Is there any evidence for the giants mentioned in the Bible?Question: "Is there any evidence for the giants mentioned in the Bible?"
Answer: Giants are mentioned in the Bible in several places (e.g., Genesis 6:4; Joshua 12:4). Og, king of Bashan (Deuteronomy 3:11); the giant people in Canaan that Moses’ spies reported (Numbers 13:30–33); Goliath (2 Samuel 21:19); and the Anakites (Deuteronomy 9:1–2) are all examples of giants in Scripture. We should keep in mind that the “giants” of the Bible were not forty-foot colossi who sat on houses and picked their teeth with elm trees. The giants of the Bible were tall—Goliath was maybe nine or ten feet tall—and they were powerful, but they were human. In addition to the biblical accounts of giants, there are three main sources of evidence for giants: written accounts outside of the Bible, archaeology and eyewitness accounts of archaeological finds, and graphic depictions of giants found in ancient art.
First, we should deal with archaeological evidence for giants. There are many accounts of archaeologists finding very large bones and weaponry or other artifacts that only a giant could have used. Stonehenge, it is postulated, was set up by giants because the stones involved are far too large and heavy for normal-sized men to move and manipulate without the aid of machinery. Similar examples exist in many cultures—structures that could not have reasonably been erected without cranes or other machines that the ancients did not have access to. These archaeological arguments should be treated with skepticism. We may not know how Stonehenge was built, but our lack of knowledge does not automatically prove that giants did it. Some giant-sized artifacts exist in museums, but the large majority of them (especially the largest and most striking examples) do not exist except in eyewitness accounts that cannot be verified. Many of the supposed finders explain the lack of hard evidence with stories of government cover-ups or flash floods or other equally convenient circumstances.
Second, there is the argument that the visual depictions of very large people, such as found on Egyptian jars and tombs, are pictures of giants. Art historians usually conclude that these giant figures are simply representations of gods or kings and that their larger size was a way to show their importance or their high rank in comparison to other figures near them. Another explanation is that the smaller people are depictions of children, not lower-ranking men. True-to-life anatomical art did not exist in any culture until the Renaissance, and, up until then, children were often depicted as proportionally exact to adults, just smaller. These arguments are valid and logical. We know that Egyptian art was highly emblematic. The fact that the Egyptians depicted the god Anubis as a man with a dog’s head is no reason to assume there was an actual man with a dog’s head whom they worshiped. That said, there is no way to prove the actual intention of the ancient artists. Historians form theories based on what they feel is the most likely, most reasonable explanation for what they are seeing in ancient artifacts.
Third, we have written accounts outside of the Bible. Three books that are particularly noteworthy are the Book of Enoch, the Book of Jasher, and the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus. All three of these books mention the existence of giants. Outside of the Bible, this is the most compelling argument for the existence of giants. These books all present stories of actual people encountering giants, and the stories are presented as historical, non-fictional accounts. Josephus, in a passage about the Israelites moving their camp to Hebron, mentions that the Jews encountered the inhabitants of that land, including “the race of giants, who had bodies so large, and countenances so entirely different from other men, that they were surprising to the sight, and terrible to the hearing. The bones of these men are still shown to this very day.”
The Book of Jasher, mentioned in Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18, is one of three books, along with the Book of Jubilees and the Book of Enoch, which give an account of the antediluvian world. These books tell essentially the same story found in Genesis: that fallen angels impregnated human women and their offspring were the Nephilim, a race of giants (Genesis 6:1–4). The Book of Jasher and the others provide more details about the world at that time, saying that the giants were cruel and violent, ruling over mankind as gods. The Genesis account of the flood is preceded by a passage that mentions the Nephilim. The Bible calls Noah “blameless in his generation” (Genesis 6:9). This could be a reference to Noah’s character, but it also could be that Noah was “blameless” in the sense that his bloodline had not been polluted by the fallen angels, so God saved him and his family to be the beginning of a new, genetically clean human race.
However, the Bible mentions the Anakim and the Rephaim after the flood, so either the “giant” bloodline remained, or it is also possible that the fallen angels made a second attempt to pollute mankind after the flood. Whatever the case, there is the biblical evidence, plus written accounts outside of the Bible, that giants did exist.
Recommended Resource: Angels: Elect & Evil by C. Fred Dickason
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Miscellaneous Bible Questions
Is there any evidence for the giants mentioned in the Bible?