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ZAMZUMMITE, ZAMZUMMIM (zăm-zūm'īt, zăm-zŭm'ĭm, Heb. zamzummîn, murmurers). A name found only in Deut.2.20. It is used of the race of giants, called Rephaim (2Sam.5.18, 2Sam.5.22), who lived in a spot east of the Jordan. Later on the Ammonites captured them and occupied their land. They are described as “a people strong and numerous, and...tall” (Deut.2.21). They may be the same as the Zuzites (Zuzim) in Gen.14.5.

ZAMZUMMIM zăm zum’ ĭm, the Ammonite name for the people called Rephaim by the Jews in the narrative of the conquest of Canaan. The term appears only in Deuteronomy 2:20, זַמְזֻמִּֽים; LXX Ζουζομμιν. The following v. adds (JPS) “a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakim; but the Lord destroyed them before them”; the KJV incorrectly trs. Rephaim as “giants” following a rabbinic tradition. Concerning the Ammonites little is known except that they were prob. Sem. and sufficiently similar in culture and language to be considered kinsman of Israel and the Moabites through their father Lot (Gen 19:38). They lived in the area of central Pal., E of the Jordan River and NE of the Dead Sea around the capitol ’Ammân of modern Jordan. The Ammonite lands had previously belonged to the Rephaim who are mentioned in Ugaritic economic texts from Ras Shamra. Only a speculative etymology can be given for the term Zamzummim, but it is possible that the word is an attempt to imitate the speech of a foreign tongue unknown to the imitator much like the Gr. βαρβαροι, applied to all those of alien language. If so this would lend credence to the notion that the aboriginal pre-conquest peoples of Syria-Pal. spoke a non-Indoeuropean, non-Sem. language of the agglutinative type possibly similar to Hurrian and that these agricultural and loosely organized tribal peoples were driven out and annihilated by successive waves of Sem. and Indoeuropean invasion from the N and E. If this is at all plausible then the pointing (addition of vowels) in the MT is merely a convenience with little factual foundation.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A race of giants who inhabited the region East of the Jordan afterward occupied by the Ammonites who displaced them. They are identified with the Rephaim (De 2:20). They may be the same as the Zuzim mentioned in connection with the Rephaim in Ge 14:5.

See Rephaim.

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