Nations and Giants in Ancient Israel

Nations and Giants in Ancient Israel
 Map of the Giants of Canaan and Israel's Ancient Inhabitants
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Map of the Earliest Inhabitants of the Land of Ancient Israel

During the earliest times there were many peoples and tribes of giants who migrated into the Land of ancient Israel (called “The Land of Canaan” in the Bible), and these were races of people who conquered other people and became powerful nations. The information regarding these inhabitants of ancient Canaan before the conquest of Israel is somewhat limited in exact detail although there is evidence of several migrations.

The Giants (The Six Early Tribes)

During the earliest recorded history there were great migrations from the Persian Gulf area, this would have been after the Tower of Babel around 2500 BC. The people who had migrated into ancient Canaan were named in the Bible as six peoples, each having their own identity and territory. Most of them were regarded later as giants. The Bible records them in Genesis 14:5-7 and Deuteronomy 2:10-23:

Genesis 14:5-7
5 – And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that [were] with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim,
6 – And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which [is] by the wilderness.
7 – And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which [is] Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar.

Deuteronomy 2:10-23
10 – The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims;
11 – Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims.
12 – The Horims also dwelt in Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead; as Israel did unto the land of his possession, which the LORD gave unto them.
13 – Now rise up, [said I], and get you over the brook Zered. And we went over the brook Zered.
14 – And the space in which we came from Kadeshbarnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, [was] thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the LORD sware unto them.
15 – For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed.
16 – So it came to pass, when all the men of war were consumed and dead from among the people,
17 – That the LORD spake unto me, saying,
18 – Thou art to pass over through Ar, the coast of Moab, this day:
19 – And [when] thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon [any] possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot [for] a possession.
20 – (That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims;
21 – A people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; but the LORD destroyed them before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead:
22 – As he did to the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, when he destroyed the Horims from before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead even unto this day:
23 – And the Avims which dwelt in Hazerim, [even] unto Azzah, the Caphtorims, which came forth out of Caphtor, destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead.)

1. The Rephaim (lofty men) lived in the area of ancient Bashan. One king of bashan mentioned in the Bible was a giant named og, he was king of Bashan during the time of the conquest, and he was a descendant of the Rephaim (Deut. 3:1).

2. The Zuzlm (tall ones) dwelt north of the Arnon River.

3. The Emim (terrible ones) dwelt on the east side of the Dead Sea in the territory of Moab.

4. The Horim (cave dwellers) dwelt to the south of the Dead Sea in Edom. Many of their mountain caves still exist to this day.

5. The Avim (dwellers among the ruins) dwelt in the lower portion of the Shephelah.

6. The Anakim (long-necked ones) dwelt around the area of Hebron. During the conquest of Canaan it was Caleb who conquered them, and some of them had lived with the Philistines, and the giant Goliath belonged to the Anakim (1 Sam. 17:4).

1 Samuel 17:4
4 – And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height [was] six cubits and a span.

The Maritime Nations (Tribes Along the Coast)

The Maritime Plain was the area from Phoenicia to Mount Carmel in the north, Sharon in the middle, and Philistia in the south. 

(1) The Zidonians also known as Phoenicians dwelt in the north.

(2) The Canaanites dwelt near Mount Carmel and down the Jordan Valley.

(3) The Philistines dwelt along the southwestern border of the land.

The Shephelah were the fertile foothills between the Maritime Plain and the Hill Country.

The Western Mountain Nations (Tribes West of the Jordan)

The mountain region included four regions: Upper Galilee in the north, below that was Lower Galilee, the Mountains of Judah, and the Hills of the Negeb Desert.

(1) The Hittites dwelt in the north (Num. 13: 21). Early in Biblical history a many of the Hittites migrated to the southern territory of ancient Israel and settled near Hebron and Beersheba. Abraham purchased his family tomb from them (Gen. 23: 7-20).

(2) The Hivites dwelt in the center portion of the Mountain Region, and they made Shechem their capital. The Bible mentions that the four cities that formed the Gibeonite league belonged to Hivite tribe (Josh. 9:3-15). There was also a portion of the Hivites who dwelt farther north, directly east of the Zidonians around the area of Mount Hermon.

(3) The Perizzites were a people who dwelt in the northern portion of the Shephelah, directly west of the Hivites.

(4) The Jebusites dwelt in the mountains surrounding Jerusalem. In 1000 BC David captured Jerusalem and defeated its inhabitants (2 Sam. 5:4-8).

2 Samuel 5: 4-8
4 – David [was] thirty years old when he began to reign, [and] he reigned forty years.
5 – In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.
6 – And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither.
7 – Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same [is] the city of David.
8 – And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, [that are] hated of David’s soul, [he shall be chief and captain]. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.

(5) The Amorites originally dwelt in the south near the Dead Sea. Later they crossed the Jordan and took for their territory most of the Eastern Tableland pushing the Ammonites eastward.

The Jordan Valley Nations
(Tribes in the Jordan Valley)

The Jordan Valley follows the Jordan River descending into a gorge which continues to descend into the deepest land trench, 1300 feet below sea level.

(1) The Canaanites also dwelt in the area of the Jordan Valley as well as the Maritime Plain.

The Eastern Mountain Nations
(Tribes East of the Jordan)

The Eastern Tableland Mountains were situated east of the Jordan River and were fertile mountains naturally divided into 3 sections: Bashan in the north, Gilead in the middle, and Moab in the south.

(1 ) The Amorites dwelt between the Hieromax River and the Anion. A little while before the coming of the Israelites the Amorites conquered the Moabites and took the land between the Jabbok River and the Anion. At the time of the Conquest the Amorites were a powerful nation ruled by king Og of Bashan and also king Sihon of Heshbon.

(2) The Girgashites territory has not been exactly identified, the Bible mentions in Joshua that they dwelt west of the Jordan (Joshua 24:11) they probably lived east of the Sea of Galilee. Josephus admitted that there was no information on the Girgashites.

(3) The Moabites dwelt between the Arnon River and the Zered.

(4) The Ammonites dwelt to the east of the Amorites. When the Amorites crossed the Jordan they pushed the Ammonites eastward and took their territory.

(5) The Midianites dwelt east of the Moabites.

(6) The Edomites dwelt south of the Dead Sea.