Deane Galbraith is a biblical scholar, and a self-described ‘gigantologist’, meaning he studies the Biblical giants, and there reception throughout history. I, as a person also fascinated with the biblical giants, have learned a lot from Deane’s blog, ‘Remnant of Giants’, but I disagree with Deane on many issues, such as whether or not there is a Kernel of truth in the biblical giants existence. Deane says:
The giant grapes and giant inhabitants fit very well together. Indeed, motifs of “eating” or “devouring” are ambiguously associated with both the land and its inhabitants in Num. 13.32 and 14.9. Therefore, we should not – as some commentators have done – search for examples of very tall humans as the “historical kernel” of this account. Instead, the author of Num. 13-14 is describing the Anakim in fantastic terms: as eaters of grape bunches so large that it is impossible for a single person to carry one! The height of the Anakim is removed from the realm of ordinary human parallels, consistent with their assignment to an ancient era, before regular mortals (the Israelites) occupied the land. The narrative in Num. 13-14 leads us into the realm of the fantastic.
I do not wish to comment on the veracity of Galbraith’s links between the giant grapes and the giant Anakim, but assuming there is a link, and the Anakim were of a ridiculous height and strength, two things can be possible at the same time:
- The biblical giants were based on real life men of large size.
- The biblical giants were distorted, and exaggerated into monsters.
I think a good case can be made for my position, for whilst Gilgamesh is described as 11 cubits (15ft) tall, and Achilles was 33ft tall, Goliath is a much more modest 6ft 9 inches tall in our earliest sources (DSS, LXX and Josephus).
The point being is that Goliath does not fit the bill of a made up giant. Had he been made up, the biblical author surely would have given him a ridiculous height. Yet he didn’t.
Now I would agree with Deane that the story did not play out as 1 Samuel 17 says it did. Probably, it was truly Elhanan who slew Goliath, as 1 Samuel 21:19 says. But the height of Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 is very likely in my opinion based on a memory of a real life giant.
Like with Stanhope, I bear no ill will against Deane, whom I like a lot, hopefully Deane will respond to my points, and we can have a fruitful discussion.
rkb ‘rpt, out!