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The Legends of the Jews, vol. I, ch. IEdit

English translation (Henrietta Szold, 1913)Edit

Leviathan, ziz, and behemot are not the only monsters; there are many others, and marvellous ones, like the reëm, a giant animal, of which only one couple, male and female, is in existence. Had there been more, the world could hardly have maintained itself against them. The act of copulation occurs but once in seventy years between them, for God has so ordered it that the male and female reëm are at opposite ends of the earth, the one in the east, the other in the west. The act of copulation results in the death of the male. He is bitten by the female and dies of the bite. The female becomes pregnant and remains in this state for no less than twelve years. At the end of this long period she gives birth to twins, a male and a female. The year preceding her delivery she is not able to move. She would die of hunger, were it not that her own spittle flowing copiously from her mouth waters and fructifies the earth near her, and causes it to bring forth enough for her maintenance. For a whole year the animal can but roll from side to side, until finally her belly bursts, and the twins issue forth. Their appearance is thus the signal for the death of the mother reëm. She makes room for the new generation, which in turn is destined to suffer the same fate as the generation that went before. Immediately after birth, the one goes eastward and the other westward, to meet only after the lapse of seventy years, propagate themselves, and perish.[1] A traveller who once saw a reëm one day old described its height to be four parasangs, and the length of its head one parasang and a half.[2] Its horns measure one hundred ells, and their height is a great deal more.[3]


  1. A quotation from a manuscript Midrash in Midbar Kedemot קי, No. 12, and Aguddat Aggadot. 39. A similar statement is found MHG I, 95–96 concerning a certain serpent related to the one which seduced Eve. Comp. also Rashi on Is. 30. 6 and Herodotus III, 109.
  2. Baba Batra 73b; comp. also ibid. 74b, where a view is quoted which declares the monsters חנינים (Gen. 1. 21) to be אורזילא דרימא, which is very likely a kind of Re'em.
  3. Tehillim 22, 195, where one view is also cited to the effect that the circumference was about one hundred cubits; comp. vol. IV, p. 83. On a frightful kind of tiger comp. Hullin 59b; a passage which was strangely misunderstood by the author of the article "Leviathan and Behemoth" in Jewish Encyclopedia, VIII, 39.

The Legends of the Jews, vol. I, ch. IVEdit

English translation (1913)Edit

One animal, the reëm, Noah could not take into the ark. On account of its huge size it could not find room therein. Noah therefore tied it to the ark, and it ran on behind.[1] Also, he could not make space for the giant Og, the king of Bashan. He sat on top of the ark securely, and in this way escaped the flood of waters. Noah doled out his food to him daily, through a hole, because Og had promised that he and his descendants would serve him as slaves in perpetuity.[2]


  1. BR 31. 13 (according to one view, the young of the Reëm were in the ark); comp. also Shu'aib, 5a (below, which also has the statement that all the animals, which were intended for the ark, were born shortly before they entered there); Zebahim 113b; Sanhedrin 108b, according to the reading of some MSS. (comp. Rabinowicz, note 2), and MHG I, 150, note 53. Concerning the Reëm see Index, s. ט. A less fabulous description of this animal is found in Lekah, Num. 23. 22: its size is larger than that of a camel, its horns, which are as sharp as a sword, are five cubits long, so that no animal can resist it.
  2. PRE 23; Targum Yerushalmi Deut. 2. 11 and 3. 10 (a more detailed description of this legend, taken from the Targum, is found in Yalkut Reubeni on Gen. 7. 22); Zebahim 113b. In the last passage it is further remarked that the giants, who had not been carried off by the waters on account of their size, perished from the heat (concerning this points see vol. I, p. 159). The Reëm and Og had such gigantic strength that the heat had no effect upon them. Different is the version of this legend in MHG 1, 159: The men of the generation of the flood were fifteen cubits high, and they tried to save themselves on the lofty mountains when the flood broke forth (comp., however, Yoma 76a and BR 32. 11), for which reason God caused the waters to rise fifteen cubits over the high places. Comp. also Tan. B. I, 36; Tan. Noah 7; Aggadat Bereshit 4, 10. On Og comp. also note 54, and vol. III, pp. 340, 343.

The Legends of the Jews, vol. IV, ch. IVEdit

English translation (1913)Edit

In the solitude of the desert David had opportunities of displaying his extraordinary physical strength. One day he slew four lions and three bears, though he had no weapons. His most serious adventure was with the reëm. David encountered the mammoth beast asleep, and taking it for a mountain, he began to ascend it. Suddenly the reëm awoke, and David found himself high up in the air on its horns. He vowed, if he were rescued, to build a temple to God one hundred ells in height, as high as the horns of the reëm. Thereupon God sent a lion. The king of beasts inspired even the reëm with awe. The reëm prostrated himself, and David could easily descend from his perch. At that moment a deer appeared. The lion pursued after him, and David was saved from the lion as well as the reëm.[1]


  1. Tehillim 22, 195; 91, 395; 92, 408. Comp. vol. IV, p. 333.

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