Giants in Mythology

This post is part of an ongoing series concerning the Nephilim, or giants in the Bible. For more information, you can read the previous posts, “An Introduction to the Nephilim,” “Giants in the Bible,” and “As In the Days of Noah,” which are found in the site archives.

 In previous posts, I have discussed the issue of the Nephilim, or giants in the Bible. I have also discussed the non-canonical Book of Enoch, which discusses in more detail the events of Genesis 6:1-4. This post will examine the impact of giants in mythology, more specifically Greek and Norse mythology. There are other mythologies that discuss giants, which I hope to get to soon. Before we go any further let me state that I do not ascribe any theological authority to mythology or the Book of Enoch. These books are being used to illustrate concepts in Scripture. The Bible and its accepted canon is the only book I consider to be God’s holy Word.

Greek Mythology

Even today in Western culture, there is a familiarity with the Greek myths and their pantheon of gods. The Titans were a race of giant divine beings who were overthrown by the Olympian gods. Giants are described as a constant thorn in the side of the Olympian gods. In fact, the giants are described as, “They were a force for disorder and chaos, rapists, thieves, and murders, and they could not be allowed to co-exist with the new order.”[1]

This description of the giants confirms how they are described in the Book of 1 Enoch: “The giants consumed all of the work and toil of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another’s flesh, and drank the blood.” (1 Enoch 7:4-5).[2]

Specific Giants in Greek Mythology

 

Cyclopes one-eyed giants.

Tityus- giant killed by Apollo and Artemis after he tried to rape their mother, Leto.

Argus- a giant with 100 eyes, “the all-seeing giant,” who was killed by Zeus.

Antaeus- a giant who was the king of Libya, killed by Hercules.

Memnon of Ethiopia- a giant killed by Achilles.

Polyphemus- a man eating Cyclopes encountered by Odysseus.

The Laestrygonians- giant cannibals encountered by Odysseus.

There are also other myths of Hercules helping Zeus and the other gods in their war against the giants. Jason and the Argonauts also helped a king defeat a group of giants.

Norse Mythology

If you are familiar with comic books or comic book movies, you should be familiar with the names of Thor, Loki, and Odin. Not only are they popular characters in modern cinema, they are also part of Norse mythology. We will take a brief look at how giants are intertwined in the stories of Thor, Loki, and Odin, then we will look at other specific giants mentioned in Norse mythology.

Thor

Geirrod- a giant who attempted to kill Thor.

Hymir- a giant killed by Thor.

Jarnsaxa- a giantess and mistress of Thor.

Magni- son of Thor and Jarnsaxa.

Loki

Loki, who is known as a trickster and the father of lies in Norse mythology, is the offspring of his giant father, Farbauti, and his giantess mother, Laufey.

Angrboda- giantess and mistress of Loki. Loki and Angrboda had three children, sons Fenrir, the wolf, and Jarmungand, the greatest of serpents. Hel, a daughter with decaying skin.

Thakk- a giantess, who was Loki in disguise.

Odin

Odin is the father of Thor, Odin is also a partial offspring of the giants, as his mother, Bestla, was a giantess. Odin also had a giantess mistress, who name was Grid.

Jotunheim

In Norse mythology, Jotunheim is the realm of the giants.

More Giants in Norse Mythology

The Frost Giants

The Frost giants include Thrym, the king of the Frost Giants; Augelmir, a giant; Gerd, a giantess, and Gymir, a giant.

Other Giants

Other giants and giantesses mentioned in Norse Mythology are Baugi, Bergelmir, Fjolsvid, Hraesvelg, Hrungnir, Hyndla, Hyrrokin, Logi, Mist Calf, Muspell, Skrymir, Surt, Suttung, Thiazi, Utgard-Loki, Vafthrudnir, Ymir, and Eggther, the watchman of the giants.

Ragnarok

In Norse mythology, Ragnarok would be the equivalent to the Battle of Armageddon or any apocalyptic final battle. Ragnarok is the final battle between the Norse gods, including Thor and Odin, and the Giants. In the Battle, Thor, Odin, and Loki are killed, the world is set on fire by the giant Surt. The world is later reborn and made new after the final battle.

Although tales of giants are relegated to the area of myth and legend, how is it that ancient cultures, separated by vast distances and time, with no form of mass communication, all share similar stories of giants and even “sky people” coming to earth? Could these myths and legends simply be retellings of the fallen angels who came to earth and lusted after the daughters of men and produced a race of giants as described in Genesis 6:1-4? Could all of these stories be the results of when God confused the languages and scattered the people after the Tower of Babel? I believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, and inspired Word of God. There are supernatural events described in the Bible that Christians accept without hesitation- the virgin birth of Christ, dead people being raised to life, a talking donkey, a floating ax head, and a ninety year-old women giving birth to name a few. I encourage you to do your own research into these matters and to study the Word of God. There are many good teachers out there concerning the subject of the Nephilim, please check them out for yourself.

[1] Robin Waterfield and Kathryn Waterfield, The Greek Myths: Stories of the Greek Gods and Heroes Wildly Retold, 28. New York: Metro Books.

[2] Joseph B. Lumpkin, The Books of Enoch: The Complete Volume Containing: 1 Enoch (The Ethiopic Book of Enoch) 2 Enoch (The Slavic Secrets of Enoch) 3 Enoch (The Hebrew Book of Enoch), 29. Blountsville, AL: Fifth Estates Publishers, 2010.

As in the Days of Noah

In what has become known as the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25, also parallel accounts in Mark 13 and Luke 21), Jesus describes what the earth will be like at the time of His return. Jesus describes a time of wars, natural disasters, false prophets, and the persecution of believers. Jesus also describes how people will be unprepared for His return and draws parallels to the days of Noah.

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For in the days that were before the Flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the Flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:36-39, KJV; see also Luke 17:26-27).

What were the days of Noah like? According to Genesis 6, verses five and eleven, the days of Noah were full of evil, wickedness, corruption, and violence. Just a casual glance of the news will bring you images of wars, natural disasters, violence, civil unrest, and the persecution of Christians all around the world.

Jeremiah wrote of the human heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it.” (Jeremiah 17:9, KJV). However, what if there was something more to all of this wickedness than humanity’s fallen, sinful nature? What if there were also evil, supernatural forces at work in these last days? What if we can trace these forces back to almost the very beginning of biblical history?

In previous posts, I have spoken concerning the Book of 1 Enoch and the Nephilim. Once again, the Book of Enoch is not to be held with the same authority as the accepted canon of Scripture, it is being used for illustrative purposes. The opening verse of the Book of Enoch states that its contents are meant for the End Times generation:

“The words of the blessing of Enoch, with which he blessed the elect and righteous, who will be living in the day of tribulation, when all the wicked and godless are to be removed” (1 Enoch 1:1).

The Book of Enoch elaborates on Genesis 6:4, which tells the story of angels coming to earth and having sex with human women, which produced a race of giants. 1 Enoch chapters seven and eight teach that these fallen angels also humanity about witchcraft, astrology, the making of weapons of war, drug use, idol worship, all of which began to turn humanity further and further away from God, until the Flood. These demonic forces were at work in the earth in the days of Noah just the same as they are in our world today.

After David and his men killed the remaining giants as recorded in 2 Samuel 21, giants are no longer mentioned in the Bible. Remember the Nephilim and the other groups of giants were not created by God, but were the work of Satan, who tried to corrupt the human bloodline so that Christ could not come to save humanity. 1 Enoch describes the giants (Nephilim) as evil spirits on the earth.

“And now, the giants, who are produced from the spirits and flesh, shall be called evil spirits on the earth, And shall live on the earth. Evil spirits have come out from their bodies because they are born from men and from the holy Watchers, their beginning is of primal origin; They shall be evil spirits on earth, and evil spirits shall they be called spirits of the evil ones. [As for the spirits of heaven, in heaven shall be their dwelling, but as for the spirits of the earth which were born on the earth, on the earth shall be their dwelling]. And the spirits of the giants afflict, oppress, destroy, attack, war, destroy, and cause trouble on the earth…And at the death of the giants, spirits will go out and shall destroy without incurring judgment, coming from their bodies their flesh shall be destroy until the day of the consummation, the great judgment in which the age shall be consummated, over the Watchers and the godless, and shall be wholly consummated.” (1 Enoch 15:8-10, 16:1).

From those verses, we see that once the giants died off, their spirits would roam the earth and afflict humanity until the final judgment, of course this will be after the millennial reign of Christ. The New Testament cites numerous examples of both Jesus and the Apostles encountering demon possessed people. On one such occasion, Jesus encountered the Garadarene Demoniac, a man who was possessed with a legion of demons. Upon seeing Jesus, the demons said, “And suddenly they cried out, saying, ‘What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29, NKJV). These demons were awaiting a specific time of judgment, as described in 1 Enoch.

With how 1 Enoch described the spirits of the giants, could the days before Jesus’ return be fulfilled with an increase of demonic and occult activity? Could the spirits of the Nephilim still be at work in the earth today? The Book of 1 Enoch 7:5 describes how the Nephilim began to sin against animals and plants. Could this verse be discussing the hybridization or genetic modification of humans, plants, and animals? In our time, there have been cloned animals, genetically modified crops, and other instances where science and humanity are in essence “playing God.” I believe so. The Bible states that Satan knows his time is short and that his judgment, along with the judgment of the other fallen angels, or demons, is coming quickly, thus he is doing all he can to deceive the world. Brothers and sisters, we cannot be ignorant of these times, we must continue to watch the signs, for our redemption draws near.

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.

An Introduction to the Nephilim

I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I also believe that the Bible is a supernatural book, which describes events that defy our understanding of the natural world. The Bible tells of a ninety-year-old woman having a baby, a talking donkey, the sun not going down for a day and a half, the parting of the Red Sea, a floating ax head, and giants. Yes, giants. The biblical story of David versus Goliath serves as a sports analogy whenever a smaller or perceived weaker team defeats the more formidable, stronger, heavily-favored team. However, what if Goliath was not the only giant mentioned in the Bible? What if all of the legends and myths of giants had a common origin? Could the answer be found in the Bible?

Genesis 4:16-5:32 contrasts the wicked genealogy of Cain’s descendants with the godly line of Seth. However, by Genesis 6, all of humanity, including Seth’s line, has become wicked and deprived.

      “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them. That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all of which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he is also flesh: yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years. 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.” (Genesis 6:1-4, KJV).

The above passage describes fallen angels coming to earth and having sex with human women to produce a race of giants. Theses verses may be difficult to swallow or understand, but they cannot simply be explained away by stating “sons of God” refers to the line of Seth interbreeding with the line of Cain.

Before we go further, we need to clarify what is meant by the term “giant.” The word giant, Strong’s #5303 is the Hebrew word Nephiyl, which means “a feller, bully, or tyrant.” Nephiyl comes from the Hebrew root word Nephal (Strong’s #5307), which means “to fall.” So these beings are “the fallen ones,” and are often referred to as the Nephilim.

The Book of 1 Enoch goes into further detail about the union of fallen angels and human women, and the Nephilim offspring. Let me be perfectly clear, I do not consider the Book of 1 Enoch to carry the same authority as Scripture, I am citing the work to give further details concerning the topic of the Nephilim.

“And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born to them beautiful and fair daughters. And the angels, the sons of heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose wives from among the children of men.’” (1 Enoch 6:1-2).

First Enoch goes on to describe the giants in more detail and the wickedness the fallen angels taught humanity:

            “And all of them together [the fallen angels] went and took wives for themselves, each choosing one for himself, and they began to go in to them and to defile themselves with sex with them, And the angels taught them charms and spells, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants. And the women became pregnant, and they bare large giants, whose height was three thousand cubits (ells) [Some convert this unit of measurement to 450 feet]. The giants consumed all the work and toil of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another’s flesh, and drank the blood. Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones.” (1 Enoch 7:1-6).

The Jewish historian Josephus confirms the biblical account by stating in Antiquities of the Jews, “For many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength; for the tradition is, that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants.” (From The Complete Works of Josephus, Kindle edition).

The fallen angels further corrupted mankind by teaching them how to make weapons of war, astrology, and other occult teachings. The Epistles of Jude and 2 Peter cite 1 Enoch when describing God’s judgment upon the fallen angels and the pre-Flood world.

“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto judgment of the great day.” (Jude 6, KJV).

“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eight person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly…” (2 Peter 2:4-5, KJV).

In Genesis 3:15, God pronounces a curse upon the serpent, stating that the seed of the woman will bruise the head, which is the first Messianic prophecy in the Bible. I believe the Nephilim were Satan’s attempt to corrupt the DNA of the human race so that God could not use the seed of the women to bring forth the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of all humanity. Both the Bible and 1 Enoch speak of Noah’s righteousness, thus Noah’s bloodline was not corrupted by the Nephilim.

Though I have covered a lot of ground, this entry serves as only an introduction to what I hope will be an in-depth series. Though this will not be the definitive discussion of the Nephilim, there are a lot of good resources and teachings on the subject of the Nephilim. For further study, I would encourage you to look up L.A. Marzulli, Rob Skiba, and Chuck Missler.