Giants in the Bible

Six Hebrew words were used in reference to giants. But not all indicated that they were especially tall.

  1. Nephilim

    Hebrew: Nephilim, meaning “violent” or “causing to fall” (Genesis 6:4)

    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. —Genesis 6:4 NASB

    These were the violent tyrants of those days, those who fell upon others. The word may also be derived from a root signifying “wonder,” and hence “monsters” or “prodigies.” In Numbers 13:33 this name is given to a Canaanitish tribe, a race of large stature, “the sons of Anak.” The Revised King James Version, in these passages, simply transliterates the original, and reads “Nephilim.”

    See: Nephilim

  2. Rephaim

    Hebrew: rephaim, a race of giants (Deuteronomy 3:11) who lived on the east of Jordan, from whom Og was descended

    They were probably the original inhabitants of the land before the immigration of the Canaanites. They were conquered by Chedorlaomer (Genesis 14:5), and their territories were promised as a possession to Abraham (15:20). The Anakim, Zuzim, and Emim were branches of this stock.

    In Job 26:5 (Revised King James Version, “they that are deceased;” marginal note, “the shades,” the “Rephaim”) and Isaiah 14:9 this Hebrew word is rendered (King James Version) “dead.” It means here “the shades,” the departed spirits in Sheol. In 2 Samuel 21:16, 18, 20, “the giant” is (King James Version) the rendering of the singular form ha raphah, which may possibly be the name of the father of the four giants referred to here, or of the founder of the Rephaim.

    The Vulgate version here reads “Arapha.” This is where John Milton borrowed the name “Harapha” for his dramatic tragedy poem “Samson Agonistes” that appeared in his Paradise Regained (1671).

    See also: 1 Chron. 20:5, 6, 8; Deuteronomy 2:11, 20; 3:13; Joshua 15:8, etc., where the word is similarly rendered “giant.”)

    It is rendered “dead” in (King James Version) Psalm 88:10; Proverbs 2:18; 9:18; 21:16: in all these places the Revised King James Version marginal note has “the shades.” (See also Isaiah 26:14.)

  3. Anakim

    Hebrew: 'Anakim (Deuteronomy 2:10-11, 21; Joshua 11:21-22; 14:12, 15; called “sons of Anak,” Numbers 13:33; “children of Anak,” 13:22; Joshua 15:14), a nomad race of giants descended from Arba (Joshua 14:15), the father of Anak, that dwelt in the south of Israel near Hebron (Genesis 23:2; Joshua 15:13).

    They were a Cushite tribe of the same race as the Philistines and the Egyptian shepherd kings. David on several occasions encountered them (2 Samuel 21:15-22). From this race sprung Goliath (1 Samuel 17:4).

    See: Anakim

  4. Emim

    also known as: 'Emin or Emin

    Hebrew: אֵימִים —transliteration: Eymiym —meaning: terrors; fearful

    This is a warlike tribe of ancient Canaanites. They were “great, and many, and tall as the Anakims”.

    The are mentioned in both Genesis and Deuteronomy.

    So in the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, came and struck the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim and theZuzim in Ham and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaimGenesis 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. —Deuteronomy 2:10-11

  5. Zamzummim

    also known as: Zamzummin

    Hebrew: זַמְזֹם —transliteration: Zamzummim —meaning: (unknown), it is another name for the Rephaim people —occurrences: 1 (below)

    It is also regarded as the land of the Rephaim, for Rephaim formerly lived in it, but the Ammonites call them ZamzumminDeuteronomy 2:20

  6. Gibbor

    Hebrew: גִּבּוֹר —transliteration: gibbor —meaning: strong; mighty; a mighty one; a warrior; a champion or hero

    He breaks through me with breach after breach;
    He runs at me like a warrior. —Job 16:14 LSB

    In its plural form (gibborim) it is rendered “mighty men” (2 Samuel 23:8-39; 1 Chronicles 11:9-47; 29:24.)

    The band of 600 “mighty men” whom David gathered around him when he was a fugitive were so designated. They were divided into 3 divisions of 200 each, and 30 divisions of 20 each. The captians of the 30 divisions were called “the thirty,” the captains of the 200 “the three,” and the captain over the whole was called “chief among the captains” (2 Samuel 23:8).

    But Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and the mighty men who belonged to David, were not with Adonijah. —1 Kings 1:8 LSB

    And all the officials, the mighty men, and also all the sons of King David pledged allegiance to King Solomon. —1 Chronicles 29:24

    The sons born of the marriages mentioned in Genesis 6:4 are also called gibborim (translated as “mighty men”).

    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. —Genesis 6:4 NASB

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Article Version: July 6, 2024