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The popular story of David and Goliath describes Goliath as very tall ("six cubits and a span"--apparently roughly 9 feet 9 inches, or 297cm). Most children are just told he was a "giant" in Sunday school.

Where did he come from? Was he part of a now-extinct race of giants, or was it just some sort of genetic mutation?

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I'll have to look up the reference, but I believe that he was one of the sons of God. –  Richard Aug 31 '11 at 10:39
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Not one of the sons of God, but one of the Nefilim, the progeny of the sons of God (fallen angels) and the daughters of man. Another well known giant was King Og of Bashan. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Dec 24 '12 at 16:42
    
You might be interested in this article regarding the bones of a human that would apparently make Goliath look small: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_of_Castelnau –  Narnian May 30 '13 at 19:13
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4 Answers

In the beginning...

Genesis 6:4 (NIV)

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The descendants of these children of Nephilim were the giants that show up later in the bible. When Moses sent the twelve spies into Canaan, the promised land (before the 40 years of wandering), they reported back of giants in the land:

Numbers 13:33

We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

There's another reference to them in 2 Samuel:

2 Samuel 21:20

In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot—twenty-four in all. He also was descended from Rapha.

Goliath, himself, was a Philistine. He was also known as the "Goliath of Gath". Gath was one of the five city-states of Philistine.

1 Samuel 17:23 (NIV)

As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it.

Because we know that Goliath was from Gath (from 1 Samuel) and that the giants in Gath were descendants of the Nephilim (from 2 Samuel) it's pretty safe to assume he was one of those.

It's also safe to assume some possible genetic issues (due to the six fingers and toes).

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How do you reconcile this position with the fact that the flood of Noah wiped out all humans except Noah and his immediate family? Surely the Nephilim, if they were a race went down with the rest of humanity. –  Lawrence Dol Sep 1 '11 at 2:26
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Since Num 13:33 is actually one of the scouts speaking, perhaps he was simply mistaken in his thought that the giants in Canaan were the Nephilim of old?? –  Lawrence Dol Sep 1 '11 at 3:38
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This definitely warrants further research. If the Noahdic flood did not wipe out all of mankind, the theological ramifications could be extensive. –  Lawrence Dol Sep 1 '11 at 18:41
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@SoftwareMonkey it is an interesting paradox. I am intrigued. Might I propose it would make a good question for the site? –  Marc Gravell Sep 4 '11 at 15:57
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Perhaps after the flood it happened again and we weren't told about the second time it happened but we can gather that it did because of the existence of the giants after the flood. –  user1868 Jul 18 '12 at 15:09
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genesis 6:4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

Angels went into women before flood god wiped thm out with flood then they came and did it again afterward god promised he wouldnt flood world again and so sent Isreal to destroy them when they entered promised land.

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Hi, welcome to this site! You might check out these pages to get along with the site. help center How to Answer –  2pietjuh2 Apr 20 at 10:13
    
What evidence do you have to support the claim that after the flood angels impregnated women to produce giants again? –  curiousdannii Jun 2 at 2:48
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Total speculation here but I believe the giants descended from Canaan, the son of Ham. It is possible that the wives of Noah's sons were not genetically pure as the Bible indicates of Noah. Roman-Jewsish historian Josephus mentioned a man named Amorreus, who was allegedly a son of Canaan, as well as the father of the Amorites. If I'm not mistaken King Og of Bashan was an Amorite.

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Speculations do good answers make. –  Flimzy May 8 at 15:21
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I believe that the gene of the giants were passed down after the flood through Ham, to his son Mizraim,which are the Philistine peoples.

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Do you have any reference for this claim, whether from the Bible, archaeologists, or historians? –  Flimzy May 30 '13 at 3:27
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Welcome to the site! I hope you don't take this as discouraging, but unfortunately, "I believe" isn't a basis for an acceptable answer. This site is a bit different than a typical discussion forum. When you get a chance, please check out the FAQ and About pages. Also, this meta post will help to explain what I mean about "I believe" not being an acceptable basis: meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/692/… If you could expand a bit, and add references for why you've come to this conclusion, it would greatly improve this answer. –  David Stratton May 30 '13 at 4:10
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I've heard this theory and it might be true. Even if it wasn't true, it is at least likely true that some Christians believe this to be the case. Can you bring this answer up to par with some references showing that Christianity (or at least some specific part of it) believes this and if possible on what they base that? As others have noted, right now this isn't par with the kind of answers we're looking for here, but it could be with a little research work. Could we convince you to do that? –  Caleb May 30 '13 at 6:29
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