The words “giant” and “giants” appears twenty-one times in the Bible, and are used in three specific connotations. The first one is a rare one, appearing in Job 13:14: gibbor, or “a powerful warrior, a champion; chief, mighty man, strong man, giant.” The meaning also stretches to include “tyrant.” Its adjective form is gibber, “valiant.”
The next word is the most commonly used rapha. It gives the idea of an invigorated physical strength. The primary root of rapha figuratively denotes “to cure, (to cause to) heal, repair, or thoroughly make whole.” It is familiar to us when taken in the name Raphael that is literal for “God has cured.” The term Rephaim, or Rephaites, is a frequent sight in the Old Testament. This noun singles out a race of giant people living in the Promised Land before the Chosen Race took over. With the King James Version, an interplay of translation takes place with Rephaim being the general term to speak of the Giant race during Moses’ time.
The third and last word appears two times: one occurring before Moses, the other after his death. It is the noun Nephilim, from the verb naphal that means “to fall down,” and “fall away.” However, the richness of meaning includes the following: “to overthrow, to overwhelm, perish; to be lost, to make rot; slay, smite out, or throw down.” It also suggests “a fugitive.” The meanings present a rather violent image of these creatures, but the passage in Genesis 6:4 highlights them as “the heroes of old, men of renown” (New International Version).
A good number of ancient cultures around the world spoke of a race of giants that once walked the earth: the Vikings believed in such, magic-wielding, instrumental in creating the earth and founding the human race; the Celtic druids called them “fomors,” the enemies of the high gods of the heavenlies; the mythical history of England begins with a giant named Albion. The ancient Greeks spoke of a race of immortal giants called Titans that mingled with humans. Classicist Edith Hamilton described them as a “splendid race of godlike heroes”
(Edith Hamilton, Mythology, Mentor Books: New York, 1969; p. 69).
Myth is what we call the above examples, and thus we are tempted to drag the Biblical account into the realm of the unreal along with them. Furthermore, history documents some
deliberate exaggerations of the vanquished to capitalize the victor. Giants throughout history were the most convenient myth the conqueror used to illustrate the antagonists who populated his exploits. The ones he bested became the testament of his supremacy. His people rising to formidability by taking the niche of the enemy. Those who defeated him, however, would spawn a fearful report to extenuate his failure. The report about Giants also had degrees of success in intimidating and deterring plans of invasion or the immediate auspicious fruition thereof.
Yet the Giants of Genesis 6:4 remained unconquered until their decimation in the Great Flood. The writer seemed to have inserted this brief information about the Giants in his
fascination, which also set the beginning and the pinnacle of their existence. The reason for their demise is found in the verse before 6:4 and somewhere after:
“And the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years’ (6:3). Then the LORD saw
the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth,
and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth…'” (vv. 5-7, The New King James Version).
Evilness is destructive to the one who wields it. One who takes an evil path takes a path to his own destruction — and this is a wide path. According to Christ: “broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matthew 7:13, New International Version).
And the “many” who “enter through” the broad road do not do so by predestination. The Book of Proverbs cites the scenario that was common in the antediluvian society: “for their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood (1:16). These men lie in wait for their own blood; they waylay only themselves! (v.18)” The reason why the Bible teaches against it is because good and evil is a matter of choice. The antediluvian race made theirs.
Then were the Giants and their contemporaries killed off by an evil God, for Genesis 5:7 did document His very words: “I will destroy man…”? With this seems an irreconcilable stalemate of interpretation. Luckily, the Bible interprets itself, and is independent of our ideas. How does God “destroy”? In teaching His disciples the digested version of the Jewish prayer, Christ mentioned, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”
(Matthew 6:13, King James Version). Two things in this verse mean the same: “lead” and “deliver”; and evil a place or condition. For too long our image of the Living God has been
tainted with that of the Classical and the Renaissance who wields spears of lightning and thunder. The Living God does not author death or destruction; much less is He evil.
According to a number of Bible interpreters, the mode used in “I will destroy man” was a permissive one in that it basically meant, “I will allow man to be destroyed.” Saint Paul
the Apostle, writing to the believers in Rome wrote a lengthy account of man’s descent to destruction in Romans 1:18 to 32, using the phrase “God gave them up” two times, and “God gave them over” once.
With this principle of exposure, or “backing-off,” the Apostle Paul lays out the modern Church policy regarding an obstinate member bound to destroy himself and others in the process: “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together…with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (I Corinthians 5:4-5).
In this way mythologist Edith Hamilton was correct when she wrote of the rise and fall of a “Brazen Race,” Titans who “were terrible men, immensely strong, and such lovers of war and
violence that they were completely destroyed by their own hands” (Hamilton, p. 69).
So then why do we have ambivalence with a heroic yet evil race of Giants? The answer goes back to Genesis 4:2 when “man began to call on [publish] the name of the Lord.” The Earth at
this period was polarized into two opposing forces: the House of Adam and that of Cain, the Bible’s first murderer. After Abel’s death, God pronounced judgment on Cain to live a life
of a restless wanderer (Genesis 4:12, 13). His ability to tame crops and grain, since he was a farmer (4:2), was shunned by the ground at God’s edict. He went to a place east of Eden
called Nod where he began to raise a family for himself. With this family, in this land of Nod, Cain built the first city mentioned in the Bible. The banishment of Cain from the presence of God (Genesis 4:14) made it clear that his house must never be allied with that of Adam’s.
But it appeared that in Genesis 4:17 to 18 Cain’s house continued to invoke the authority of God in the names Mehujael (“God-smitten”) and Methusael (“God’s man”). There are several
interpretations to this. Some teach that in spite of their original blemish in God’s sight, there were individuals who cast their lots with the House of Adam (or “the Sons of God”) and were thus blessed with the blessing of the righteous. Others advocate that suffixing God’s name, “El,” into their was nothing more than an affront to holiness. The most sensible
theories to this, however, state that the Cainite house was copying Adamite practices in an attempt for alliance with the Adamites and to invite others into their fold.
The world at this time was ruled by the Adamites, and such authority it had with Adam. Adam was the father of the human race, the first man to ever walk the earth; and he was called
“the son of God” (Luke 3:37). He was the authority that showed the way to the heart of the Creator. He established the tradition of holiness, and his family propagated it. The
credibility of the Adamite house was a fortress. Cain, on the other hand, had nothing but a small huddled group east from the presence of God. His family was withering away and struggling against a vast threat of survival, and he knew nothing to live according to but to his father’s ways, which were now rendered irrelevant after his murder of Abel. The first thing Cain did: propose an alliance with the Adamites. After all, it had been two generations past since that incident with Abel (Genesis 4:25-26), Cain thought that maybe it was time for forgiveness. But the matter of the curse he received from God (Genesis 4:12)
was irreversible for the first bloodshed of an innocent had begun to corrupt the earth. Furthermore, by expelling Cain from the Adamite house, God was establishing the principle of
purging by which He has been known to demand of His people, from storing and eating yeast during the Passover (Exodus 11:15; Deuteronomy 16:4), to rebelliousness against parental
authority (Deuteronomy 21:21), to kidnapping (24:7), to unlawful sexual acts (Leviticus 20), to blasphemy (24:16), to murder (v.17).
But Cain’s scheme was two-pronged. Knowing that his proposal to attach his family to the great Adamites was problematic, he began to “call on the name of the Lord.” “Call on” properly translates “to proclaim,” which means that Cain and his family began to preach what the Adamites had been preaching. By this act, people were deceived into believing that an alliance did already exist between Adam and Cain. A false anointment of credibility suddenly lured people to him and his power increased. Thousands of years later, this trick would rear its head when St. Paul encountered a fortune-telling girl who followed him around shouting promotions about his message (Acts 16:16 to 17). Paul, knowing that she was possessed by an evil spirit, spoke and commanded it to leave her. Why did he do this despite the promotion? Because as soon as Paul would leave the place (Philippi), she–or the spirit–would take over the preaching. What was foiled here, was consummated by Cain.
In a short span of four generations, the Cainites had gained numerous advantages over the level of survival. The reward of proper pampering brought health and beauty to shape the prosperity and credibility they have acquired. Then, Genesis 6:2 steps in. The young restless Adamites, or “sons of God,” just as deceived as the rest of the world in believing that these beautiful “daughters of men” were one with them, fell in love and chose them in marriage. Cain’s re-incorporation to the Adamite house was realized. From the intermarriage, the Giants were born. They were a product forged by time and deceit, Cain’s victory. In his death, the Giants proceeded to dominate, and their legends took over the world.
It was long ago, when the skies were wrapped with waters, and the Earth was friendlier than today. It was the Antediluvian Age, the time before the Great Flood.