“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, 2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.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. 5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” ~ Genesis 6:1-6
The Bible teaches that in the day of Noah there were giants in the earth. Care must be taken with the Hebrew term for giant, Nephilim, for the word conveys a variety of images to the mind. When I go to the Philippines to preach, many people there are so small in stature they think I am a giant. When I am in a public place, I have had people rush up to me to take a picture by my side for no other reason than they think I am a giant at 6 feet 5 inches tall. The same phenomenon happened in Nepal when I preached at a Bible conference.
One of the speakers was talking about giants in the Land of Canaan and how the Israelites had to conquer some people who were nine feet tall. There were giants in the land. Every time the speaker used the word “giant” he looked over to where I was sitting and pointed his finger at me. That happened several times throughout the message. My friends and I had to smile.
In the Old Testament, the earliest reference to giants is to the Nephilim born to the “daughters of men” and the “sons of God” (Gen. 6:1-4).
Later descendants of the Nephilim were called “the sons of Anak or Anakim. They inhabited the Land of Canaan. Their presence was known by the Egyptians and recorded as early as 2000 BC.
“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” (Num. 13:33).
“Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims” (Deut. 2:11; 9:2).
Similar races of giants inhabited Moab, and Ammon in ancient times.
“And the Lord said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession.10 The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims” (Deut. 2:9-10).
“And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession. 20 (That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims” (Deut. 2:19-20).
Another class of giants who dwelt in Palestine when the Israelites arrived was the Rephaim. Their last survivor was Og, king of Bashan, a prosperous land east of the Jordan River. Judging from the size of his bed, Og was a very large man. His bed measured 13.5 feet long and 6 feet wide.
“For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man…13 And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, being the kingdom of Og, gave I unto the half tribe of Manasseh; all the region of Argob, with all Bashan, which was called the land of giants” (Deut. 3:11, 13).
Some of the Biblical giants became well known, such as Goliath, who was a warrior champion of the Philistine. Study 1 Samuel 17
The Masoretic Text, the Hebrew text states that Goliath was “six cubits and one span” meaning he was about 9 feet 6 inches tall.
The presence of Goliath, and other giants on earth after the Flood is significant, because the Book of Enoch teaches that God sent the Flood in order to destroy the Nephilim. If the Flood was designed to get rid of the giants of Genesis 6 then it did not succeed.
Returning to Genesis 6 the question arises, “Who were the giants in the land during the days of Noah?”
According to the Book of Enoch, the giants of Genesis 6 reached a height of 300 hundred cubits, making them about 450 feet tall, which was the length of Noah’s Ark.
“Whose stature was each three hundred cubits. These devoured all which the labor of men produced; until it became impossible to feed them; 13 When they turned themselves against men, in order to devour them; 14 And began to injure birds, beasts, reptiles, and fishes, to eat their flesh one after another, and to drink their blood” (Book of Enoch 7:12- 15).
Since apocrypha language tends to exaggerate sights and sound, there is good reason to believe the Biblical narrative is more accurate than the Book of Enoch. There was a time when men grew to be 9 feet 6 inches tall. This is not unbelievable.
Some Very Tall Men
In Modern Times
Robert Wadlow USA 8 feet 11 inches b. February 1918
Eddie Carmel Israel 8 feet 9 inches b. March 1936
John Rogan USA 8 feet 9 inches b. 1867
John F. Carroll USA 8 feet 7 inches b. 1932
Sultan Kosen Turkey 8 feet 2 inches b, December 1982
Neil Fingleton England 7 feet 7 inches b. December 1980
Igor Vovkovinskiy Ukrainian 7 feet 8 inches b. August 1973
Ri Myung-Hun N. Korea 7 feet 8 ½ inches b. September 1967
Every generation has produced some tall men, but some men have been taller than others. Notice in Genesis 6 that the giants in the land were there prior to the sons of God taking the daughter of men to wives. That is significant, for it dispels the idea that fallen angels cohabitated with mortal women to produce a super-human hybrid race.
What the sons of God and the daughters of men did produce were individuals who “became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” The word renown means widespread and high repute; famous.
If there is an overarching spiritual lesson to learn from Genesis 6:4 it might be that God does not want His people to be unduly impressed with famous people, or afraid of the giants who are wicked. This was a lesson the Second Generation had to learn as they entered the Land of Promise. There were giants to fight, but they could be defeated.
“And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee” (Joshua 17:15).
If the giants in the Land of Promise were 450 feet tall, as the Book of Enoch teaches, it seems unlikely the Israelites could have prevailed. However, if the giants were only 9 feet tall, then their height and power is not something to be afraid of. Throughout history the people of God have had to battle men of renown, mighty men, who were famous, and powerful, and appeared to be 9 feet tall.
Church of God, there are still giants in the land today, but, do not be afraid. The victory belongs to those who are in Christ. He is our Warrior-Champion, and shall fight on our behalf so that we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).
There is a lesser lesson to learn from the story of giants being in the land, and that is the importance of distinguish the literal from figurative language of the Scripture.
In Amos 2:9 we read that God destroyed the Amorites so the Israelites could possess the Land of Promise.
“Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath” (Amos 2:9).
Some Bible commentators have used this verse to justify belief that some of the giants in the Bible did grow to be 450 feet tall.
In response, attention is drawn to 1 Chronicles 12:8.
“And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains.”
It must not be thought the Gadites had literal faces of lions, or they were literally as fast as the roe upon the mountain. There is figurative language in Scripture that must be recognized. The context of a passage will determine how the language is to be understood.
Church of God, be careful not to press the literal over the spiritual truth to be found in Scripture.