In both cases, the source for the translation contains the word "Nephilim." The actual point of debate is over the root of the word, and thus the identity of the Nephilim. There are two basic ideas on the matter:
- It is a Hebrew word rooted in the Aramaic word "naphal" (to fall), and thus can be interpreted to mean the Nephilim were a people fallen away from God, such as the descendants of Cain.
- It is an Aramaic word based on the Aramaic "nephil" (giant), which can be interpreted to mean the Nephilim were:
- unusually large individuals, perhaps the champion warriors of an otherwise usual people, like Goliath of Gath.
- a race of giants, the offspring of angels and humans.
In his paper "The Meaning of the Word Nephilim: Fact vs. Fantasy", Dr. Michael Heiser argues that the only hypothesis which explains the word used in translation for the Greek Septuagint, the specific spelling, the mention in Numbers 13:33 of the Nephilim looking upon people as grasshoppers, and of Jewish and Christian commentators prior to Augustine of Hippo believing they were literally the giant offspring of angels and humans, is the latter.
The Douay-Rheims and King James Version use the word "giants" instead of "Nephilim" because, being based on the Greek Septuagint, they inherit the early translation of the word into Greek which was then (arguably) known to be Aramaic. Translations which use the word "Nephilim" have simply neglected to translate the word, perhaps originally driven by the dogma that the Nephilim were the descendants of Cain