Who Were The Rapha?
Let’s start by looking at the two terms used in the Bible, often translated as giant and sometimes left untranslated, depending on which version you choose to read.
- Rapha (#7497) – Singular Giant
- Rephaim (#7497) – Multiple Giants. Adding the “im” at the end signifies a plural word in Hebrew.
While there are many people that try to get around the subject, the fact is that Rapha are repeatedly referred to in the Bible as literal giants. Let’s take a quick look at how many times the word is used as singular and as plural.
- Giant – 8 times in 8 verses.
- Giants – 13 times in 11 verses.
As we can see, giants are referred to 21 times, which happens to be a multiple of 7. I’m not sure if that is significant or not, but I thought I’d share. The giants were broken down into various tribes, each with a descriptive meaning to their names.
Various Tribes of Rapha
- Emim – The fearful ones
- Rephaim – The dead ones
- Anakim – The long necked ones
- Zamzummim – People who’s speech sounds like buzzing
Literal vs. Figurative Giants
One of the arguments put forth pushes the idea that these were not literal giants, but figurative giants. However, evidence in scripture points to the contrary.
The Sons of Anak
In Numbers 13:33 we read the account of the 12 spies that saw giants in the land. 10 of 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. Here is the account of the 10 spies:
“And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” – Numbers 13:33
One safe assumption that we can make is that the Israelites knew who Anak was, and the mere mention of his name struck fear in the entire congregation. The biggest element to their report is that they looked like grasshoppers compared to the sons of Anak.
If you hold the belief that this account was false, then you also have to question the following accounts of Moses, David, and God.
Og: King of Bashan
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
As we can see, this was not an average size bed. To give you an idea of just how big his bed was, here are the dimensions for a California King size bed:
- 7 feet long x 6 feet wide
While the width is the exact same, the biggest question is, why was Og’s bed almost double the length?
Sihon:King of The Amorites
Unfortunately, we do not have an exact height for Sihon, but what we do have is a statement by God, concerning the height of the Amorites.
“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
- 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.
Goliath: Son of The Giant
Finally, we come to Goliath. He is hands down the most famous giant in the Bible. He 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
As we can clearly see from all of the above accounts, these giants were not the result of mythology creeping into the Bible. These giants were not exaggerations. They were real giants that the Hebrews encountered while taking the Promised Land.
After David slays Goliath, he parades his head around like a trophy to show the people of Israel what God had done. This act launches David from unknown shepherd boy to national hero. David later retrieves the sword of Goliath to use as his own.
Geographical Location of Giants
As mentioned before, the giants inhabited the areas promised to Israel by God. The map to the right shows where the territory of some of these tribes.
Based on the terminology that we find in scripture, we know that giants were not a rare and random occurrence, but were a very real problem because they existed in large groups called tribes.
“And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, being the kingdom of Og, gave I unto the half tribe of Manasseh; all the region of Argob, with all Bashan, which was called the land of giants.” – Deuteronomy 3:13
That brings us to the first mention of post flood giants in the Bible. We will be using this map as we continue looking into this subject. First, let’s look at Sodom.
Rapha: Allies of Sodom and Gomorrah
If we refer to the map, we see that Sodom, Gomorrah, Zoar, and the other cities are located within the territory of the Rephaim. When the war started between the kings, Chedorlaomar turned his attention toward the Rephaim, and the other tribes of giants:
“And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim,” – Genesis 14:5
Because this was a military strike, we have to assume that there was reason for Chedorlaomer to believe that these tribes would align with the cities on the plain to fight them. However, it is the actions that the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah take that also points to an alliance that was already in place.
“And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five.” – Genesis 14:8-9
Why do the five kings come to the rescue of the Rephaim and the other tribes of giants? Once again, scripture seems to point to an alliance.
The Amorites Help Abraham
During the scuffle between the kings, Lot is kidnapped by the four kings. It is at this point that Abraham either invokes his alliance with the Amorites or forms a new alliance with the Amorites to get back Lot.
“And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.” – Genesis 14:13
Unfortunately, we have no idea how or why this alliance was first made, but it could be an example of, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Whatever the reason was, we know that they helped him rescue Lot.
After the flood, we find that there are real giants on the earth called Rapha. They break down into multiple tribes and terrorize the Middle East for over 1,000 years. If you’re interested in more information about giants, check out my book,
Knowledge: Article originally published on Minister Dante Forston’s website:
– See more at: http://ministerfortson.com/?p=33033#sthash.XgQ5Qr7K.dpuf
Dante’s Youtube website can be found here