Tag Archives: Anakim

The Tutsi, Giants of Central Africa? Giants of Palestine?

The 20 June 1938 edition of LIFE magazine features an article on the “Watusi” of eastern central Africa, better known today as the Tutsi, inhabitants of eastern Congo, Rwanda, and Berundi. LIFE includes a handy map of the Belgian Congo (later Zaire, later the Democratic Republic of the Congo), indicating the location of these “Giants”:

Map of the Belgian Congo, identifying the region inhabited by Giants (LIFE, 20 June 1938, p. 41)

Map of the Belgian Congo, identifying the region inhabited by Giants (LIFE, 20 June 1938, p. 41)

In a piece entitled “The Congo Giants: They are Africa’s Aristocrats”, LIFE describes the Watusi as “aristocrats of Africa, who tower up to 8 ft. in height”.

"The Congo Giants: They are Africa's Aristocrats" (LIFE, 20 June 1938, p. 45)

“The Congo Giants: They are Africa’s Aristocrats” (LIFE, 20 June 1938, p. 45)

The article perpetuates the racist theory first suggested by French Aryanist, Joseph Arthur, Comte de Gobineau (1816-1882), which posits a Hamitic (or possibly Semitic) origin for the Watusi. Later writers compare the Tutsi to the Egyptian Pharoahs. The distinction between Tutsi and Hutu was mandated by the European colonists, who defined Tutsi on economic grounds as the richer natives and on the basis of dubious physiognomic distinctions (especially, having more “European” features). As with all ruling elites, better diet led to a slight difference in height – the Tutsi average 5’8″; the Hutu 5’6″. A few Tutsi are over 6’6″ tall, including members of the royal family, who intermarry and thus share the same gene pool. The ruling family were photographed with much shorter Belgians in the late nineteenth century, and with various explorers in the early twentieth century, reinforcing the stereotype of a tribe of African giants.

Leila Roosevelt with King Rudahigwa IV Mutare (LIFE, 20 June 1938, p. 44)

Leila Roosevelt with King Rudahigwa IV Mutare (LIFE, 20 June 1938, p. 44)

Genetically, the Hutu and Tutsi share common ancestry (Luis, J; Rowold, D; Regueiro, M; Caeiro, B; Cinnioglu, C; Roseman, C; Underhill, P; Cavallisforza, L et al. [2004]. “The Levant versus the Horn of Africa: Evidence for Bidirectional Corridors of Human Migrations”. The American Journal of Human Genetics 74 no. 3: 532–44). The Rwandan genocide of the Tutsis in the early 1990s – in part a result of resentment by some Hutu at Tutsi rule under their colonial masters – could only be carried out by requiring that all citizens carried identification cards noting whether they were Tutsi or Hutu. Yet people meeting the Tutsi stereotype of tall stature, thin noses, etc (stereotypes derived from colonial literature and administration) were frequently killed, even if their identification cards identified them as Hutu.

Letters to the Editor (LIFE, 11 July 1938, pp. 3-4)

Letters to the Editor (LIFE, 11 July 1938, pp. 3-4)

The colonial stereotype that the Tutsi are of great height continues to be perpetuated in recent biblical scholarship. In a 1996 biblical commentary on the book of Deuteronomy/Debarim, Jeffrey Tigay attempts to defend the essential historicity of the biblical accounts of Giants in Palestine (the Anakim) in this manner:

It is conceivable that there were some exceptionally tall people in the area, comparable to the Watusi of central Africa, who often exceed seven feet in height.
– Jeffrey Tigay, Deuteronomy, Debarim, Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Commentary; Philadelphia and Jerusalem: Jewish Publication Society, 1996: 17.

The first rejoinder is that an alleged tribe in Central Africa has nothing to do with Palestine. The attempt to compare the two bears a close relation, albeit most probably inadvertently, to connections made in racist theories of a Hamitic or Semitic origin for the Tutsi. However, the accounts of an entire nation of 7-foot-tall “Watusi” is a colonial fantasy, and it is hardly surprising that Tigay has employed the term used in colonial literature rather than the name which is much more commonly employed today, “Tutsi”. The fantasy of an entire group of Giants in (“darkest”) central Africa has proved a very dangerous fantasy, and one that – in light of the genocide carried out in the years before the publication of the Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Commentary – should have been forcefully rejected, rather than perpetuated, in biblical scholarship.


Filed under Deuteronomy 1, Magazines

The Brick Testament: Old Testament Collection (Genesis-Kings) to be Published

The Brick Bible: A New Spin on the Old TestamentFor years, The Brick Testament has entertained us with its online portrayal of biblical stories, lovingly recreated with Lego bricks and figurines. Now, the entire Genesis-Kings collection is to be published in book form. Brendan Powell Smith’s The Brick Bible: A New Spin on the Old Testament (Skyhorse Publishing) will be available from 1 October 2011:

Brendan Powell Smith has spent the last decade creating nearly 5,000 scenes from the bible—with Legos. His wonderfully original sets are featured on his website, Bricktestament.com, but for the first time 1,500 photographs of these creative designs—depicting the Old Testament from Earth’s creation to the Books of Kings—are brought together in book format. The Holy Bible is complex; sometimes dark, and other times joyous, and Smith’s masterful work is a far cry from what a small child might build. The beauty of The Brick Bible is that everyone, from the devout to nonbelievers, will find something breathtaking, fascinating, or entertaining within this collection. Smith’s subtle touch brings out the nuances of each scene and makes you reconsider the way you look at Legos—it’s something that needs to be seen to be believed.

Publisher’s blurb

No doubt, there will be Giants, as the Bible is full of them… including Ishbi-Benob, whose bronze spearhead weighed three hundred shekels,and who was killed by one of David’s mighty men, Abishai:

And King Og of Bashan:

Og of Bashan

And Goliath:
And the Anakim:


And of course, there are the Nephilim, who came down to the Earth to have sexual intercourse with women, and – in Powell’s interpretation, apparently – made them peform oral sex on their angelic members:


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Filed under 1 Samuel 17, 2 Samuel 21 and 23, Anakim, Deuteronomy 3, Goliath, Ishbi-Benob, Joshua 11, Literature, Nephilim

Giant Librarians of the Ancient World

Big Bad Bible GiantsI learned something I never knew about Giants from the best basic guide to Giants of the Bible. According to Big Bad Bible Giants, authored by Ed Strauss and illustrated by Anthony Carpenter (Zondersexist, 2005), the Bible tells the story of an ancient city populated by Giant librarians!

The Giant Librarians of Debir
The Giant Librarians of Debir

This is not something I’ve discovered in any biblical commentary, because Big Bad Bible Giants has the scoop. It’s all a matter of almost logical inference from three things that the Bible tells us: (1) the city of Debir was also known as Kiriath-Sepher (“The City of Scribes”); (2) Othniel defeated the inhabitants of Debir; and (3) some of the inhabitants of Palestine were Giants. Ed Strauss’s conclusion is that Othniel must have defeated a group of Giant librarians in the city of Debir:

Giant libraries
In Joshua’s day, about 600 years after Abraham, the giant Anakites had a city in south Canaan called Debir (Joshua 11:21). The giants called it Kiriath Sepher, which means “City of Scribes” or “City of Books.” The city’s other name was Kiriath Sannah, which means “City of Instruction” (Joshua 15:49). Bible scholars believe Kiriath Sepher was a major center of learning and culture for all of Canaan. It probably had a huge library full of scrolls, and was the city where giants went to learn.
Can’t you just picture a dozen heavy, hairy giants sitting around mumbling loudly as they read? You can be sure they weren’t sitting in ordinary-sized desks!
What were their books about? No idea. All the monster scrolls seem to have been torched when the Israelites conquered the city (Judges 1:11-13).
 –  Ed Strauss, Big Bad Bible Giants

Ah yes – there would be traces of these giant books and giant libraries around today, if only the Israelites hadn’t destroyed them all. Ed Strauss also offers us a picture of Othniel’s defeat of the city of Debir, the city of Giant librarians: 

We don’t know the details of this battle and how well the giants fought, whether they made their last stand at the library…
 –  Ed Strauss, Big Bad Bible Giants
Ah – the Last Stand of the Giants at the Library. Mark my words – there’s a film in that!
And as a special bonus, a great track from the era of “the Dunedin Sound”:


Filed under Anakim, Ancient Jewish texts, Children's lit, Joshua 14-15, Judges 1, Numbers 13-14

Giants were not Blondes! – Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Physiognomy

The Giant is made of stuff that is closer to the earth, raw and primitive, a mighty warrior and formidable opponent. On the other hand, as the nineteenth-century Science of Physiognomy teaches (as do some books you’ll find in the Mind-Body-Spirit section, today), the Blonde type is sensitive, cultured, perhaps even a little neurotic, but certainly at the other end of the physical spectrum from the Giant type.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: The Blonde Type

Ralph Waldo Emerson: The Blonde Type

Thus, Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his correspondence to Thomas Carlisle of 17 June 1870, by way of apology and excuse for his delay in replying to his friend, offers the following:

You are of the Anakim and know nothing of the debility and postponement of the blonde constitution.

But is this merely Emerson’s self-deprecatory excuse for his failure to write earlier, or do these words also claim some superior intellect for our neurotic litterateur? Is there embedded in this comparison between brute and blonde a subtle jibe aimed at Emerson’s influential precursor?

The “blonde constitution” was one shared, after all, by Our Lord and Saviour:

Careful investigation… seems to show two physical types among the Jews: one dark, with black hair and eyes, and the well-known hooked nose; another with very regular profile and beautiful features, but blonde, with light hair, and blue eyes… The blonde type is the one from which the traditional representations of the Saviour are made, and it is not improbably very ancient among the Jews.

– Mr. Charles Loring Brace, Races of the Old World (1863)

Sharrona Pearl recounts an amusing yet sobering anecdote about nineteenth-century “historian and children’s writer Reverend Charles Kingsley”, who was “particularly sensitive to the physiognomic implications of literary illustrations”:

when he was acting as an advising editor to illustrator Charles Bennett on an edition of John Bunyan’s 1678 classic Pilgrim’s Progress, he insisted that Bennett adhere to physiognomic conventions in the illustrations. An 1859 letter from Kingsley to Bennett included a number of suggestions about ways for Bennett to improve his drawings by increasing the physiognomic agreement between the literary and visual drawings of their characters… “The ‘lust of the flesh,’ is hardy animal enough. I have generally seen with strong animal passion, a tendency to high cheek bone; but only in a dark woman. Yours may stand for a blonde type, but even thin [sic] I should prefer a lower forehead… Give her very full features and bust.”

– Sharrona Pearl, About Faces: Physiognomy in Nineteenth-century Britain (Harvard, 2010)

All this explains precisely, at least according to Aristotle’s third and middle explanatory category of reasoning (i.e. of analogy), the thoroughgoing, even obsessive division of the first four books of the Old Testament between the earthy, natural Jehovist and the legalistic, dispassionate Priestly source, as carried out by biblical scholars in the “extended” ninteenth century.

(N.b., while in the humanities as a whole, what is referred to as the “extended” nineteenth century is generally considered to continue into ca. the 1920s, in biblical studies the extended nineteenth century proceeds still undaunted into the twenty-first.)


Filed under Anakim, Literature

Steve Quayle on the Coming Chaos of the End Times, Urban Survivalism, and Giants

Genetic Armageddon, by Steve Quayle

Genetic Armageddon, by Steve Quayle

Steve Quayle is one of an increasing number of U.S. evangelical Christians convinced that the End Times are at ‘breaking point’. As indisputable evidence that the end is indeed nigh, he adduces any number of recent and imminent catastrophes – such as economic collapse, the changing of the poles, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, poor people receiving social welfare (which, since the 1980s means, especially, black single mothers), the creation of massive underground survival bunkers in China, television mind control, screaming Muslims, the appearance in 2012 of a second sun in the sky, videogames, the government buying up all the tampons in New York and creating a tampon shortage, genetic research, and the presidency of Barack Obama.

He is also an avid gigantologist. For Quayle, the biblical Giants and their parents, the fallen angels – the Anakim, Rephaim, Nephilim, etc – never completely disappeared. Instead, they corrupted the human gene-pool. And they’re coming back. In fact, the transhumanism movement and gene research represent part of a vast global conspiracy to bring Giants back to the earth. You may even have heard of these celestial and gigantic beings already; for the so-called aliens from outer space are really Nephilim. Quayle’s research into Giants, angels, and all manner of alleged suppressed ancient secrets and purported modern conspiracies is available on his website, stevequayle.com, and in books such as Genesis 6 Giants: Master Builders of Prehistoric and Ancient Civilizations; Aliens & Fallen Angels Offspring of the Gods the Sexual Corruption of the Human Race; Genetic ArmageddonAliens and Fallen Angels: The Sexual Corruption of the Human Race; and (with Duncan Long) LongWalkers: The Return of the Nephilim.

Quayle is hardly a lone voice in the wilderness these days, but just one proponent of the theory that connects biblical fallen angels and Giants with modern sightings of aliens and UFOs. Other notable proponents, some of whom appear to have influenced Quayle, include the late Zecharia Sitchen‘Dr’ Chuck Missler (PhD from the unaccredited Louisiana Baptist University), ‘Dr’ Lynn A. Marzulli (honorary doctorate from the unaccredited Pacific International University, awarded for his fictional trilogy), and Dr Michael S. Heiser (who did receive a PhD from a real university, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, so should really know better). 

You can listen to the enthusiastic Steve Quayle in a 4-hour talk radio slot on 21 January 2011, on John Stokes’ The Edge radio show:

The context – conspiratorial world orders, modern technology, alien invasions – might at first seem to be fairly foreign to the original Greek or biblical or Enochic traditions about Giants. But their function as markers of the boundary between chaos and order, and between the human and the inhuman, is a constant throughout their reception history, and is being played out once more here – providing a useful tool to suppress the economic reality of late capitalism.


Filed under Anakim, Conspiracy theorists, Fallen angels, Genesis 6.1-4, Nephilim, Rephaim