When most of us hear of giants in the Bible, we immediately think of Goliath, the giant that David slew before he became king of the Northern Kingdom of Judah. While giant men only appear in the Old Testament, we know of different areas where very tall men still exist today - especially Bavarians and Russians; but, even some Persians are tall. One thing in common is that they seem to come from mountainous regions.

Two lineages of giant men were stated: Anakim/Anakites from Anak and Rephaim/Rephaites from Rapha.

When Moses sent spies into Canaan to scout the land, some gave a report of giants they called Anakites, descendants of a large man named Anak whose birth wasn't stated. Numbers 13:22,28,33:
22. They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)
28. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.
33. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."

The earliest reference to the Nephilim came from Genesis 6:4:
4. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days--and also afterward--when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

Deuteronomy 1:28 referred back to this report when Moses scorned the Israelites for their lack of trust in God; and Deuteronomy 9:2 said:
2. The people are strong and tall--Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: "Who can stand up against the Anakites?"
There's a historical statement made in Deuteronomy that is interesting. Deuteronomy 2:9-11:
9. Then the LORD said to me, "Do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land. I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession."
10. (The Emites used to live there--a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites.
11. Like the Anakites, they too were considered Rephaites, but the Moabites called them Emites.

Who were the Emites? The only other place where they appear was in Genesis 14:1-6:
1. At this time Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim
2. went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).
3. All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (the Salt Sea).
4. For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
5. In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim
6. and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert.

Deuteronomy also spoke of Rephaites in Deuteronomy 3:11-13:
11. (Only Og king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaites. His bed was made of iron and was more than thirteen feet long and six feet wide. It is still in Rabbah of the Ammonites.)
12. Of the land that we took over at that time, I gave the Reubenites and the Gadites the territory north of Aroer by the Arnon Gorge, including half the hill country of Gilead, together with its towns.
13. The rest of Gilead and also all of Bashan, the kingdom of Og, I gave to the half tribe of Manasseh. (The whole region of Argob in Bashan used to be known as a land of the Rephaites.
14. Jair, a descendant of Manasseh, took the whole region of Argob as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maacathites; it was named after him, so that to this day Bashan is called Havvoth Jair.)

The Rephaites were still powerful people in the regions of Canaan and Ammon from the time of Abram to the time of Joshua. We know of the "promised land" from Genesis 15:12-21:
12. As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.
13. Then the LORD said to him, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.
14. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.
15. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age.
16. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure."
18. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates--
19. the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites,
20. Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites,
21. Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites."

Only a few Rephaites and Anakites were named. Both Joshua 12:4 and 13:12 stated Og king of Bashan was "one of the last of the Rephaites". 2 Samuel 21:18 said "Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Sippai, one of the descendants of the Rephaites". Numbers 13:22 and Judges 1:10 referred to 3 Anakites named Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai who Caleb defeated in Joshua 15:13-14 before he took over Hebron. Hebron had previously been called Kiriath Arba in honor of Arba, a prominent Anakite known as the "forefather of Anak".

Joshua 14:15: (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.) Then the land had rest from war.

There were several times where battles were fought near the Valley of Rephaim. According to Joshua 15:8 and 18:16, it was on the west side of the Dead Sea and served as a border for the territories assigned to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Three other books mention this valley in 2 Samuel 5:18,22 and 23:13, 1 Chronicles 11:15 and 14:9 and Isaiah 17:5.

In the 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles passages, David was fighting against the Philistines. Someone named Rapha from Gath was also accredited as being large in stature. 2 Samuel 21:15-22 has a parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 20:4-8 and said the Philistine Gittites (from Gath) were also considered giants:
15. Once again there was a battle between the Philistines and Israel. David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines, and he became exhausted.
16. And Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rapha, whose bronze spearhead weighed three hundred shekels and who was armed with a new [sword], said he would kill David.
17. But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David's rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David's men swore to him, saying, "Never again will you go out with us to battle, so that the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished."
18. In the course of time, there was another battle with the Philistines, at Gob. At that time Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Saph, one of the descendants of Rapha.
19. In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver's rod.
20. In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot--twenty-four in all. He also was descended from Rapha.
21. When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of Shimeah, David's brother, killed him.
22. These four were descendants of Rapha in Gath, and they fell at the hands of David and his men.

Of the 2 Gittite men named Goliath, the one David defeated was described in 1 Samuel 17:4-7:
4. A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall.
5. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels;
6. on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back.
7. His spear shaft was like a weaver's rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him. The other Gittite named Goliath was killed by Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim in 2 Samuel 21:19.

We can draw courage from God as we face the obstacles we view as giants in our lives.

Return to top