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Nephalim - Giants in Old Testament Genesis

I read your emails at EvC Forum and visited the Mt. Blanco [creationist] Museum website, the site that features a photo of a "giant human femur."


But the Mt. Blanco webpage admits that the "femur" pictured on their site is not a genuine femur, but just a sculpture that the owner of the museum molded in order to illustrate an unsubstantiated story. The story came from a letter published apparently in an unnamed Christian publication by an unnamed Christian, neither does the original story even mention "femurs," not once!


Mt. Blanco Giant Tale

The part of the letter that concerns us states:

"In south-east Turkey in the Euphrates Valley and in Homs and at Uran-Zohra, tombs of about four meters long once existed, but now roads and other construction work has destroyed the spots. At two places, when unearthed because of construction work, the leg bones were measured about 120 cms [47" long]. It sounds unbelievable. I have lived with my family at Ain-Tell for more than 14 years at the very spot where King Nebuchadnezzar had his headquarters after the battle of Charcamish, where I dug the graves of kings’ officers and found their skeletons like sponge, and when you touch them they become like white ash, with spears and silex and obsidian tools and ammunition laying by."


The original letter does not say "femur," it says, "leg bones." Perhaps in the great state of Texas in the USA, where the Mr. Blanco [creationist] Museum resides, they refer to the "fermur" colloquially as the "leg bone" (singular), but the Middle Easterner who wrote the above letter referred to "leg bones" [plural] when he stated, "at two places... the leg bones [plural] were measured about 47" long." So the word "femur" was not mentioned at all, and leaving aside Texas colloquialisms, the "leg bones" in this case probably refers to all the bones of the leg, the total "leg" length. I wear 34-36" long pants, so my "leg bones" measure about 36." The "leg bones" mentioned above were maybe 11" inches longer than mine. Such a skeleton might be a few feet taller than me, as I'm only 6'3" tall, but not "14-16 feet tall" as the Mt. Blanco Museum calculates, based on their assumption that "the leg bones" mean just "femurs."


All in all, a human whose legs were 11" longer than mine is large, but not beyond the known range of human variation. See for instance: E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898 , "Giants of Real Life." Mr. Brewer collected a long list of "human giant" stories from throughout history and their alleged heights, and his conclusion, as stated at one point in his list, was that "...no recorded height of any human giant known has reached 10 feet... The nearest approach to it was Gabara, the Arabian giant (9 feet 9 inches) mentioned by Pliny, and Middleton of Lancashire (9 feet 3 inches) mentioned by Dr. Plott."

www.bartleby.com


By the way, the Middle East does contain some "long narrow graves" as even Mark Twain pointed out in his INNOCENTS ABROAD, and one such grave that Twain visited was "210 ft. long but only four feet high." (Twain remarked that the person buried in that tomb must have been shaped as tall and thin as a lightning rod.)


Also, please not that the largest Protestant denomination in America, The Southern Baptist Convention (that promote young-earth creationism) has argued for toning down the heights of "human giants" mentioned in the Bible. See the following paragraphs from "Giants in the Land" by Harold Mosley, an article that appeared in THE BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR, 30:2 Winter 2003-04, a Sunday School publication put out by the Southern Baptist Convention:


"GIANTS IN THE LAND" [with additional comments by me, E.T.B.]


The Bible mentioned the "nephilim" and "rephaim" in Genesis and Exodus.

It was the King James translators who rendered those words "giants" while other translators simply transliterate the Hebrew word into English as "Nephilim." Scholars argue over the exact meaning of the word. The context of Genesis 6 is not precise enough to determine anything about the Nephilim except that they appear as unusual individuals... Concerning Numbers 13:33, the comparison of the spies being like grasshoppers next to the Nephilim certainly must have been an exaggeration. Otherwise, if the comparison were taken literally, the Nephilim would be more than one hundred feet tall. [Oddly enough a few Christians in the past DID take such a comparison literally and argued that the Nephilim were over a hundred feet tall. I mentioned such extravagant beliefs in my article on the web. The Book of Enoch, Cotton Matter and some unnamed Frenchman suggested fantastically large "giants in the earth." -- E.T.B.]...


If the Anakim were tall compared to the Hebrews, how tall were the Hebrews? Based on ancient Hebrew skeletons excavated at archeological digs, the average male's height ranged from 5'5" to 5'7". Since the ancient Hebrews generally saw themselves as smaller than other peoples, the biblical writers often noted unusual height. (For instance Isaiah 18:2,7 described the Ethiopians as a people "tall and smooth." Also, the fact that Saul stood taller than other Israelites was noted in 1 Sam. 10:23) ... King Og of Moab, Deut. 3:11 had a bed measuring 9 cubits long and 4 cubits wide (13 ft by 6 ft) [but that does not mean King Og was the same size as his bed. -- E.T.B.]... The record of the height of Goliath, as mentioned in 1 Sam. 17:4 is not consistent among all the ancient versions of 1 Samuel. The Hebrew records for Goliath say he was 6 cubits and a span (a cubit was roughly 18 inches, a span about 9 inches), so Goliath would be about 9'9" tall. Other ancient versions like the Septuagint lists Goliath at 4 cubits and a span, which would make Goliath closer to 6'9" in height. Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews says Goliath was about 6'8", which would still be considered a giant among the Hebrew people. However, the description of the weight of Goliath's armor suggests a much larger man than even a 7 foot tall individual to carry such weight. His bronze coat weighed "5,000 shekels," an astounding 125 pounds. [Of course, speaking of the number "5,000" as in the afore mentioned weight of "5,000" shekels, it must be kept in mind that the Hebrew authors were prone to rounding off and probably exaggerating them, which was common in the ancient world regarding the numbers of people and booty captured during wars. It can also be seen the case of enemies killed by Hebrews in battle as mentioned in the book of Judges, featuring reports of "500" or "600" or even "1000" enemies all killed by one Hebrew in a single fight, the Hebrew only using either an ox goad, a spear, or even the jawbone of an ass. Elsewhere in the Bible, King David leaves his son a huge rounded off number of pounds of gold and silver in order to build a temple, but the number given in the Bible is so huge it's nearly enough to nearly fill a modern day Fort Knox, which seems unusual for a relatively small kingdom in the ancient world that didn't have modern mining techniques. So, the number "5000" for the weight of Goliath's armor is probably an exaggerated and rounded off estimate. See the two pieces at the end of my email on Samson and Solomon. -- E.T.B.]


END OF EXCERPTS, ABOVE, FROM "GIANTS IN THE LAND"


ED: So where are the truly gigantic human bones? Can you show me one? I have already discussed the Mt. Blanco sculpture of a "giant human femur," but the word, "femur," was not found in the letter they based their scupture upon. So out of the "hundreds" of cases you know about, show me one truly gigantic human bone that is from a human being who was much taller than 9 feet in height. (Big Foot "prints," and Gigantopithecus bones, excluded.)


The largest-known primate was Gigantopithecus, of the Middle Pleistocene of what is now northern Vietnam and southern China. Males would have stood an estimated 2.74 m 9 ft tall and weighed about 272 kg 600 lb. It is risky, however, to correlate tooth size and jaw depth of primates with their height and body weight, and Gigantopithecus may have had a disproportionately large head, jaws and teeth for his body size. The only remains that have been discovered so far are three partial lower jaws and more than 1,000 teeth.


Evolution at least has bones, and in fact has enough of them to fill more than just "one coffin," as creationists now admit. See the two quotations below:


QUOTATION #1

Michael Oard, a creationist writing in CRSQ, admitted:

"I was surprised to find that instead of enough fossils barely to fit into a coffin, as one evolutionist once stated [in 1982], there were over 4,000 hominid fossils as of 1976. Over 200 specimens have been classified as Neanderthal and about one hundred as Homo erectus. More of these fossils have been found since 1976." [ Review of the book, Bones of Contention:

A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils, in the Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 30, March 1994, p. 222 ]


QUOTATION #2

And, Martin Lubenow, creationist and author of Bones of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils, also admitted about six months later in the same creationist journal:

"The current figures [circa 1994] are even more impressive: over 220 Homo erectus fossil individuals discovered to date, possibly as many as 80 archaic Homo sapiens fossil individuals discovered to date, and well over 300 Neanderthal fossil individuals discovered to date. [ Letter to the editor of the Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 31, Sept. 1994, p. 70 ]


Please visit www.talkorigins.org

sometime to look at all the skulls and their cranial capacities, and tell me where exactly where the "creationist" gap lay. The cranial capacities of all the known hominid fossils lie along a spectrum. (The site also has a section on "anomalous fossils.")


Best,

Edward T. Babinski


and


I have more info in my paper files at home. For instance, a few years ago Kent Hovind and Carl Baugh claimed that there were three New York Times articles that mentioned "human giants" and I obtained the exact three articles they had cited, and found nothing very extraordiinary in any of them. I have that perhaps in an email in my huge backfile of emails on my home computer. Dr. Stephen Meyers (who is a Christian who runs an incredibly informative site, that includes his masters thesis on the ancient near eastern millieu of Genesis, and includes a weekly review of the latest articles in the press concerning Creationism/I.D./science/religion, and who has debated Kent Hovind and has articles on his site that critique arguments from every major "creation evangelist"), recently sent me additional info on the height of Goliath and other human giants:


"How tall was Goliath? The MT says, 'six cubits and a span' while the Dead Sea Scroll 4QSama says, 'four cubits and a span.' People don't usually grow to be over 9 foot tall, so the 'four cubits'(7 feet) seems the most reasonable height of Goliath. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a thousand years older than the MT. So I am going with the Dead Sea Scroll reading.


"I think probably most of the large bones that people found in ancient times were of extinct animals. A mammoth tusk was thought to be the horn of a unicorn. A giant fossil giraffe skull could easily been mistaken for a dragon. Many giant fossil giraffe skulls from the Miocene Epoch are found around the Mediterranean (Mayor, 2000 p. 161). There is a very good book that goes into details about this entitled THE FIRST FOSSIL HUNTERS by Adrienne Mayor.

Sincerely, Steve"


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