The Rise of the Nephilim Myth

It is sci-fi on steroids! The Nephilim of Genesis have now become either aliens from another planet, or the created hybrid of fallen angels and earthly women. It is Charismania's latest fad based on ancient myths, complete with books, CD's and conferences. 

For some, no amount of biblical teaching will change their mind. The Nephilim are real and will return, if they aren't here already. It is supposed to be one of the "days of Noah" world ending signs. Just as God supposedly had to destroy the earth in the Flood because of these wicked beings, so too before the fires that destroy the earth we will see them again "as in the days of Noah."

There are some, though, that I think will listen to reason. Either way, here is my take on this topic. The beliefs rest on just a few passages that turn into massive assumptions. Let's look at this passage:

“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of Elohim saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And Yahweh said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of Elohim 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. And Elohim saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:1-5).

5 Reasons that this is not a story of the intermingling of angels and women. 

1. The Passage is About Human Men

 A man, a mixture, a beast, a sci-fi figure?

A man, a mixture, a beast, a sci-fi figure?

God says, "my Spirit shall not always strive with man." It says, "It came to pass that men began to multiply," not hybrids.

Please notice that according to the writer the giants were already there before and after so the Nephilim existed BEFORE the intermarriage.

It should also be noted that Jesus was specific in saying that the angels do not marry nor are they given in marriage. In fact, angels are not mentioned in this passage in Genesis 6 at all.

2. The Sons of God/Elohim.

The confusion comes in when people try to define the "sons of God" as angels. Are there a couple passages that might make the sons of God angels? Maybe. But in the book of Genesis, the sons of God were in contrast to the daughters of men for a reason. The sons of God were from the line of Seth (Gen. 4). These physical descendants were the ones who knew about God and retained some measure of understanding about him after the Fall. While the daughters of men represent the line of Cain, the ungodly line. What was troublesome was that the knowledge of God was being lost because of the intermarriage of two groups together. 

You can see this thread of separation flowing through the whole of the OT as God calls Abram out of Ur, then separates Israel from the Egyptians, commands kings not to multiply pagan wives and finally we find Nehemiah commanding the men to put away every pagan wife not of Jewish descent. Genesis 6 is the recounting of the same problem of mixed marriage with pagans.

The sons of God were people. Luke 3:38 says that Adam was called "the son of God/Elohim". In fact nearly every reference in the NT is speaking of people being sons of Elohim. Nowhere in the Bible are "fallen angels" called the sons of God.

But what about Job? The sons of God that presented themselves before God is representative of a figure of speech where OT believers came together for worship. Let me quote from The Sons of Elohim, posted Oct. 10, 2016 by YRM who said, "The dilemma faced when interpreting that the “son of Elohim” were angels in Job 1:6 is that then we must assume that the angels are not always in the presence of Yahweh. If this interpretation is true then the Messiah was wrong with his statement in Matthew 18:10, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” So if the angels all unceasingly before Almighty Yahweh, then to “present themselves” before Him would serve little purpose." (For more on the story of satan and Job see the powerful 3 hours of teaching on De-Mythologizing the Devil)

 3. The Definition of Nephilim.

The word is sometimes translated as giants but according to Strongs definition the word is "Or nphil {nef-eel'}; from naphal; properly, a feller, i.e. A bully or tyrant -- giant." Easton's Bible Dictionary says they were, "the name of one of the Canaanitish tribes." They were bullies, tyrants, dictators. Nothing within the definition describes them as some hybrid between fallen angels and women. Rather they were "men of renown"... they had a reputation. Not angelic DNA. 

In fact, if God intended to use the Flood to wipe out a wicked hybrid race then why do we find them again in Numbers 13:33?  “And there we saw the giants [Heb. nephilim], the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” Seems a couple of them must have snuck on board the ark and hid. God, you didn't do a very good job in getting rid of them did ya?

Fast forward even to Ezekiel 32:27 where the Greek translation of the OT (LXX) uses the word gigantes to describe pagan warrior men who died, not supernatural demonized hybrid mixtures of angels and women. 

giant-33507_640.png

4. "The Days of Noah" Speak of a Past Event not a Future One.

Matthew 24:33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,[e] but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.

Notice above that Jesus makes a point to say that just as one knows that summer is near by the blooming of the fig tree (Luke's version says AND ALL the trees... i.e., this has nothing to do with the restoration of Israel in 1948), then so too one can know when the destruction of the city and the temple is near by the signs he just mentioned. He affirms that ALL these things must happen within THEIR generation (he is still talking to the disciples): "Assuredly I say to YOU (disciples), THIS generation will not pass away until ALL these things take place."

Notice that the ones in Noah's day and in Sodom who didn't see the sudden destruction coming were the ones who were not looking. So too there would be "sudden destruction" on those who refused to watch. Conversely, Noah and Lot by faith trusted the word of the Lord and were saved. Historians tell us that not one Christian died in the siege of Jerusalem by Rome because they knew the day and the hour as it approached. 

That is why Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6,

"2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the DAY of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when THEY say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon THEM, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And THEY shall not escape. 4 But YOU, BRETHREN (you Thessalonians), are NOT IN DARKNESS, so that THIS DAY should overtake YOU as a THIEF. 5 YOU are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let US not sleep, as others do, but let US WATCH and be sober."

So the days of Noah were the days prior to the destruction of the temple in AD70. Just like in historical references where the people were taken captive by the foreign invader, so too Judah would experience some being taken and the weak and unimportant would be left in the fields. This has nothing to do with our future or Nephilim. It was rather the "judgment" by the means of the Romans. 

5. The Nephilim as Demi-gods Idea did not Begin in the Bible, but in Mythology.

The whole concept of the Nephilim being offspring of fallen angels and women came not from the Bible, but from the book of Enoch. Enoch is a pseudepigraphical work, ie, Enoch was long gone when this book was attributed to him. Instead it was the creation, possibly of the Essene community prior during the intertestamental period carried over from their imaginative mixture of theology they learned in captivity in Babylon. It was such a popular book, much like the Left Behind series, that both Peter and Jude quote from it for illustration purposes. (I'll come back to those in a moment).

This is why Josephus said, "The angels of God united with women...the actions attributed to them by our traditions resemble the bold exploits which the Greeks recount about the Giants." In other words, Josephus is saying that there was an oral tradition, not a scriptural support, that the idea of angels and women uniting was very similar to the stories of the Greek gods. 

Duncan Heaster in The Real Devil said, 

The record of the flood which follows that of the mention of the ‘giants’ can be read as a further deconstruction of the myths about them. The Biblical record states that God opened the “windows of Heaven” (Gen. 7:11). The identical term in Ugaritic occurs in Tablet 2 AB, col. 7 line 17 of the Ras Shamra tablets. Cassuto explains that “The Canaanites used to tell of the god Baal that at one stage he built for himself a palace in the sky and opened therein windows... The Canaanites attributed to Baal the sending down of rain from heaven”, but that the giants / offspring of the wicked gods “set down their feet and closed up the deep, and they placed their hands on the windows” (5). The Genesis record stresses that the giants were mere men; and that it was God and not the giants who opened and closed the windows of Heaven and sent the rain of the flood. (p. 275)

Therefore the Genesis account is purposely deconstructing an ancient pagan myth but the Jews re-inserted it after their Babylonian captivity.

But Peter and Jude both mention fallen angels right? Let's finish by looking a little closer.

"And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." (Jude vs 6,7,)

"For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly..." (2 Peter 2:4-5,)

Angels mean supernatural invisible servant of God angels right? Unfortunately no. The word for angel simply means messenger. It can mean the supernatural servants of God or it can mean human messengers. In Jude, he begins by saying that he would remind them of what they used to know. There is no story in the OT of angels falling from their "proper domain". In every case of the other references he unfolds, there is a specific example in the OT. So Jude and Peter speak about what messengers?

As Heaster points out, "chains of darkness" represent death in Proverbs 5:22-23 ("chords" in vs 22 is rendered "chains" in the Septuagint). That means that these "angels" or more properly messengers are people who have experienced death and await the judgment of AD70. 

Even more so, both Peter and Jude refer to these as people:

2 Pe. 2:1, "But there were false prophets also among the people... " 

Jude 5, "But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe...11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah."

Do you remember the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram in Numbers 16? Heaster goes on to write, 

Numbers 16:9 describes the rebels as “ministers” of the congregation. The Septuagint uses the word aggelos for “ministers”, which is the same Greek word translated “Angel” in 2 Peter 2:4. They left their first, or original, “principality” (Jude 6, A.V. margin); the rebels were princes, but wanted to be priests as well (Num. 16:2,10). Because of this, the ground opened and swallowed them (Num. 16:31–33), as a dramatic example to everyone of the fate of those who rebel against the Word of God. It was especially dramatic in that it is emphasized that this was the first time that such a thing had happened (Num. 16:30). Thus they are now dead, “in everlasting chains under darkness”, in the heart of the earth, to be resurrected and judged at “the judgment of the great day”. Jude 8 implies that “likewise”, i.e. like the angels that sinned, the Judaizers “speak evil of dignities”, e.g. Jesus and Paul. The rebels spoke evil of Moses and Aaron (Num. 16:11–14). (p 484-485)

So much more could be said, but let's stop here. Both Jude and Peter are speaking to THEIR generation prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah in AD 70 using the messengers/ministers/angels (men) as an example of their soon coming destruction.

The Nephilim are not the result of fallen angels who went after "strange flesh". They were people, giant men, like Og, King of Bashan whose bed was 14 feet long (Deut 3:11). The Nephilim were mere men, though large warrior types who bullied others in a tyrannical way (like Goliath). It was the writer of the Pentateuch who was trying to de-mythologize the idea of demonic hybrid humans, and it was Judah's generation that was in captivity in Babylon that picked it back up again as reflected in the book of Enoch.