Giants: Rephaim, Zamzummim, Emim, Anakim, Nephilim, Zuzim

Let’s take a closer look at the giants of old.  We are going to use Young’s Literal Translation for most of the references, as the generic translation of the King James loses some of the connotations regarding these giants.  Young’s Literal Translation is choppy because it is a direct word-for-word translation of the Hebrew and Greek texts.

In Genesis 14, about 400 years after the flood, God speaks of battles between some of the kings in the area which Abram and Lot were living.  During one of these battles, Lot and his family are taken captive.  We find,

Gen. 14:5, “And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings who [are] with him, and they smite the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim,”

The Rephaim and the Emim were giants (tall people) that were occupying the lands after the flood.  As the Zuzim are named with these two tribes, it is probably safe to assume that these were also a tribe of giant people.  At the very least they were known to be wicked people.

But, we see here that the giants were again in the land.  That means that Noah or his sons carried the DNA for these tall people, or they would not again be in the land after the flood.

In speaking to Abram of the blessings he would have and of the land promised to his descendants, the Israelites, God names the people who then occupied that territory in Gen 15.  He tells Abram that the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete in Gen. 15:16.  So, we know that the Amorite people were a wicked people.

Gen 15:18-21, 18 In that day hath Jehovah made with Abram a covenant, saying, `To thy seed I have given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Phrat,  19 with the Kenite, and the Kenizzite, and the Kadmonite,  20 and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Rephaim21 and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Girgashite, and the Jebusite.'”

The other tribes listed with the Amorites are included in the area which is promised to Abram’s descendants, and are therefore classed with the Amorites as being a wicked people, including the Rephaim.  The other tribes are not known as giants, just the Rephaim.  But, the Rephaim are classed with the rest of the wicked men whom God was going to cut off from the land.

In Deu. chap. 1, Moses recalled the events that led the Israelites to spend 40 years in the wilderness because the spies that had been sent into the land reported in fear of the giants.  They did not trust in God to lead them.

Deu 1:28,  whither are we going up? our brethren have melted our heart, saying, A people greater and taller than we, cities great and fenced to heaven, and also sons of Anakim — we have seen there.

When the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness was coming to an end, the Israelites passed through other lands on their way to Canaan.  God told them not to bother certain lands that he had promised to both Esau and Lot. God told them not to disturb Moab, as he had promised the land of Ar to Lot, and relates that that land had been formerly occupied by the Emim.

Deu. 2:10-11, ” The Emim formerly have dwelt in it, a people great, and numerous, and tall, as the Anakim;  11 Rephaim they are reckoned, they also, as the Anakim; and the Moabites call them Emim.”

The Emim were compared to the Anakim (the sons of Anak), a  great, numerous, and tall people.  So, the Emim, or Rephaim, and Anakim were tribes of very tall people, viewed as giants by the rest of mankind.  People are men and women and children of the species of man.

Again speaking of the land which God gave to Lot –

Deu. 2::20-21, “A land of Rephaim it is reckoned, even it; Rephaim dwelt in it formerly, and the Ammonites call them Zamzummim21 a people great, and numerous, and tall, as the Anakim, and Jehovah destroyeth them before them, and they dispossess them, and dwell in their stead,”

So, the Rephaim were called Zamzummim by the Ammonites, and Emim by the Moabites.

After battling the Amorites, and defeating King Sihon, the Israelites turned to the land of King Og of Bashan, and all his kingdom of Argob.

Deu 3:11, “for only Og king of Bashan had been left of the remnant of the Rephaim; lo, his bedstead [is] a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the sons of Ammon? nine cubits its length, and four cubits its breadth, by the cubit of a man.”

Og was one of the Rephaim.  A common or short cubit was about 18 inches, by the length of an average man’s fingertips to his elbow.  The long cubit was 20 -22 inches.  So, if Og’s bed was 9 cubits long x 4 cubits wide, then Og had to be able to fit within that length and width.  If we use the short or common cubit of 18 inches, then at a minimum, Og had to be somewhere under 13.5 feet tall in order to lie down on his bed.  If we use the long measure, then Og could have been as tall as 16 feet.

Og was the last of the Rephaim, the same giants whom the Ammonites called the Zamzummim, and whom the Moabites called the Emim.  They were as tall as another tribe of giants, the sons of Anak called the Anakim.

In His instructions to the Israelites in Deu. chap. 9 to cross over the Jordan, God tells them that He was giving these lands to them because of the promises to their fathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – and because of the wickedness of the people of the lands; not for their righteousness, but because of the wickedness of these people.

Deu. 9:2-, “a people great and tall, sons of Anakim, whom thou — thou hast known, (and thou — thou hast heard: Who doth station himself before sons of Anak?)  and thou hast known to-day, that Jehovah thy God [is] He who is passing over before thee — a fire consuming; He doth destroy them, and He doth humble them before thee, and thou hast dispossessed them, and destroyed them hastily, as Jehovah hath spoken to thee.”

No one stood against the sons of Anak, the tall and great people known as the Anakim.  But, with God going before them, the Israelites did.

The forested land and the valley of the Rephaim was given unto the half of the tribe of Manasseh, and was on the northern edge or border of the lands of Israel.  (Deu 3:13; Josh. 12:4; 13:12; 15:8; Josh 17:15)

Josh. 11:21-22,  And Joshua cometh at that time, and cutteth off the Anakim from the hill-country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, even from all the hill-country of Judah, and from all the hill-country of Israel; with their cities hath Joshua devoted them.  22 There hath not been left Anakim in the land of the sons of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, were they left.”

The Anakim, sons of Anak, had inhabited the hill country.   We find in Joshua chapt. 14 that Caleb asked Joshua for that hill country where Caleb had destroyed the Anakim, and dispossessed them.  The land was also known as Hebron.

Josh. 14:13-15, “ And Joshua blesseth him, and giveth Hebron to Caleb son of Jephunneh for an inheritance,  14 therefore hath Hebron been to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenezzite for an inheritance unto this day, because that he was fully after Jehovah, God of Israel;  15 and the name of Hebron formerly [is] Kirjath-Arba (he [is] the great man among the Anakim); and the land hath rest from war.”

The giants were men, a great and tall people who were wicked in the sight of God.

The valley of the Rephaim was well known, and was the site of some of the battles David fought with the Philistines.  (2 Sam. 5:22; 23:13; 1 Chron. 11:15; 14:9)

Job, answering the charge of Bildad challenges him in chapt. 26:

Job 26:5, “The Rephaim are formed, Beneath the waters, also their inhabitants.”

The Vulgate translates this as “Behold the giants, and those who dwell with them, groan from under the waters.”  The Septuagint has it, “Are not the giants formed from under the waters, and their neighbors?”  The Chaldee has it, “Can the trembling giants be regenerated, when they and their hosts are under the water?”  And, the King James as, “Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof.”

The meaning is clearly of the state of the dead, and was referring to the wicked giants who were drowned in the great flood of Noah’s day.  They are dead and gone.

In Psa. 88, the sons of Korah had been praying for the Lord to help them with their afflictions and were asking if He would wait until they were dead before He responded to their petitions.

Psa. 88:10, “ To the dead dost Thou do wonders? Do Rephaim rise? do they thank Thee? Selah.”

Psa 88:5 speaks of the dead as having been cut off by the Lord, meaning that they have no children or descendants left in the land of the living.  Cut off means no issue, no children.  The Rephaim were dispossessed by Moses, and cut off by the Lord when the tribes of Israel moved into their lands. (Josh. 13:12)  The Rephaim were finished, wiped out at that time, but the land was still frequently called by their name for many generations.  It was famous as “the valley of the Rephaim.”

Young’s translation of Prov 2:18 remembers the Rephaim.  In speaking of a wicked woman who had forsaken God to walk in paths inclined to death, “For her house hath inclined unto death, And unto Rephaim her paths.”  The reference is to a dead people who perished because of their wickedness.

Prov. 9:18 speaks of the dead that resided in the depths of hell as the guests of a foolish woman’s house, and refers to them as the Rephaim.  “And he hath not known that Rephaim [are] there, In deep places of Sheol her invited ones!”

Rephaim is found in Young’s Literal Translation in several other places and refers to the dead, or likens wicked people to their dead state, which was the result of their wicked ways.  If you are like the Rephaim, God considers you dead. (Prov. 21:16, Is. 14:9; 17:5; 26:14; 26:19)

Young’s translated the word “Nephilim”  in only one place, and that was in Numbers 13:33.  In that verse it is a clear reference to giants.  Moses sent the spies into the land of Canaan to bring back a report, and they gave an account of the Nephilim, sons of Anak.

Num 13: 31-33, “And the men who have gone up with him said, `We are not able to go up against the people, for it [is] stronger than we;’  32 and they bring out an evil account of the land which they have spied unto the sons of Israel, saying, `The land into which we passed over to spy it, is a land eating up its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in its midst [are] men of stature33 and there we saw the Nephilim, sons of Anak, of the Nephilim; and we are in our own eyes as grasshoppers; and so we were in their eyes.’

The name “Nephilim” was of the same people called the “Anakim”, sons of Anak.  Young’s only has it this one time.  He does not use it in Gen 6:4; where the King James has “giants”, Young’s has fallen ones.  The best reasoning for this difference is that the word “nephilim” is from the root word “nephal,” meaning he fell.

The context of the scriptures in Gen 6 governed the translation.  Numbers 13:33 was discussing a tribe of giant people called by two names, Nephilim and Anakim.  Genesis 6 was discussing the fall and wickedness of all mankind.   Young’s translation stayed with the context of the scriptures in Gen 6 preferring not to limit the wicked people to just the giants.  All of the people were wicked, and had fallen away from God.

Gen. 6:3,  And Jehovah saith, `My Spirit doth not strive in man — to the age; in their erring they [are] flesh:’ and his days have been an hundred and twenty years.”

God’s spirit was not going to strive, or fight against the spirit of wicked men for much longer.  He gave them 120 years to repent.

Romans 8:13-14, “for if according to the flesh ye do live, ye are about to die; and if, by the Spirit, the deeds of the body ye put to death, ye shall live;  14 for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God;

We have a clear definition of sons of God in Romans chapter 8.  They are the ones who follow after and are led by God’s spirit.

Genesis chap. 5 presented the lineage of those led by the spirit of God, the faithful line of Adam and his son, Seth through the faithful Noah and his sons.  These were led by the spirit of God, and were therefore the Sons of God called in Gen 6.

There is no other acceptable conclusion than that the sons of God in Gen 6:2 were the faithful men of God who unwisely chose women of the unfaithful, and wicked men who lived according to the flesh.

To argue otherwise, that the sons of God in Gen 6:2, and 6:4 were fallen angels is to say that sons of God are not led by the spirit of God.  This is a contradiction of the scriptures!  They cannot be fallen angels, led by lusts of the flesh, and also be sons of God led by the spirit of God!

Genesis chap. 6 was not discussing fallen angels, but fallen,wicked, earth-born men.  Wicked men, wicked mankind is the subject matter of Genesis 6. The King James should not have used the word “giants” in Gen 6:4, and the NIV should not have used the word “Nephilim” to stand for all wicked men without explaining the full connotation of that word as fallen, earth-born wicked men!  The correct translation is Young’s as “the fallen ones”.

The so-called Book of Enoch is a fabrication.  It contradicts God’s word, and cannot be relied upon for any information.  You might as well be discussing Jack and the Beanstalk, or Paul Bunyan and mining these fairy tales for secrets in God’s word.  It is the same thing as delving into the Book of Enoch.  The Book of Enoch is a fairy tale.

The DNA for tall or giant people is still carried throughout the blood line of mankind.  Goliath, at 6 cubits and a span, was about 9-1/2 ft tall. (1 Sam. 17:4)  We have people today who are sometimes 7 feet tall.  We see it occur now and then in each generation.

See other posts at the right margin including “Nephilim…Fallen Ones?”, Nephilim…Reprise: And The Sons of God”, and “The Book of Enoch – Fable or Truth”.








7 thoughts on “Giants: Rephaim, Zamzummim, Emim, Anakim, Nephilim, Zuzim

    1. You might want to read the two other posts on the Nephilim at the right margin. The implication of Matt. 22:30 is that the angels cannot procreate, as they are not given in marriage. But, we have to consider which angels? Remember that English is not the original language of the Bible. The word “angelos” had the meaning of a messenger or agent. Anyone that was working for / on behalf of God, carrying out a duty for God was His messenger or angel.

      Jude 1:6 appears in the middle of two other examples of “human” wickedness. A jump from mankind to heavenly angels and back to mankind does not seem to me to fit with the examples. The text in vs. 5 speaks of the wickedness of the tribes of Israel whom He led out of Egypt, and the text in vs. 7 is speaking of the wickedness of mankind that were destroyed in Sodom and Gomorrah. Heavenly angelic beings does not keep with the previous example, nor the following example of those wicked held for judgment.

      Vs. 5 ends with a semi-colon, which indicates that vs. 6 is a continuation of vs. 5. Therefore, the “angels” of vs. 6 were of the same people He led out of Egypt in vs. 5, but were of a higher office. Young’s Literal Translation uses “messengers” in Jude 1:6 and in 2 Pet. 2:4. Messengers that left their “principality” were those He established to be a royal priesthood (Ex. 19:6), and a holy nation; but then rebelled from pride and disbelief… they left the principality / office / estate which He gave them.

      No, I do not believe this verse speaks of angels in heaven. Rather it an example of the rebellion of wicked men, sandwiched between two other examples of rebellion of wicked men. I believe these were men who held a particular office, maybe of the Levitical priesthood, or some other special assignment, but then chose to disobey.


    2. No, again see Matt. 22:29-30. The implication of marriage is the only approved and sanctioned method for sexual relations. The fact that Christ said the angels in heaven are not given in marriage means that they cannot procreate. They cannot procreate whether they are in heaven, or on earth. That particular belief of fallen angels mating with earthly women is a travesty of human misunderstanding of the word of God, and is fantasy.


  1. WoundedEgo

    The idea that “the sons of God” going into “the daughters of men” is referring to godly men going into ungodly women is no improvement on the understanding of the text. And if it were so, to what incident was Jude referring?:

    6And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.


  2. WoundedEgo

    “sons of God” is a standard Hebrew idiom referring to angels. It is special pleading to suggest that in this one case it refers to a Johannine or Pauline concept. It is unconvincing to imagine that Jude did not have this in mind in verse 6.


  3. WoundedEgo

    Of course, Jude also apparently alludes to Testament of Moses. If we discount Jude perhaps the Scrolls of Enoch lose some of their intertextuality and thus their credibility. How married are you to the divine origin of Jude?


    1. I am married to the word of God. I believe Jude does no violation to God’s word, nor do I find any contradiction with the rest of God’s word. Therefore, I consider it to be part of the scriptures the Holy Spirit has provided. I just believe that English translators, and English readers get carried away with “literal” linear thinking. The Western mindset does not allow for the poetical and metaphorical Eastern mindset. This leads to sci-fi fiction scenarios that is outside of God’s word. God is very logical. We need to keep that in mind while reading His word.


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