city of the moon, where Babylonian garments were found in the hand of Aachan, and recent demonstration of astrological alignment of the tower of Jericho with other geographical landmarks. These astrologers were at the foundation of Babylonian religion, and were to arrive in Israel at the cause of significant astrological events, such as the turning back of the sundail of Ahaz in Isa 39 and the birth of Christ in Matt 2. But their folly was they could not see the one who spread the heavens, and counted the nations as nothing, saying who can be like El? Isa 40:12,18. Thus the battle of Og was a foretaste of conquest of Armageddon, where the military power of men is driven by a religious leader. This battle then became a national icon of the deliverance from tremendous foes. Note the language of Ps 135:11 “EVEN” Og king of Bashan … and all the kingdoms of Caanan . So Israel will once again be delivered from a time of trouble at Jerusalem and throughout their land, when the latter-day Assyrian treads in their land. The battle then taken to Assyria and to the entrances of Nimrod Micah 5:5,6.
- The land of Gilead, with excursions in Lebanon pgs 99,214 Laurence Oliphant
- Burckhardt, geography pg 385