Old Testament

Goliath was a Nephilim of the Anakim

According to the book of 1 Samuel, Goliath was the most impressive warrior in the Philistine army. He was also a man of incredible height. He was, after all, a giant! However, questions about Goliath’s ancestry often come up. Was Goliath a native Philistine, an Egyptian, or perhaps something else? I would argue that although Goliath fought as a Philistine, the evidence suggests that he probably was of the Anakim, not a native Philistine.

Photo of Goliath to illustrate his height in contrast to David
The Giant Goliath

Tracing the Nephilim and Anakim from Judah to the Coastal Plains

Before the wilderness wandering, Israel sent out spies to spy out the land of Canaan (Num 13). When the spies returned, all but Joshua and Caleb were shaking in their boots. The chief complaint was that the people “are of great height” and that the Nephilim (the sons of Anak) were there (Num 13:32-33).

The phrase Nephilim is not used often, but in the context of Numbers 13, it seems to be used to refer to someone of great height. This is the understanding of the ancient Greek and Latin translations, which translate the Hebrew word as “giants.” Even in Genesis 6:4, the narrator tells us that Nephilim (i.e., giants) were on the earth in those days, and also after. That means that, regardless of who the sons of God are in Genesis 6, God wiped out the earth with the flood, and giants began to populate the earth again afterwards.

Is there any evidence to connect Goliath with the Nephilim of Numbers 13? Take note of Joshua 11:21–22:

And Joshua came at that time and cut off the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua devoted them to destruction with their cities. There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel. Only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod did some remain.

During the conquest, Joshua and the people of Israel drove out the Anakim and the survivors fled to the land of the Philistines, specifically the cities of Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. Where was Goliath from? From the city of Gath. So, tracing the theological threads we arrive at the following deductions.

  • Numbers 13 interprets the Nephilim as giants.
  • Numbers 13 connects the Nephilim with the sons of Anak (the Anakim).
  • Joshua 11 notes that the Anakim were driven to into Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod.
  • 1 Samuel 17 says Goliath was from Gath and that he was a giant.

Thus, it makes logical sense that Goliath was a descendant of the Anak, a Nephilim (a giant) in the eyes of the Israelites.

The Philistines and Other Anakim

The above information and logic also explains the other giants that Israel had to deal with. For example, 2 Samuel 21:16-22 (cf. 1 Chron 20:4-8) lists Ishi-benob and Saph as “descendants of the giants” and fighting for the Philistines. That same passage also talks about another individual named “Goliath the Gittite,” which is probably a reference to the brother of Goliath (cf. 1 Chron 20:5). Gittite is a descendant of Gath and thus further demonstrates that these giants came from Philistine territory, having been driven there from the hill country of Judah.

If the Anakim were dwelling with the Philistines who had given them refuge, they would be helping the Philistines fight their battles. This appears to be the case with Goliath, his brother, and his fellow giants. These descendants of Anak had suffered defeat at the hands of the Israelites, having been driven from their homes about 350 years earlier. They were ready and eager to support the Philistine armies who had given them refuge, as well as enact revenge upon the Israelite armies.

Peter serves at Shepherd's Theological Seminary in Cary, NC as the professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages. He loves studying the Bible and helping others understand it. He also runs The Bible Sojourner podcast and Youtube channel.


  • bob wheeler

    I believe that Noah’s son Ham married a nephilim and produced their son Canain. When Noah was drunk Canain did something bad to Noah. That’s the reason Noah blamed Canain and not Ham. That means that all children born from Ham and his wife were Nephilim. There is no way to distinguish Nephilim from non Nephilim in today’s time. If Jericho was Nephilim that must have been the reason for Yahweh to destroy all the people and animals, and did this to all countries that were Nephilim. thank you, and God Bless your work, Your friend, Bob Wheeler

    • Terry

      The Bible clearly states that it was Ham the youngest son who did something to his father and not Canaan.

      “And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.”
      ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭9‬:‭22‬, ‭24‬ ‭KJV‬‬

      Also, the scriptures does not state how the Giants reappeared so I think it’s a dangerous assumption to assign an origin. I think Peter did a great job staying clear of making such an assumption. There could have been a gene present in one of the 8, a giant could have survived (which I doubt), or the sons of God could have been up to their old tricks again. Those demons were not destroyed by the flood.

      • Marrian Stinson

        This is not a matter of opinion, but a clear and certain understanding from the Bible. The fallen angels were not on the earth, but locked down. If we refer to our Bible, we can see that the sons of ELOHIYM are created here on our planet as flesh beings. This is not a vague notion, but a clarified truth in Heb. where it is explicitly stated that angels have never been referred to as HIS sons!
        Consider this intriguing question: for unto which of the angels said HE at any time, ‘Thou art my son, this day I have become your Father! And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?’ And of the angels HE saith, Who maketh HIS angels’ spirits, and HIS ministers a flame of fire. Heb 1:5, 7
        This is not just a myth but a truth supported by the Bible. The Bible said all who did not enter the boat, ‘all flesh, died.’ Gen 6:3 made it clear that YAHWEH was talking about flesh beings.
        Angels (messengers) are spirit beings like THE FATHER and THE SON! THE SON took on immortality, which is a spirit body like before. Flesh and blood cannot enter Heaven. (1Co 15:50) Angel were imprisoned, and Satan was the only one who could leave the place. It is a place that has soil or landmass. Rev Chapter Nine makes it clear that they will be released all at once, but one comes when a child is born, and if he dies, he returns to the bottomless pit. ELOHIM tells them in that chapter that they cannot hurt those who are sealed. They can torture the wicked, but they cannot kill them.
        The bottomless pit is so simple. Only outer space has no bottom, and it is dark, just like when you throw someone in a pit, just like a prison. (Jude 1:6) Then the chapter tells you that a mighty angel is over the wicked angels, and he is the main destroyer. ( see also Job 1:6-13; 2:1-7) Job proves that YAHSHUA, who was called YAHWEH, also made all the worlds and beings HE created those worlds! These beings like us are called sons and daughters of YAHWEH. Satan tried to sneak into Heaven. These beings present themselves but angels who are always in Heaven unless they are on a mission but return to Heaven. (Dan 7:10) These Holy created beings are allowed into Heaven to present themselves before THE FATHER. We can’t at this time because we have sinned. Enoch, Elija, and Moses have been sealed and made in, as well as the 24 elders who rose with a great multitude of people when YAHSHUA died and the veil was torn in the temple! An earthquake occurred, graves were open, and people arose from the graves. (Mat 27:52,53) We must realize that the Adams male and female and all the animals that fly in the sky, that live in the water, and those on land were taller than we are today. Adams and their children used 100 % of their brains, and their knowledge surpasses us. They travel in outer space before us, and their building we cannot build today!
        Finally, Nephilim is a made-up word, not a Paleo Hebrew word. If so, please find it and produce it!

  • Ken Ammi

    Prof. Goeman,
    It seems to me that you missed providing the key data point: how do you get Nephilim past the flood?
    Also, overall: I really struggled to find anything in this article that is accurate.

    • Terry

      I think Peter did an excellent job accomplishing his objective. His objective was to trace the Nephilim and Anakim from Judah to the Coastal Plains.

      While many of us want to know the origin of the giants after the flood, I think Peter did an excellent job staying away from speculations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *