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Hi, my name is Dean Smith and in this podcast, I want to discuss the several mentions of giants found throughout the Old Testament. Of course, atheists, and their ilk, enjoy mocking the Bible and the Christian faith because of these giants, referring to them as little more than myths.
But is there any historical and archaeological evidence that these giants existed.
Yes, there is, and I want to discuss some of them in this podcast.
And this will include a race of giants reported by American Professor Lee Berger, a paleo-anthropologist, from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, which I will discuss towards the end of this podcast.
Throughout history, there have been giants, such as American Robert Wadlow who holds the Guinness world record for the world’s tallest man at 8’ 11”.
His size was attributed to his pituitary gland constantly releasing growth hormones, a condition referred to as giantism, and in fact, Wallow was still growing when he died in 1940 at the age of 22.
Due to his immense size, Wadlow obviously stood out and when asked in a radio interview how he dealt with people staring at him, Wadlow wryly answered, “I just overlook them.”
But we have also seen hints of something different in our ancient past, a race of giants.
The partial remains of a giant were reportedly discovered in 1890 during excavations at an ancient Bronze Age cemetery located in Castelnau-le-lez, France.
Though only three bones of the Giant of Castelnau were discovered, after comparing them to normal-sized human bones, the researchers concluded that he could have easily stood upwards of 11’ tall.
The discovery, including comparative photos, was published in several scientific magazines at that time.
The French Press reported that four years later the remains of three massive giant skulls, plus other bones, were found at another Bronze Age grave site accidentally discovered while digging a water reservoir.
It was located only five kilometers away from the Bronze Age cemetery in Castelnau.
The remains of the three skulls, including one that measured 32” in circumference, were sent to the Paris Academy. As a comparison, the average human skull has a 22” in circumference.
Curiously, the Bronze Age starts around 3300 BC and ends about 1200 BC, and this fits well within the Bible’s time frame of when it said there were giants on the earth.
And the Bible makes this significant point that it was referring to a race of giants, not a one-off such as a single person suffering from giantism.
It specifically talks about four groups, the Nephilim, Anakin and Rephaim, and an ancient group referred to as the Emites. But they all seem to be connected, suggesting that they originated from one race of giants generally referred to as Rephaim or Rephaites, which literally means a ‘terrible one’ or ‘giant’.
We see the group connection in Deuteronomy, which reads:
“The Emites used to live there—a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites. Like the Anakites, they too were considered Rephaites, but the Moabites called them Emites.” (Deuteronomy 2:10-11)
And these Rephaim may be connected to odd-shaped archaeological remains, that the Jews call Gilgal Refaim, located on the barren Golan heights overlooking the Jordan valley in Israel, that is also dated to the Bronze Age, between 3,000 BC to 2,700 BC.
It is composed of a four stone concentric rings that circle around a large stone mound in the centre.
The outer stone circle has a diameter of 520 feet (ca. 158 m) and is eight feet (2.44 m) high.
It is uncertain exactly what it was used for, but some believe the large mound at its centre was the burial place for an important king, long since plundered of its contents.
And many, including those in secular fields, believe this ancient structure is tied to the Biblical accounts of the Rephaim, a race of giants that existed at one time in Israel’s history.
The first mention of giants is the Nephilim recorded in Genesis 6:4. They existed in the period just before the flood, at the time that the sons of God or angels married the daughters of men.
Now, some believe the Nephilim were the result of this unholy marriage, except the verse says the Nephilim were already in existence at the time the marriages took place and also existed after. So these giants were separate from the offspring of these marriages.
We also have mention of the Anak in Numbers 13, who we are specifically told are connected to the Nephilim.
Moses had sent 12 men to spy out the Promised Land, and 10 of these spies came back shuddering in terror about the giants they had seen.
“The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” (Numbers 13:32-33)
The Anak were the giants of great height that left most of Moses’ spies whimpering that they looked like grasshoppers in their sight.
The giants are also referred to in Genesis 14:5 where we read that several kingdoms had allied together to battle this race of giants. And though, they were largely successful, they weren’t completely wiped out.
Easily the Bible’s most infamous giant was Goliath, who the Bible says stood six cubits and span or over 11’ tall, and was taken down by David, a young shepherd boy with a sling and a stone.
And we also know that Goliath had one brother and at least four sons who were also giants. Some have suggested this may have even been the reason David gathered five stones from the brook for his sling when he decided to fight Goliath.
Now, as I have mentioned in the past, the ancient Biblical manuscripts were diligently recopied by hand for thousands of years, so it’s argued that the older the ancient Hebrew manuscripts, the closer they are to the original and more accurate they would be.
Our modern Old Testament, which states Goliath is about 11’ 9” tall, is based on manuscripts dated to the ninth century AD.
However, the much older Septuagint version of the Old Testament dated to 250 BC and the Dead Sea scrolls which are manuscripts from the first century AD or the time of Christ have a slightly different size that will prove significant later on.
Both of these much older manuscripts state that Goliath’s size was four cubits and a span, which puts his size at about 7’ 9”.
And we need to keep this perspective because archaeology reveals that the average height of a Jewish male was about 5’ 1” in Jesus’ day.
One of the final mentions of giants is in Joshua 12:4, where we have a reference to Og, the King of Bashan, who is described as the last of the Rephaim. We have no idea how big Og was, other than his iron bed was nine cubits long or about 13 feet (ca. 4 metres) in length (Deuteronomy 3:11).
And some have even wondered if OG was buried at the burial mound on the Golan Heights, which was obviously intended for a very important king, because Bashan’s territory included this region of Israel.
But there is an interesting twist to these accounts, that also needs to be discussed.
The ancient Jewish historian Josephus who lived between 37 AD and 100 AD cited giants in one of his books entitled the Antiquities of the Jews.
But he added one small tidbit of information. Despite their immense size, they also had different facial features than the Jews.
“For which reason they removed their camp to Hebron; and when they had taken it, they slew all the inhabitants. There were till then left 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, unlike to any credible relations of other men.“
Though Josephus said they had a different look to them, the Bible is very clear they were human and intelligent, as evidenced by Goliath’s ability to communicate and Og’s ability to lead a nation.
But did you notice how Josephus added that the bones of these ancient giants were still on display in his day? And, this leads to a fascinating interview that Dr. Chris Smith from Cambridge University in Britain had with Professor Lee Berger on his evolutionary podcast The Naked Scientist in 2007.
Berger is an American-born paleo-anthropologist who works at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2016, Time Magazine recognized Berger as one of the top 100 most influential Americans in the world.
As part of his podcast, Smith actually flew to South Africa to interview Berger on a race of giant humans that once roamed Earth.
According to Berger, these giants existed about 300,000 years ago.
Now, I am not going to get into a discussion about their age discrepancy with the Biblical giants, other than stating that the discovery of soft tissue, blood vessels, and cartilage, inside dinosaur bones, thought to be millions of years old, has resulted in some serious questions about dating.
How could there be soft tissue inside the thigh-bone of a T-Rex believed to be 69 million years old, considering that under the right circumstances fossilization can take place in a matter of a few years.
Similar to what Josephus mentioned, Berger then proceeded to show Smith the thighbones of these giant men that were so large, Berger said it was impossible to calculate how big they actually were.
They have even reproduced replicas of their skulls from the fragments that they discovered.
In the interview, Berger stated:
“They are huge. That’s so big we can’t even calculate how big this individual was. You would need an NBA basketball player to get someone of that height. Someone like this would have been something like over seven feet tall.“
In other words, they were Goliath-sized.
Of course, this leads to the bigger issue. Were these giants a one-off, like Robert Wadlow, meaning that the individual grew to a gigantic size because of a medical issue, such as a misfiring pituitary gland.
When Dr. Smith raised this possibility, Berger said absolutely not, they were part of a race of giants, because they are finding the remains of these giant people all across Africa.
In the interview, Berger told Smith:
“No because we found a lot of them. Everywhere we find them we find them enormous. These are what we call archaic Homo sapiens. Some people refer to them as Homo heidelbergensis. These individuals are extraordinary. They are GIANTS.“
Notice how Berger describes them a human, Homo Sapiens.
Apologetics Press’s Dr. Miller adds that Berger description of this group as being archaic, in Biblical terms, would put them in the pre and post-flood era.
In a follow-up to his interview with Dr. Berger, Dr. Smith added that humanity went through a period of ‘giantism.’ He said:
“One of the most interesting thing that the fossil record reveals is that we went through a period of extreme giantism. These were people routinely over seven feet tall, they were huge.“
So, while, the Bible has been mocked relentlessly for its stories about a race of giants, these ancient writers were right all along.