Monday, April 2, 2012

Genesis 6 - Pt 5 - David and the Nephilim

In my last post I shared the story from the Old Testament of Moses, Joshua and Caleb, and the children of Israel entering the Promised Land and defeating the tribes of Nephilim which inhabited the land. I also gave a breakdown of all the variations of Nephilim as described in the Biblical text up until that point. You can read it in my post Genesis 6 - Pt 4 - Moses, Joshua, and The Nephilim.

Osmar Schindler "David und Goliath"

In this post, I want to continue on from where I left off. So far we know that the Nephilim were on the earth before the flood. The flood occurred in 2348 BC. After the flood, they are not mentioned again until 436 years later, circa 1912 BC, at the time that Abraham traveled through Canaan, which was inhabited by the giants. Another 461 years passed until Moses and Joshua arrived and defeated them. Altogether that leaves almost 900 years having elapsed, during which the Nephilim were procreating and multiplying. Add on to that another 477 years from the time of Joshua to the time of David... which is where we're going next.

All tribes of Nephilim had been destroyed by the Children of Israel except for a remnant remaining in Gath, Gaza, and in Ashdod.
Joshua 11:21-22
21And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities.
 22There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there [they] remained.

Now the year is 974 BC, and along came a ruddy young boy named David. We are told in 1 Samuel 17: 12-15 a little about David. He was the son of Jesse, who was very old by this time, and the youngest of 8 brothers. The Children of Israel were now led by Saul. David's three oldest brothers served Saul, and David was basically a "go-fer", bringing goods from his father over to his brothers in battle, then returning to Bethlehem to feed his father's sheep. At this point in the story, the men of Israel are set in battle against the Philistines (now the modern-day Palestinians), who have a "secret weapon"... a champion soldier named Goliath of Gath. Remember that Gath is one region that is still Nephilim territory at this point. A detailed description of Goliath of Gath is given to us in the Bible:

1 Samuel 17:2-7

And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and they encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them.

And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him.

According to the text, Goliath of Gath was 13 feet and 6 inches tall. His weight isn't given but we can assume it is substantially proportionate to his height, since his coat of mail weighed 154 lbs and the head of his spear alone weighed 14 lbs! For reference, here is an image of an average weaver's beam - imagine carrying a spear with a shaft like that. (For those who might find it interesting, we can also note that Goliath of Gath wore 6 pieces of armor in all, his spearhead weighed 600 shekels, and he was 6 cubits tall. That makes... let's see..... 666.)

We then read that Goliath of Gath stepped forward and addressed the armies of Israel with this proposition: "Choose a man to fight me, and if he can kill me, the Philistines will become your servants. But if I kill him, you will become our servants". When Saul and Israel heard this they seriously freaked out, but Goliath of Gath came every morning and every evening and repeated his proposition for forty days.

1 Samuel 17: 8-11, 16

Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.”  10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”  
11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

16 And the Philistine drew near and presented himself forty days, morning and evening.

One day David was bringing goods to his brothers from his father, and was meant to return bringing news of them home, when Goliath came and made his declaration.  David went to Saul and asked to fight against him, he was angered that the giant defied the armies of God and made them all fearful.  At first he was laughed at, but David proved he had conquered large creatures before while guarding his fathers flocks and his faith in God's protection convinced Saul.

1 Samuel 17: 26, 32-34, 37

26 Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.”

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

David's weapon of choice was 5 stones and a sling. When he stepped out toward Goliath of Gath, the giant was overcome with hate toward him and cursed him by his gods. David's motivation was for everyone to know the battle was the Lord's when they saw this nephilim fall.  One stone, from the sling, straight to the forehead, and Goliath of Gath was face down dead on the ground. His disdain for David was so great that he had not even taken his sword from it's sheath. David then hopped over to the giant, took Goliath's sword and used it to chop off his head. When the Philistines saw it, they ran. 

1 Samuel 17: 40-45, 49-51

40 Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine. 41 So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him.
42 And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking. 43 So the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!”
45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 

49 Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.
And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

Cinematic though it was, this battle with a Nephilim was not the last of it's kind for David. Moving forward in time through the Bible to the second book of Samuel, we learn of another Nephilim giant named Goliath of Gittite. 

 2 Samuel 21:15-22

15 When the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David and his servants with him went down and fought against the Philistines; and David grew faint. 16 Then Ishbi-Benob, who was one of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose bronze spear was three hundred shekels, who was bearing a new sword, thought he could kill David. 17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, “You shall go out no more with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.”
18 Now it happened afterward that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbechai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the sons of the giant. 19 Again there was war at Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.
20 Yet again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also was born to the giant. 21 So when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him.
22 These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.

We learn that Goliath of Gittite had a brother (1 Chronicles 20:5 tells us his name was Lahmi), and three sons: Ishbi-Benob, Saph (also called Sippai), and an un-named son who has 6 fingers on each hand and 6 toes on each foot. It seems there are some who believe that Goliath of Gittite was Goliath of Gath (meaning there was only one prominent Goliath mentioned in the Bible), arguing that Gittites were from Gath. Whether or not there were two Goliaths or one, the point should not be missed - there were Nephilim described in detail in the Bible, including offspring... and they had more genetic "mutations" than just colossal size (extra fingers, long necks, etc).