Evolution and the Canaanite giants

(RiderOnTheClouds) #1

Could the giants in Canaan have evolved their large stature?

Although some will like to dismiss the existence of giants as pure myth, egyptian texts mention semitic speaking (Shasu) giants over 8 ft tall living in the Canaan region, they also mention a people who could corespond to the Anakim.


Could there have been evolutionary factors leading to their great height? I know some will blame angelic DNA, but in my mind spiritual beings cannot have DNA.

Could they have even been remnants of some hominid species (such as Meganthropus)?

(Dominik Kowalski) #2

I´m gonna read this paper further later, but when we think of examples of giant growth in our contemporary time, we know, that they´re highly immobile, and require walking frames or something similar, which leads me to believe that such people wouldn´t make for great legends in the past, especially since the probably did die young. You can argue me on that one, but can it be, that the length of feet just variied over time? A quick google search tells us that the average size of men 2000 b.c. was around 1,63 m ( I´m german, I use the metrical system). I´d say the average shoe size at this height is around 37, which equals approximately 23,6cm. 23,6*8=188,8cm, we can add something if you want, but we would land at at height of max. 2m, which would be significantly higher than the average people on earth. It would explain their reputation as Giants at that time.
The question I´d raise is: Did we found human skeletons from that time that really had this height? And if yes, what about in the region of Canaan?
As to your question if there could have been evolutionary factors, I´d say sure, but if we would investigate it, I´d rather compare it to the massive height gain in South Korea over the last century, which resulted because of a change in nutrition.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #3

Understanding how genetic factors influence height can be a place to start:

@DoKo mentioned also a trend like this:

(Phil) #4

Just googling, it seems that the largest documented skeleton I can find was 6’ 8 or so, well within the current range of growth today. Lots of shady sites out there, with fantastic claims, but no real bones to back them up.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #5

A giant by the standards of the ancients, and not too far off goliath’s size according to the LXX and DSS.

(Dominik Kowalski) #6

Correct. Also I have to say that I´m fascinated how devouted you´re now in researching and learning about the very first books in the bible and their contemporary claims, so please keep posting, I´ll read it for sure!

Edited for terrible spelling!

(Mitchell W McKain) #7

A height of 8 feet is within the normal human range. But it is unlikely this was the average height for a large group of people. More likely this was the height of a small group of warriors, more useful for intimidation than they were for large battles. There are many examples of numerical exaggerations in the Bible. People just were not so committed to numerical accuracy in reporting things. This connects up with the absence of human remains also, which generally only reflect the characteristics of the largest populations. And thus the absence proves no more than any so-called missing links. The fact that there are living people with this height makes evidence from a lack of remains a bit empty.

The physical problems that go with great height are well known so I doubt this is a matter of evolutionary selection of any sort. The increase in height over time most likely correlates with improvements in diet and this could easily have played a role in a group of oversized people in a particular area and tribe.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #8

The Bible seems to suggest that there were large groups of people who were giants, these people had a genetic relationship apparent, since they descended from a man named Rapha.

I agree that the giants were used in warfare primarily as intimidation, though this still raised the question of why the philistines would choose an impaired man as their champion. It seems like folly to me.

Two hypothesis are on the table for the origin of the giants for me.

  1. Fallen angels manipulated human DNA (we do see elsewhere in scripture that they can affect humans physically, giving them superhuman strength), making them superhuman giants.

  2. The sons of God (or as Shimon Bar Yochai suggested, ‘mighty ones’) were people of above average stature who were chosen to become rulers because of their great size, they then passed their genetics on to their offspring, the nephilim.

I consider option 1 to be an interesting but unnatural reading of Genesis 6:1-4. So I lean towards the second option. I don’t think fallen angels can literally produce their own DNA, nor do I think the Sethite theory makes sense.

(Dominik Kowalski) #9

It is, but it´s mostly due to a tumor which leads to a distribution of growth hormons. Untreated the people die very young. And, I think this is most important for creating a legend, I don´t know anyone even close to 8 feet who is normally mobile and a giant, leaning forward and stumbling at every step, person is probably not someone who makes for a good legend

(RiderOnTheClouds) #10

I now think that we should avoid concordism regarding the giants. @Jonathan_Burke has debunked my reading of the Egyptian texts. Why did the giants come about? Because according to the Epic of Gilgamesh, ANE kings (Sons of God) were giants.

(Chris) #11

Robert Pershing Wadlow (February 22, 1918 – July 15, 1940), also known as the Alton Giant and the Giant of Illinois , was an American who became famous as the tallest person in recorded history for whom there is irrefutable evidence. He was born and raised in Alton, Illinois

Wadlow reached 8 ft 11.1 in (2.72 m) in height and weighed 439 lb (199 kg) at his death at age 22. His great size and his continued growth in adulthood were due to hyperplasia of his pituitary gland. He required leg braces to walk and had little feeling in his legs and feet. Despite these difficulties, he never used a wheelchair.

Xishun Bao at 8’ (2.44m) was well enough to serve in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army for three years, although he now suffers from rheumatism.

So it’s feasible that a Philistine could have been 2.44m tall and able to serve as a soldier, although he may well have been feared more for his size than his fighting prowess.

Perhaps the description of Goliath as being 2.7m tall was a little bit of exaggeration.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #12

I do still think there may be something sinister and supernatural concerning the giants, in the minds of the hebrews, the Canaanites would have contacted the spirits of their dead giant kings in necromantic rituals. This is why the giants are called rephaim, also used to refer to souls of dead kings in in the bible, as well as ugaritic and phoenician texts. I suspect this is the origin of the Jewish belief that demons were the ghosts of dead nephilim. If I am right this explains the (supposed) absence of demonology in the OT.


There is absolutely nothing supernatural going on with these ‘Nephilim’. They are simply war-like and ungodly, with a large stature. Consider any WWE wrestler or Icelandic person vs the average Asian… Quite the size difference! I mean, the ‘Big Show’ himself is enough to make even me feel like a Grasshopper! And I am over 6 feet tall.

Also, the dead know nothing, do not praise God, do not think or feel. The dead are dead and remain this way until the resurrection. So no one could ‘call’ them up. A ‘soul’ is clearly stated as someone who has both body and the breath of life. There is no Biblical evidence to support a ghostly aspect dwelling within our bodies.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #14

Why condemn necromancy if it couldn’t happen?

(RiderOnTheClouds) #15

Why is the word Rephaim given to both giants and spirits of the dead? This is not mere coincidence, because an Ugaritic cognate also means the spirits of the dead, and they were associated with the region of Bashan, where Og, the last of the Rephaim had his kingdom.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #17

Why not just condemn harmful behaviour? No I think God is mentioning practises which he ‘specifically’ does not want you to commit.

I also find you are ignoring the Ugaritic context.


I see no evidence of magic actually existing. I see cases where an evil spirit (not anything that once lived physically) has manipulated situations. For example, the ‘Witch’ of Endor and Solomon. But nothing more.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #19

I’m not claiming it actually exists, I’m only claiming the Biblical writers thought it existed, and you failed to address either of my points.


The text can say anything, doesn’t make it true. But does it actually say that magic is a real phenomenon? Or is it used much the same way ‘demons’ are today, that is, being a metaphor for trauma and trouble, and not actual spirit fiends?

(RiderOnTheClouds) #21

The language doesn’t seem to be metaphorical, rather it appears to be an actual thing one can practise:

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. (Deut 18:10-11)