Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is the biblical bases for giants living through Noah's flood?

Before flood:

Genesis 6:4 KJV

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

After flood:

1 Chronicles 20:8 KJV

These were born unto the giant in Gath; and they fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.

Numbers 13:33 KJV

And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

Joshua 15:8 KJV

And the border went up by the valley of the son of Hinnom unto the south side of the Jebusite; the same is Jerusalem: and the border went up to the top of the mountain that lieth before the valley of Hinnom westward, which is at the end of the valley of the giants northward:

share|improve this question

closed as primarily opinion-based by curiousdannii, Nathaniel, Mr. Bultitude, Flimzy, Dan Apr 29 at 3:34

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This needs some additional context. Can I assume that you want an answer from the perspective of global-flood-literalists? – Flimzy Apr 3 '14 at 21:57
I do not believe that it would be a stretch to know that this question is for those who believe that all parished except Noah's family and his collection of animals during the flood. – The Freemason Apr 4 '14 at 12:42
Nothing in those verses requires the giants to have lived through the flood. Can you quote someone who claims that they did? – curiousdannii Apr 27 at 7:31
This is a two year old question... However, are you suggesting that the flood was after David? – The Freemason Apr 27 at 13:33
up vote 5 down vote accepted

This is a good question. I would assert that just because there were giants both before and after the flood does not necessitate that giants survived the flood. In fact, the Bible indicates that there was a drastic reduction in lifespan after the flood. It is possible that other things were different as well, including average height. So, a giant before the flood would have been noticeably taller than the average height before the flood, and a giant after the flood would have been noticeably taller than the average height after the flood. However, what may have been considered a giant after the flood may have been average before the flood.

This is speculation, to be sure, but it should at least be considered a possibility, and there is at least some evidence that makes this feasible. The largest human skeleton ever found is known as The Giant of Castelnau, who was apparently 11'6". Goliath is estimated to have been around 9'6". So, Goliath would have been small compared to this guy and would have been relegated to playing point guard on the team.

Noah himself could have been very tall, having grown up in the pre-flood environment, which may have been a much healthier place to live. He may have even been a giant himself, albeit from a race different than the Nephilim.

In any case, it is certainly feasible that there was a race of giants that merely arose after the flood and did not survive the flood. The genetic makeup for large humans was present prior to the flood. Perhaps Noah and his family contained these genes as well, but perhaps they were recessive.

So, there are a few possible explanations for this that do not necessitate giants surviving the flood.

share|improve this answer
As an aside, the Google image search for Robert Wadlow (one of the tallest people in recent memory) is fascinating (if sad) to look through. Malcolm Gladwell also has an interpretation of the David and Goliath in his recent book about the latter's apparent giantism as a genetic disorder akin to Wadlow's. – metal Apr 3 '14 at 15:32
Do you have references? I'm particularly interested in Goliath's estimated height – msmucker0527 Apr 3 '14 at 21:02
Goliath wasn't that tall. Other Old Testament manuscripts as well as Josephus the Jewish historian gave a shorter height - – LoveTheFaith Apr 3 '14 at 23:40
@LoveTheFaith I understand there are different positions on it, but if he were considered a giant, and Saul was head and shoulders above the people, but not a giant, then the average would have had to have been pretty short for a 6'9" guy to be considered not merely tall, as Saul was, but a giant. – Narnian Apr 4 '14 at 13:15
@Narnian, the average height of an Israelite in those days was 5 feet 2 inches as per a documentary I had seen. – LoveTheFaith Apr 5 '14 at 0:21

Nephilim and Rephaim

The problem suggested by the selected texts may be resolved for biblical literalists by noting the English word ‘giants’ is used to translate two different Hebrew words:

  1. נָפִיל (Nephilim, H5303) appears in just two passages. Gen.6:1-4 describes the Nephilim “in those days, and after” as being offspring of the ‘sons of God’ (angels?) and human women; they were the “mighty men” of old, “men of renown.” Num.13:25-33 records that the Hebrew spies reported to Moses that Canaan was too strong to be attacked; when Caleb urged them forward, the spies added the “evil report” that the land was filled with large men and Nephilim, apparently a false report as they were not mentioned again.

  2. רְפָאִים (Rephaim, H7497) occurs 25 times, often referring to an apparently legendary tribe in Canaan and the Transjordan known for their great size. Stories were told of Moses and David killing individual Rephaites in battle, including King Og of Bashan whose gigantic iron bed (ironstone sarcophagus?) could apparently still be seen. The word also appears in place-names thought associated with the tribe, and it also referred to 'shades' of deceased great persons thought to have healing power (in Modern Hebrew the word means ‘ghosts’ or ‘spirits’).

Within the biblical story, then, one may hold that Noah and his family alone (no giants) survived the flood given: 1.) the Hebrew spies who reported seeing Nephilim in Canaan appear to have been lying, and 2.) the giants later slain by Hebrew heroes were not Nephilim but Rephaim. The giant Nephilim of Noah’s day seem to have disappeared in the flood.

BONUS MATERIAL: Extra-biblical Hebrew traditions tell more stories about Nephilim. King Og (described in Deut.3:11 as the last of the Rephaim) was said to have lived since the time of Noah and survived the flood in a special compartment in the Ark, or alternatively, sitting on top of it! Apocryphal texts hold that Sodom was once peopled by Nephilim, the result of sexual relations between angels and Sodom’s women (not the men of the biblical story), prompting God to destroy the city. It is unknown whether tales of Nephilim and Rephaim preserve separate or a single mythic tradition, or perhaps a real cultural memory of a person with gigantism.

Also, suggestions (elsewhere on this page) that Noah was himself a giant contradict the mythic type. Similar to other cultures, in the Bible giants were either the sinful product of a violation of the 'orders of creation' or Israel's archetypal out-sized enemies, neither being Hebrew hero material. The suggestion that Noah unknowingly carried a genetic mutation for a giant 'race' misunderstands the medical condition and attempts to explain scientifically clearly mythic figures.

share|improve this answer
Nice information. There's a few things you didn't consider regarding who is actually called giants after the flood. It's not just the Nephilim and Raphaites. Ref: What were the Nephilim, and what role did they play in the Bible beyond just being mentioned? – fredsbend Jun 1 '15 at 6:30

Basically there is one simple explaination, which is not expressed plainly biblically, but that makes sense logically.

If you had giants before the flood, and you had giants after the flood, and nobody survived the flood but Noah and his family, this means that probably Noah and his family where giants too, like everybody else in their time.

Now, this sounds unlikely, but it is the only answer that makes sense genetically talking, considering true all the previous presuppositions (giants before the flood, giants after the flood and Noah and his family the only ones still alive after the flood). Noah had to have giant genetic information in order for his offspring to have it too.

Under this idea, it could be (it is hypotetical, of course) that human beings grew shorter in time, as happened to other species, while all those who still kept the genetic traits died in time without leaving a substancial offspring that reached our days.

Consider for instance, small horses (, about 80cm tall) compared to normal size horses (in avg 220cm tall), to see how this could actually be possible for human beings as well.

share|improve this answer
It's not the only answer that makes sense. Random genetic mutations like this can happen today. Consider the list of the tallest people. – metal Apr 3 '14 at 15:35
Well... how many people do you have that tall? We speak about a very few people in recent history, so this could easily be the exception that proves the rule... anyway, in order to have people who are that tall, you need to have a specific genetic inheritance... random genetic mutations just turn on genes which were off in the parents, but were already there. – clami219 Apr 3 '14 at 16:03
Simple, maybe. However, ... would mean that we're all gaints or have the giant allele? It couldn't be phased out by selection since there were only one family alive after the flood. Besides, natural selection to remove an allele would take thousands of years, not hundreds. – The Freemason Apr 3 '14 at 17:25
@The Freemason Well, actually we had thousands of years between the flood and our days, so there was time for the allele to almost get lost (except for the exceptional cases mentioned by metal) – clami219 Apr 4 '14 at 9:25

The fact that the Nephilim of Genesis 6 and the large men of Gath, Anak, and Himmon all translate into English as 'Giants' is merely coincidence.

The nature of the Nephilim is highly disputed. Indeed, many translations call them 'sons of God,' or mention an angelic like race.

In the later instances, the term 'giant' is clearly human in origin, and merely reflects that the individuals were large.

There is no other connection, and thus no need to posit any sort of continuation off the ark but through the flood in order for it to "fit."

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.