By Rob Sullivan
The one event that shaped the world more than any other during the last Century was World War II. Conservative estimates place the number killed during the conflict as well north of 55,000,0001. In Europe, the war officially began in September of 1939 with Germany’s invasion of Poland. Over succeeding months, the German Wehrmacht would sweep through and take Norway, Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
In May of the 1940, Hitler invaded France. Germany’s Blietkrieg (German for “lightning war”) tactics overwhelmed the British and French forces. Within 6 weeks, France was capitulating and Britain was desperately evacuating what remained of its Expeditionary Forces on mainland Europe.
After the fall of France, much of Western Europe lay in Hitler’s hands. For the next year, Great Britain stood largely alone against the might of Nazi Germany. Soviet Russia would not be invaded for another 12 months. The United States would not enter WWII until the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 7, 1941. During this interim period, the heralded Battle of Britain was fought. In one of the most important air campaigns of all time, the German Luftwaffe tangled with Britain’s Royal Air Force for control of the skies over England.
On many a night, German aircraft would rain down bombs on the city of London. With this as a backdrop, the person considered to be the “most distinguished and renowned figure in the history of American broadcast journalism”2 took to the airwaves. Edward R. Murrow, CBS War Correspondent, captivated America’s listening public with his rooftop broadcasts while Britain and Germany’s young men fought for the airspace above London. Some would argue that his broadcasts turned the sentiment of a largely ambivalent American public.
While a mountain peak of journalism, Murrow is certainly not the first to report from a battlefield or war zone. Battlefield reporting and the work of war correspondents go well back into ancient times. Some of the earliest battlefield reports we have go as far back as Egyptian Army exploits in and around the ancient land of Canaan.
One Egyptian document presently housed in the British Museum dates back nearly 3300 years. Referred to as the Anastasi Papyrus, this document appears to be a scolding letter sent from one army correspondent named Hori. In the letter, he reprimands another scribe or correspondent named Amenemope for his poor leadership and lack of battlefield presence. A point is made in the letter on how critical it is to be accurate when determining rations, equipment and other supplies.
In one fascinating passage, a discussion takes place of an encounter in a Canaanite mountain pass. We are told that Egyptian forces came across the Shosu or Shasu warriors, whose height from nose to foot varied from 4 to 5 cubits.3 Egyptians often referred to the inhabitants of Canaan as the Shosu or the Shasu.4 The cubit in view here is the Royal Egyptian cubit (about 20.65 inches in length).5 This would mean that the height of those encountered varied from at least 6 ft 8 in to 8 ft 6 in. This is particularly interesting when you consider that a main point in the letter regards the need for accuracy.
Similarly, there exists an Egyptian relief (stone carving) that recounts Egypt’s battles under Ramses II against the Hittites near Kadesh. In the relief, we are told about the capture of two Shasu spies. Historians have debated the unusual size given to the captured-forces in the relief. It is one thing for Egyptian carvings to represent their Pharaohs with almost super human size. It is quite another for them to depict their enemies as such. Again, the Egyptians seem to be encountering forces of unusual height in their exploits in and around Canaan.
As far back as 2000 BC, Egypt’s religious leadership would engage in a peculiar and yet relevant practice for this discussion. They would inscribe the names of their enemies on statues, bowls or blocks of clay. They would then smash the objects in the hope of bringing about the named party’s defeat on the battlefield. Recovered fragments of these materials are referred to as the Execration Texts.6 A display in the Berlin Museum contains incantations against the “Iy Aneq”. The Egyptians appear to regard these people as being of great stature. It has been theorized that the Iy Aneq are the Biblical Anakim – the very ones of who the Israeli spies said they were like grasshoppers in comparison (see Numbers 13: 33).
The Bible mentions the existence of giants in a number of key places. The story of David’s confrontation with Goliath (I Samuel 17: 4) is but one example. Deuteronomy 3: 11 tells us of Og, the King of Bashan. He was said to be the last of the Rephaim – a race of giants. Ishbi-Benob of II Samuel 21: 16 is another example. Giants and races of giants appear in numerous places throughout the Scripture.
Could it be that ancient war accounts provide confirmation of the biblical record? It would seem so!
7 DeLoach, Charles – Giants – A Reference Guide from History, the Bible and Recorded Legend; Rowman & Littlefield; USA 1995 (page 47)
German Stuka aircraft: http://www.public.iastate.edu/~s_g_t/Images/Aircraft/Stuka.jpg
Edward R Murrow: http://www.pbs.org/weta/reportingamericaatwar/reporters/murrow/
Anastasi Papyrus: http://www.britishmuseum.org/collectionimages/AN00436/AN00436786_001_l.jpg
Ramesses II Wall Relief: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Im.png