Continuing a review of more of TJ Steadman’s views on Rephaim form his book Answers to Giant Question.
You can find all of my articles regarding TJ Steadman here.
Let us continue where we left off.
Now, he referred to “Rephaim giants” and that “the definition of Nephilim is best described as simply ‘Giants’” which is incoherent since it begs the question: how could it be best described as simply “Giants” since we are not told what “Giants” means.
Moreover, “Giants” cannot be the “best described” definition of “Nephilim” since “Nephilim” does not mean nor imply “Giants” is any language.
I know, I know, some of you are yelling, “But, but, but Heiser!!!”
If from the Hebrew root naphal then Nephilim refers to fall, fallen, to cause to fall, etc.
When Nephilim is rendered to Greek in the Septuagint/LXX, the term gigantes is used which merely means “earth-born” (yet, the LXX also renders gibborim and also Rephaim as gigantes which only causes confusion).
I know, I know, some of you are yelling, “But, but, but Heiser!!!”
If from the Aramaic root naphiyla then well, Dr. Michael Heiser claims it means “giants” but the J. Edward Wright Endowed Professor of Judaic Studies states it (who is J. Edward Wright, Ph.D. himself, and who is the Director of the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Arizona) “The term traditionally translated as ‘giants’ in both the Greek Septuagint (γιγαντες) and now in English is נפילים nephilim, a term based on the root נפל npl meaning ‘fall.’ It has nothing to do with size” and specifies that this goes for both Hebrew and Aramaic as “The root npl in Aramaic also means fall and not giants.”[fn]Private communique, July 2019[/fn]
Now, this may just be a battle of the qualified academics, and I will leave the experts to it. Yet, note that Heiser telling us that it means “giants” only begs the question of what “giants” means. Since we have no reliable physical description of Nephilim then we cannot claim to know they were unusually tall nor to claim that we can know they were unusually tall based on the definition of a root word in Aramaic since then we commit the word-concept fallacy of claiming that we can determine the concept from the usage of a word.
Example, since I (at six ft. even in modern day North America) have been called a “giant” many times, including many times by my wife, then you must conclude that I am unusually tall but I am really not.
Heiser’s main problem is not that he is vague and comes up against Wright’s claims but that he thinks that Nephilim really were unusually tall based on simply picking up Num 13:33 uncritically and running with it.
Two more issues before moving on:
It is a fact that Heiser, rightly, claims that no one in the Bible, including “giants,” were taller than right around 8 ft so, so much for the theo-sci-fi-tall-tales of those pop-researchers who use and misuse his research. I would opt for no taller than 8 ft but even less would still be unusually tall to the average Israelite male who in those days was 5.0-5.3 ft. (so women were even shorter, on average).
In all of his papers, books, interviews, videos, etc. Heiser has consistently failed to interact with the narrative of Num 13—and since that is the second of only two Nephilim verses then that omission is a gigantic one.
In all he has produced he has merely devoted one paragraph size footnote on it and it is merely a generically dismissive assertion of a statement.
See my book The Scholarly Academic Nephilim and Giants wherein I feature Heiser as well as various articles on my site plus Michael Heiser and Amy Richter on “The Enochic Watchers’ Template and the Gospel of Matthew”.
TJ Steadman claimed, “Rephaim does not only mean ‘Giants’” yet, does not only mean and actually does not mean that at all. Think about it, he has stated that “Nephilim” or naphal or naphiyla or npl means “giant” and also that Rephaim or repha/rapha or rph means “giant” and two very different words rarely mean the very same thing, au fond, etymologically.
What he does is to take the root word repha/rapha and apply its various meanings to one thing. That very complicated root refers to concepts are varied as healing and dead and is also used of a people group but that does not mean any and all definitions of a root need be or even can be applied to every and any usage.
Now, in our modern day it is very simple for anyone to look up the terms Nephilim and Rephaim in a biblical dictionary, encyclopedia, lexicographical, or various other resources and read that those words mean “giant.”
Yet, you must not leave it at that but see how those resources define “giant.”
And, then see how they treat Num 13:33’s “evil report” since they will most likely actually believe it and will then use that rebuked assertion to define Nephilim and Rephaim.
Thus, it is an unscholarly viciously circle—yet, as my book The Scholarly Academic Nephilim and Giants proves, a lot of scholars actually do just what Heiser does, they pick up a rebuked “evil report,” actually believe it, and run with it.
Thus, just because some of the dead are referred to by the term repha/rapha, that does not mean that the Rephaim people-group were shades/ghosts/spirits of the dead nor that they “possessed the features and the living spirits of the dead Nephilim” which is a biblically incoherent assertion.
Thus, it is not for these reasons that “the term Nephilim alone does not suffice to describe the post-Flood giants” but because there is zero biblical correlation between “the term Nephilim” and whatever he means by “post-Flood giants.”
Yet, you can surely see why he is making such statements: he wants to first claim that Nephilim did not survive the flood but that they live on in spirit for as demons (because he actually believes pseudepigraphical folklore from millennia after the Torah was written) and then also claim that Nephilim returned physically in the guise of Rephaim—whom Nimrod allegedly manufactured via occult means at the Tower of Babel—who are Nephilim 2.0. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the very definition of an unbiblical theo-sci-fi-tall-tale.
Thus, he can affirm that only eight people and some animals survived the flood and/but that they did survive but only in spirit form (which of course they did since physical calamities do not affect spirits—which does not mean they became demons) and/but that they did return in physical form as Rephaim.
We will pick up form there in the next segment.
See my books on Nephilim related issues.
For more details, see my relevant books.
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