New Defender's Study Bible Notes
13:2 every one a ruler. The mission was critically important, so Moses sent a team of leaders who would be able to persuade all their followers, probably assuming they would return with an enthusiastic report of both the desirability of the promised land and their ability, under God, to proceed with the conquest. But these were the same people who were complaining and who had even been ready to worship an idol and return to Egypt, forgetting all God had done for them. They soon disappointed Him once again, more seriously than ever. How often, even today, do those men entrusted with spiritual leadership turn cowardly when faced with serious opposition, whether physical or intellectual.
13:22 came unto Hebron. The Israelites were encamped in the wilderness of Paran (Numbers 13:26), just south of the promised land. Hebron was in the mountains to the north of them, just west of the Dead Sea. Abraham himself had lived in Hebron long before, and had built an altar there (Genesis 13:18).
13:33 the giants. The Hebrew word here (Nephilim) is the same as used in Genesis 6:4: “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” These sons of Anak, or Anakim, were “men of a great stature,” and they terrified the Israelite spies (Numbers 13:32).
There were also other tribes of giants in the land. “That was also accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims; A people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims” (Deuteronomy 2:20, 21). Here, and in a number of other passages, the word for “giants” is Rephaim, evidently a tribe descended from the “Rephaims” associated with the “Zuzims” and the “Emims” of Genesis 14:5. The Emims also were called “a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims” (Deuteronomy 2:10).
All of these references indicate that there had been another irruption of the fallen “sons of God” just as in the days before the Flood. This time the irruption was probably in connection with the events surrounding the rebellion at Babel and the subsequent worldwide dispersion of the occult religious system introduced there. These demon-possessed men and women became the progenitors of tribes characterized by giantism, just as in the antediluvian days. However, despite the fears of the spies, already many of these giant tribes had been defeated by the Edomites and Ammonites, so there was no need to fear the others. The next generation of Israelites then fought against these tribes, and “the LORD destroyed them before them” (Deuteronomy 2:21).