Not So Giant

David Slays GoliathAs I said, there’s a new That’s a Fact video out: Biblical Giants. For the June Acts & Facts edition Randy Guliuzza wrote an article called “Did Giants Ever Exist?“, and this video examines the same issue.

The point of the video is apparently to prove that the giants referenced in the bible are perfectly believable – they were just tall people! The obvious, but perhaps unintended effect of this strategy is to make them seem not all that impressive.

David, a boy with just a shepherd sling, and a rock, fought against Goliath, a giant man armed with a sword. Talk about a lopsided battle.

As an aside, the biblical story of David vs Goliath seems initially more concerned with the giant’s spear – “And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron” (which is not all that heavy) – only really getting to his (sheathed) sword when David uses it to cut his head off.

David, of course, won the fight, but just how big were the giants? Scripture says that Goliath was 6 cubits and a span tall. A cubit usually means a length of about 18 inches, and a span is about 9 inches. This means Goliath and the other giants were around 9 or 10 feet tall. That’s as tall as a regulation sized basketball goal. Kinda makes football linebackers seem puny, huh.

I don’t know about you, but none of those comparisons mean anything to me – neither do the measurements, for that matter (10 feet is ~3 metres). The “six cubits and a span” figure, which gives the height of around 3 metres, comes only from more recent “scriptures” like the King James Version. Older versions – the dead sea scrolls and the Septuagint, along with the Roman-era Jewish historian Josephus – only claim four cubits and a span, which comes to just over 2 metres which is unimpressive by modern standards.

“Modern standards” are not the best point of comparison, however – an avenue not investigated by this video is that people were a fair bit shorter historically than they are in the West today. Edward I of England, for example, was given the nickname of “Longshanks” due to his imposing stature. But in real terms he was only 188 cm (6′ 2″), which is shorter than I am.

And it’s possible that Goliath, a champion warrior, was even larger than other giants.

This is phrased as if it means that Goliath is yet taller, but of course as the height for giants is being determined from the height given for Goliath this means not that Goliath was “even larger” but that the other giants must have been shorter.

Adult humans today may range from 4 feet to over 6 feet tall. And there are genuine records of non-diseased humans that stand over 8 to 9 feet tall.

There are certainly a handful of people known to have been that tall – even to be that tall now – but it’s unclear if you can call them “non-diseased.” Being that tall doesn’t happen without cause, but whether said cause (usually an increased level of growth hormone due to a malfunctioning gland) can be said to be a “disease” is perhaps debatable.

Considering the wide range of human heights, it’s reasonable to say that biblical giants like Goliath were so large simply because of normal human variability.

TL;DR: Giant = tall. Likely knowing that this makes the whole video a little pointless they conclude by suddenly veering off into Jesusland with all haste:

But no matter how tall or short someone is, the bible says that God cares for all people so much that he came to offer salvation to everyone. He didn’t come as a giant, and he probably wasn’t 4 feet tall either. Most likely, he looked like the average person of that time. In fact, he probably looked a lot like you and me.

I wonder if you can guess the stock picture of Jesus and the “average people of the time” looks like?

TaF Jesus


Now: tall people exist, as do stories of giants. Some stories of giants may be based on encounters with said tall people, while others may be made up from whole cloth. These things are already established – if you want to claim that your particular giant story is true you need a little more than that.

6 thoughts on “Not So Giant

  1. The entire history of all religions is done by graduates of the well known institution MSU. Better known as Making Stuff UP. You don’t expect them to stop now, or start using well researched arguments do you?

    It’s a house of cards based on out dated mythologies and made up stuff, that requires constant rationalizations to keep itself afloat. This is the only kind of science they are capable of. No facts necessary.

  2. It used to be that Jesus was an Englishman. Now he (and his buddies) are clearly North Americans of English descent. Is this progress?

  3. Pingback: Evidence Based Reality | Cruising the Blogosphere

  4. Two new ICR topics:

    (1) All very interesting – blog post and comments (some rational some not – I’ve added one, judge for yourselves in which category):

    An example of a YEC attacking science, presumably because there is uncertainty over ancient dates despite the rocks containing zircon xenocrysts, even though the conclusion of an ancient and now lost ‘continent’ does not sound especially unbiblical.
    I won’t attempt to comment on Clarey’s scornful remarks, eg “This paper presented no concrete evidence for this presumed continent other than some out-of-place zircon age dates from a few handfuls of sand!” because I’ve only seen the Abstract and not the full Nature Geoscience paper.

  5. For an example of how a relatively small difference in height translates to a more substantial weight difference & looks enormous, check out Fedor Emelianenko (6′-0″; 235 lbs.) vs Choi Hong-man (7′-1″; 350 lbs.) It’s a short, awesome MMA fight.


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