Tuesday, Oct 04th

Last update:08:21:32 PM GMT

You are here: Christian Doctrine History Giants and Myths

Giants and Myths

E-mail Print PDF

Atheists laugh at just about everything the Bible teaches, so we ought not become too traumatised by it, or take much notice of their ramblings. But, when Christians believe the same lies, we must speak up. One of the lies is that giants did not exist. In this paper I will show that they certainly did exist! (We can also confirm the existence of dragons – ancient names for dinosaurs – but that can be left to others). Another belief is that giants were the offspring of fallen angels, who had sexual relations with women, and so their babies became evil spirits as well as gigantic in size. Fanciful but riddled with theological problems.

Giants in Scripture

We all know about Goliath, but is there more evidence for giants? Yes, there is. And while atheists and liberals scoff at the idea, we should believe it because God’s word says they existed.

2 Samuel describes the sons of Goliath (that is, his relatives):

“And Ishbibenob, which [was] of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear [weighed] three hundred [shekels] of brass in weight, he being girded with a new [sword], thought to have slain David.” (2 Samuel 21:16)

This character appears after the deaths of Saul and his son, Jonathan. Ishbibenob was the son of Rapha, and he was just one of a whole tribe of giants in Philistia. He is no figment of the imagination! The name is of a real person, a descendant or relative of the giant, Goliath of Gath (as the ensuing description in the text proves). Later, when David’s army fought against the Philistines, one of David’s men killed another giant, Saph, another descendant of Goliath. This was followed, in quick succession, by more deaths of giants (2 Samuel 21:18-22):

“And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which [was] of the sons of the giant.

And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew [the brother of] Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear [was] like a weaver's beam.

And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of [great] stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant.

And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea the brother of David slew him.

These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.”

Saph was the giant killed by Sibbechai. The very name, Saph, means ‘tall’. Later, in the same region, in another battle, Elhanan killed Goliath’s brother, whose name is not given. Later, in another battle, Jonathan the son of Shimea (David’s brother), killed another relative of Goliath. This giant had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot. We know from modern giants that they usually have serious physical problems, if not deformities, though we do not know if these extra digits were deformities found in the whole nation or tribe of giants… but, they seem to have been common, along with another distinctive feature – long necks.

It is obvious from the texts that these are real people killed in real events by David’s men. Their size did not give them an added advantage. Each one was related to Goliath and was a giant in size (up to almost 14 feet tall).

The killing by Sibbechai is repeated in 1 Chronicles 20:4. The same chapter mentions the death of the six-fingered, six-toed giant. The word ‘giant’, rapha’, means ‘giants’ or Rephaim, and has reference to a whole tribe or nation of giants. The Rephaim or Rephaites, were an ancient Canaanite nation known for their gigantic stature. Different nations had different names for these very giants, who appeared to have been scattered all around the Middle East (and also in Crete).

Even Job mentions giants in a more indirect way (16:14, which means someone of great strength or might; giants were used as champions by the Philistine army):

“He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant.”

The giants lived in a specific geographical area known as the “valley of Rephaim” (valley of the giants): 2 Samuel 5:18, 22; 23:13. Also mentioned in 1 Chronicles as an actual geographical place, the name is based on the tribe or nation living there. It was named, too, by Isaiah (17:5). That this valley was called thus because of its giant inhabitants is sure. However, giants lived elsewhere, too.

From Ancient Times

Giants existed from the earliest of days. Hence the first mention is in Genesis 6:4,

“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare [children] to them, the same [became] mighty men which [were] of old, men of renown.”

The “giants” were nĕphiyl, which means – giants, the ‘nephilim’. In this text and in some others, a ‘giant’ meant someone who is excellent, noble and skilful, including in warfare. Unfortunately some interpret these passages as referring to fallen angels, ‘fallers’, rebels and apostates. From this kind of interpretation comes the dubious idea that fallen angels had sexual relations with human women, who then bore giants of enormous size. But, the text is simply telling us that the sons of God (judges, rulers) who were themselves mighty and noble, had children with women (naturally) and their sons also became noble and mighty. It has no connection with the fact of giants in size. There is an absurdity in saying that demons had relations with human beings, when demons are spirits without bodies or earthly substance! Where does this absurd theory come from? Not from scripture or genuine interpreters, but from Jewish folklore!

Specifically, it comes from the Book of Enoch, which Wikipedia lists as an “ancient Jewish religious work, traditionally ascribed to Enoch”. However, it is not part of either Jewish or Christian canon of scripture, so we may treat it as bogus. From this book we get the idea of ‘watchers’ or demons, and from this book we get the ‘Christian’ hypothesis of demons going in to women and causing them to become pregnant with ‘half-breed’ demon-men!

These ‘watchers’ are said to be the ‘fathers’ of the Nephilim or giants. Many in the churches have been seduced by this Jewish idea of demons-with-women, so it continues in some circles rather like a persistent infection that has yet to be purged with medicines and surgery. In other words, the idea is not from a true Christian source and the ‘interpretations’ are bogus.

Giant = Great Physical Stature

However, in Numbers 13:33, the word ‘giant’ literally means someone of great stature, as the text proves.

“And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, [which come] of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”

Every text must be read as written, and not with preconceived ideas and theories. In this verse we are looking at the Nephilim. Anak was a progenitor of the tribe of giants in Canaan. The verse obviously refers to abnormally large men, who dwarfed the observing Jews, who, they said, felt like mere grasshoppers by comparison. They were also very strong and were great warriors.

Deuteronomy 2:11 has this:

“Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims.”

So, the Moabites also knew of the existence of giants in size, calling them Emims, the ancient inhabitants of Moab, meaning ‘terrors’. Nothing noble about that title – but an allusion to the size of the tribal members. The Ammonites also knew of these giant people, and called them Zamzummims, ‘plotters’, another name for the Rephaim, or Zuzim... physical giants (Deuteronomy 2:20). Deuteronomy 3:11 expands on this meaning by referring to Og, king of Bashan. He was an Amorite king and one of the last of the tribe of giants.

Indirect references suggest these giants had long necks; ‘Og’ means ‘long-necked’. His bedstead was very large and made of iron to support his greater weight; it was nine cubits long and four wide. Nine cubits would have been roughly 13.5 feet. The kingdom of Bashan was known as the ‘land of the giants”. Joshua (12:4) also mentions the land of the giants and says that those who remained alive were in Ashtaroth and Endrei. The Israelites fought against them and drove most of them out (Joshua 13:12). Joshua speaks of the valley of the giants several more times.

We can be certain that ‘giants’ in the usual sense meant people of huge size, because mention of men of “great stature” appears elsewhere. For example, in Numbers 13:32, is the text about Goliath’s relative (2 Samuel 21:20), plus an Egyptian giant (1 Chronicles 11:23). “Great” refers to size, and “stature” also speaks of the ‘measure’ or size. The (great) stature of the Egyptian is similar, referring to his great size; he was five cubits tall, roughly 7.5 feet tall – small compared to Goliath and his family and the rest of the people of the Rephaim. I once personally worked with an ex-Royal Marine who was seven feet tall!


The majority of texts referring to giants speak of size – men (and women) who were of abnormal size. Today, we know that such people, giants, have serious medical problems and often have deformities. In the verses we looked at we come across long necks and an unusual number of digits. Perhaps the tribe or nation of giants was so because of intensive in-breeding. We also know from the names given to them by other nations, that they were not favoured, being rather sinful in activity, sufficiently sinful for the Israelites to drive them out of their own land.

The notion that these giants are the product of demon-human sexual relations is farcical, given what we know about the spirit realm. As I have shown, this kind of myth is propagated not by Christian teaching, but by ignorant Christians (often charismatics) who have taken on the fantasy folklore of ancient Jews whose work is not even accepted by Judaism.

Giants, then, were real. Any ‘myths’ ascribed to them are in the minds of atheists and foolish Christians who have no idea what they are talking about, and who have no understanding of genuine interpretation. 

© May 2013

Published on www.christiandoctrine.com

Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
United Kingdom