By Analea Styles
|Art by Lindsey Bell|
“In those days…”
In direct contrast to the familiar “once upon a time” of fantasy stories, the Bible begins its discussion of giants with fact: “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days…” (Genesis 6:4 emphasis added). Though we may be hesitant to contemplate the existence of one of mythology’s favorite subjects, the Bible has some important things to tell us about them. Found in ancient myths from all over the world, (North America, Greece, Rome, Bulgaria, India, etc) many cultures incorporate tales of giants into their religions and/or legends.
Giants have found their way into fairy tales like “Jack and the Beanstock” and even popular children’s stories such as: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl’s The BFG. They are all over the media in video games and movies. We are all quite familiar with these creatures, perhaps too familiar. Have we become too accustomed to the legendary giant? What is truth and what is myth? What would you say if someone told you that giants were real?
Now don’t assume we are asserting that all the myths and legends are true. Most of them aren’t. It would also be erroneous to apply all of the mythical characteristics of the typical giants described in the legends (monstrously hideous, magical, man-eating) to a walking, breathing being. However, there is ample reason to believe that at one time people of great stature once walked this earth.
Giants and the Bible
The first and most important source of information we have is God’s Word. It is our practice to always start with what the Bible says when studying any topic and so, even in the realm of giants, we start with what God has to say.
In Genesis 6, we are introduced to “the Nephilim”:
“The Nephilim [translated “giants” in the KJV] were 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” (Genesis 6:4 NASB)
Now, who or what the Nephilim actually were, is under much debate and rather than go too far into it here, we point you instead to a couple of articles by Answers in Genesis that outline the various arguments and theories:
It is our view that the Nephilim were a corrupt, hybrid race of fallen angels and man. We believe that reading the Biblical account literally and consistently will lead you to this conclusion.
Genesis is not the only place where these giant beings are mentioned. There are many other accounts of Nephilim (known under different names such as Anakim, Raphaim, Emin, and Zamzummin) that provide more details and insight into who/what they were. The most famous giant of the Bible is of course Goliath, but as it turns out, he was certainly not the only one!
This chart lists all the references to giants/Nephilim in the Bible.
From these texts we learn:
- The Nephilim were “mighty men” of renown (Genesis 6:4)
- They were extremely tall so that the Israelites felt like “grasshoppers” (Numbers 13:33)
- There were several different tribes (Genesis 14:5)
- They were “great, numerous, and tall” (Deuteronomy 2:10)
- They were very large and strong: Og had a bed 9 cubits long and 4 cubits wide (Deut 3:11), Goliath was over 6 cubits tall and his armor and weapons were extremely heavy (1 Samuel 17:4-7)
- They were a subject of great fear (Deut. 1:28)
- Some had 6 fingers on each hand and 6 toes on each foot (1 Chronicles 20:6)
Israel was intent on killing these giants. They were constant enemies of God’s people. If they were truly offspring of fallen angels, it should be no surprise that God wanted this corrupt race destroyed.
Giants of Legend and Myth
The word “giant” comes from the Greek word “gigas” which was used to describe the “Gigantes” (meaning “earth-born”). They were said to be a huge race of creatures, the offspring of the earth and the heavens (the gods, Gaea and Uranus). They are described as monstrous in appearance, sometimes with serpentine features and many hands. The giants of Greek mythology were constantly at war with the Olympian gods and were eventually defeated. This Greek Mythology website includes a long list of the various giants of Greek legends.
The Norse speakers called the giants in their legends “jötnar” meaning “devourer” These giants supposedly lived in a huge castled called Utgard in Midgard, the center of the Norse three-tiered universe. Like the Greek, Norse myths include war between the gods and the giants, however they also describe occasional friendship among these groups. Marriage between male deities and female giants was acceptable but the gods would not allow male giants to marry female deities. 
Native American Giants
Native American giants were mostly evil, monstrous and man-eating. They were known for terrorizing humans, and stealing children and women. They are usually described as being 40-60 feet tall but some legends claim they stood over 100 feet! Visit this site for a list of the different Native American giants and their stories.
Many myths include giants in the creation of the word or beginning times. They are sometimes credited as mankind’s ancient ancestors. 
In our study of ancient man, we came across various theories claiming that giants constructed the unexplainable megalithic structures built around the world. The pyramids of Egypt, the Tiahuanaco complex in Bolivia, Stonehenge in Britain, Baalbek in Lebanon, and more, all have stories (or conspiracy-like theories) behind them of giants. Is this simply imagination due to their size? Or do the theories and legends have some basis in fact?
Physical Evidence of Giants
Archeology can also give us evidence of giants:
|Giant footprints have been found in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California as well as Australia, Sweden, and Mexico.|
|In South-East Turkey, several tombs were supposedly found containing giant remains. Some of the femurs were 47 inches long! The Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum showcases a fabricated model of one of these femurs.|
“Human skulls with horns were found in a burial mound at Sayre, Bradford Country, Pennsylvania, in the year 1880. Except for the horny projections some two inches above the eyebrows, the men to whom the skeletons belonged were anatomically normal, though at seven feet tall, well above average height, it was estimated that they were buried about A.D., 1200.” 
Giant skeletons have supposedly been found all over North America and other places in the world. However it is difficult to decipher the truth from the myth, the real from the hoax. A simple Google search of giant archeology will provide you with overwhelming amounts of fascinating information but not much of it is conclusive. As such, we've refrained from putting more examples in this post.
What we do know is that giants did exist in biblical times. God tells us that the Israelites fought and killed many of them. We cannot deny this. The assortment of so many myths and legends as well as various archeological finds including bones and ancient structures, lend support to their existence.
Did giants live all around the world at one time? Did they exist in more recent times? Were they fully human or some sort of demonic hybrid? Did they help build some of the megalithic structures of ancient times? Why don’t we find them alive today? Just like much of the study of ancient man, we will probably never know with complete assurance the answer to these questions.
This is one of those puzzle pieces that clearly has a place in the picture of history but as of yet, the details are still unclear. They may remain unclear forever but what we can be sure of is that what God wants us to know, He tells us.
And one thing is sure, we can be glad that these huge, fearsome warriors are a fact of the past and we are no longer living “in those days”.
Read about other Puzzle Pieces:
 McCoy, Dan. Giants. “Norse Mythology”. http://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/giants/. (accessed June 24, 2013)
 Giants. “Myths Encyclopedia”. http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Fi-Go/Giants.html#b. Accessed June 19, 2013.
 (Giants. “Myths Encyclopedia”)
 Native American Giants of Myth and Legend. http://www.native-languages.org/legends-giants.htm. (accessed June 24, 2013)
 (Giants. “Myths Encyclodpia)
 (Readers Digest, Mystery of the Unexplained, p.39)