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Holman Bible Dictionary


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Persons of unusual stature who often are reputed to possess great strength and power.

Old Testament The earliest biblical reference to giants is to the nephilim born to the “daughters of men” and the “sons of God” ( Genesis 6:1-4 ). Interpreters differ on the origin of these giants. Some understand the “sons of God” to be angelic beings who intermarried with human women (see Jude 1:6 ). Others view them as descendants of Seth who intermarried with the ungodly. Later descendants of the nephilim were called “the sons of Anak” ( Numbers 13:33 ) or Anakim ( Deuteronomy 2:11 ; Deuteronomy 9:2 ). They inhabited the land of Canaan prior to Israel's conquest. Egyptian records testify to their presence as early as 2000 B.C. Similar races of giants had also inhabited Moab (Deuteronomy 2:9-10 ) and Ammon (Deuteronomy 2:19-20 ).

A second class of giants who inhabited pre-Israelite Palestine was the rephaim. Their last survivor was Og, king of Bashan (Deuteronomy 3:11 ,Deuteronomy 3:11,3:13 ). A valley near Jerusalem (Joshua 15:8 ; Joshua 18:16 ) and part of the wooded country in the tribal territory of Ephraim (Joshua 17:15 ) retained their name.

The Old Testament also records cases of individual giants. The well-known Goliath (1 Samuel 17:1 ) was a Philistine champion. A family of giants from Gath were among the Philistine enemies slain by David and his followers (2 Samuel 21:16-22 ; 1 Chronicles 20:4-8 ).

Michael Fink

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Giants'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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