A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
“When men began to increase on earth and daughters were born to them, the divine beings saw how beautiful the daughters of men were and they took wives from among those that pleased them. It was then, and later too, that the Nephilim appeared on earth – when the divine beings cohabited with the daughters of men, who bore them offspring. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown.” (Genesis 6:2-4, from a Jewish translation of the Torah.)
Put their name in the title of a book and whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, chances are it’ll zoom to the top of the bestseller lists, especially if you hint at deviant sex, pyramids, UFOs and the end of the world. But who were the Nephilim really, and why is everyone so fascinated by them?
In Those Days
The Hebrew word “nephilim” means fallen ones, sometimes translated giant because the Greek word for nephilim is gigantes. Who you think they were depends in large part on how you were taught to interpret Genesis 6:2-4 above. In Biblical circles there are three schools of thought concerning this, but a little digging will soon have you convinced that some folks who don’t know any other passage in the Bible know this one. And if you throw in their interpretations you’ve soon got a whole bunch more. We’ll focus on the so-called Biblical ones.
The first is that the phrase “sons of god” refers to royalty, explaining that kings were often considered god-like by their subjects. According to this view these kings went around their kingdoms scooping up all the beautiful girls and putting them into harems for their own personal pleasure. It offers no explanation for the offspring such behavior could have produced preferring instead to disconnect the birth of giants from the practice of collecting harems full of beautiful girls. A small minority of Jewish scholars held this view at one time but most rejected it, as the Jewish translation above demonstrates.
The second is that “sons of god” refers to the line of Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve who remained faithful to God, while “daughters of men” refers to female descendants of first son Cain, the rebellious line. This interpretation appeared about 400AD and was the first challenge to the “Angel” view that a majority of both Jews and Christians had held prior to that time. Some prominent scholars still teach this view.
There’s no clear consensus on why this view came to be, but the 5th century seems to be the agreed upon timing. Some say it’s because the Church was moving away from belief in the supernatural by 400 AD, while others say the worship of angels was actually becoming more popular by that time. Both viewpoints conclude that as a result the “angel” view became an embarrassment in the Church, so an alternative interpretation was sought.
But the Seth / Cain alternative raises more questions than it answers. If Seth’s line married into Cain’s why did they have only male children? And why were they giants? Were only the males of Seth’s line faithful, and only the females of Cain’s rebellious? If Seth’s line had remained faithful, why was Noah’s the only family of the line to be saved?
Then there’s the fact that the exact phrase translated “Sons of God” only appears 5 times in the Old Testament, Genesis 6:2 & 6:4, the passage I opened with, and Job 1:6, 2:1, & 38:7. All the Job references clearly describe angels. (A variation of the phrase in Daniel 3:25 also describes an angel like figure, who some identify as the Lord Jesus in an Old Testament appearance.)
And that brings us to the third interpretation, to which I subscribe, that the Biblical account is to be taken literally. The phrase “sons of God” refers to disobedient angels (called divine beings in the Hebrew translation above) who took on human form and entered into sexual union with human women. Their offspring were the Nephilim, or fallen ones, of which we speak, huge and powerful beings who may have actually taken over the pre-flood world.
According to tradition, in addition to being very large and strong, the Nephilim had enormous psychic abilities. They performed out of body experiences, levitation, mind control, time travel, mind reading and remote viewing. They had the power of pronouncing and removing curses and diseases, and had ways of knowing and predicting the future. Having aligned themselves with Satan, the source of their powers, they controlled and enslaved mankind and perverted God’s creation almost beyond redemption.
They were also extremely intelligent. They knew all about science, architecture, and engineering. Some believe they combined these skills with their powers of levitation to build the Great Pyramid and other great monuments around the pre-flood world. And they weren’t just in Mesopotamia. Nephilim may have sacrificed human beings all over the planet in temples and pyramids they built in Central and South America, the Far East, the British Isles, Egypt and other places. They drank our blood and slaughtered our babies, and were almost certainly tampering with both human and animal gene pools to pervert the creation and make our redemption impossible. They were the heroes of old, the mighty men of renown, memorialized in every mythology, and the primary reason God had to destroy the world and all its inhabitants in the Great Flood.
The facts that the Bible describes Noah as being perfect in his generations, and that his was the only family saved indicates that Noah’s bloodline hadn’t been contaminated by the genetic tinkering, and that his was perhaps the only pure human strain left from which a Redeemer could come. (Gen. 6:9) If so, it explains why the entire world population had to be destroyed, lest Noah’s line eventually be contaminated, too.
And Also Afterward
But Satan wasn’t deterred that easily. By the time of Abraham there was a large population of Nephilim in the world again, mostly located in the Middle East from as far south as the southern end of the Dead Sea to Syria in the North. Since the original Nephilim had all perished in the Great Flood, Satan apparently began a new breeding program situated specifically to prevent the Israelites from occupying the Promised Land. Look at these references.
In Gen 14:5-6 a coalition of 5 kings from around the southeastern shores of the Dead Sea fought and defeated three groups of warriors known as the Rephaites, the Zuzites, aka Zamzummites, and the Emites . The Rephaites were descendants of Rapha, which means giant in Hebrew. The name Zuzite means roving creatures, and Emite means terrible ones.
In Deut 1:26-28 & 2:10-11, we find references to the Anakites, (long necked giants) and Emites again, both identified as descendants of Rapha, the giant.
In Deut. 3:11 reference is made to Og, the King of Bashan, a descendant of Rapha whose bed was 13 feet long and 8 feet wide.
In Numbers 13:32-33, the account of the 12 spies includes claims of seeing Nephilim. 10 of the spies said that the descendants of Anak came from the Nephilim. Although some scholars believe this was a deliberate fabrication on their part, fear of the Nephilim is what persuaded the Israelites not to go into the Promised Land. All this took place in the time of Moses.
In Joshua 14:15, at the end of the conquest of the land, Caleb is given Hebron, formerly known as Kiriath Arba because it was founded by Arba, called the greatest of the Anakites.
And of course in 1 Samuel 17 & 2 Samuel 21:15-22 there’s the defeat of Goliath and his four brothers, all descendants of Rapha, in the time of King David.
A Parallel Story
In our attention to Israel’s conquest of the Promised Land, it’s easy to overlook the fact that God gave the descendants of Esau and Lot (Moab and Ammon) land grants as well. Theirs were on the Eastern side of the Jordan River Valley in today’s Jordan. As it was with Israel, their goal was to rid the lands they’d been given of the nephilim who dwelt there. In addition, He had the Capthorites (Philistines) wipe out the branch called the Avites (perverters) in Gaza. (Deut. 2:2-23)
In this way God judged the Nephilim a second time, supernaturally empowering His people to defeat the much stronger and more fearsome forces of Satan, and admonishing them to kill every man woman and child so as to leave no remnant of these abominations alive to repopulate the world a third time. It took until the time of King David for all this to be accomplished.
For the ensuing several thousand years the Nephilim have survived only in mythology, sometimes known as demi-gods or Titans. Hercules is an example of a mythological character whose father was a god and whose mother was human. By the way, the word Titan comes from Shaitan, a Babylonian derivative of the Hebrew word Satan.
The End Of The Age
Will this happen again, just before the 2nd Coming? Some claim Jesus said it will, quoting Matt. 24: 37 “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” in support. I personally believe Jesus was only comparing the mental state of the people in Noah’s time to that of people on Earth at the 2nd Coming. In Matt 24:38-41 He said in both cases people were focused on doing things people do, without any idea the world was/is about to end. I don’t think He intended to make a comparison of general conditions.
This is where the UFO cults and others launch their conjectures. They speak of UFO sightings (there’s one every 10 minutes somewhere in the world) as signs pointing to the return of the Nephilim. One person in five claims to have seen a UFO, and 1 in 100 claim to have had some form of alien encounter, from observation, to inspection, to abduction. The common denominator in confirmed abductions seems to be an unusual interest in the human reproductive system. Are so-called extra-terrestrials using humans to create a hybrid race, half human and half “alien”? Will this result in a return of the Nephilim, a super-powered race of beings created to help the forces of Satan take over Planet Earth again?
Iron And Clay
The Bible doesn’t clearly predict this, although some read it into passages in Revelation where John seems to be describing other-worldly beings. But there is one little clue in the KJV translation of the Book of Daniel. It’s in chapter 2, Daniel’s description of the poly-metallic statue Nebuchadnezzar had seen in a dream. Daniel interpreted the dream’s statue as a representation of coming world kingdoms between then (600 BC) and the Millennium. The head of gold was Babylon, then in power. The chest and arms of silver symbolized the kingdom that would follow Babylon (Persia), the belly and thighs of bronze were the next one (Greece) and the legs of iron the one after that (Rome). At the bottom were feet of iron mixed with clay, which many see as the revived Roman Empire coming at the end of the age.
And that’s where it gets interesting. The King James rendering of verse 43 reads, “And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.”(Daniel 2:43)
Who are they, the ones mingling themselves with the seed of men? Obviously, they’re not human or the passage wouldn’t make any sense. Are non-humans creating a hybrid race for some purpose yet unknown? Do they dwell quietly among us even now as some contend? Will the antichrist be the ultimate example of the nephilim, or will he have nephilim forces at his command during the Great Tribulation? Only time will tell.
But one thing we can know for certain right now. There was a 5th Kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. It was symbolized by a stone cut without hands that fell upon the statue and ground it into powder so fine that the wind blew every trace of it away. (Dan. 2:34-35 & 44-45) This is the Kingdom of our Lord, and when He comes He will destroy every remnant of the previous kingdoms of mankind. His Kingdom will never be defeated nor given to another, for He will reign forever and ever, and we’ll be right there with Him. Amen. Come Lord Jesus. 07-07-05