Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The ‘giants’ after Genesis 6

We have followed the commentary on the frustratingly brief record of Genesis 6.1-7, and we have seen in the last 2 Blogs more clearly what really happened…..and that Azazel was the real culprit.

However, that is not the end of the story.  There are unanswered questions.  For example:

Who were the ‘giants’ of Numbers 13 that the spies saw?
Why were any ‘giants’ still around after the Flood?
How big were the ‘giants’?
Was Goliath one of the ‘giants’?
Where did the ‘giants’ live?

1. Who were the ‘giants’ of Numbers 13.33 that the spies saw?
We saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight. 

These 'giants' were the descendants of 'when the sons of God came into the daughters of men and they bore children to them'.

2. Why were any ‘giants’ still around after the Flood?

The answer is found when we look closely at the text of Genesis 6.7:

Genesis 6.7  The LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air….’

The Hebrew text in the Bible is usually very precise and accurate.  The phrase ‘man whom I have created’ specifically refers to the ‘man’ , Adam, that He ‘created’ in Genesis 1.26 in which:

God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

The underlined phrase in Our image, according to Our likeness does NOT refer to the half human and half angelic children in Genesis 6 who were the giants 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.

Note particularly the phrase ‘and also afterward’ which refers to after the Flood. These half human and half angelic beings who became the giants, clearly survived the Flood. How they survived neither the Bible nor the Book of Enoch explains….but survive they did, and continued to cause problems.

3. How big were the ‘giants’?

There is a clear and precise answer in Deuteronomy 3.11:
Only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of the giants. Indeed his bedstead was an iron bedstead. (Is it not in Rabbah of the people of Ammon?) Nine cubits is its length and four cubits its width, according to the standard cubit.

According to the standard cubit  which was measured from the elbow to the end of the middle finger. This was usually calculated as 20 inches or 50.8 centimetres.

Og’s bedstead was nine cubits in length which equates to 15 feet or 4.5 metres.  It was four cubits in width which equates to 6 feet 8 inches or 2 metres.

Since Og needed to have room to lie on his bed without his feet hanging over the end and getting cold in the night, perhaps he was probably about 13 feet 6 inches or just over 4 metres tall.  His width was determined by how much he was overweight!  In any case, he must have been at least 4 feet or 1.25 metres wide.

No wonder that the spies in Numbers 13 were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight….

4. Was Goliath one of the ‘giants’?

Yes. The passage in 2Samuel 21.15-22 explains that not only was Goliath one of the ‘giants’, but that he also had 4 brothers:

When the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David .. fought against the Philistines; ….Then Ishbi–Benob,(1) who was one of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose bronze spear was three hundred shekels, who was bearing a new sword, thought he could kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and struck the Philistine and killed him.

Now it happened afterward that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbechai the Hushathite killed Saph,(2) who was one of the sons of the giant.

Again there was war at Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan … killed the brother of Goliath(3) … the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.

Yet again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature,(4) who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty–four in number; and he also was born to the giant. So when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him.

These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David’s servants.

The fact that Goliath had 4 brothers, all of whom were watching the potential contest, was the reason that David selected five smooth stones in 1Samual 17.40:
Then David took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.

David was preparing for the possibility that once he had killed Goliath, the 4 brothers would then challenge him one by one.  Happily, they were cowards as 1Samuel 17.51 records: When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

Whilst Goliath was certainly one of the ‘giants’, he was not as big as Og, as 1Samuel 17.4 records:
Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.  A Biblical span was 9 inches or just under 23 centimetres, measured from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger in an open palm.  

Goliath was 10 feet 9 inches or 3.3 metres tall. He was still a formidable proposition!!

5. Where did the ‘giants’ live?   From the references in the Bible to the ‘giants’, it seems that they lived in a variety of places in Israel.

However, I suspect that, in reality, the ‘giants’ lived all over the world in ancient times because of the proliferation of stories about them in literature.

For example, Jack and the Beanstalk, Gulliver’s Travels, and the Cyclops of Greek mythology. In addition, there are frost giants, fire giants, and mountain giants in Norse mythology.  In Bulgarian mythology there were giants called ispolini who inhabited the Earth before humans…..and so on.

So there we are….at the conclusion of a commentary on Genesis 6.1-7.  Perhaps, as a result of the ‘great sin’, it is not surprising that God decided to limit man’s ‘days to be one hundred and twenty years’. 

Until next week….

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