See how I cleverly included all three last names for better searching? You’ll understand that if you read Jason Colavito’s latest post on “gigantology”: Micah Hanks: The Hubris of Jason Colavito and Skeptics Over Giants Is “Worthy of Study.”
Basically, Micah Hanks is riled at Jason’s skepticism with respect to alleged evidence for giants in both antiquity and modern times. Now, let’s be clear. What Jason is skeptical of is that there were giants way back when (and more recently) whose height exceeds that of very tall people today (i.e., more than 9 feet). Jason knows that there is quite good evidence for people like Robert Wadlow, who was nearly 9 feet tall, and other men who grew to taller than 8 feet (usually because of some physical abnormality). Jason just doesn’t think we have evidence of people 10-15 feet tall, like you’ll read about on many websites and blogs that talk about the nephilim.
Readers of both the PaleoBabble and Naked Bible blogs will know that I agree with Jason on this height issue. I think the only unambiguous evidence we have in the biblical text places the biblical giants between 6 and 7 feet tall. Yes, I know about the reference in Deut 3:11 to Og’s bed (note that the reference is to the bed, not the person) But I’m betting those who promote that as proof for a 10+ foot giant don’t know this (excerpted from my forthcoming book, The Unseen Realm):
. . . the most immediate link back to the Babylonian polemic is Og’s bed (Hebrew, eres). Its dimensions (9 x 4 cubits) are precisely those of the cultic bed in the ziggurat called Etemenanki—which is the ziggurat most archaeologists identify as the Tower of Babel referred to in the Bible. Ziggurats functioned as temples and divine abodes. The unusually large bed at Etemenanki was housed in “the house of the bed” (bet ersi). It was the place where the god Marduk and his divine wife, Zarpanitu, met annually for ritual love-making, the purpose of which was divine blessing upon the land.
Scholars have been struck by the precise correlation. It’s hard not to conclude that, like Genesis 6:1-4, those who put the finishing touches on the Old Testament during the exile in Babylon were connecting Marduk and Og in some way. The most transparent path is in fact giant stature. Og is said to have been the last of the Rephaim—a term connected to the giant Anakim and other ancient giant clans in the Transjordan (Deut. 2:11, 20). Marduk, like other deities in antiquity, was portrayed as superhuman in size. However, the real matrix of ideas in the mind of the biblical author may stem more from word play deriving from Babylonian mythology.
 The dimensions were roughly six by thirteen feet.
 Etemenanki = Esagil (Sumerian). Doak, Last of the Rephaim, 92. Doak goes on to note that scholars who have detected this connection conclude that the point of matching the dimensions was that the biblical writer wanted to compare Og with a cultic prostitute. This is not only awkward, but fails to consider the wider Babylonian polemic connected back to Genesis 6. See also Andrew R. George, “The Tower of Babel: Archaeology, History, and Cuneiform Texts,” Archiv für Orientforschung 51 (2005/2006) 75-95; John H. Walton, “The Mesopotamian Background of the Tower of Babel Account and Its Implications,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 5 (1995): 155-175.
 Sacred marriage rituals included the blessing of fertility for both the land and its inhabitants. See Martti Nissinen, “Akkadian Rituals and Poetry of Divine Love,” Mythology and Mythologies. Methodological Approaches to Intercultural Influences. Proceedings of the Second Annual Symposium of the Assyrian and Babylonian Intellectual Heritage Project Held in Paris, France, October 4-7, 1999 (Melammu Symposia 2; ed. R. M. Whiting; Helsinki: The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project 2001), 93-136. The ritual was also concerned with maintaining the cosmic order instituted by the gods. Consequently, in addition to the giantism element, a link between Og and Maduk via the matching bed dimensions may also have telegraphed the idea that Og was the inheritor and perpetuator of the Babylonian knowledge and cosmic order from before the flood. This would of course tie him back to Genesis 6:1-4 and its apkallu polemic. See Beate Pongratz-Leisten, “Sacred Marriage and the Transfer of Divine Knowledge: Alliances Between the Gods and the King in Ancient Mesopotamia,” in Sacred Marriages: The Divine-Human Sexual Metaphor from Sumer to Early Christianity (ed. Martti Nissinen, and Risto Uro; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2008), 43-72. In any event, the size of Og’s bed cannot be taken as a precise indication of Og’s own dimensions. There is much more at play here.
 See Enûma Elish 1.99–100: “He was the loftiest of the gods, surpassing was his stature; his members were enormous, he was exceedingly tall.” One scholar notes in this regard, “The huge images of Marduk at Babylon could have served as the basis for the description of Marduk and other Babylonian gods as giants. Herodotus, Histories 1.183 said the golden image of Bel in the temple at Babylon stood twelve cubits; Ktesias (Diodorus Siculus. Library 2.9.5) claimed the statue had a height of forty feet” (Russell E. Gmirkin, Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch [Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 433; London; New York: T&T Clark, 2006], 128).
 Marduk was a minor deity prior to the Babylonian era, where he was elevated to be king of the gods and the patron deity of the city of Babylon. His main temple was, as we have noted, Etemenanki, the ziggurat at Babylon (see Jeremy A. Black, “Marduk,” Dictionary of the Ancient Near East [ed. Piotr Bienkowski and Alan Millard; London: British Museum Press, 2000], 188-189). Marduk was therefore the chief theological rival to Yahweh in the exilic period. In biblical literature, Marduk is referred to as Merodach or Bel. Second Temple period Jewish texts contain a tradition about a giant who survived the flood named Belus, who was created with building a tower in Babylon (the Tower of Babel), in which he lived. The train of thought conceptually links Marduk and Belus the giant. The same tradition identifies Belus with the biblical Nimrod, and suggests Nimrod might also be identified with Noah. Biblical editors during the exile may have taken note of the same Bel/Belus wordplay and used the dimensions of Og’s bed to identify him with Marduk, though we cannot of course know that with any certainty. What we can know is that this sort of thinking did surface in Second Temple period Jewish writings (see K. van der Toorn, “Nimrod Before and After the Bible,” Harvard Theological Review 83:1 [Jan. 1990]: 8, 16). Lastly, though it is only speculation, it is interesting to note that Marduk’s name in Sumerian name was AMAR.UTU (“calf of Utu”; i.e., “the young bull of the Sun god”). The Sumerian for “Amorite” is MAR.TU. One wonders if the biblical scribes heard a pun behind the description of Og the giant Amorite king and Marduk’s name.
In other words, the dimensions of Og’s bed may have nothing to do with his actual size, but quite a bit to do with associating him with Marduk (the work of a later editorial hand in Deut 3) for a theological polemic.
Back to Jason ….
I also agree with Jason that “the existence of giants, if true, would prove nothing about the truth of the Bible.” The validity of the Bible’s truth claims do not depend on producing evidence for people of bizarre height. Really tall people even by today’s standards fits the narrative, given the average (small) height of male skeletons of the period (ca. 5.5 feet). The point of the biblical narrative is that there were Canaanite inhabitants who were bigger than the Israelites, and it scared the crap out of them. I believe that to be forthright reporting in the biblical text, but nephilim theorists have turned the subject into the theater of the bizarre. We’re now treated to cone heads with [to get the Talmud right] sixteen rows of teeth . . . uh, biblical chapter and verse, please). You also don’t need whole “races” or thousands of unusually tall people with respect to the biblical language. The text can quite readily be read as denoting the presence of such people in lots of places, not that every last person in the land was a giant, or even that there were throngs of thousands in places. It’s the origin of the nephilim that takes us into subject matter that would conceivably produce disagreement between me and Jason (there’s more than one supernaturalist view of that, and I don’t know if Jason is a committed materialist or not). See my upcoming book in Feb/March 2015 (there — got another shameless plug in).
Jason’s response to Micah Hanks comes right on the heels to an email exchange I had last night. I won’t mention any names, but I offer it as illustrative that for both Jason and myself (I think I can safely include Jason here), our objections to “gigantology” are mostly about honesty.
Last night I received this link: “World’s Oldest Statue Is Of A Giant 17.4 Foot Nephilim From Genesis.” (Subtitle: The giants of Genesis are planning on making a return in the days after the Rapture). I wrote the following reply:
On the Shirig figure … the web page is pretty sad.
There are no “inscriptions” on it – decorative lines and a few words. One on the face identifies it as a goddess figure (the goddess of heaven to boot). See this link (load it up in Chrome and then have it auto-translated):http://www.itogi.ru/archive/
There is nothing on the figure or its original context that points to nephilim. Only the length/height. So, consider the logic. If someone dug up the Las Vegas “Tex” cowboy 9,500 years from now would they conclude that there were nephilim in the 20th century? Only if they thought very poorly.
This is the sort of thing that’s an embarrassment to biblical studies.
The sender then replied (abbreviated response): “You know, it interests me HOW you attack the analysis. That is what fascinates me.” (That was meant in a sincere way; my issue was with the link, not the emailer).
My subsequent reply is why I bring up this conversation in this post:
[Someone’s] analysis is about honesty. It is either coherent or not. It’s faithless and dishonest to endorse an analysis that lacks a factual basis. I’m just not going to tell people something looks right when it doesn’t. That’s dishonest. It’s no more complicated than that. We either speak the truth, or we don’t.
This is why you have credibility among serious truth seekers instead of appealing to those who just want our pre conceived notions supported.
The “Og’s bed details” are super. I wondered why it would be so large if he wasn’t abnormally huge until I read that, now it makes good logic as a theology/dialectic point.
Thanks; there’s so much theological pugilism in the text like this; hard to pass it by here.
I cant even see your comments on that site about Shirig. Did they remove it, or the comment wasnt approved?
I didn’t post a comment on their site; this was an email exchange.
Very interesting, though I don’t see the link between Marduk and Zarpanitu and what goes on in Genesis 6. The latter has nothing to do with a divine ritual. Nothing to do with two deities. Nothing to do with blessings.
That wasn’t the point of the analogy (and any analogy wouldn’t apply in all points). It has to do with linking Og back to Marduk for all the undesirable associations such a link would bring – and that is partly undecipherable to everyone who reads the post at this point because they lack the new chapters on Gen 6. Babylonian “wisdom” and theology about its own supremacy and “divine origin” and “divine blessing” is the target in Gen 6.
Michael, are you a Bible Believing Christian or not?
I thought you were form working with Chris White. if your saying something in Numbers was influenced by something build in the Neo-Babylonian period. Your basically questioning the authenticity of the Books of Moses.
I’m a Christian, and I believe in inspiration. I don’t believe the entirety of the Torah was written by Moses (and many believing scholars don’t). I also don’t believe in the standard critical view (JEDP). I’m something else.
The phrase “law of Moses” is a simple construct form in Hebrew (“genitive” relationship). The phrase does not need to mean that Moses was the source of all the Torah. Since I care about Hebrew syntax and grammar, that matters. The can mean “the law about Moses” (i.e.,, he is the main character of the Pentateuch), or “the law associated with Moses” (i.e., it discusses matters in the biblical period of Moses’ time.
There are clear examples if editorial work in the Pentateuch and places where material in it presupposes a different time subsequent to Moses. Since what happens in church usually doesn’t involve close inspection of the text, most aren’t aware of such things. But when you have to go through the whole thing in Hebrew in grade school, you’re forced to deal with it.
It’s this sort of thing that forces more careful thinking about inspiration, so it’s a good thing.
The Editorial material I believe was Moses editing together earlier works.
I actually believe Deuteronomy was written by Joshua or someone soon after Moses died. But the other 4 we are told within the Work was Dictated to Moses by God with God giving clear instructions not to change anything.
No, we aren’t told the material was dictated to Moses by God. In reality (i.e., in the text) the only instance we have of something remotely like this are the original events on Sinai (and even there the language / description isn’t comprehensive). And that’s a good thing – for example, the mention of the Tabernacle in Exod 16 before it was even built (Exod 25-40) is incomprehensible given the dictation idea (and that is just one example of where this idea breaks down). There is no need for dictation. The idea is a poor conception of the enterprise / process of inspiration.
I believe Exodus was written down after the events of Exodus ended.
But what in Exodus 16 do you see as alluding to the Tabernacle?
Exod 16:33 And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations.” 34 As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the testimony to be kept.
The phrases “before the Lord” and “the testimony” are used of the tabernacle (or parts of it, like the holy of holies) a number of times in later Torah books, including Exodus. For example, see Exod 25:16, 21; 26:33, 34; 27:21; 30:6, 26, 36; 40:21; 27:21; 28:12, 29-30, 35, 38, etc. etc.
This is one of those “classic cases” in Pentateuchal authorship studies.
That shows us only that the Tabernacle was already part of the plan.
no – it presumes the tabernacle is there before construction.
Like the gospels, there are sections in the Torah that are not presented with precise chronology. Sometimes (often, actually) this is due to a literary or rhetorical purpose (a deliberate intent behind how material is presented). In this case, it’s likely an editorial issue. Sort of like how we get “clean and unclean” animals at Noah’s ark before (biblically) there was such a concept.
The concpet of Clean and Unclean Animals is NOT in origin in the days of Moses, they just get written down then. The concept clearly goes all the way back to Abel.
what makes animals clean and unclean is the law – the law of Moses.
Speaking of the law:
>I don’t believe the entirety of the Torah was written by Moses.
If you were a betting man, how much would you say Moses was the source of it? Would it be only passages that said God told him to write “it in a book”? Clearly something had to emanate from him.
I would say (and readers can go to my posts on JEDP) that the Pentateuch has material that originated with Moses. I see no reason to deny his historicity and, therefore, that he is responsible for material in the Pentateuch.
Thanks for the honest analysis Mike, true to form. Am I correct in understanding that you do not believe that there were any giants beyond 9 feet, but the grasshopper language is just a figure of speech? That they were like Goliath @ around 9.5 feet and nothing beyond that?
I don’t think Goliath was 9.5 feet, since the Dead Sea Scrolls reading in that (1 Sam 17) passage is (along with many other items in the same passage) a superior text. The 9.5 comes from MT. The scrolls have his height around 6.5 feet. See:
And of course the grasshopper language is metaphor. If it were literal, we’d need giants the size of Godzilla.
>And of course the grasshopper language is metaphor. If it were literal, we’d need giants the size of Godzilla.
[I believe i asked you this before] Than what were the Israelites so afraid after the spy report? It was a report about giants that freaked the Israelites, which angered God and punished them to spend 40 years in the desert. If no giants>no bad reports> no scared Israelites> no punishment>no desert sojourn for 40 years.
Easy. The Israelites were scared of giants. The report was word of mouth. The Talmud shows how easily word of mouth can be distorted. Ever played Chinese Whispers?
And yes it was word of mouth, but direct word of mouth. If giants did not exist, why be afraid of them? And why would God punish them so severely than?
Call me crazy. After I did some volunteer work at the “City of David, Tel Jerusalem dig” I went over to the Israeli museum and took a tour. There I saw some odd sized ossuaries from a period that pre-dated monotheistic Israel. These might have been the people who were living around Jericho before Joshua came through, but the curator really couldn’t say.
You see, no ossuarie in Kidron is more than 20 to 24 inches in length. In forensic science there is a simple formula to determine the height of an individual based on the length of their femur. The femur is the longest bone in the body, and a great indication of height. With all the Jewish bodies broken down into 24 inch boxes, many many people could be permanently interred in Kidron. So the formula goes like this: (y+10.44)/0.432 = x for a female (adult); (y+12.15)/0.449 = x for a male (adult) – this is in inches. So all we have to do is plug in a 15 inch woman’s femur into the formula and we will determine her height. (15+10.44)/0.432 = 58.8 inches, so she is four foot nine. Okay. The Israeli museum has ossuaries (burial jars really) that appear to be engineered merely for the longest bone of the occupant… this makes me nauseous, the femur of which could be nine feet long!
(9*12= 108” ) (108+12.15)/0.449 = 267” (267/12 = 22 feet)!
All this leads me to think: I don’t know, and I probably would rather not think about it. There could be a hundred other reasons for the jar to be that large. For instance it could be meant for multiple bodies, or the individual could have been buried with a favorite horse or oxen. No one can really say.
I don’t know how much credit you give John Keel but he wrote about this kind of thing in his book “The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings”
It does make me scratch my head.
What do you mean by “pre-dating” monotheistic Israel?
Can you direct me to one such ossuary (name, number, catalogue information, publication reference)? If this even exists, you may be mistaking an ossuary for a sarcophagus. Or, you may mistakenly be assuming one individual. Even standard ossuaries often held the bones of more than one occupant. That’s evident from archaeological reports where they are found (accounting for the bones in them). So, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if large ones were made to hold bones of a group of individuals.
But let’s start with an example. It would be nice too get this quickly (email me) since I’ll be at the academic meetings in two weeks and can just track a few Israeli archaeologists down and ask them about the example.
I will go through my backup drive and my journal notes and e- mail you, and yes in my post I noted there could be other reasons for the jar-ossuray-sarcophagus to be that large.
Brother Mike, God be loved!–Mike, I, along with so many others Really love and apreciate you and your work. I have spent hours pouring over your blog site, read your books, listened to many of your radio interviews, and so I have gotten to know you fairly well- and notice that you are really fair , open minded , honest, loving, and a Host of other awesome qualities, but you can be rubbed the wrong way , like all of us,and it is almost predictable how you will respond sometimes to certain kinds of post–Anyway, I hope this makes it through that funnel–Can I ask you an”honest” question–“honest” question, I repeat, (for time of meditation)–And I know you might possibly tell me to write you this in an email, which I totally will understand, but the question is–Even though I discern some folks can be shallow in their thinking about the intelligence of God ,and also of the intelligence evil,-And a lot of us totally agree with you that intelligent evil probably wouldnt be so unclever as to come in the same form all the time, but I cant see how anyone could ignore Gigantisism in history, I mean really big things. MANY of the dinosuars? for one–The gigantic Redwoods for another, fossils of dragon flies with 5 foot wing spans etc, etc, etc,. Ok Mike, to be fair, and I have been completly turned around in my thinking by you before, maybe there is just something I dont “KNOW”–Please inform me if there is something I am missing, but to IGNORES Gigantisim in history,????? and even now, under certain growth conditions, and I mean REALLY BIG things??????– I know, I know, its about the Text. But the Text says,” No one speaking by the Spirit of God IGNORES” It does say that,doesnt it, or is this the Spirit talking now?–LoL
no one is ignoring anything. I’m going with the best manuscript readings of the biblical text and asking for real evidence from other disciplines (like archaeology). Speculation isn’t data, and it’s not “of the Spirit” either.
May Gods light, shine to us all!– I want to say something earnestly here, and not something just to get a chuckle ,or say something interesting—Can I say gently, honestly, humbly, and earnestly–Is there not an ego thing going on here between the brothers?–None of us should be naive and think academics is the only thing at play here. What is the Holy Spirit saying about our egos. All of us get BLINDED by our egos at some points, and I am highly suspicious that this is the case here.I mean, sometimes it touches people more when we have an Ephiphany of repentence, instead of thinking we can always be “academicly” correct. Now, can i ask, if there is some side issue that we are not aware of,I mean, how this needs to be,(concerning giants) to fit into the bigger tapestry, then I ask you simply to inform us. It seems what is going on here is simply that this issue needs to be taught like this, to fit in with the rest of Mikes Theology, or evoloutionism, or something like that, please be honest,and inform us of that. I sense that this is the case, but we might also have an ego thing going on here. We all need to be honest about our egos. I pray that you take this as loving conversation between brothers. If Gods Holy Spirit shows different light, hey, more power to ya, but Gods light, shows that the universe is a moral, ego drivin, or not, universe.
It’s just about being honest. I can’t make it any simpler than that. I’m not envious of misleading statements.
God give love between us His children– I apoligise Mike–You know how sometimes we write or say things and then later on think–
Why did I say it that way”? and so on–I feel bad that I used such a strong word as “ignore”–I really want to walk through this search for truth that you are doing with out having to speak harshly or un -positivly or with what you say”poor thinking”–When I think about what you actually said, it seems more that you are innocently just trying to work through this, and I guess I should ask more questions instead of being hasty like I was. I sure dont want to get you mad at me because I have GREATLY benefitted from you, and have warm feelings toward you. One thing though, I have to comment back to you on –I take it by what you meant by”Its not of the Spirit either”– that you just meant my hasty conclusions, for surley you know that someone can speak propheticaly by the Spirit, with out it being a written text, dont you? BTW , I dont have to qoute you the text on that, for you know them obviously. Mike, I apoligise, and will just slow down. This will all come to light in these exciting days for us all as we join you in this helpful labour of love you are doing–Grace
don’t worry about it!
Might Gilgamesh – “two-thirds god, one-third man” -be relevant to the Og business ? The height of Gilgamesh is equivalent to about 15 feet. The connection with Marduk is all the more interesting, if the Enuma Elish is also being drawn on in Genesis 11.
Gilgamesh is relevant to the Gen 6 nephilim (you noted the context). His relevance to Og depends to some extent on the meaning (or word play) of “Amorite”. But in general terms, Gen 6:1-4 is a polemic directed against Babylonian propaganda and “theology” (the ideas that Babylon had inherited divine wisdom from before the flood; this is laid out in my upcoming book – some important new cuneiform evidence for processing Gen 6:1-4).
Incidentally, there is new cuneiform evidence that has Gilgamesh at 11 cubits, taller than 15′. Source for that is:
Andrew George “The Gilgameš Epic at Ugarit,” Aula Orientalis 25:2 (2007): 237-54 (see p. 240, line 34)