Giants in the Bible

In my previous post, I covered a very broad introduction to the Nephilim, who were a group of giants that were the offspring of fallen angels and human women. In this post, I will examine other instances where the Old Testament mentions giants.


The Battle of the Kings

       Genesis 14 describes a battle that took place between two different groups of kings. The victorious side was a group of four kings led by a king named Chedorlaomer, the king of Elam, who defeated another group of five kings. Genesis 14:5 describes one such battle:

“And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim.” (Genesis 14:5, KJV).

If this verse were read at a casual glance, it would appear to be about three groups of people who were defeated by a group of kings. However, what is interesting about this verse is that these three groups of giants and are mentioned at other points in the Bible. Although the Bible does not mention the height of these particular group of giants, but all three groups of giants did at some point occupy the land of Canaan.

The Rephaim

            In the Old Testament, the Rephaim were a well-known group of giants who occupied a part of Canaan called “The Valley of the Rephaim” or “The Valley of the Giants.” The land of the Rephaim was part of Abraham’s inheritance mentioned in Genesis 15:20. The Valley of the Rephaim is also mentioned in 2 Samuel 5:18, 5:22, 23:23; 1 Chronicles 11:15 and 14:9; Isaiah 17:5. The Valley of the Giants is mentioned in Joshua 15:8, 17:15, and 18:16.

The Emims

            The Emims were another group of giants who lived in the land of Canaan, but did not at the time of Israel’s settlement as mentioned in Deuteronomy 2:10-11.

The Zuzims aka The Zamzummims

            This particular group of giants was destroyed by the Lord, as mentioned in Deuteronomy 2:20-21.

The Anakims aka the sons of Anak

            This group of giants is mentioned the most in the Old Testament. Anak had three sons- Ahiman, Shehai, and Talmai, who were in Canaan when Moses sent out the twelve spies in Numbers chapter 13. According to the ten spies who gave the discouraging report to the Israelites, the sons of Anak were so tall that the Israelites “looked like grasshoppers in their sight.” (Numbers 13:33) and discouraged Israel from entering the Promise Land (Deuteronomy 1:28). The sons of Anak are mentioned in Numbers 13:22, 13:28, and 13:33.

In Deuteronomy 9:2-3, God pronounces judgment on the Anakim. God uses Joshua’s conquest of Canaan to judge the Anakim, who were ran out of the land of Israel and fled to Gaza in Gath and in Ashdod (Joshua 11:21-22).

After obtaining his inheritance, Caleb also defeats the Anakim on Mount Hebron, as outlined in Joshua 14:12-15, 15:13-14 and Judges 1:20.

Og, King of Bashan

            Og, king of Bashan, also receives a lot of attention in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 3:11 describes Og as a “remnant of the giants.” Og came against the Israelites to attack them and was soundly defeated. The Israelite victory is mentioned in Numbers 21:33-34; Deuteronomy 1:4, 3:1-4, 29:7, 31:4; Joshua 12:4, 13:12, 13:30-31; Psalm 135:11, 136:20. The land of Og was also given as part of an inheritance.

The Philistine Giants

            As mentioned earlier, after Joshua and the Israelites defeated the sons of Anak and they fled to Gath and Ashdod, which happens to be Philistine territory. The Philistines were also a constant thorn in the flesh of ancient Israel and they battled many, many times. The Bible mentions five Philistine giants who were either killed by David or David’s men. (A parallel account of these events are in 1 Chronicles 20:4-8).

  1. Goliath- the Philistine champion (1 Samuel 17:4) was defeated by David (1 Samuel 17:23-52).
  2. Ishbi-benob- a giant defeated by David’s soldier Abishai (2 Samuel 21:16-17).
  3. Saph or Sippai- a giant defeated by David’s soldier Sibbechai (2 Samuel 21:18).
  4. Lahmi, the brother of Goliath- a giant defeated by David’s soldier Elhanan (2 Samuel 21:19).
  5. An unnamed giant- defeated by David’s soldier Jonathan, the son of Shimea (2 Samuel 21:22.

Though critics of the Bible and even some mainstream churches may dismiss the idea of the Nephilim, the evidence of giants in the Bible cannot be ignored or explained away. The Israelite encounters with the giants are not bedtime stories or myth. I believed these events occurred and that God had used the Israelites settlement of Canaan as judgment not only against the idolatrous peoples who lived in the land, but also against the remnant of the Nephilim.

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