Giants have captured the imagination for centuries. Ancient stories tell of enormous beings walking the earth and overpowering normal humans with ease. Even the Bible makes mention of giants several times, leaving many to wonder – just how tall were they?
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: according to clues in the Bible, the tallest giants may have been over 9 feet tall.
Who Were the Giants in the Bible?
The Nephilim Were Giants Before the Flood
The Nephilim were a race of giants that existed before the great Flood during the time of Noah. They were the offspring of the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” mentioned in Genesis 6:1-4. Their name comes from the Hebrew word “nephilim” meaning “fallen ones.”
These towering figures inspired dread and fear wherever they went.
Though the Bible does not provide specifics on their height, extra-biblical texts like the Book of Enoch describe the Nephilim as 300 cubits tall, or about 450 feet! While this is likely an exaggeration, they were almost certainly of an abnormal size and stature.
As they dominated the land, their evil ways brought God’s judgment on the earth in the form of the Flood.
The Anakim Were Giants After the Flood
The Anakim were a race of giants that emerged after the Flood. They were descended from Anak, and dwelled in the southern part of Canaan near Hebron during the time of Moses and Joshua. The scary Anakim were conquered and driven out by Caleb according to Joshua 15:13-14.
These frightening warriors are described as coming from the Nephilim in Numbers 13:33. Two of the Anakim mentioned by name are Ahiman and Talmai. Though their exact height is not given, they were certainly giants compared to normal humans.
Ten of the twelve spies sent to scout out Canaan saw themselves as mere grasshoppers next to the sons of Anak!
Clues About the Height of Biblical Giants
The Bed of Og, King of Bashan
The Bible provides some fascinating clues about the size of the giants in the Old Testament. One passage describes a massive bed that likely belonged to King Og of Bashan. Deuteronomy 3:11 states that “only Og king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bed was a bed of iron.
Is it not in Rabbah of the Ammonites? Nine cubits was its length, and four cubits its breadth, according to the common cubit.” If we use the standard royal cubit of approximately 20.4 inches, then Og’s bed measured around 13.5 feet long by 6 feet wide.
This would be bigger than an average king size bed today! While bed sizes do not necessarily correlate to a person’s height, this large size does suggest Og was a giant.
Another clue about Og’s height comes from later Jewish traditions, which claimed Og’s height was around 50 cubits. If this measurement refers to the same royal cubit of 20.4 inches, then Og would have been over 75 feet tall!
While not historically reliable, this does illustrate how ancient people imagined biblical giants to be of enormous stature.
Goliath’s Height and Armor
One of the most famous giants was the Philistine warrior named Goliath, who was slain by the young David (1 Samuel 17). 1 Samuel 17:4 states that Goliath was “six cubits and a span” in height. Most scholars accept this would be about 9 feet 9 inches tall using the standard 18 to 20-inch cubit measurement.
While massive in stature, Goliath was likely not nearly as tall as later traditions that put him over 11 feet tall.
Regardless of his exact height, Goliath’s armor provides clues about his size. 1 Samuel 17:5 describes his bronze helmet, coat of mail weighing 125 pounds, bronze greaves, and bronze javelin. The coat weighed as much as a typical adult male at the time, suggesting Goliath’s frame had to be enormous to wear such armor.
Indeed, the Bible says that Goliath’s armor and javelin were later taken by David as trophies of war (1 Samuel 21:9), meaning he likely found them useful despite not being a giant himself. Goliath clearly needed massive armor to cover his giant stature, even if he was not nearly as massive as some legends claim.
So while we cannot be certain of exact heights, the biblical texts do indicate that giants like Og and Goliath were substantially larger than the average Israelite warrior. Their great size terrified the Israelite army, emphasizing how extraordinary these giants were compared to typical humans at the time.
While specific measurements can be debated, the unearthed archeological remains of large ancient beds and armor help substantiate the stature of giants described in the Old Testament. So while some specifics may be shrouded in mystery, the general picture of intimidating, towering giants is clear in the biblical account.
Other Ancient Tales of Giants
Greeks and Titans
In ancient Greek mythology, there were beings known as Titans who were gigantic in size and strength. The Titans were the children of Uranus (the sky) and Gaia (the earth) and were considered to be the elder gods who ruled the world during the legendary Golden Age.
The Titans were ultimately overthrown by the Olympian gods led by Zeus, but they passed on their gigantic size to some of their offspring. For example, Atlas was condemned to hold up the sky on his shoulders as punishment.
The Titans imprisoned in Tartarus were believed to cause earthquakes when they struggled against their bonds.
There are also tales of giants who fought against the gods, such as the one-eyed Cyclopes or the hundred-handed creatures known as Hecatoncheires. The Greeks believed these colossal beings were the personifications of the wild and chaotic forces of nature before civilization.
In Norse mythology, there are different types of beings considered as giants, including the Jotnar (also called Frost Giants), the Mountain Giants, and the Fire Giants. They were sworn enemies of the gods and often came into conflict with Asgard, home of gods like Odin, Thor, and Loki.
The Jotnar were the most well-known Norse giants, described as humanoid beings of incredible size and strength living in Jotunheim, one of the Nine Realms. Their king was Ymir, killed by Odin and his brothers Vili and Ve at the dawn of time.
Other notable frost giants were Thrym who stole Thor’s hammer and Skrymir who thwarted Thor in contests of might.
The giants were ultimately fated to destruction in the cataclysmic event known as Ragnarok, where they would battle the gods and end the world. This apocalyptic war would culminate with many gods and giants meeting their doom.
So in both Greek and Norse lore, giants were primeval beings embodying chaos and adversity who stood in opposition to the civilizing forces of divine order. Their monstrous size and strength made them worthy foes for warrior gods like Zeus, Thor, and Odin.
While we may never know exactly how tall the giants mentioned in the Bible truly were, ancient clues paint a picture of beings towering far above normal humans. The tallest could have exceeded 9 or even 10 feet tall!
Of course, giant tales persist across many ancient cultures and stories, demonstrating an enduring human fascination with enormously strong and tall beings.