Under consideration is Minister Fortson’s article Rapha: Post Flood Giants In The Old Testament, February 3, 2017 AD. I consider it a good manner whereby to deal with such issues as it get into topics in some of the same manners in which I deal with them: dealing with terms and definitions.
He poses the question, “Why did entire tribes of giants suddenly spring up after the flood?” and you know me: my first reply is not an answer but a question, “What do you mean by ‘giants’?” Likewise, with his statement, “Archaeology is rife with evidence that points to the reality of giants” a claim made all the more suspect by re-research or first time research of mere claims. You see many alleged human giant skeletons turned out to be the bones of dinosaurs and particularly mammoths which personages of earlier found and attempted to articulate to the best of their limited knowledge—see Grading the giant human skeleton chart.
Well, Fortson will get to the issue of definitions beginning with dealing with the question of “Who Were The Rapha?” He provides this info, “Rapha (#[H]7497) – Singular Giant. Rephaim (#[H]7497) – Multiple Giants. Adding the “im” at the end signifies a plural word in Hebrew”—actually, that is for masculine words as plural for feminine is “ot.” He then tells us that “Rapha are repeatedly referred to in the Bible as literal giants.” Yet, if “giant” is a generic term that, by itself, tells us nothing about height except that it means: taller than the average—Hebrew males of those days averaged 5.5 ft. So, if and since, giants means taller than the average then literal giants are literally taller than the average and we have come full circle having learned nothing. In fact, various Hebrew terms are translated by some as “giant” which simply adds to the confusion.
Yet, Fortson will get to the issue of specific heights and I was just making general, yet very important, points. Strong’s H7497 comes “from H7495 in the sense of invigorating.” Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon adds that they were “famous on account of their gigantic stature” which is still a generic statement.
Fortson has a subsection titled, “Literal vs. Figurative Giants” in which he quotes, “‘Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof.’ – Job 26:5.” He rightly notes that this is a different term “Dead Things: (Strong’s #[H]7496) Rapha” yet, Fortson has the definition as “Spirits, dead, shades, ghosts, giant” and I know not to what he is referring as the etymological info is that the term appears 8x which the KJV translates as dead (7x), deceased (1x). The outline of Biblical usage has it as “I. ghosts of the dead, shades, spirits” so that there is no reference to “giant” at all.
Moreover, Strong’s tells us that H7496 is from the primitive root rapha’ H7495 in the sense of another primitive root raphah H7503. So, it is from a term that appears 67x in the Bible which, as an example, the KJV translates as: heal (57x), physician (5x), cure (1x), repaired (1x), miscellaneous (3x) in the sense of a term found 46x which the KJV has as: feeble (6x), fail (4x), weaken (4x), go (4x), alone (4x), idle (3x), stay (3x), slack (3x), faint (2x), forsake (2x), abated (1x), cease (1x), miscellaneous (9x). This seems to be related to the related term Rapha’ H7498 which Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines as, “flaccid, feeble, weak” and also “i.e., manes” (which Strong’s states is probably the same as H7497). As per Roman mythology manes is a reference to essentially deified souls of dead ancestors. Thus, the lexicon correlates manes with “shades living in Hades.”
You can see how complicated it can get to chase etymological definitions. Thus, it is of the utmost importance to note that the ultimate definition of a word does not, I repeat not, from etymology but from context.
Minister Fortson writes, “it is interesting that Job mentions that the Rapha/spirits/ghosts were brought forth/formed under the waters/flood. Is this more evidence as to the origin of demons?” and also refers to “the link between the Rapha, the nephilim, the demons, and the flood” statements which he elucidates thusly—I will follow his statement by my observations:
“The pre-flood nephilim died in the flood (Genesis 7:23)”: agreed although “pre-flood nephilim” implies that there were post-flood Nephilim with which I disagree.
“According to Enoch, their spirits became demons (Enoch 15:8-12)”: indeed, that is what a Enoch text states (see here for info on this text).
“According to Jesus the demons are an unnatural mixture (Matthew 12:43)”: I am unsure what he is getting at since the text states, “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none.” He may think that an “unclean spirit” having been in “a person” amounts to demons being an unnatural mixture yet, the text is not speaking of demons in an ontological manner and the point is that the demon does not belong in a person which is why Jesus exorcised them.
“The Rapha were a tribe of giants that appeared after the flood (Genesis 14:5)”: again, “giants” is generic and also, the text simply states, “In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim.”
“Job links the Rapha/spirits to the flood (Job 26:5)”: since meaning/definition is gotten from context and not etymology we cannot simply assert that Job links the “giant” tribes to the flood since Job seems to be linking the aforementioned “ghosts of the dead, shades, spirits” to the flood. Of course this could stating that the “ghosts of the dead, shades, spirits” of dead Nephilim are that which we call demons (I have my own view on this but will save that for my upcoming book). Yet, even this would not correlated to any such as thing as post-flood Nephilim nor tribes such as the Rephaim.
“Isaiah says that the Rapha will not be resurrected (Isaiah 26:14)”: the text states, “They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased [rapha’], they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.” In fact, the text is not referring to “giants” nor even specifically to any of the Rephaim tribes but more generally states that “the LORD…bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust…LORD, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them.” It is these whom the LORD puts down who will not rise as they were destroyed and their memory made to perish.
Minister Fortson then mentions the “The Sons of Anak” within Numbers 13 which is the only usage of the term Nephilim outside of Genesis 6. Fortson tells us that within the Numbers text “the spies gave an ‘evil’ (bad), but not necessarily false report. The reason we know that their report was not false is because it is consistent with what we will see during the Israelite invasion of the Promised Land”—but is that the case?
Fortson notes “The biggest element to their report is that they looked like grasshoppers compared to the sons of Anak.” But does this mean that we can or are supposed to reckon the height of the Anakim as per a one-to-one ration between humans and grasshoppers and so Anakim and humans? Well, if that is the case then we can also figure out how tall God is since Isaiah 40 refers to God as “he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers.” Thus, either the Anakim are the same height as God or the Bible is defining its own terminology—much as we might look down from a building and say, “Those people look like ants.”
Minister Fortson writes, “If you hold the belief that this account was false, then you also have to question the following accounts of Moses, David, and God” at which point I will direct the interested reader to my article Did Caleb and the spies see Nephilim giants in the land. But what of having to “question” other accounts? Well, let us see what they state.
“Og: King of Bashan” is referenced about whom the Bible tells us nothing about his height but, as Fortson quotes it, “In Deuteronomy 3:11 we find the exact measurements of Og’s bed, which gives us his approximate size. A standard cubit is 18 inches. 9 cubits long x 4 cubits wide 13.5 feet long x 6 feet wide.” One can easily assume that he was just a little shorter than his bed and yet, it is just that: an assumption. Generally everything that king do and have is larger than life.
He then quotes, “‘Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.’ – Amos 2:9” about which he asks, “Is God over exaggerating about their height? Is God referring to literal giants? Those that take the position that the Israelites saw certain taller people as giants, does not hold true when we read God’s account of their height. It becomes clear that these were giants of greater stature.”
Well, we are back to the issue of “literal giants” and the fact that “giants” are, by definition, “of greater stature” than the average and nothing more.
However, was God over exaggerating? Well, apparently we are being lead to conclude that since the Amorite’s height was like the height of the cedars then if we find out how tall the average cedar is then we have a one-to-one ratio via which to know how tall they were. As an example, Atlas cedars grow to circa 40-60 ft. tall so there you have it. However, the Amorites are not only as tall as cedars but also “strong as the oaks.” Now, if height was supposed to be as per a one-to-one ratio then the same must be true of their strength. And yet, how do we correlate the strength of a wooden tree to a human body? Is God over exaggerating about their strength?
Simply stated, they were tall or very tall and strong or very strong.
Lastly, we come to Goliath who is “the only giant that is associated with an exact height given to us in scripture. A standard cubit is 18 inches. A span is 9 inches (half a cubit). 6 cubits + 1 span 9 feet + 9 inches”
However, the fact is that Goliath is taller in Greek than he is in Hebrew. You see, there is a disparity between Hebrew and Greek manuscripts so that the height range is from 6.7 to that which Fortson concludes. Keep in mind that in his adulthood, as Fortson tells us “David later retrieves the sword of Goliath to use as his own”: he, a regular sized guy, was able to wield it.
Lastly, I will add the besides Goliath’s height(s) the only other specific height offered by the Bible (besides the general statement that king Saul was a head taller than the average 1 Samuel 9) is a reference to “an Egyptian, a man of great stature” who was 7.5 ft. and FYI: Andre The Giant was 7.4 ft.
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