NEPHILIM, by John Steed
When Giants Stalked the Earth
We are all well aware of the story of David and Golyath,
how David as a young man killed Golyath
who was a giant, around three metres tall. But rarely do we stop to consider
how this giant came to be. Giants belong in stories for children like
"Jack and the Beanstalk" don't they? Or do they? The idea that a race
(or races) of giant semi-human beings once lived on earth certainly sounds
preposterous to most people. Certainly the scientists.
When they uncover the skeletons of what appear to be 3-4m tall humans (as they
do) they prefer to remain silent, instead speculating over a few bones of some
deceased person! But the story of the giants, the Nephilim
and the Repha'im, is clearly found in the Scriptures.
It is also attested to by Josephus and other ancient Jewish literature. But
surprisingly few people are aware of this.
You may, of course, question the spiritual value of knowing the story of the Nephilim - it lies in the fact that this forgotten facet of our history holds the answers to many questions that have been asked about the Scriptures. Just a few of the points it enlightens us on are:
Why the flood came.
Why Noah was chosen.
Why Israel was told to slaughter certain Kena’anite peoples - men, woman and children.
Also it gives greater understanding of the following texts: 1 Cor. 6:3, 1 Cor. 11:10 & 2 Kepha 2:4 - to name just a few.
But if nothing else, it like much else in Scripture, is an important chapter of the history of sin's destructiveness which should be known by all.
The story begins in Bereshith (Gen.) 5:1-2 "And it came to be, when the Adam began to increase on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of the Elohim saw the daughters of the Adam, that they were good. And they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose." (This is a very literal translation from Hebrew.) Who were the "sons of the Elohim"? This expression is used only a few times in Scripture and always refers to a being which came into existence by the direct act of YHWH. Adam himself is called such in Luke 3:38. Yahushua is such, and indeed he opens the way for us to become "sons of Elohim" be being "born again" - Yoch. 1:12. But generally it is used in reference to heavenly beings - messengers or angels - as we see in lyov 1:6 and 2:1. This usage is evident here in Bereshith 6:1-2 as the "sons of the Elohim (YHWH)" are shown in contrast to "the Adam" (mankind).
Some have objected to this concept - heavenly beings mating with human women - because of what Yahushua said in regarding to those who are raised in the resurrection being "as messengers (angels)" and not marrying (Mark 12:25 and Luke 20:34-36). However it is not the meaning of this text in Bereshith that the heavenly being marry, rather it shows that they departed from their proper role. Indeed other literature that we'll examine shortly supports Yahushua, and says that YHWH did not intend for the messengers to take wives, but that this action on their part was rebellion against YHWH. We may wonder how it is possible for heavenly beings to cross breed with humans. We are not told how this was done, but in age of in-vitro fertilisation and genetic engineering, when human genes have been put into pigs, it should be difficult for us to imagine how this could be done - as indeed it was.
We read further in Bereshith 6:4 the following - "The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of the Elohim came in to the daughters of the Adam and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, the men of name." Nephilim (Strong's #5303 from #5307 - to fall). Probably means "fallen ones" in reference to these heavenly beings who fell - physically and spiritually. Or alternatively it means "fellers" or "slayers" due to the fact that these beings brought slaughter to the earth. This first occurrence is prior to the flood, and indeed as is mentioned in this chapter (verse 6) is the reason why the flood occurred. Mankind became so genetically mixed with the Nephilim that few of the pure race of Adam remained, and it probably would have become extinct if YHWH had not intervened. We read in verse 9 of this chapter that YHWH chose Noach because he was a "righteous man, perfect in his generations (descent, family history)." In other words Noach and his family were of the pure race of Adam, able to carry the line into a new beginning.
Notice how in Bereshith 6:4 it says that not only where the Nephilim on the earth "in Those days" but also "afterward," that is, after the flood. In Bemidbar (Num) 13:33 we strike the Nephilim for the second time in the report of the spies regarding the land on Kena'an - "And we saw there the Nephilim, sons of Anak, of the Nephilim. And we were like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and so we were in their eyes." This is the first direct reference to them being of large size ( see previous verse also). Back in Bereshith 6:4 we were only told that they were "mighty men...men of name." Undoubtedly the action and exploits of these Nephilim were the basis for the pagan deities and mythology.
These giants were also called Repha'im; we find this name used not only for the Anakim, but also the Emmim (Devarim / Deut. 2:10-11) and Zamzumim (verse 20). Og, who you will remember was the giant king of Bashan, was of the Repha'im (Devarim 3:11). His bed was over 4m long! Indeed Bashan had formerly been a land of the Repha'im, the remnants of their giant-sized cities can still be found there today. They were there in the time of Abraham as we read in Bereshith 14:5.
We are not told how this second outbreak of Nephilim came about. Those sons of Elohim who were responsible for the pre-flood outbreak had been imprisoned in the earth to await the day of judgement as we read in 2 Kepha 2:4 - For if Elohim did not spare the messengers who sinned, but sent them to Tartaros, and deliver them in chains of darkness, to be kept for judgement." However, the Adversary undoubtedly had other heavenly beings at this service to corrupt the "seed of the women" - for this seems to have been the aim - to prevent the coming of the Messiah, the promised "seed" (Bereshith 3:15) by corrupting the genetic line. YHWH Himself intervened by means of the flood in the first instance, and in the second He used the children of Abraham and Lot to destroy them (see Devarim 2). And He instructed Israel to completely destroy those people who had mixed with them (Devarim 20:16-17). Of course it was David and his men who finally finished the job, killing the last of the giants - Golyath and his family (2 Shemu'el 21:15-22).
As mentioned earlier, ancient Jewish literature upholds these facts. Josephus the Jewish historian mentioned it briefly - but I don't have his works at hand to quote from - check this for yourselves. The book of Jubilees 5:1-6 says the following:
"And it came to pass when the sons of men began to increase on the
earth, and daughters were born to them that in the first year of the jubilee
the angels of Elohim looked on them and saw that they were beautiful; and they
took wives from as many of them as they chose. And they bore them sons; and
they became giants ... And against the angels He had sent on earth His anger
was so great that He uprooted them from their dominion and commanded us to
imprison them in the depths of the earth; and behold they are in prison there
The book of Enoch, which comes to us from the Ethiopian version of the Scriptures, and from which comes to quote in Yehudah / Jude 1:14-15, contains extensive material on this subject. Enoch, or more properly Chanok, was given a special mission to bear witness against these rebels and to record their actions to the end of time. Chanok records that these messengers were of the order called "Watchers" (see Dan. 4:13 & 23) so called because their task was to watch over mankind - guardian angels. Chanok writes -"And it came to pass when the sons of men had increased, that in those days there were born to them fair and beautiful daughters. And the angels, the sons of heaven, saw them and desired them. And they said to one another, "Come, let us choose for ourselves wives from the children of men, and let us beget for ourselves children.' And Semyaza who was their leader, said to them, 'I hear that you may not wish this deed to be done, and that I may alone pay for this great sin.' And they all answered him and said, 'Let us swear an oath, and bind one another with curses not to alter this plan, but to carry out this plan effectively.' Then they all swore together and all bound one another with curses to do it. And they were in all two hundred, and they came down on Ardis which is the summit of Mount Hermon.”
He then records a list of all the names of the leaders of these two hundred, followed by: "And they took wives for themselves, and every one chose for himself one each. They began to go in to them and were promiscuous with them ... And they became pregnant and bore large giants... These devoured all the toil of men, until men were unable to sustain them. And the giants turned against them in order to devour men. And they began to sin against birds, and against animals, and against reptiles, and against fish, and they devoured one another' flesh and drank blood from it. Then the earth complained about the lawless ones.”
Further on he tells of YHWH's judgement against them, this being first
the sending of the flood - in the future - which Noach
is informed of; then:
"further YHWH said to Raphael, 'Bind Azazel (Who had taught mankind the making of weapons of war.) by his hands and feet... And split open the desert which is in Deudael, and throw him there for ever... that on the day of judgement he may be hurled into the fire.' And YHWH said to Michael, 'Go inform Semyaza and the others with him... When all their sons kill each other, and when they see the destruction or their beloved ones, bind them for seventy generations under the hills of the earth until the day of judgement... And in those days they will lead them to the abyss of fire.”
As mentioned previously, YHWH also speaks of how the Watchers were not intended to have wives, He says to Chanok: "And go, say to the Watchers of heaven who sent you to petition on their behalf, 'You ought to petition on behalf of men, not men on behalf of you. Why have you left the high and set-apart and eternal heaven, and lain with women..., and taken wives for yourselves, and done as the sons of the earth and begotten giant sons... And for this reason I gave them (mankind) wives, namely that... children might be born by them, that thus deeds might be done on the earth. But you formerly were spiritual, living an eternal, immortal life for all the generations of the world. For this reason I did not arrange wives for you because the dwelling of the spiritual ones is in heaven.”
There is much more recorded in the book of Enoch on the subject of the sin of the Watchers, and Nephilim, including some interesting things regarding the source of evil spirits - but we will leave that for another time!
The Adam: Mankind
Yahushua: The Yahudite Rabbi Christians call 'Jesus‘
Jubilees: Division of 50 years.