Saturday, November 28, 2009

Heroes of the Antediluvian Age: A Word Study

The words "giant" and "giants" appear twenty-one times in the Bible and are used in three specific connotations. The first one is a rare one appearing in Job 13:14: gibbor, or "a powerful warrior, a champion, chief, mighty man, strong man, giant." The meaning also stretches to include "tyrant." Its adjective form is gibber, "valiant."

The next word is the most commonly used rapha. It gives the idea of an invigorated physical strength. The primary root of rapha figuratively denotes "to cure, (to cause to) heal, repair, or thoroughly make whole." It is familiar to us when taken in the name Raphael, literal for "God has cured." The term Rephaim, or Rephaites, is a frequent sight in the Old Testament. This noun singles out a race of giant people living in the Promised Land before the Chosen Race took over. In the King James Version, the Rephaim is used as a general term to speak of the Giant race during Moses' time.

The third and last word appears two times: one occurring before Moses, the other after his death. It is the noun Nephilim, a transformation of the verb naphal that means "to fall down," and "fall away." However, the richness of meaning includes the following: "to overthrow, to overwhelm, perish; to be lost, to make rot; slay, smite out, or throw down." It also suggests "a fugitive." Though the meanings present a rather violent image of these creatures, the passage in Genesis 6:4 highlights them as "the heroes of old, men of renown" (New International Version).

The claim about giants dominating the planet in the distant past has also been recorded from among the now-extinct cultures in Europe. The Vikings believed that they were even magic wielding, instrumental in creating the earth and founding the human race; the Celtic druids called them "fomors," the enemies of the high gods of the heavenlies; the mythical history of England begins with a giant named Albion. The ancient Greeks spoke of a race of immortal giants called Titans that mingled with humans. Classicist Edith Hamilton described them as a "splendid race of godlike heroes" (Edith Hamilton, Mythology, Mentor Books: New York, 1969; p. 69). Where did this race of giants come from? Are the giants of ancient records one and the same?

1 comment:

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