Helpmewithbiblestudy.org

Giants of the Bible

Author's Bias: Interpretation: conservative
Inclination: dispensational
Seminary: none

The biblical history of giants was well known to the Hebrews and their fearsome physical attributes made powerful neighboring states that would challenge Israel's efforts of conquest and independence. The biblical accounts of giants served to:

1) reminded the Israelites of their dismay and bleak chances of success, and

2) acknowledged their ultimate dependence on God.

The Bible mentions several names or races of giants:

Nephilim

Little detail is known about the Nephilim aside from biblical accounts; however, extrabiblical Egyptian sources dated about 2000 BC mention their existence.

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. (Gen 6:4)

But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us." So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. "There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." (Num 13:31-33)

Rephaim

The Rephaim were one of the original occupants of the land, east of the Jordan, before the Canaanites immigrated. Og was a descendant of this race. Other giant groups similar or related to them were the Zamzummin (Zuzim), the Emim and the Anakim.

Extrabiblical accounts confirm the biblical existence of Rephaim. The Ras Shamra Texts whose cuneiform is dated about Joshua’s time, frequently mention the Rephaim.

In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim and the Zuzim in Ham and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, (Gen 14:5)

On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite." (Gen 15:18-21)

The Emim lived there formerly, a people as great, numerous, and tall as the Anakim. Like the Anakim, they are also regarded as Rephaim, but the Moabites call them Emim. (Deut 2:10-11)

It is also regarded as the land of the Rephaim, for Rephaim formerly lived in it, but the Ammonites call them Zamzummin, a people as great, numerous, and tall as the Anakim, but the LORD destroyed them before them. And they dispossessed them and settled in their place, (Deut 2:20-21)

all the cities of the plateau and all Gilead and all Bashan, as far as Salecah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan. (For only Og king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bedstead was an iron bedstead; it is in Rabbah of the sons of Ammon. Its length was nine cubits and its width four cubits by ordinary cubit.) So we took possession of this land at that time. From Aroer, which is by the valley of Arnon, and half the hill country of Gilead and its cities I gave to the Reubenites and to the Gadites. The rest of Gilead and all Bashan, the kingdom of Og, I gave to the half-tribe of Manasseh, all the region of Argob (concerning all Bashan, it is called the land of Rephaim. Jair the son of Manasseh took all the region of Argob as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maacathites, and called it, at is, Bashan, after his own name, Havvoth-jair, as it is to this day.) (Deut 3:10-14)

and the territory of Og king of Bashan, one of the remnant of Rephaim, who lived at Ashtaroth and at Edrei, (Josh 12:4)

all the kingdom of Og in Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei (he alone was left of the remnant of the Rephaim); for Moses struck them and dispossessed them. (Josh 13:12)

Anakim

Anak, from whom the Anakim were descendants of, was the son of Arba. The city Kirjath-arba, which means ‘the city of Arba’ was built by Arba, and the city ultimately became Hebron. Before the Conquest, the Anakim resided in the south near Hebron. It is believed that the Philistines intermingled with the race of Anakim from which Goliath of Gath, who fought David, came from.

Extrabiblical accounts confirm the biblical existence of Anakim. Egyptian manuscripts, the Execration Texts dated between 1900 and 1700 BC, records curses on Anakim chieftains who lived in Canaan.

The Emim lived there formerly, a people as great, numerous, and tall as the Anakim. Like the Anakim, they are also regarded as Rephaim, but the Moabites call them Emim. (Deut 2:10-11)

It is also regarded as the land of the Rephaim, for Rephaim formerly lived in it, but the Ammonites call them Zamzummin, a people as great, numerous, and tall as the Anakim, but the LORD destroyed them before them. And they dispossessed them and settled in their place, (Deut 2:20-21)

Then Joshua came at that time and cut off the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab and from all the hill country of Judah and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities. There were no Anakim left in the land of the sons of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod some remained. (Josh 11:21-22)

"Now then, give me this hill country about which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the LORD will be with me, and I will drive them out as the LORD has spoken." So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the LORD God of Israel fully. Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba; for Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim. Then the land had rest from war. (Josh 14:12-15)

But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us." So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." (Num 13:31-33)

Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze. He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him. (1 Sam 17:4-7)

Now when the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David went down and his servants with him; and as they fought against the Philistines, David became weary. Then Ishbi-benob, who was among the descendants of the giant, the weight of whose spear was three hundred shekels of bronze in weight, was girded with a new sword, and he intended to kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah helped him, and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, "You shall not go out again with us to battle, so that you do not extinguish the lamp of Israel." Now it came about after this that there was war again with the Philistines at Gob; then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Saph, who was among the descendants of the giant. There was war with the Philistines again at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam. There was war at Gath again, where there was a man of great stature who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also had been born to the giant. When he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimei, David's brother, struck him down. These four were born to the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants. (2 Sam 21:15-22)

Emim

The Emim (Hebrew meaning "dreadful ones") lived east of the Jordan. Little else is known about them.

In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim and the Zuzim in Ham and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, (Gen 14:5)

The Emim lived there formerly, a people as great, numerous, and tall as the Anakim. Like the Anakim, they are also regarded as Rephaim, but the Moabites call them Emim. (Deut 2:10-11)

Horim

The Horim occupied the mountain range of Seir. Little else is known about them.

In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim and the Zuzim in Ham and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. (Gen 14:5)

(The Emim lived there formerly, a people as great, numerous, and tall as the Anakim. Like the Anakim, they are also regarded as Rephaim, but the Moabites call them Emim. Horites used to live in Seir, but the descendants of Esau drove them out. They destroyed the Horites from before them and settled in their place, just as Israel did in the land the LORD gave them as their possession.) (Deut 2:10-12)

It is also regarded as the land of the Rephaim, for Rephaim formerly lived in it, but the Ammonites call them Zamzummin, a people as great, numerous, and tall as the Anakim, but the LORD destroyed them before them. And they dispossessed them and settled in their place, the LORD had done the same for the descendants of Esau, who lived in Seir, when he destroyed the Horites from before them. They drove them out and have lived in their place to this day. (Deut 2:10-12, 20-21)


Victories over giants would remind the nation of Israel of God's blessings and covenant, and the psalmist memorialized these victories:

Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan; (Ps 135:11)

And Og, king of Bashan, for His lovingkindness is everlasting, (Psalm 136:20)



Return to Systematic Study: Did Moses author the Pentateuch?

Historical Evidence of Post-Mosaic Authorship

Related subject:

Archeology Index


Copyright © 2006 Helpmewithbiblestudy.org. All rights to this material are reserved. We encourage you to print the material for personal and non-profit use or link to this site. Please do not distribute articles to other web locations for retrieval or mirror at any other site. If you find this article to be a blessing, please share the link.