Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33 - GIANTS or Nephilim?
Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33 - GIANTS or Nephilim?
Some bible critics, who do not believe that any bible in any language is or ever was the complete and 100% true words of God, criticize the King James Bible for translating this Hebrew word as “giants”.
But as we shall soon see, this is nothing more than their own opinion and personal preference. Not one of these KJB critics will ever show you an entire Bible in any language that they honestly believe is the infallible words of God.
Instead, they rummage through the versions and piece together their own private brand of “bible”, subject to change at any moment. They are their own “final authority” and nobody else agrees with them all the time.
"There were GIANTS in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown." (Genesis 6:4, KJB)
ESV (RV, ASV, RSV, NIV, NASB, NET, Jehovah Witness NWT, Catholic St. Joseph NAB, Catholic New Jerusalem bible) - “The NEPHILIM (*) were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.” *Footnote - “Or, giants.”
We see the same thing in the World English Bible 2012. It reads Nephilim, but then Footnotes - “or giants”.
Also reading Nephilim are the 1917 Jewish Publication Society version and the Orthodox Jewish Bible 1998.
The word translated as GIANTS is # 5303 n’phee-leem. The transliterated form is Nephalim. The word is used only three times in the entire Hebrew Old Testament, once here, and two times in Numbers 13:33.
There we read: “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.”
The Septuagint translates "נפלים" as “γίγαντες (giants).” The footnotes of the ESV and NRSV indicate that the Nephilim were giants. Keep in mind that the word Nephilim is NOT a translation. It is only a transliteration of the Hebrew word.
How many people know what a Nephilim is? Not many, to be sure. But a “giant”…that’s pretty easy to figure out, even for a child.
Josephus also describes the Nephilim as men of “great strength” whose acts resembled those of the Grecian “giants” (Antiquities of the Jews, 3:1).
Not only does the King James Bible translate the Hebrew word as “GIANTS” but so also do Wycliffe 1395, the Great Bible 1540, the Bishops’ bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, Douai-Rheims 1609, Webster’s translation 1833, the Lesser Old Testament 1853, Julia Smith Bible 1855, The Wellbeloved Scriptures 1862, The Jewish Family Bible 1864, The Smith Bible 1876, The Sharpe Bible 1883, Darby 1890, Rotherham’s Emphasized bible 1902, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907, An American Translation 1927 (Powis Smith), Lamsa’s 1933 translation the Syriac, the Hebrew Publishing Company bible 1936 (put out by Hebrew scholars), the NKJV 1982, The Amplified Bible 1987, Good News Translation 1992, KJV 21st Century Version 1994, Third Millennium Bible 1998, The Noble Bible 2001, The Message 2002, Green’s Literal 2005, Complete Apostle’s Bible 2005 - “the GIANTS were upon the earth in those days”, Bond Slave Version 2009, Jubilee Bible 2010, the Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 has:”There were Nefilim (GIANTS) in the earth in those yamin (days)”. Here this Jewish translation give us both the transliteration “Nefilim” and then the translation - “giants”!!!
Other English Bibles that also read GIANTS are the Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010, The Work of God’s Children Illustrated Bible 2011, The Common English Bible 2011 - “In those days, GIANTS (*) lived on the earth” Footnote - “Or the Nephilim”., The New Brenton Translation 2012 and the BRG Bible 2012.
Tyndale 1534 and Matthew’s Bible 1540 said “TYRANTS” in Genesis 6:4 but in Numbers 13:33 both Tyndale and Matthew’s Bible had “GIANTS”
Young’s 1898 had “THE FALLEN ONES” in Genesis 6:4 but Nephilim in Numbers 13:33.
Foreign Language Bibles that also read GIANTS are the French Martin 1744, Ostervald 1998 and the French Louis Segond 2007 - “là des GEANTS sur la terre”, the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1549, Reina Valera 1909-2011, La Biblia de las Américas 1997, the Spanish Jubilee bible 2010 - “Había GIGANTES en la tierra en aquellos días”, the Italian Diodati 1649, La Nuova Diodati 1991 - “i GIGANTI erano in su la terra”, the Portuguese A Biblia Sagrada and the Portuguese Almeida Corrigenda 2009 and O Livro 2000 - “Havia naqueles dias GIGANTES na terra”, and the German Schlachter Bible 2000 has “giants” in both Genesis and Numbers - “In jenen Tagen waren die RIESEN auf der Erde” - “and there were GIANTS on the earth”
Even though the English NIV says “the Nephilim” in Genesis 6:4, yet the Spanish NIV - Nueva Versión Internacional 1999 has “giants”. It reads: “Al unirse los hijos de Dios con las hijas de los seres humanos y tener hijos con ellas, nacieron GIGANTES, que fueron los famosos héroes de antaño. A partir de entonces hubo GIGANTES en la tierra.”
And the NIV Portuguese version - Nova Versão Internacional 2000 - has “giants” in Numbers 13:33 - “Vimos também os GIGANTES, os descendentes de Enaque”
Some Weird and Inconsistent Translations
Douai-Rheims - “There we saw certain MONSTERS of the sons of Enac, of the giant kind: in comparison of whom, we seemed like locusts.” Numbers 13:33 but it has GIANTS in Genesis 6:4.
Ancient Roots Translinear Bible 2006 - “BARBARIANS were in the land in those days”. in both Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33.
The Judaica Press Tanach 2004 (another Jewish translation) has Nephilim in Genesis 6:4 but GIANTS in Numbers 13:33.
A Translation for Translators 2011 has: “ There were GIANTS called Nephils who lived on the earth at that time and later” and “the GIANT Nephili people” in Numbers 13:33
New Life Version 1969 - “VERY LARGE MEN were on the earth in those days”
Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011 has Nephilim in Genesis 6:6 but GIANTS both times in Numbers 13:33.
The Conservative Bible Version 2011 has “Fallen Ones” in Genesis 6:4 but GIANTS in Numbers 13:33.
Bible in Basic English 1961 - “There were MEN OF GREAT STRENGTH AND SIZE on the earth in those days” - Hey, that sounds like a giant, doesn’t it?
God’s First Truth 1999 has TYRANTS in Genesis 6:4 but GIANTS twice in Numbers 13:33.
Concordant Literal Version 2006 - “Now THE DISTINGUISHED come to be in the earth in those days” - Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33.
The Word of Yah 1993 has “there were LAWLESS MEN in the earth in those days” and also has “lawless men” in Numbers 13:33.
The Modern English Version 2014 has Nephilim in Genesis 6:4 but GIANTS in Numbers 13:33.
The Voice 2012 has “A GREAT WARRIOR RACE lived on the earth” in Genesis 6:4
The New Living Translation 2013 has “GIANT Nephilites” in Genesis 6:4 but GIANTS in Numbers 13:33.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary tells us that Nephilim are “giants, the Hebrew word left untranslated by the Revisers.”
Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible - Nephilim. A Hebrew word of uncertain etymology. The other notice is Numbers 13:33, where the name is applied to men OF GIGANTIC STATURE seen buy the spies among the natives of Canaan. That these GIANTS were popularly identified with the demigods of Genesis 6:4, there is no reason to doubt.”
Holman Bible Dictionary - Nephilim - At Numbers 13:33 Nephilim designates a race of GIANTS descended from Anak against whom the Israelites appeared as grasshoppers.
Smith’s Bible Dictionary - Giants - “They are first spoken of in Genesis 6:4 under the name of Nephilim.”
The King James Bible is right, as always.
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Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges.
The Nephilim, i.e. GIANTS. It is natural to refer to Numbers 13:33 “And there we saw the Nephilim (Or, GIANTS), the sons of Anak, which come of the Nephilim; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” The tradition that the Nephilim existed at the time of the Exodus was therefore quite strongly held. The precise meaning of the name has been lost. The passage in Numbers shews clearly that it denoted men of gigantic stature.
Benson Commentary Genesis 6:4 There were GIANTS - Men so called partly for their high stature, but principally for their great strength and force, whereby they oppressed and tyrannised over others.
Barnes’ Notes on the Bible - "The GIANTS," the well-known men of great stature, physical force, and violent will, who were enabled by these qualities to claim and secure the supremacy over their fellow-men. "Had been in the land in those days." In the days when those intermarriages were beginning to take place, the warriors were asserting the claim of might. Violence and rapine were becoming rampant in the land.”
Matthew Poole’s Commentary - GIANTS; men so called, partly from their high stature, but principally for their great strength and force, whereby they oppressed and tyrannized over others”
John Gill’s Commentary - “There were GIANTS in the earth in those days,.... That is, in the days before the sons of God took the daughters of men for wives, in such a general manner as before declared, or before the declension and apostasy became so universal”