Rephaim and Resurrection

The Amorite neighbors of the ancient Israelites summoned the spirits of the Rephaim to ritual meals in their honor on El’s mount of assembly, Mount Hermon. The travel required two full days, and they arrived after dawn on the third day.

No doubt you grasp the significance but let us add one more bit of information. Some scholars interpret the Rephaim text KTU 1.22 as a ritual to bring the Rephaim back to life.

There, shoulder to shoulder were the brothers,
whom El made to stand up in haste.

There the name of El revivified the dead,
the blessings of the name of El revivified the heroes.

There rose up Baal Rapiu,
the warriors of Baal and the warriors of Anat.[1] (Emphasis added)

Baal Rapiu (“Lord Rapi’u”) may refer to Rapi’u, the underworld god who ruled from Ashtaroth and Edrei in Bashan, or it may be an epithet (“Lord of the Rephaim”) of the storm-god Baal, king of the Canaanite pantheon. Other scholars translate that sentence, “There rose up the Rephaim of Baal,”[2] which fits with the following sentence describing them as warriors of Baal and the war-goddess Anat.

To be clear, scholars who believe the Rephaim texts were rituals to raise the god-kings of old back to life are in the minority. Those tablets are pretty beat up, buried under the rubble when Ugarit was destroyed by the Sea Peoples about 3,200 years ago, so it’s amazing we can make out anything at all. Although the theory does have some evidence, most Ugaritic scholars just don’t believe there’s enough evidence to read these texts as resurrection rituals.

Still, it’s clear that the Amorites believed the dead weren’t gone, they still had power to affect the living, and the Rephaim were an exalted group in the afterlife who served the great gods Baal and El.

And remember the travel time from the abode of the dead to the sanctuary of El: They arrived after dawn of the third day. Scholars agree on that detail, and it’s important.

To put a finer point on it:

The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

1 Corinthians 11:23–26, ESV

A meal. Not a ritual, exactly, but at the Last Supper Jesus gave His disciples a pattern for remembering His death until His glorious return. Then, after dawn of the third day:

They went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 

Luke 24:1–7, ESV (emphasis added)

Coincidence? The timing matches exactly. Jesus died on Friday. He traveled that day, and then another, and at dawn of the third day, like the Rephaim traveling from the land of the dead to El’s mount of assembly, Hermon, Jesus arrived back in Jerusalem—the site of His mount of assembly, Zion.

What did He do during those three days?

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.

1 Peter 3:19–20, ESV (emphasis added)

The meaning of this phrase has been studied and debated for about two thousand years. While it might appear that Jesus, as a spirit, “preached” (Greek kēryssō) to human spirits in Hell, that’s not what this means. “Proclaimed” or “declared” is a closer translation for kēryssō. Jesus wasn’t preaching; He was telling the spirits, “Listen—this is how it’s going to be.” And the context and grammar of the sentence make it clear that those spirits weren’t human:

The NT never uses the word for “spirit” in an unqualified fashion to refer to the human soul. Therefore, the reference in 1 Peter 3:19 may point to nonhuman supernatural beings. This interpretation is strengthened when the passage is read in the context of Genesis 6–9 because of the reference to Noah and the flood in 1 Pet[er] 3:20. The flood reference also draws in the traditions of 1 Enoch, so the “spirits in prison” may have been understood to be the fallen angels or “sons of God” of Genesis 6:1–4.[3] (Emphasis added)

Bingo! Jesus traveled to a supernatural prison to deliver a proclamation to spirits who’d been locked up for their disobedience since the days of Noah. Given that Peter wrote that the angels who sinned were chained in Tartarus “until the judgment,” it’s a safe bet that this was the same group.

Do you see the significance? The ancient Amorites of Ugarit performed rituals to summon the spirits of the Rephaim/Nephilim, the sons of the Watchers/Titans, to a ritual meal on El’s mount of assembly, Mount Hermon. The journey of those dead kings of old took two days, and they arrived “after sunrise on the third.” More than a thousand years later, shortly after His Transfiguration on their mount of assembly, Jesus was crucified. He died on Good Friday. In the spirit, He spent two days declaring His victory to the Watchers in Tartarus, and then rose to His mount of assembly, Jerusalem, at sunrise of the third day!


Jesus is coming back, and this time on a white horse. And here we get to the heart of the matter: The Hebrew prophets knew that the Messiah’s enemy on that day would be the rebel gods of the pagan world and the demon offspring of the old gods who walked the Earth before the Flood.

[1] KTU 1.22:i.5–7. Spronk, K. (1986). Op. cit., p. 171.

[2] Lewis, T. (1996). “Toward a Literary Translation of the Rapiuma Texts,” in Ugarit, Religion, and Culture: Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Ugarit, Religion, and Culture, Edinburgh, July 1994. Essays presented in honour of John C. L. Gibson. Ugaritisch-Biblische Literatur 12 (ed. N. Wyatt, W.G.E. Watson, and J.B. Lloyd); (Münster: Ugarit-Verlag), p. 130.

[3] Mangum, D. (2012, 2016). “Interpreting First Peter 3:18–22.” In Faithlife Study Bible. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press).


  1. Thank you so very much for this and all of the other articles you all have written. It now all makes sense to me. I love my small group, but they think I’m nuts when trying to explain who and what demons are and some of the other amazing facts I’ve been taught. I’m so very blessed but sad for the Church as a whole. We love to explain away what we are either too lazy to dive deep into, or too afraid that what we were taught early on was incorrect. We would often rather stay comfortably ignorant.. I just praise my Lord that He introduced me to Skywatch.
    God bless you all! I pray a shield around each of you and your family’s health, and against the attacks of the enemies.
    Thank you,
    With Christ’s love
    Dan and Lisa Applegarth

  2. Have heard you talk about the third day importance and connection to the Rephaim many times but I have a different question. Why is it always 3 days? Why does it take 3 Earth days of time to traverse from the physical to the spiritual places? Is it because these spiritual places are trapped in time and not in eternity? Just musing. Enjoy all the work you are producing.

    1. Author

      That’s a really good question. It’s clear from scripture that there is something about that time frame. Hosea prophesied:

      After two days he will revive us;
      on the third day he will raise us up,
      that we may live before him. (Hosea 6:2, ESV)

      But if you do a search through the Bible for “third day” or “three days,” you’ll find plenty of references. It’s significant that the peace offerings had to be eaten by the second day after slaughter. Anything left on the third day had to be burned (Lev. 7:17–18, 19:6–7). Based on known pagan rituals, the prohibition on eating meat from sacrificed animals on the third day was not just to protect the Israelites from spoiled food.

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