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Giants In Canaan: Anakim, Rephaim And Nephilim


In the biblical tradition, the enigmatic Nephilim, or Fallen Ones, are mentioned in two very different contexts. The first mention appears in Genesis 6 and refers to the period before and after the deluge, with the Nephilim apparently residing in Mesopotamia (even though this is not explicitly stated). They are described as the offspring of the ‘Sons of God’ and the daughters of men, as ‘mighty men of renown’. Although it is not directly said, the word ‘Nephilim’ is often translated in this passage with ‘Giants’.

The second mention of the Nephilim is in Numbers 13, where they are mentioned as inhabitants of Canaan from the time before Israel inhabited the land. Israelite spies, sent out to survey the land, described them as follows: [T]he people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the Giants [Nephilim] (the descendants of Anak came from the Giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Elsewhere, in Deuteronomy 2, these “Children of Anak” or Anakim as well as other peoples are said to have been Rephaim, yet another enigmatic group mentioned in biblical, Canaanite and Phoenician tradition.

Fall of the Titans, depicting giants by Jacob Jordaens, (1638) (Public Domain)

Fall of the Titans, depicting giants by Jacob Jordaens, (1638) (Public Domain)

The Anakim: Porteur des Torques

The name Anakim is probably derived from a Hebrew root, meaning ‘necklace’. It has been suggested that the name means ‘long-necked’ or ‘the men with the necklaces’. Although the first meaning may somehow be in agreement with the description of these people as ‘Giants,’ the second meaning actually makes much more sense. One in fact find that migrants, who arrived in Canaan at the onset of the second millennium BC, were indeed characterised by the metal neck-rings or torcs they wore!

Sleek Bronze Age torc in striated gold, northern France, c. 1200–1000 BC, 794 grams (Siren-Com/ CC BY-SA 3.0)

Sleek Bronze Age torc in striated gold, northern France, c. 1200–1000 BC, 794 grams (Siren-Com/ CC BY-SA 3.0)

The current author suggests that the biblical Anakim were none other than these so-called porteurs des torques (wearers of neck-rings / torcs), who might have been identified in local tradition with a race of Giants. The name porteurs des torques was given to them by the French archaeologist, Claude Schaeffer, leader of the French team which excavated at Ugarit, for their signature characteristic of wearing bronze neck-rings.


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Dr Willem McLoud is an independent South African scholar whose main interests are ancient Middle Eastern studies, Kantian philosophy and philosophy of science. Willem’s main areas of study regarding the ancient Middle East are the Sumerian, Akkadian and early Egyptian civilizations, with special focus on the Uruk and Akkadian Periods in Mesopotamian history as well as the Old Kingdom Period in Egyptian history. He is the author of  The Nephilim: Kings of an Epic Age: Secrets and Enigmas of the Sumerians and Akkadians  and The Nephilim: An Unholy Brood: Secrets and Enigmas of an Ancient Mediterranean Race

Top Image: From the Biblical tale, Jacob wrestles with an Angel (Public Domain);Deriv.

By: Dr Willem McLoud



Willem McLoud is an independent scholar with a keen interest in ancient Middle Eastern and Mediterranean studies, Kantian philosophy and philosophy of science. Willem holds a PhD in Nuclear Physics (Nuclear Fusion) as well as three Masters’ degrees. He is... Read More

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