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The NEPHILIM

According to Plain Scripture

By Pastor Anton
Bosch

The Hebrew
word Nephilim is translated “giants”
in the Old Testament. It only appears twice in Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33. A
whole series of doctrines have been built around this word, in spite of the
fact that the word only appears rarely. These doctrines on the Nephilim are based
on Genesis 6:1-4. (It must be noted that most speculators lean very heavily on
extra-biblical writings for most of their information.) The theories can
basically be summed up as follows:


Demons/ angels (sons of God) had illicit relationships
with women (the daughters of men) and these perverted relations produced
genetically mutated beings known as nephilim (giants). God then imprisoned some
of the angels who did this and in order to purify the bloodline of man God
brought on the Flood. Through genetic engineering these Nephilim will be
resurrected, one of which will be the Antichrist[1]. To
these people, the Nephilim are also tied up with so-called extra-terrestrial
forms of life.


Since
these theories are gaining ground and a number of books have been published
based on this hypothesis, it is necessary to examine Genesis 6 again and see
what exactly it teaches. We will discover that the proponents of these theories
break every principle of hermeneutics. Here is the text:


“Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on
the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God
saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for
themselves of all whom they chose. And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not
strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one
hundred and twenty years.” There were giants 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.”
(Genesis 6:1-4)

Sons of God

The
first problem revolves around who in the passage are the “sons of God.” Some
make the connection with Job 1:6; 2:1. “Now
there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the
LORD, and Satan also came among them
.” (Job 1:6). It is obvious, and not
contested, that the “sons of God” in Job were angels. But does that mean that
this term in Genesis 6:2 also refers to angels?


First, the normal meaning of “sons of God” is
“believers.” “But as many as received
him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe
on his name
” (John 1:12). Job 1:6 (a poetic book) is the only place where angels are called “sons of God.” It is logical and reasonable therefore that the normal meaning be attached to the term here, rather than the exception, as found in Job, unless there were something in the text that made a connection between Genesis 6 and Job 1 — which is absent.


Second Jesus explicitly said that “in the resurrection they neither marry nor
are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven
.” (Matthew
22:30) (See also Luke 20:34-36). Therefore in Jesus’ own words, angels are
asexual and do not procreate.


So here is the problem. Genesis is obscure about who
had the relations. Jesus said angels do not have relations. So either Jesus was
mistaken or the “sons of God” were not angels. You choose! It is really as simple
as that – there are no other options.


Some try to get around this by saying that the angels
inhabited (possessed) human bodies to do this. That sounds good. But here is
the question: A Christian man has the Holy Spirit in him. When that man
produces a child by his wife, what is the child? God or man? Clearly, it is a
man. There are multitudes of people in the world who are demon possessed and
who procreate. What do they produce? Human babies or mutants? Obviously human
babies. So why should Genesis 6 be any different? If demons entered into men to
produce offspring the children would be human, and only human. [Ed. note: see previous Herescope article for a list of questions that results from these teachings.]


One
of the principles of hermeneutics is that the Old Testament is interpreted in
the light of the New Testament and not the other way round. In order to say
that the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 are angels (or demons) we must discard the
light of the New Testament and that should never happen.

The nature of the relationships

The next problem is that it
is claimed that the angels had illicit relations with women. Yet the text is
very clear: “they took wives for
themselves of all whom they chose”
(Genesis 6:2b). The phrase “took wives for themselves” only, and
always, means marriage. It never refers to casual, illicit or adulterous
relationships. (See Genesis 11:29 & Ruth 1:4). To suggest otherwise is
reading into the text that which is simply not there.

Giants

The
theory goes that the giants were the product of these illicit relationships. We
have shown that the text does not refer to illicit relationships and that the
fathers could not be angels.


Genesis 6:4, again is very clear: “There were giants 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.”
Notice that it says there were giants
(fact number 1) and afterwards the sons of God came into… (fact number
2). There is NO connection between the fact that there were giants and the fact
that people had children.


It is exactly like me saying: “There is milk in the
supermarket and eggs are $1.50 a dozen” Milk has no effect on the price, or
even the existence of eggs and the other way around. I am simply stating two
facts that describe things about food in the supermarket.


In Genesis 6 Moses is describing the state of the
world before the Flood. He makes no connection between Nephilim and the sons of
God and daughters of men. If the sentence had been reversed as follows: “The
sons of God came into the daughters of men and the bore Nephilim” then you
could postulate some theory about the nature of this process. But the text does
not give us any room to connect the Nephilim with these marriages.


Genesis 6:4 does say that the children that were
produced “were the mighty men who were of
old, men of renown.
” “Mighty men” is a term which is used 154 times in the
OT and simply refers to powerful men, either physically or politically. Just
like there are many mighty men today and some are men of God and others are
worldly and unsaved, so there were mighty men in those days, of which Noah was
one.


“Men of old” also holds no mystique, these were simply
the heroes of bygone days.


“Men of renown” is also used in Numbers 16:2 and
Ezekiel 23:23. These are just famous men, or well-known men. The Hebrew term
literally means “men with a name” meaning they had “made a name” for
themselves.


The descendants of these relationships were not
monsters, mutants, or anything extraordinary. Some were ordinary people and
some were powerful, some were little known and others had made a name for
themselves. Genesis 6:5 (the next verse) goes on to describe these people as
wicked and worthy of God’s judgment.


Furthermore, the translation of the word nephilim in Genesis 6:4 as “giants” is
very arbitrary. There are many other possible ways this word could be translated
here: Bullies, mighty ones or tyrants. At least one dictionary states that the nephilim in Genesis and in Numbers were
two different peoples.[2] Once
again, we cannot build an entire doctrine on a word which we cannot translate
or explain with any measure of certainty.

Genesis 6:4 is simply a description of life before the Flood and not a commentary on mysterious genetic mutant life forms. Jesus obviously has this verse in mind when He says:.


But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man
be. 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, and
did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the
coming of the Son of Man be.
(Matthew 24:37-39)
[Note the reference to marriage in both verses.]

One of the most important principles of hermeneutics is that the verse has to be read in its context. The context is clear, that the life was going on as usual, people were becoming more and more self-absorbed and sinful but judgment was coming.

The cause of the Flood

Those
who speculate about the Nephilim, connect them with the reason for the Flood.
Once again, there is no connection there. Genesis 6 describes life on earth.
Yes, there were Nephilim, but more significantly, people were marrying and
having children and becoming more wicked. Genesis 6:5-6 cannot be clearer.
God’s judgment fell because of the wickedness of man. This had absolutely
nothing to do with demons, angels or mutants. Look at these verses again:


Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth,
and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in
His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from
the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air,
for I am sorry that I have made them.”
(Genesis 6:5-7)


If the Flood had anything to do with anything other
than man’s sinfulness, either Moses or Jesus would have said something, but
both are silent about demons, angels and mutants. The Flood had nothing to do
with clearing the gene pool. It was all about clearing the earth of sinful and
wicked people. Even Sunday school children should be able to tell you that.


If
the Flood had anything to do with God wanting to destroy the giants because
they were “contaminated seed” or to purge the gene pool then, Noah and his sons
should have been destroyed also. Noah and his sons carried the gene from which
giants were formed. This is obvious since giants (nephilim) are born after the Flood and were present in the
Land when the spies were sent to scout out the land (Numbers 13:33). These
giants were descendants of Noah since all of humankind after the flood
descended from Noah.

Extra-biblical evidence

These
speculators quote the Book of Enoch (and other apocryphal books) in support of
their ideas as though they are Scripture. Yet, Enoch and the rest of the
Apocrypha are not part of the Canon of Scripture for obvious reasons – they are
not, and have never been regarded as inspired except by apostate churches.


Once again they break one of the fundamentals of
Evangelical and Reformed hermeneutics: We hold only to Scripture and do not
add, nor subtract from it (Revelation 22:18; Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32). It is
especially reprehensible to formulate an entire doctrine on extra-biblical
evidence as these people are doing.


The
fact is that there is overwhelming evidence in very old writings that the
Hebrew sages never regarded the “sons of God” as angels or demons. But we dare
not use that as evidence lest we sink to the same level as the speculators.

Jude 6

Jude
6 is quoted in support of the theories. This verse says: “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
.” (Jude 1:6)


Once
again, there is absolutely nothing in the verse, or the context, that connects
it with Genesis 6. There is nothing in the context that gives rise to
understand that “not keep(ing) their proper domain” has anything to do with
having relations with women. These angels sinned by overstepping their
boundaries – that is evident. But what those boundaries were can be any of a
hundred things. We just cannot draw connection between Genesis 6 and Jude 6,
except that the chapter number is the same as the verse number!

2 Peter 2:4-5

Verse
4 is similar to Jude 6: “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)


To those who pluck verses out of their context there
appears to be a connection between the sinning angels and the flood. But look
at the context:

  • 2Peter
    2:1-3
    There were, and will be,
    false teachers and they will “bring upon
    themselves swift destruction
    ”.
  • 2Peter
    2:4
    Angels sinned and God “reserved them for judgment
  • 2Peter
    2:5
    The ancient world sinned and
    God judged them by the flood but spared Noah
  • 2Peter
    2:6-8
    Sodom and Gomorrah sinned
    and God judged them but spared Lot
  • 2Peter
    2:9
    Therefore in the
    future, the Lord will judge the unjust and save the godly.


The
angels and the pre-flood world are simply two of four examples that Peter
quotes to show that God will punish sin. The connections between the sinning
angels and the Flood are the same connection with false teachers and Sodom –
the connections have nothing to do with gene mutation but is all about sin and
the consequences.

Conclusion

The
purpose of this brief article is not to provide answers to all the questions
that surround Genesis 6. In fact, we do not have all the answers and those who
claim they have a full and detailed explanation for these verses are speculating. The point of the text in Genesis 6, as in 2 Peter 2 is to warn that
God will not tolerate sin and will judge it.


But what we are certain of is that the theories about
angels producing mutant life forms are not Biblical and that the conclusions
derived from this theory are fictional, at best.


“… charge
some that they teach no other doctrine,
nor give heed to fables and endless
genealogies,
which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in
faith
.”
(1 Timothy 1:3-4)


“But reject
profane and old wives’ fables,
and exercise yourself toward godliness
.”

(1 Timothy 4:7)


For the time
will come when they will not endure sound doctrine,
but according to their own
desires,
because they have itching ears,
they will heap up for themselves
teachers;
and they will turn their ears away from the truth,
and be turned
aside to fables
.”

(2 Timothy 4:3-4)


Endnotes:
1. This is a very brief and highly sanitized summary of
some very extreme and bizarre teachings. But it must also be noted that those
who hold to these teachings differ greatly amongst themselves as to how far
they take their conclusions. 

2. Thomas, R. L. (1998). New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : Updated
edition
. Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.

This article was originally published in the July/August 2011 Discernment Newsletter and has been re-published on Herescope due to a number of requests:  http://www.discernment-ministries.org/Newsletters/NL2011JulAug.pdf   See previous Herescope article, and the compilation of articles at its bottom, for current information on how far from Scripture the Nephilim teachers and teachings have now veered.

See also Pastor Larry DeBruyn’s article “Demons, Daughters and DNA: The Sons of God, the Daughters of Men, and the Nephilim in Genesis 6,” published on Herescope 6/22/11: https://herescope.net/2011/06/demons-daughters-and-dna.html

Image titled “Nephilim.” This graphic illustrates the rising popular conception about what Nephilim are and how they appear. Photo credit: >kindgott< / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND