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Review of Micheal Heiser’s “The Giant Clans and the Conquest”

Dr. Michael Heiser wrote a post for one of his websites that was titled The Giant Clans and the Conquest.

He sought to tackle the accusation of, “that the Israelite conquest was an indiscriminate genocide of the inhabitants of Canaan.” His solution is that, “it wasn’t indiscriminate at all, and that wholesale genocide wasn’t the point of the conquest. Rather, the command of to ‘devote to destruction’ (ḥerem/kherem) was focused on the giant clans (denoted by words like Anakim, Rephaim, and, occasionally, Amorites).”

The key questions are:

What’s the usage of the vague, generic, subjective, multi-usage and modern English word “giants” in English Bibles?

What’s Heiser’s usage of the vague, generic, subjective, multi-usage and modern English word “giants”?

The answer to the last question is no.

That is because the answer to the first one is that it is merely rendering (note even translating) “Nephilim” in two verses and “Repha/im” in 98% of all other instances—and never even hints at anything to do with height whatsoever.

The answer to the second is that Heiser watered down that term and thus, mashed together people groups that actually are not related.

The, “ḥerem/kherem” issue led me to write a whole chapter just about that for my book What Does the Bible Say About Giants and Nephilim? A Styled Giantology and Nephilology.

We get a few answers to the second one beginning with “giant clans (denoted by words like Anakim, Rephaim, and, occasionally, Amorites)” but while Anakim were a clan of the Rephaim tribe, and so were Rephaim by definition, Amorites are unrelated to them and so were not “giant clans” given the biblical usage that would have that read as, “Rephaim clans.”

Moreover, Heiser continued directly with, “the rationale for the ḥerem was to eliminate the Anakim, the vestiges of the nephilim (Num 13:32-33), since those peoples were perceived to be (and were, in some way, according to the OT) raised up by rival gods hostile to Yahweh…”

The assertion of a relation between Nephilim and Anakim is an assertion despite a two verse citation since 1) he did not note that he is exclusively appealing to once sentence, v. 33, from an, “evil report” by unreliable guys whom God rebuked and 2) he did not note that he is exclusively appealing to non-LXX versions since the LXX lacks any reference to Anakim even within the fear-mongering, scare-tactic, tall-tale evil report.

Moreover, what is created by the evil report is the problem of how Nephilim, by any other alleged name, made it past the flood, past God?

Heiser opted to assert a local, regional, flood rather than global yet, the scope of the flood is irrelevant to Nephilology since they either didn’t make it past the flood because it was global or because they lived in the flooded region: either way, they did not make it past the flood in any way, shape, or form.

Also, we have five biblical statements on who survived the flood but Nephilim are not in any of those lists: Genesis 7:7, 23; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20; and 2 Peter 2:5.

See my books:

Noah’s Flood, the Deluge, Global or Local?, Vol I: A Historical Survey of Views from BC to AD.


Noah’s Flood, the Deluge, Global or Local?, Vol II: A Historical Survey of Commentaries from the 1500s to the 2000s.

Thus, one single utterly unreliable sentence doesn’t in the least bit amount to, “Anakim, the vestiges of the Nephilim…perceived to be…according to the OT” except if we take “perceived to be” to mean sure, perceived as such but for which there’s literally zero reliable indication and only one sentence’s worth of indication.

See my Chapter sample: On the Post Flood Nephilim Proposal.

Michael Heiser goes on to note, “I contend the conquest rationale was framed by the urgency to eliminate the nephilim bloodlines” for which, again, there is zero reliable indication and only one unreliable sentence’s worth of indication.

He goes on to list a few additional points on which he bases that assertion.

One is that, “The conquest account actually begins in Moses’ day in the Transjordan — which is specifically aimed at Sihon and Og (Deut 2-3). The latter is clearly a giant, and both are referred to as Rephaim (a term linked to the Anakim in Deut 2:11), kings of the Rephaim, or Amorites (in Amos’ recollection of the conquest, the Amorites are described as very tall – Amos 2:9). Consequently, the conquest begins with giant clans in view.”

As we reviewed, it is not a linguistics case of, “giant, and both are referred to as Rephaim” since when the English versions that employ the vague, generic, subjective, multi-usage and modern English word “giants” employ it of post-flood personages (sans Num 13:33 which is not a case of personages but of a mythical legendary tall-tale) it, again, is rendering Repha/im so there is no, “and” about it.

Thus, “Og…is clearly a giant” biblically means that he was a Repha. But even on Heiser’s misusage of that term he cannot tell us that Og was, “very tall” or even “tall” (which is another vague, generic, subjective, multi-usage and modern English word) since we have no biblical physical description of him and the ones we do have come from wildly folkloric tall-tales from millennia after the Torah.

See my book The King, Og of Bashan, is Dead: The Man, the Myth, the Legend—of a Nephilim Giant?

Yet, what does it mean in Heiserian terms that, “Og…is clearly a giant” in terms of size? Well, he has noted, “I don’t think the biblical giants were taller than unusually tall people of modern times (between 7-9 feet)”so that is still much ado about not very much (notes to his book, The Unseen Realm).

As for “Amorites (in Amos…described as very tall” well, sure, he told us that they were big and strong but what of it? The text notes, “it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars and who was as strong as the oaks; I destroyed his fruit above and his roots beneath.”

Now there are people who suffer from that which I term Gigorexia Nervosa (an obsessive desire to see “giants” and just making them up where they are nowhere to be seen) who demand that Amos was implying conducting a one-to-one ratio based mathematical calculation which results in that Amorites were circa 40ft tall. Yet, they never bother with the equation as to the strength like oats—and never consider that their literalism results in that they also had actual fruits and roots growing out of their bodies.

Thus, what Michael Heiser has done is to correlate Nephilim, Anakim, Rephaim, and Amorites based on imaginary heights and one vague symbolic reference.

Heiser references, “The conquest instructions” but leaves out that God told us many times why He commanded such things but never said one single word about Nephilim—granting that some play the name-swap-game and merely assert that names such as Anakim, Rephaim, Amorite, etc. are references to Nephilim.

Yet, those assertions are either based on one single sentence from a non-LXX evil report, from incoherent correlations due to height or imagination about height (for some odd reason or other), or from pure watered-down fast-talking which only gives the appearance of connecting dots that are not viably connected.

Heiser then asks, “Where are the Giant Clans in the Land?” in answer to which he interacts with Num chap. 13 by noting, “Ten of the twelve spies reported that the land could not be taken because of the Anakim” which is interesting since he’s neglecting to mention the, by then non-existent, Nephilim that are merely asserted.

Oddly, after specifically referring to, “Ten of the twelve spies reported…” he actually quote, in part, the chapter’s original report which is accepted as is which notes, “the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.”

He draws our attention to, “note a couple things” including, “The report tells us about the inhabitants of the hill country (Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites), as opposed to the inhabitants who live by the sea and in the Jordan river valley (the Canaanites) and in the Negeb (Amalekites)” but he misses the key point in question which is that not a single word is said about Nephilim even though multiple people groups are listed, being identified as inhabitants of the land—even though Nephilim would have been the most unique and awe inspiring mighty men of renown on Earth.

He also left out that the original report refers to the peoples of the land are referred to as having been, “strong” and, “stronger” than the Israelites even by the ten unreliable guys themselves just before their evil report. Thus, their evil report’s reference to the height of the inhabitants, in general and Nephilim in specific, is clearly an embellishment.

Yet, Heiser is more interested in the topography.

He then notes, “The accounts of David’s skirmishes with the Philistines (the remnant Anakim fled to the Philistine cities per Josh 11) and particular Goliath and his brothers are not just window-dressing. They telegraph that the giant clan bloodlines are still around — and still need elimination” which begs the elucidation of that, “giant clan bloodlines” means, “Rephaim clan bloodlines.”

He then focuses on, “The ḥerem / kherem command[s]” which have nothing to do with his premise since, as we have seen, his premise if faulty.

He then hyperbolically asks, “Why haven’t you heard this before?”—FYI: literally every expositional preacher and teacher speak of these things by definition. One reply is that you have not heard it because it is inaccurate. Yet, Heiser’s reply includes, “I think the answer to that is simple enough — because it requires taking these accounts and Gen 6:1-4; Num 13:32-33 seriously and supernaturally (something that involved divine beings).” Yet, while Gen 6:1-4 are reliable and about the supernatural (technically paranormal), Num 13:32-33 is just a list of five mere assertions unbacked by even one single verse in the whole Bible and which contradicts Moses, Cable, Joshua, God, and the rest of the whole Bible since those confirm, for example, the presence of Anakim in the land but never say a single word about post-flood Nephilim.

For more on this, see my article Rebuttal to Dr. Michael Heiser’s “All I Want for Christmas is Another Flawed Nephilim Rebuttal.”

His article’s postscript includes, “Why are the Hittites mentioned in some of these accounts? Who are the Jebusites? The Hivites? What’s the giant connection? Is there one?” which we would need to dissect to figure out whence he is getting his idea of, “giant” in any given usage and how and why he thinks that personages who were, “between 7-9 feet” at the tallest range must have had paranormal beginnings.

Thus, overall, we end up with vague watered down terminology and solid data points that are connected via vague watered down terminology so that the problem are not the solid data points but the fallacious manner in which they are purported to connect.

See my various books here.

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