By Joe Bartling
Gilgal Rephaim (Hebrew for “Circle of the Giants”) is a large megalithic monument that is just three miles east of the site of Gamla in the Golan. This area is known as the land of Bashan, where King Og lived and is located east of the Jordan River, and the Sea of Galilee in what would be the land of the tribe Mannaseh. If you recall, King Og of Bashan, who according to Deuteronomy 3:11, “was the last of the Rephaim (giants), whose bed was decorated with iron and was more than nine cubits long (13 1/2 feet) and four cubits wide (six feet).” The structure has been dated by archaeologists to the Early Bronze Age (3000 – 2700 BCE), thus would have existed prior to the flood of Noah. There is over 42,000 tons of boulders, partly worked, and stacked up to 2 meters (nearly 7 feet) high. The outermost circle is 520 feet in diameter. In order to see the entire structure, an aerial view is required.
The monument is in the center of a large plateau that includes thousands of dolmens, man-made table-like structures made of stone. At the end of this plateau, three miles west, lays Gamla, which also has dolmens around it.
It is possible that the ancient inhabitants of this area practiced excarnation, that is the burial practice of removing the flesh from the bones of the deceased, perhaps leaving the body exposed for scavengers such as vultures. It is interesting that just three miles from this location is the Gamla Nature Reserve, at the site of ancient Gamla, which hosts one of the world’s largest known populations of Griffon vultures, and other birds of prey.
Certainly the later inhabitants of Gamla were very familiar with this site as it is a mere 3 mile walk up the Daliyot Stream. An interesting fact about Gamla is that, although thousands were have said to have died there during the Jewish Revolt in what is called “The Masada of the North”, unlike at Masada, no bodies have ever been found.
Even in the New Testament, it appears that Jesus is familiar with vultures like this and even these practices of excremation, for he says this in Matthew 24:28 and in Luke 17:37 – “Where there is a dead body, the vultures will gather.”