Genesis 6:4, the Nephilim

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

//In this verse, “sons of God” (usually understood as fallen angels) mate with human women, and produce a race of people known in the Bible as Nephilim. Who were the Nephilim, and what happened to them? The New Living Translation renders the name Nephilim as simply “giants.” The name appears in the Bible in only one other location, in Numbers 13:33, when the Israelites arrive at the land of Canaan, and send spies in to scout the land. The report comes back of giants in the land:

We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

It’s little wonder the spies were terrified of the Nephilim. The presence of giants in the land of Canaan is verified by Amos 2:9, where God describes “the Amorite” as being “as tall as the cedars and strong as the oaks.” Jude, verses 6-7, may also refer to the Nephilim when it compares the sin of fallen angels to the promiscuity of Sodom and Gomorrah. More can be learned about the Hebrew tradition of the Nephilim from the popular books of 1 Enoch and Jubilees. Both of these books are quoted as scripture in the New Testament; in particular, the book of Revelation can hardly be understood without tracing its many references to 1 Enoch. Here is a portion of what we learn from Enoch:

And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.’ And Semjaza, who was their leader, said unto them: ‘I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.’ And they all answered him and said: ‘Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.’ Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it…

So where are the Nephilim today? Jubilees explains that the majority of them were swept away in the flood of Noah’s day. Indeed, they were part of the reason for sending the flood. However, God allowed a portion to remain alive, as demons (disembodied spirits), to try and lead the human race astray, and these demons will remain until the Judgment Day.


  1. It is interesting to see where some ideas that I have heard spoken of come from. I am a little confused about what you, the Dubious Disciple think, especially in the last paragraph. Are you saying what you believe or only presenting for us your readers, info.

  2. Me, personally? I usually try to disassociate beliefs from scholarship. Perhaps because I’m horrid at believing stuff. I just find the Bible endlessly fascinating, because of my heritage, having grown up with fundamentalist influences.

    Lemme throw it back at ya: What do literal believers make of incredible stories like this? Obviously, whatever the Bible meant way back in Genesis, the story has been embellished in extra-canonical writings, but N.T. writers didn’t seem to mind. Aversion to these legends appeared only later among Christians.

  3. It depends on what Literal believers literally believe in. There are definitely extra-canonical writings. Some Literal believers literally believe in some of them. It is interesting to see that the one sect of the Jews from Ethiopia, along with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church, currently use some of those extra-canonical writings.

    For me I can see some similarities to the flat earthers. How does one interpret what is written and what do you use to help you do your interpretation.

    The use of scholarship in this discussion also brings to mind some interesting thoughts and ideas. A person would find it fascinating to study boats being built in a flood plain. But, if he/she are not in a boat when the flood comes. All of the scholarship will probably not mean much.

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