Nephilim

There has been a lot of talk about the Nephilim recently. The word Nephilim is in the Bible in two places. Let’s take a closer look at these two scriptures and who the Nephilim were.

Genesis 6:1-8 (NASB)  Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them,  that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.  Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”  The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.  Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.  The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.”  But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

Numbers 13:33 (NASB)  “There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

 Before I lay out my evidence for who I believe the Nephilim were we need to lay a foundation for proper interpretation of scripture. In every passage of scripture we need to be able to answer at least five basic questions.

Who is talking? Who are they talking to? What are they talking about? What is the cultural relevance of the day? What do other scriptures have to say about the same topic?

These questions are fundamental but very helpful. There are some other rules for interpretation, here are just a couple more that will be helpful. We need to understand the definition of words. So, what is the definition of the original word used in scripture (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic) at the time it was written? Using an English dictionary to understand the meaning of a word in the Bible can be misleading, especially since definition of words can change with time.

Secondly, and this should be our number one most important rule for all correct interpretation, we must begin with the understanding that the Bible (scripture in its original language) is absolute truth for all people in all places at all times. Scripture is the standard by which we measure all truth. We should never use extra-biblical sources to validate scripture. We must begin with scripture and use it to measure all other sources regardless where they come from. There are no other books that God “forgot” to add to the Bible. If He created the universe and the intricacies of the human body I think He is well able to have the 66 books He wanted written and put into a larger Book exactly the way He wanted to.

Here is why I believe Nephilim are not fallen angels.

Nowhere else in scripture do we have any evidence of this being true.

Genesis 6 says they took wives for themselves. Jesus specifically says angels do not marry, which is a prerequisite for procreation.

The Septuagint translates this passage as angels, but no other manuscript does, only the Alexandrian.

Why would judgment fall on humans on the earth when the sin was obviously the fault of fallen angels?

In Genesis 6:5-7, look how often it says “man” and God was sorry He made “man”, He didn’t say He was sorry He made these particular angels.

Genesis 6:5-7 (NASB) – Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.  The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” 

How is it possible for angels to procreate when there is no other evidence in scripture that they have this ability?

If they can procreate, are they still and if not, why?

It is not a good idea to use any extra biblical sources to validate scripture. For instance, the Book of Enoch, when this book had been corrupted. Use scripture to validate any other source.

How did these angels get human bodies?  We do know that angels appeared as human in scripture for God’s purposes, but, this was not or God’s purpose.

If angels could procreate with human women, why didn’t Satan use this strategy in the Garden? Seems to me if he just took Eve and raped her it could have stopped the whole human race before it began.

This also appears to be a second time angels fell from Heaven. No other scripture validates this either. Or, they were already on the earth just waiting, for some reason.

If these so called giant babies had fallen angels for fathers, would they still be human especially since it is the seed of the man that determines the identity of the child? Why does God say they are men?

Who the Nephilim were:

“Sons of God” is a very old title for aristocrats, kings and nobles.  These were ungodly, wicked men, who took what they wanted when they wanted.

This verse says “man” (Gen. 6:4) “Mighty men, who were of old men of renown.”  Renown meaning widespread fame, honor and authority.

This also explains why they lived before and after the flood. They weren’t a particular race, but Nephilim is a title for a type of people.

Why they were giants, meaning very large stature like Goliath, if indeed they were, I do not know. In Genesis 6 it doesn’t say they were giants in the sense of very large humans. Only in Numbers 13 where Nephilim is mentioned in reference to the sons of Anak.  Giants, similar to “renown” can also mean, popular, famous, etc. (see below)

It is interesting that the Hebrew word for “renown” is “shem”, the name of one of Noah’s sons.

My name is Joe Nicola and this is what I believe

Here are some other helpful word studies;

From “Hard Sayings of the Bible”

There are five lines of evidence. (1) The ancient Aramaic Targums render “sons of God” as “sons of nobles” (Targums of Onkelos), and the Greek translation of Symmachus reads “the sons of the kings or lords.” (2) The word gods (Hebrew elōhîm is used in Scripture for men who served as magistrates or judges (“Then his master must take him before the judges [elōhîm],” Exodus 21:6; see also Exodus 22:8Psalm 82:16). (3) Structurally, the account of the Cainite Lamech (Genesis 4:19-24) and that of the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1-4 are very much alike. In each there is the taking of wives, the bearing of children and the dynastic exploits. The former passage ends with a boast of judgment by Lamech, and the other ends with God’s decree of judgment. Lamech practiced bigamy (Genesis 4:19), and he enforced his policies by using tyranny. The portraits are parallel and depict states of tyranny, corruption and polygamy. (4) Near Eastern discoveries have validated the pagan use of all sorts of gods’ and goddesses’ names in order to give more clout and prestige to the governments of Egypt and Mesopotamia—hence the title “sons of God.”

The fifth and final line of evidence concerns the nepilîm / gibbôrīm of Genesis 6:4. The word nepilîm occurs only here and in Numbers 13:33, where it refers to the Anakim, who were people of great stature. The root meaning of the word nepilîm is “to fall.” However in Genesis 6:4 the nepilîm are associated with the term gibbôrīm. The word gibbôrīm comes from gibbôr meaning “a mighty man of valor, strength, wealth or power.” Nimrod, in Genesis 10:8, was such a gibbôr. He also was clearly a king in the land of Shinar. Hence the meaning of nepilîm / gibbôrīm is not “giants,” but something more like “princes,” “aristocrats” or “great men.”

From the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.

The word nepel is the root word of Nephilim

1393 ‏נפל‎ (npl) II. Assumed root of the following.

1393a †‏נְפִילִים‎ (nepîlîm<H5303> giants, the Nephilim (Genesis 6:4Numbers 13:33, only).

While some scholars attempt to relate this term etymologically to nāpal I via the noun nēpel “untimely birth” or “miscarriage” (as productive of superhuman monstrosities), a more likely reconstruction is the proposal of a root nāpal II, akin to other weak verbs, pûl II “be wonderful, strong, mighty,” pālāʾ “be wonderful,” and even pālâ “separate, distinguish,” pālal “discriminate.” This pattern of semantically related groups of weak verbs with two strong consonants in common is a notably recurrent phenomenon in Hebrew lexicography. Actually, the translation “giants” is supported mainly by the LXX and may be quite misleading. The word may be of unknown origin and mean “heroes” or “fierce warriors” etc. The RSV and NIV transliteration “Nephilim” is safer and may be correct in referring the noun to a race or nation.

M.C.F.

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