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Sinuhe vs the Giant from Retenu

Sodom's and Gomorrah's Giants

Sinuhe vs the Giant from Retenu

The conquests of Og's Bashan by Jair and Gilead by Nobah, with the earlier capture of Sihon's territory, gave Israel possession of all Transjordan. They now claimed all the land from the Arnon River in the south, which formed Moab's northern boundary, to the snow-capped Mount Hermon in the north, a distance of one hundred and thirty miles. These early victories were, of course, crucial. They were also remarkable achievements and were celebrated long afterward.
188 Unquestionably, they boosted the courage and confidence of the much shorter invading Hebrews. At the same time they must have dismayed and demoralized, at least to some extent, the giant warlike Anakim, Avvim, Rephaim, and their big Amorite cousins beyond the Jordan. (See Canaan's Anakim; David vs Goliath; Israel's Wars with the Giants; Jericho's Giants)

In ancient times people thrilled to Sinuhe's account of his duel with a mighty giant chieftain from Retenu.
189 Sinuhe lived during the reign of Amenemhat I, of Egypt's Twelfth Dynasty (c. 2000 B.C.). A "prince and count" under Amenemhat, he fled to Syria when that great king was assassinated. In this new land, Sinuhe eventually rose to a position of power and wealth. Among his many adventures in exile, he relates the following:

"Once on a time there came a strong man from Retenu and challenged me in my tent. He was a combatant without a rival, and he had it [the land Retenu] completely subdued. He said he wished to fight with me; he meant, he intended to rob me. He proposed to make booty of my herds, on the advice of his tribe.... During the night I stretched my bow and put my arrow in place: I sharpened my dagger and polished my weapons. When it became light... the land of Retenu drew up [in battle array]; its tribes had assembled, and its neighboring peoples had joined with them. When they thought of this fight, each heart burned for me. Women and men cried out, and every one was anxious about me. They said: 'Is there indeed any strong one who can fight with him?' Then he took his shield and dagger, and held an armful of spears.... He made for me, and I shot him, so that my arrow stuck fast in his neck. He cried out and fell on his face, and I pinned him down with his dagger. I raised my cry of victory on his back, and all the Asiatics [in his army] cried out. I praised the god Montu [Egyptian war-god], but his people sorrowed for him.... Then I took over his possessions and his flocks--what he had thought to do to me, that did I to him... "
190 (See Colbrand the Giant vs Sir Guy of Warwick; David vs Goliath)

The giant Sippai, of Gath, who some scholars suppose was one of Goliath's four brothers, stood to such an enormous height and size that all wondered at him. But in Israel's battle against the Philistines at Gob, Sibecai the Hushathite, one of David's mighty men, struck him down. (See David vs Goliath; Ishbi-benob; Lahmi; Six-fingered, Six-toed Giant)
Six-fingered, Six-toed Giant (See Jonathan; David vs Goliath)

Sodom's and Gomorrah's Giants
Both Ecclesiasticus (xvi.8-9) and the Book of Jubilees (xx.5) relate that in the time of Abraham giants lived in Sodom and Gomorrah. (See Abraham and the Giants)

From Hebron, the giant Talmai and his huge brothers, Sheshai and Ahiman, ruled the three tribes of the Anakim who were called by their names. A generation after they came out of Egypt the Hebrews defeated them and took possession of all their lands. On a wall of the tomb of Oimenepthah I appears a drawing representing a son of the Anak. He is depicted as tall and light-complexioned. Belzoni, who opened the tomb, read the hieroglyphic inscription as Tanmahu, "or, by elision, 'Talmia,' the name given to one of the tribes of the children of Anak." (See Canaan's Anakim; Israel's Wars with the Giants)

Uzim (See Zamzummim)

The huge Zamzummim
191 ("murmurers" or "stammerers," i.e., speakers of a barbarous tongue), lived east of the river Jordan, in the area later conquered by the descendants of Ammon. Moses described these giants as "a people as great, numerous, and tall as the Anakim." (See Sihon's and Og's Overthrow)

Zuzim (See Zamzummim)


1 See The Geography of Strabo, 17.786.
2 Fields of dolmens still may be seen in many parts of northern Jordan. The most notable ones are in the foothills of the Jordan valley to the east of Damiah bridge, in the foothills east of Talailat Ghassul, around Irbid, and in the hill country near Hasban.
3 H. R. Hall, The Ancient History of the Near East (London: Methuen & Co., 1963), pp. 183-184.
4 Also called the Zuzim.
5 Elmer W. K. Mould, Essentials of Bible History (New York: The Ronald Press, 1966), pp. 29-30.
6 Genesis 13:6.
7 Genesis 13:9.
8 Following the Hebrews' conquest of Canaan, Caleb renamed it Hebron.
9 Jude 7 New American Standard Bible.
10 Merrill F. Unger, Biblical Demonology (Wheaton, IL: Van Kampen Press, 1952), p. 50.
11 G. Ch. Aalders, Bible Student's Commentary, Vol. I, Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1981), p. 283.
12 Deuteronomy 3:13.
13 The time of this first invasion is established from certain scriptures. When Isaac was born, Abraham was one hundred years old and Ishmael thirteen. So Ishmael was born when Abraham was eighty-seven. Chedor-laomer's second raid occurred before Ishmael was even conceived by Hagar, Sarah's maidservant. Genesis 14:5 says his second raid took place fourteen years after the first raid. Thus when Chedorlaomer first con-quered the five cities, Abraham was no more than seventy-three (87-14=73), and still lived in Assyria. When he left for Canaan, he was seventy-five (12:4).
14Elam lay east of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers on Babylonia's southeastern border. The scriptures identify it with Persia, but, remarks Robert Candlish, "it may here denote that part of Persia which was known in ancient history by the name of Elymais." Studies in Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregal Publications, 1982), p. 210.
15 Marcus Dods, The Expositor's Bible, Vol. I (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdm^ns, 1940), p. 35.
16 See Targum of Palestine on Genesis 14.
17 "The worship of this Syrian goddess was, though under a variety of forms, almost universal in patriarchal times, and her statue in the sanctuaries of all the Rephaite people was that of a cow-headed female, bearing on her head a globe between two horns, as is still seen on Phoenician coins and antique gems. It may be added that the Rephaim wore helmets surmounted by a metallic globe between horns, in honour of their national deity." Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Vol. I (Chicago: Moody Press, 1945), p. 137.
18 "The best indications which the limited archaeology of this considerable region has been able to provide do confirm, indeed, that from Ashtaroth to Edom the King's Highway passed through a region that was throughout densely settled during this period with which we are presumably concerned, Middle Bronze Age I, or perhaps the earlier part of Middle Bronze E" Bruce Vawter, On Genesis (New York: Doubleday, 1977), pp. 191-192.
19 Probably modern Kureyat, located ten miles north of Arnon and ten miles east of the Dead Sea.
20 In this campaign, Chedorlaomer journeyed as far south as El-paran, which most scholars identify with the modern archaeological site Ezion Geber, on the Gulf of Aqabah.
21 Genesis 14:8-9 NASB.
22 Because masses of bituminous matter could often be seen floating on it, the Salt Sea in ancient times was also called Asphaltic Lake.
23 Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Cudahy, 1959), pp. 11, 72-73.
24 That Mamre, Eshcol, and Aner accompanied Abraham on this mission can be proved from the Genesis record. For when the grateful king of Sodom urged Abraham to keep the goods he had recovered from Chedorlaomer for himself, as a reward for returning his people, the patriarch replied: "I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me--to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their share" (Genesis 14:24).
25 Amos2:l,9 NASB.
26 Cyril Graham, "The Ancient Bashan and the Cities of Og," Cambridge Essays, 1858. Quoted by J. L. Porter in The Giant Cities of Bashan (New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1873), pp. 85-86.
27 No reference given.
28 Lee, Giant: The Pictorial History, p. 41.
29 Aalders, Bible Student's Commentary, Vol. I, p. 283.
30 Numbers 10:11-12.
31 But known today as Ain Kadis, i.e., "Holy Spring."
32 Deuteronomy 1:20-22 New International Version.
33 Tan. Shelah, 12.
34 Ibid.
35 Deuteronomy 9:1-2.
36 Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Vol. I (Chicago: Moody Press, 1945), p. 546.
37 Numbers 13:22.
38 Samuel Bochart, Geographia Sacra, 1692, p. 362.
39 Joshua 11:21.
40 Joshua 11:22.
41See Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 1 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1975), p. 64, and The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 1 (New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1901), p. 552. Also see Proverbs 1:9 and Song of Solomon 4:9.
42 Such is the interpretation put on Numbers 13:32 by Alfred Edersheim, in Bible History (Wilmington, DE: Associated Publishers and Authors, n.d.), P-153.
43 Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 64.
44 Flavius Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, translated by William Whitson (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987), 5.2.3.
45 Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Vol. I, p. 547.
46 Num. R. xvi. and Tan., Shelah, 7, ed. Buber, 11.
47 George M. Lamsa, translator of the Arabic Peshitta into English, ex-plains that in the Middle East, "branches of vine are often cut down with grapes on them and carried from place to place. The branch with its fresh leaves helps to preserve the grapes in the hot climate." Old Testament Light (Philadelphia: A. J. Holman Co., 1967), p. 198.
48 Numbers 13:27 NIV.
49 Numbers 13:28, 31-33 NIV.
50 Numbers 13:30 NIV.
51 Deuteronomy 1:29-31 NIV.
52 Werner Keller, The Bible As History (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1956), p. 135.
53 Josephus, Antiquities, 3.14.3.
54 Numbers 14:21-34.
55 Numbers 26:64-65.
56 Lee, Giant: The Pictorial History, pp. 53-54.
57 Goliath's height is given as six cubits and a span. The common cubit is eighteen inches and a span half that amount. According to Unger's Bible Dictionary, "Skeletons recovered in Palestine attest the fact that men as tall as Goliath once lived in that general region" (p. 419).
58 Targum on 1 Samuel 4:11.
59 Romantics like to portray David as a young boy, but this is disproved by the fact that soon after he slew Goliath, Saul made him a commander of his army. Israelites did not enter military service until the age of twenty. See Numbers 1:2-3.
60 1 Samuel 17:26 NIV.
61 "Slings are still in use among shepherds in Palestine, not only to drive off wild animals but to guide their flocks. A stone cast on this side or that, before or behind, drives the sheep or goats as the shepherd wishes. It was the familiar weapon of hunters, and also of light-armed fighting men, especially among the Benjamites, whose skill was famous. A good slinger could hit at 600 paces, and hence at a short distance the force of the blow given must have been very great." Cunningham Geikie, The Holy Land and the Bible, Vol. I (New York: James Pott & Co., 1899), p. 106.
62 1 Samuel 17:43 NIV.
63 1 Samuel 17:45-46 NIV.
64 That David's victory had a religious aspect is borne out by his placing Goliath's sword in the sanctuary at Nob.
65 Josephus, Antiquities, 6.9.5.
66 The word ariels thus seems to designate men who had Nephilim blood in their veins and whose human features still retained some resemblance to the lion.
67 2 Samuel 23:20-23.
68 Josephus, Antiquities, 7.12.1.
69 Ibid., 7.12.2.