Remember, God had promised enmity between the seed of the woman (all of mankind, coming to ultimate fruition in Christ) and the seed of the Nachash, the serpentine entity who deceived Eve and lured Adam. Given the “war of the seed” declared in Genesis 3:15, it seems reasonable to think a genetic cleansing was necessary to extricate the Watchers’ giant traits, intermixed with generations of Canaanites and giants of various races. It didn’t concern the Israelites, because they knew the call to holy war was from Yahweh. The historical record and archaeological evidence is enough to justify the ancient Hebrew accounts above all others.
Douglas Stuart, the chair of Biblical Studies and Old Testament professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary,[i] pleads for intellectual honestly—when it comes to extermination of particular ancient Near-Eastern peoples:
This is what seems hardest for most people to get—the idea of the total annihilation of the enemy. This seems very brutal. When you read the descriptions, you know, “Spare not a one of them, destroy them all, destroy their animals, burn everything.” You say, “Wow, what kind of vicious behavior is this?” You must remember a couple of things. One, it is a war of judgment. God who knows right and wrong quite well has said, “I want to eliminate this Amorite culture.” He does not say none of the children can go to heaven under two-years-old. None of that is said. We do not know anything about God’s fairness in dealing with those people at that time, under those conditions, but he does say, “Gotta eliminate the culture.”[ii]
As believers in the divine inspiration of Scripture, we believe these “devotion to destruction” commands really do come from the Creator of the Universe. Thus, we trust God had a really good reason for ordering what would otherwise seem to be genocide, a great evil. We trust that God’s character is upright and know that He is longsuffering and faithful. Nephilim genetics were like an ancient antediluvian curse, and it seems compelling that the Lord commanded the Israelite invaders to cleanse the land of them. It makes for an interesting apologetic rejoinder when facing a skeptic who uses these passages to paint God as a “malevolent bully.”[iii]
We believe God had good reasons for ordering the extermination of particular people groups. Michael Heiser has noted that the tribes “devoted to destruction” are the same giant clans associated with the Rephaim and Nephilim giants.[iv]
There is no doubt the Scriptures describe organized tribes or groups of giants living in the great walled cities of Canaan (Numbers 13). These tribes include: Amalekites, Amorites, Anakims, Ashdothites, Aviums, Avites, Caphtorims, Ekronites, Emins, Eshkalonites, Gazathites, Geshurites, Gibeonites, Giblites, Girgashites, Gittites, Hittites, Hivites, Horims, Horites, Jebusites, Kadmonites, Kenites, Kenizzites, Maachathites, Manassites, Nephilim, Perizzites, Philistines. Rephaim, Sidonians, Zamzummins, Zebusites, and Zuzims.
We are still astounded by the seemingly well-intended but embarrassingly misguided interpreters who do not correlate Crusade Wars and Just War theory against such cursed persons and who attempt to censor the giants out of the Bible. Giants are integral to understanding the context of the desert-wandering curse, during which Moses composed the Torah under divine inspiration. Interpreters who deny that the supernatural sons of God mated with the “daughters of men” in Genesis 6 have an even harder time with all of the giants in the Promised Land, and some skeptics try to dismiss them as cowardly fictions.
A common but easily refuted example maintains that the spies’ report, “And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:33), was necessarily untrue because it is labeled as “an evil report of the land” (Numbers 13:32) by Moses, in the narrator’s voice. However, they were not all liars. The group of spies included Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua, who not only did not denounce the presence of giants as a lie, but argued that God would supernaturally help the Israelites fulfill the Just War crusade and defeat them (Numbers 13:30). Finally, it doesn’t make sense that the spies (possessing first-hand knowledge) would wander the desert for thirty-eight years to protect a known lie.
In the end, the fear of giants causes the majority of the Exodus escapees to die pitifully wandering the Sinai in circles. By design, the sole survivors were also “evil-report” witnesses, Joshua and Caleb, who did not originally fear the giants: “But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still” (Numbers 14:38). Finally, Moses acknowledged “the descendants of Anak, were there” as the narrator, not from within the spies’ evil report (Numbers 13:22), and he later connected them to “the sons of Anak, which come of the giants” (Numbers 13:33), whereas the Hebrew beneath the English word “giants” was actually nephilim—an Aramaic term for “giants.” נְפִלִים
Thus, we conclude the “evil report” rejoinder as an alternative to the presence of real giants in the Promised Land, is incoherent with the inspired author’s intention for his original readers. In theology, it’s labeled “demythologization,” but in layman’s terms, “unbelief” is a good synonym.
It is important to note that, Crusade War ethic aside, Yahweh takes most of the credit for Israel’s victories (Joshua 24:5–13). We don’t imagine Joshua beheading Canaanite journalists on social media like the IS’ psychological warfare videos. The purpose is known as fear propaganda; they want to infiltrate your mind with irrational fear. However, the IS should fear a more sophisticated response than drones and air strikes, likely at the hands of an international coalition force as prescribed by the pope and predicted by these authors.
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A passage from the same periscope gives us pause. “And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow” (Joshua 24:12, emphasis added). The Hebrew term tsirah, rendered “hornet,” is used in the same way in other books (Exodus 23:28; Deuteronomy 7:20). Because it also was an idiom for panic, some scholars believe the context is better served by the “fear-panic” meaning.[v] The King James Version reads, “God will send the hornet among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed” (Deuteronomy 7:20). More recent renderings have the advantage of older source material found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Lexham English Bible translation leaves out all of the unoriginal commas and gives a more sinister impression of the supposed insects, “Yahweh your God will send the hornets [tsirah] among them until both the survivors and the fugitives are destroyed before you” (Deuteronomy 7:20, LEB). If the enemy combatants are destroyed “before you,” the grammar implies that you are a spectator and the so-called hornets are doing all the work. We get the impression these are deadly entities more akin to the genetic-hybrid monstrosities that emerge during the trumpet judgments rather than common insects (Revelation 9:10; 9:19).
The Book of First Enoch, “The Book of the Watchers,” is seemingly verified as being written by “Enoch, the seventh from Adam,” by Jesus’ brother Jude, who cites it in the New Testament (Jude 14). Within, God tells Enoch:
And now, the giants, who are produced from the spirits and flesh, shall be called evil spirits upon the earth, and on the earth shall be their dwelling. Evil spirits have proceeded from their bodies; because they are born from men, and from the holy Watchers is their beginning and primal origin; they shall be evil spirits on earth, and evil spirits shall they be called. As for the spirits of heaven, in heaven shall be their dwelling, but as for the spirits of the earth which were born upon the earth, on the earth shall be their dwelling. And the spirits of the giants afflict, oppress, destroy, attack, do battle, and work destruction on the earth, and cause trouble: they take no food, but nevertheless hunger and thirst, and cause offences. And these spirits shall rise up against the children of men and against the women, because they have proceeded from them. (Enoch 15:1–12)
According to ancient texts, the deceased human-hybrid giants are now evil spirits upon the earth. Furthermore, the biblical text testifies that God had warned the demon-worshipping inhabitants in the land of Cana: “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Genesis 15:16). Clearly, there is a particular level of depravity that Yahweh will not abide. Yet, this passage implies Yahweh’s perseverance over four generations, with the very people He later ordered annihilated by holy war. The text of Numbers connects it to the progeny of the Watchers, the previously listed giant clans.
Interestingly, when the Israelites crossed the Jordon to claim land, they reported encountering Nephilim giants (Numbers 13:33; cf. Genesis 6:4).[vi] In fact, it was the peoples’ fear of the Nephilim that resulted in their being punished by wandering about the Sinai desert. After that generation died in the desert, Yahweh’s immortal soldiers (Hebrew tsaba[vii]) fought the Battle of Jericho, led by the divine “captain of the host of the Lord” (Joshua 5:14, 15), while the Israelites marched around in a circle blowing shofar (“horns”) (Joshua 6:1–27). In truth, the unseen army of Yahweh (2 Kings 6:17) was slaughtering the Nephilim within the falling walls around Jericho.
This immortal “captain of the hosts” is described as a “theophanic angel” in the standard Hebrew lexicon, Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon.[viii] We agree with Chuck Missler that this passage concerning Joshua’s encounter with the immortal “captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?” (Joshua 5:14) indicates a theophany (“an Old Testament appearance of God”) by a preincarnate Jesus Christ. In his Joshua Commentary, Missler notes:
Angels are not to be worshiped! John does twice in Revelation and the angel does not allow it, also note the appellation: “Lord.” He is the “captain of our salvation” (Hebrews 2:10). This “angel” permits (commands) worship (cf. Revelation 19:10; 22:8,9); and uses the same language given to Moses and Joshua forty years earlier (Exodus 3:5).[ix]
For these reasons, Missler believed that Jesus Christ was the real commander of Yahweh’s army. His opinion was also based on a passage by Zechariah, “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle” (Zechariah 14:3, emphasis added). Missler then asks, “When was this past ‘day of battle’ being compared to Armageddon?” and answers “Here!’”[x] If this is so, then Joshua really met Jesus Christ, as commander.
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Scholars have noted that “the material in Joshua, particularly chapters 5–7, possesses the quality of an eyewitness account.”[xi] Incidentally, the latest evidence from archaeology has overthrown years of skepticism resulting from Katherine Kenyon’s previous work that challenged the Bible’s historicity. Recently, even The New York Times conceded, “After years of doubt among archeologists, a new analysis of excavations has yielded a wide range of evidence supporting the biblical account about the fall of Jericho.”[xii] As the Bible’s historicity continues to be confirmed and the events of end-time prophecy seem to align in the Middle East (Amos 9:14–15), the growing concern over the described end-time judgments is illustrated by former nuclear silos being converted into disaster bunkers for the affluent.[xiii] Intriguingly, they seem to fulfill prophecy as well (Revelation 6:15).
Later, suggesting a cryptic reference to a lost ancient scroll Moses called “the book of the wars of the Lord” might also describe the battles of the One the book of Revelation prophesies will return in fury as the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Numbers 21:13b–14 cf.; Zechariah; Revelation 5:5, 16:19).[xiv] In addition, Heiser has done a great deal of scholarly work showing that pre-Christian-era rabbinic thought recognized “two Yahwehs” as “two Powers in Heaven.”[xv] For example, “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven” (Genesis 19:24). How does the Lord (physically present in the city) rain fire on Sodom from the Lord in heaven, without two Lords, one on earth and one in heaven?
The term “theophany” is defined as “an appearance of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament.”[xvi] A standard academic source provides a more rigorous definition, including the Koine Greek etymology:
Theophany, the self-disclosure of God, is a widely attested phenomenon in the literature of ancient Israel, recorded by its historians, prophets, sages, and psalmists. The word “theophany” itself is a Greek term, from theos, “god,” and phainein, “to appear,” a classical example of which in Greece was a festival at Delphi at which the statues of Apollo and other gods were shown to the people. Though the term is not a Hebrew one, and though divine images were not a part of Israelite ritual, “theophany” and related terms—“epiphany,” “appearance,” and “hierophany,” “appearance of the sacred”—have come to be used among scholars for descriptions of the appearance of God in the Hebrew Scriptures[xvii]
Many scholars believe that appearances of the “Angel of the Lord” represent such supernatural events. A Logos Bible Software search of the Old Testament returns 220 results for the term “Angel of the Lord.” Moses ascribed extrasensory telepathic abilities to Him. Robert Alter noted how the “angel of Yahweh” read Sarah’s mind.
The angel of the Lord, with the advantage of the auditory equivalent of clairvoyance, hears these unvoiced words, but this is how he repeats them to Abraham: “Why is it that Sarah laughed, saying: Will I really give birth, I being old?” The angel, with divine tact, has clearly tempered the vehemence of Sarah’s interior monologue.[xviii]
Considered to be a theophany, a manifestation of Yahweh, this immortal killed an army of 185,000 men in one night (2 Kings 19:35).Theologian Millard Erickson offers three possibilities:
(1) he is merely an angel with a special commission; (2) he is God himself temporarily visible in a humanlike form; (3) he is the Logos, a temporary preincarnate visit by the second person of the Trinity. While none of these interpretations is fully satisfactory, in light of the clear statements of identity either the second or the third seems more adequate than the first.[xix]
The angel of the Lord sounds much like the captain of the army of hosts in Joshua.
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[i] Douglas Stuart, Gordon-Conwell Seminary, http://www.gordonconwell.edu/academics/view-faculty-member.cfm?faculty_id=15891&grp_id=8946.
[ii] Douglas Stuart, “What Were the Characteristics of Holy War in the Old Testament?” Biblical Training.org, June 19,2012, https://www.biblicaltraining.org/blog/curious-christian/6-19-2012/what-were-characteristics-holy-war-old-testament, accessed October 10, 2015.
[iii] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Great Britain: Bantam Press, 2006), p. 31.
[iv] Michael Heiser, “Genesis 6 Hybridization: Sons of God, Daughters of Men and the Nephilim,” Ancient of Days Conference (2005), http://ancientofdaysbibleufo.podomatic.com/entry/2009-01-03T14_25_07-08_00, accessed November 23, 2015.
[v] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
[vii] In On the path of the Immortals we explained the immorality of the messenger-angels (Hebrew: malak) and hosts or soldiers (Hebrew: tsaba) (Psalm 148: 2, 5–6) and explained the Hebrew word tsaba, “hosts,” is a most often used of military personnel and is often translated “armies” in English, as discussed in Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Enhanced Hebrew and English Lexicon, 838.
[viii] Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), p. 839.
[ix] Chuck Missler, The Book of Joshua: An Expositional Commentary (Coeur d’Alene, ID: Koinonia House, 1996), p. 30.
[x]Missler, Book of Joshua, 30.
[xi]W. S. La Sor, D. A. Hubbard, , & F. W. Bush, F. W. (1996), Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament (2nd ed.) (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), p. 144.
[xii] John Noble Wilford, “Believers Score in Battle Over the Battle of Jericho,” The New York Times, February 22, 1990, http://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/22/world/believers-score-in-battle-over-the-battle-of-jericho.html, Accessed October 9, 2015.
[xiii] “Silos and Bunkers for Sale,” http://www.hardenedstructures.com/bunkers-for-Sale.php.
[xiv]Missler, Book of Joshua, 31.
[xvi]J. F. Walvoord (1990), The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook, Includes indexes. (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books), p. 318.
[xvii] Robert Alter, “Discourse, Direct and Indirect,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary edited by D. N. Freedman (New York: Doubleday. 1996), 6:505
[xviii]Alter, “Discourse, Direct and Indirect,” ABD, 2:213.
[xix] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology., 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998), p. 468.