Giants, Demons, Nephilim and the Book of Enoch

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Genesis 6:4, Giants. Heb. Nephilim. This Hebrew word is found only one other place in the Bible. This is in Num 13:33 where it is used twice and where the nephilim are called to the descendants of Anak (see also Num 13:28; Deut 9:2; Josh 15:14; Judg 1:20). Scholars most often translate this word either as giants, mighty ones or fallen ones. Scholars disagree as to meaning of the root form of this verb and whether the stem means “those that cause others to fall down” or “fallen ones.” BDB confesses that the basic etymology of the word is questionable. At issue, according to The TWOT, is whether the root of nephilim is nepel meaning “untimely birth or miscarriage” (resulting in the production of superhuman monstrosities), or the more likely from the root napal, which relates to other Hebrew words meaning “be wonderful, strong or mighty.” The LXX (as apparently do the majority of the Targums) translates nephilim as giants, though The TWOT admits this may be misleading. This word is of unknown origins and may even mean “heros” or “fierce warriors.”

Adding to the confusion of this passage is the ambiguity as to whether the nephilim are the sons of Elohim or their offspring.

Whatever the meaning of nephilim and/or sons of Elohim may be, two schools of thought have prevailed in Jewish and Christian circles as to who these people were. One line of reasoning asserts that they were the children of Seth, while another presents the idea that the sons of Elohim were the offspring of sexual unions between fallen angels or demons and the daughters of men (called incubus) resulting in half-breed demon-humans (called cambion). This idea has its origins in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Enochic literature, the Old Testament pseudepigraphal writings including the Book of Jubilees (Jub 7:21–24). Some early church historians (e.g. Tertullian) shared this belief as do the Aramaic Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nephilim). Some Bible commentators view Jude 1:6–7 as substantiating this viewpoint. 

Some scholars have taken the term “sons of Elohim” to mean “angels,” and in this case fallen angels or demons, thus ostensibly substantiating the fallen angel-women union idea. Every other place beside Gen 6:2 where the actual term “sons of Elohim” is found in the Tanakh (OT), it refers to angels. This is the case in Job 1:6, 2:1; and 38:7. On the other hand, there are several passages in the Tanakh that have similar terms such as “sons of Elohim” that refer to men (e.g. “children/sons of the YHVH your Elohim,” Deut 14:1; “sons of the most high”; and Ps 82:6; “sons of the Living El,” Hos 1:10). Beyond that, there are numerous passages where Elohim refers to the nation of Israel or certain Israelites as his son (Exod 4:22–23; 2 Sam 7:14; 1 Chr 17:14; 22:10; 28:6; Jer 31:20, etc. ). In several biblical passages in the Testimony of Yeshua (NT), the term “sons of God/Elohim” refers to humans (John 1:12; Rom 8:14, 19; Phil 2:15; 1 John 3:1, 2). Based on this, some biblical researchers take the term “sons of Elohim” and declare it to be synonymous with other similar, but not exact biblical terms. Whether these terms are equivalent in the minds of the biblical writers or not is a debate that has been raging among biblical scholars for hundreds of years.

On the meaning of the term nephilim, since the biblical linguistic evidence seems unclear in the minds of many Bible students as to the exact meaning of the word nephilim, let us now consider the opinion of the ancients on this subject to see how they understood the meaning of the word. Perhaps this will bring some light onto this confusion.

The idea that nephilim is a result of the union between demons and women is largely promoted in the Ethiopian Book of 1 Enoch, which, though mentioned in the Scriptures (Jude 14), the version that is currently extant is barely 500 years old and is of questionable origins and, in some instances, contradicts the Bible. The biblical Enoch lived more than 5000 years before the oldest extant copy of the modern book that bears his name. Therefore, some modern scholars reason that it is highly unlikely that the current book of 1 Enoch is the same as the one that is mentioned in the Bible, and, therefore, discredit its content. 

On the other hand, modern biblical scholars such as Dr. Michael Heiser in his recent well-researched books, The Unseen Realm—Recovering the Supernatural View of the Bible and Reversing Hermon—Enoch, the Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ, gives strong and eye-opening linguistic, historical and biblical evidence to the validity of the book of 1 Enoch.

Moreover, in further substantiation of the ancient origins of the book of 1 Enoch and the veracity of its account pertaining to the sons of Elohim being fallen angels, confirming Heiser’s assertions, the first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus assumes that the nephilim were evil giants and the offspring of the union of angels and women. He writes,

…for many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength, for the tradition is that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants [i.e. the demigod Titans].” (Ant. 1.3.1)

Here Josephus indicates that the idea that the fallen angels were the fathers of the giants is the general opinion of antiquity and thus favors the idea that the word nephilim should carry the meaning of giants. Philo of Alexandria, the first century Jewish philosopher, expresses the same opinion (Allegorical Interpretation, “On the Giants,” chap. IV.16; XIII.32). 

Moreover, the Jewish scholars who translated the Hebrew Tanakh into Greek during the intertestamental period translated the Hebrew word nephilim from Gen 6:4 as giants (Gr. gigantes) and not as “fallen ones.” 

 

11 thoughts on “Giants, Demons, Nephilim and the Book of Enoch

  1. thank you for sharing your thoughts and studies around this, though it all leaves us a bit still in confusion about what is right and what is wrong or better said How our heavenly father ideas are expressed in His derek. emet. Ma I suggest to make some deeper word studies by going out the ancient Hebrew letters and their meaning thereof to find a better way to understand what is meant? it also means to get our mindset better adjusted and wrapped around the Hebrew mindset which is the Father’s.We have certainly much to learn but also to relearn for we inherit so many lies of our forefathers what is not the seed of Yahuah.Christianity with it’s false doctrines but also Judaismn has become a way for shatan to deceive Yah’s bnai , His sons and daughters!

    • One thing that we must learn when studying the Bible is to not speculate. This is dangerous territory. When the Bible is silent about a subject, or says very little about it, we must avoid the temptation to add in our own interpretations and speculations from the mind of man, while drawing from outside biblical sources.

      I have a policy. When the Bible is silent, I am silent. When the Bible speaks, I speak—and only to the degree that it speaks. If I have said very little on the subject, it’s because there is little to say about it. Beyond that, it is mere human speculation. This leads to humanism and gnosticism. It is in these gray areas that many so-called Bible teachers choose to park themselves and launch their ministries from. I am not one of them. The apostles didn’t choose this approach either.

      Additionally, I can’t resort to looking to Paleo-Hebrew word picture meanings either to determine the truth of a matter, or to largely expand my understanding of a biblical subject. There seems to be some validity to Paleo-Hebrew word pictures, but most Hebrew scholars, at this point, question its validity. Until there are more expert witnesses who can substantiate the validity of using Paleo-Hebrew pictographs, I refuse to build truth on such shaky ground.

      Please resist the temptation to get into areas of neo-Gnosticism to try to explain the mysteries of the Bible. It leads to no where good; it simply tickles men’s ears. It’s a type of spiritual porn. The more you look at it the more you crave it. It’s destructive. It leads people away from Yeshua and does nothing to promote the gospel or lead men to becoming more like Yeshua. Beware! The apostles didn’t go there, and neither will I.

      • i agree to disagree.. It’s up to each of us to get restored to the Hebrew mindset and that will not do any good service to try to understand through a greek /roman mindset and see everything in this. . why did you pick it up in first hand? You mentioned 2 witnesses why not going out from there? or why did you pick it up when your solution is to stay silent.with this what x or y understands about it? So my revelation about the issue is irrelevant for you, because you chose to stay silent in the end. That’s ok with me.I wont spill time either, not in this set up. If you change mind and want to learn more about how to apply my suggestion, to learn what is in a word, I invite you to make these word studies, for not to leave anything out; modern Hebrew alone is also here not always sufficient.. That has nothing with gnosticism to do rather contrary.Be a Barean.

  2. Virtually every place the term “benai Elohim” (children of God) is found it refers to us believers; not angels. These people fell from grace due to their sinful life styles, just as many people today have. “The Fallen ones”.

      • Never? Really? That’s painting with a pretty broad brush. The purpose of this blog is to promote truth. Please provide a list of chapters and verses to back up your assertion. This is the only way to determine the validity of one’s claim. The only reason that I have not asked this of Doctor Dombek is because I have personally heard him teach on the subject and he has backed his assertion up with chapter and verses. You both can’t be right. Blessings.

      • Every single occurrence of the phrase “b’nai Elohim” (sons of God) in the Old Testament is an explicit reference to angels. It does not refer to human believers. Not even once.

        Take a few minutes with a Google search and you will find this to be accurate.

  3. I agree with Natan & Joseph here; I have heard others talk re book of Enoch. But I myself have never wanted or felt the need to go so deeply into that particular area. I agree with all 4 paragraphs Natan has commented on & agree with his sound conclusion in the matter. Thanks Natan & Joseph…

    We are so far into end times now : that we can pontificate over so many things but I was quietly reflecting this am (after spending Shabbath with fellow believers yesterday) what use is man’s HEAD KNOWLEDGE, GNOSTICISM WHATEVER…NOTHING COMPARES TO WORSHIPING OUR SAVIOUR AND SPENDING TIME GETTING TO KNOW HIM (THE HEART OF YESHUA…HEART NOT HEAD KNOWLEDGE.) ….know his ways & walk in them.. Only way to the father is thru his son..Yeshua HaMaschiach …no amount of head knowledge can get us into the new Mellenium… Or give us eternal life..what is important to me is that I worship him only and give him all the praise I can muster ..& study his ( the) word.& lastly but not least; flowing in the gifts of the set apart spirit as outlined in the book of Corinthians. He is the true vine we are the branches etc.. Without him we can do nothing unless we produce good fruit.

  4. Some scholars have taken the term “sons of Elohim” to mean “angels,” and in this case fallen angels or demons, thus ostensibly substantiating the demon-women union idea. This is the case in Job 1:6 and 2:1, but in at least in 23 other instances in the Scriptures, this term refers to mortal men (e.g., Pss 4:2; 31:19; Eccl 2:3; Dan 5:21; Joel 1:12; Mark 3:28; Eph 3:5).

    I am confused by this paragraph, since you reference the phrase “sons of Elohim” and state that “in at least 23 other instances in the Scriptures, this term refers to mortal men” and then you cite several passages. In the OT references I could only find the phrase בְּנֵ֥י אִ֡ישׁ which is “sons of man” not “sons of Elohim” or I found no reference to the “sons of” anything. In the NT passages, the phrase is “the sons of men”. Either you honestly made a mistake in the scriptures you cite, or you through down some passages and hoped that people would not look up the Hebrew and Greek texts. I prefer to give you the benefit of the doubt and am hopeful this was just a mistake on your part that I trust you will correct.

    • Thank your this comment. You are a good Berean! I have made some corrections and totally updated the original post that was from 2016. Please reread the article that I have written on my blog.

      You are correct in your confusion in the paragraph you quote above. I obviously neglected to check the veracity of my sources—something I’m usually very carefully to do. I have corrected the errors and rewritten the paragraph as follows to correct the error:

      Some scholars have taken the term “sons of Elohim” to mean “angels,” and in this case fallen angels or demons, thus ostensibly substantiating the fallen angel-women union idea. Every other place beside Gen 6:2 where the actual term “sons of Elohim” is found in the Tanakh (OT), it refers to angels. This is the case in Job 1:6, 2:1; and 38:7. On the other hand, there are several passages in the Tanakh that have similar terms such as “sons of Elohim” that refer to men (e.g. “children/sons of the YHVH your Elohim,” Deut 14:1; “sons of the most high”; and Ps 82:6; “sons of the Living El,” Hos 1:10). Beyond that, there are numerous passages where Elohim refers to the nation of Israel or certain Israelites as his son (Exod 4:22–23; 2 Sam 7:14; 1 Chr 17:14; 22:10; 28:6; Jer 31:20, etc. ). In several biblical passages in the Testimony of Yeshua (NT), the term “sons of God/Elohim” refers to humans (John 1:12; Rom 8:14, 19; Phil 2:15; 1 John 3:1, 2). Based on this, some biblical researchers take the term “sons of Elohim” and declare it to be synonymous with other similar, but not exact biblical terms. Whether these terms are equivalent in the minds of the biblical writers or not is a debate that has been raging among biblical scholars for hundreds of years.

      Moreover, since I wrote that article in 2016, I have changed my opinion drastically on Gen 6:2-4. Whereas previously I was neutral on the issue of who the sons of Elohim and the nephilim were in that I could see that both sides of the argument had valid points, since then I have researched this out and come to a supernaturalistic view of this passage. This is largely due to the excellent scholarly works of Dr. Michael Heiser and others.

      I hope this clarifies my position on this subject the misinformation that I published and have now corrected.

    • The passages you cited (Ps. 4:2, Dan 5:21, etc) are the phrase “sons of men” not “sons of God (Elohim)”….completely different phrase in Hebrew.

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