Superhuman: Eleazar, giant of the Jews.
I am intrigued by the extremes of Mankind. The limits of the human and what rare humans are capable of, strike me as inherently interesting. Sometimes, the possibilities within the human gene pool are quite staggering. One such possibility - in fact, actuality, for once he lived - was Eleazar (or Elazar, as it is sometimes written), a giant of the Jews.
Before I go on, I would like it made clear that Eleazar is an historical figure. He is not a myth or a legend. He was written of by Josephus, the historian (who wrote specifically of his height) and was in a social position in the latter part of his life, in which there could be no hiding his true nature: too many people would have known who he was.
Now, the Guiness Book of World Records has Robert Pershing Wadlow as the tallest man on "record" at 8' 11 inches or 2 metres 72 centimetres. The question is, whose records? History has many taller examples recorded in one form or another. Some of those historical records look pretty solid. During his lifetime, Robert Pershing Wadlow was hailed as the "tallest man in medical history" - and perhaps that is true. He was probably the tallest man to encounter relatively modern medicine and be recorded, for posterity, by doctors. Yet, there are other types of record - such as historical records.
In the "Antiquities of the Jews", by Josephus, is the story of Eleazar, High Priest. Josephus was a Jew and son of a priest who became a noted historian and Roman Citizen. He went by various names: Yosef Ben Matityahu, as a Jew, Titus Flavius Josephus as a Roman, or simply Josephus, as an historian. His works recorded issues of importance in Jewish history and have given great insight to the period, particularly the Destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (which he, of course, survived to write about).
So, who does Josephus tell us Eleazar was? Well, he was the son of Aaron, who was brother of Moses (yes, that Moses). Aaron was a Levite and High Priest. Eleazar, rose through the ranks of the religion and, in time, he too was appointed High Priest (the story has it that Moses himself appointed him High Priest by taking the holy vestments off of Aaron and passing them to Eleazar. My question is, then, how tall was Aaron, that his vestments should fit Eleazar?)
So, being High Priest, it is clear that Eleazar would have been well known. His height would have been known to all of the Jews of his time. I would like you now to guess how tall he was stated to have been.
Guess again. He was reputed to have been 10 ft 6 inches tall.
That is a full nineteen inches taller than Robert Pershing Wadlow "tallest man on record".
Eleazar fathered a son, Phinehas, by his wife (a daughter of Putiel) and he, in turn, features in many tales that appear in the historical records. So, this figure of Eleazar has many links to documented lives.
It is said that he was buried at Gibeah, on lands given to his son, Phinehas, in the hill country of Ephraim.
To this day, this true giant is commemorated by the Eastern Orthodox Church, annually, on September 2nd. He is also remembered by the Armenian Apostolic Church, who hold him to be a Holy Forefather in their Calendar of Saints. They celebrate him on July 30.
I have been thinking about his height. At 10 foot 6 inches he is about twice the height of a Singaporean woman. He is a full four and a half feet above the height of what modern people call a tall man. How must life have been for such a giant man, when even tall people came up to the height of his navel?
(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and one month, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and six months, and Tiarnan, twenty-three months, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)