The book of Genesis says, “there were giants in the earth in that day.” The same verse refers to the sons of God copulating with the daughters of man. Nothing else is said in Genesis 6 about these giants which has caused some to speculate that they were superhuman offspring of angels and men.
Fairy tales and ancient mythology describe giants as huge people at least 20 feet tall. This may cause some to think the Bible teaches that humanoid creatures dozens of feet tall lived before the flood. However, Genesis 6 is not the only or the last place in the Bible where giants are mentioned.
The most famous giant of the Bible is Goliath. Goliath is also the only giant whose height is recorded. Goliath was “six cubits and a span” tall. (1 Samuel 17:4) A cubit is approximately 18 inches long and a span is approximately 9 inches. This means Goliath was approximately 9′ 9″ tall. Goliath lived in the city of Gath about fifteen hundred years after the flood. He was a Philistine and a descendant of Anak.
The Anakim were a race of gigantic people described in the book of Numbers. The twelve spies of Israel said they saw in Canaan the sons of Anak, who were giants. (Numbers 13:32) Goliath himself had several sons who are described as being “of great stature”. Several other people groups of ancient Canaan were also gigantic. A significant percentage of certain people groups in Canaan were giants.
The Bible contains one other significant giant. He is one of the last giants mentioned in the Bible and is described as the only remaining remnant of a gigantic race of people. King Og of Bashan was a giant man with a giant bed. His height is not recorded but the dimensions of his bed are. His bed was made out of iron, was over 13 feet long and six feet wide. The size of the man cannot be determined based upon the size of his bed. His bed implies a certain magnitude and sets an upper limit on his size. Since no king was going to sleep in a bed that was too short for him, Og had to be less than 13 feet tall. While his actual size is not known he is described as a large man needing a large bed.
Several conclusions can be drawn from the post-flood descriptions of giant’s which also helps identify the giants in Noah’s day. The giants in the promised land were all descendants of Japheth’s son Canaan. Most of them were found in a few specific tribes. Those tribes were known for their tendency to produce giants. This implies the giantism of the Bible was a genetic trait passed along within a family. The ability of these giants to function as powerful warriors implies their condition was not a disorder but a viable genetic variation.
The giants of the Bible were huge men not multi-storied mostrosities. Since the Bible uses the same word to describe the giants before and after Noah’s day it is reasonable to conclude these giants were similar in size and nature. They were a variety of human, no more supernatural than pigmies are today. Japheth or his wife carried the giant genes through the flood. Japheth’s son Canaan apparently inherited the genes and passed them on to his descendants. After the dispersion of the population at the tower of Babel certain of these people groups began to express the gigantic tendency. These were human beings that grew to sizes between ten and fifteen feet tall with the strength to accompany it.