Who Were the Nephilim?

I’m having a discussion with my Jehovah’s Witness uncle about who exactly the Nephilim are. He holds that they were the offspring of fornicating angels and women.

I understand that the vast majority of the early Church Fathers (pre-Nicene) believed this to be the case, and that the “Sethite” hypothesis only gained ground with Saint Augustine.

My uncle would argue that the plain reading of Scripture suggests fornicating angels, as does the most ancient Jewish and Christian tradition.

While such an interpretation may not be that most commonly held today, is it, stirctly speaking, heretical?

Here’s what my Watchtower library says on the subject:

Who were “the sons of the true God” that were involved? Were they men who were worshipers of Jehovah (as distinguished from the general run of wicked mankind), as some claim? Evidently not. The Bible implies that their marriage to the daughters of men resulted in whipping up the badness in the earth. Noah and his three sons, along with their wives, were the only ones in God’s favor and were the only ones preserved through the Deluge.-Ge 6:9; 8:15, 16; 1Pe 3:20.

Hence, if these “sons of the true God” were merely men, the question arises, Why were their offspring “men of fame” more than those of the wicked, or of faithful Noah? Also, the question might be asked, Why mention their marriage to the daughters of men as something special? Marriage and childbearing had been taking place for more than 1,500 years.

The sons of God mentioned at Genesis 6:2, therefore, must have been angels, spirit “sons of God.” This expression is applied to angels at Job 1:6; 38:7. This view is supported by Peter, who speaks of “the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient when the patience of God was waiting in Noah’s days.” (1Pe 3:19, 20) Also Jude writes of “the angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place.” (Jude 6) Angels had the power to materialize in human form, and some angels did so to bring messages from God. (Ge 18:1, 2, 8, 20-22; 19:1-11; Jos 5:13-15) But heaven is the proper abode of spirit persons, and the angels there have positions of service under Jehovah. (Da 7:9, 10) To leave this abode to dwell on earth and to forsake their assigned service to have fleshly relations would be rebellion against God’s laws, and perversion.

The Bible states that the disobedient angels are now “spirits in prison,” having been ‘thrown into Tartarus’ and “reserved with eternal bonds under dense darkness for the judgment of the great day.” This seems to indicate that they are greatly restricted, unable again to materialize as they did prior to the Flood.-1Pe 3:19; 2Pe 2:4; Jude 6.

Your thoughts, please.

Hi. I can’t give you a definitive answer…hopefully someone else will soon, but as far as I know it is not heretical. (I’m not officially a Catholic yet, by the way…I’m still in the conversion process). As I understand it, the Septuagint translates the Hebrew ‘sons of God’ as “angels”, which is even further testimony for the view you mentioned. Not to mention the mention of the ‘angels in prison’ in the book of Jude. As well, why are the Nephilim said to have been there both before and after (the flood, I think, based on the context) if it was a union b/w the sons of Seth and the daughters of Cain? (As only the Seth line survived through Noah).

Perhaps someone can explain the Seth view.

As well, why are the Nephilim said to have been there both before and after (the flood, I think, based on the context) if it was a union b/w the sons of Seth and the daughters of Cain? (As only the Seth line survived through Noah).

If anything, this adds credence to the belief that the Nephilim are not necessarily half-angelix beings. For none of the supposed angels’ descendants survived the flood. Therefore, the so-called Nephilim of Numbers 13 would be pure human beings. Therefore the “Nephilim” of Genesis 6 could well be human beings.

According to the Watchtower’s explanation, however, there were no Nephilim after the flood:

The ten spies who brought back to the Israelites in the wilderness a false report on the land of Canaan declared: “All the people whom we saw in the midst of it are men of extraordinary size. And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who are from the Nephilim; so that we became in our own eyes like grasshoppers, and the same way we became in their eyes.” No doubt there were some large men in Canaan, as other scriptures show, but never except in this “bad report,” which was carefully couched in language designed to strike terror and cause panic among the Israelites, are they called Nephilim.-Nu 13:31-33; 14:36, 37.

I have long been familiar with the theory that they were offspring of evil angels and women. Here’s another theory: they may have been non-human hominids.

To provide background on this, my husband and I read a fascinating book last summer called The Science of God, by Gerald Schroeder. Schroeder is a Christian, and if I remember correctly, an astrophysicist (I lent the book out and don’t have it handy to check his credentials). My “Cliffs Notes” for the book are the following:

The passage of time is affected by gravitational force. You’re probably aware that time slows down as you approach the speed of light and supposedly at the speed of light, time stops. Time also slows down with increased gravity. I don’t recall the numbers, but given a specific period of time on earth, for example, time lags by six minutes on the sun.

Utilizing the data from the “echo” of the big bang, scientists can calculate the mass of the universe. The mass is the same now as in that instant – just much more spread apart. Taking into account the enormous gravitational force of the super compact universe, it can also be calculated how slowly time would pass relative to our earth-time. Scientists have estimated that the universe is about 16-18 billion years old (earth time) Converting this to universe time (the passage of time for a super compact universe), guess how old our universe it? 6 days. Do you have chills yet? This blew my mind! Throughout this book, he explains how the scientific record harmonizes perfectly with the six days of creation. And he explains a evolutionary mechanism that is MUCH different than Darwin’s version. It has the hand of God in it all the way. Through supernatural special creation, God placed all the DNA material that would be eventually expressed in today’s species in the first living cells. Evolution was not a random, million-tries process, but rather environmental factors triggered the expession of traits very quickly in just a few generations. This is why we don’t see any transitional species in the fossil record. This is why we see very similar organs in very unrelated species, like the squid’s and mammal’s eyes. The information was there from the very beginning.

God was preparing a creature that would love and worship him. When such a creature finally offered that potential, He created Adam. He placed a human spirit in a hominid, and animal became human. Eve was formed from Adam, and they were the first human couple. So for awhile, humans and hominids were both on the earth. The Bible seems to imply that humans sinfully had relations with these hominids, which was why He had to cause the Flood to occur. This animal species, so similar to humans needed to be eliminated.

There’s no way I can do Schroeder’s scholarly treatment justice in this short post. I would encourage anyone interested to read his book. Whether you agree or not, it is a fascinating read, and provides a God-glorifying and plausible explanation for many of the natural wonders of our world, as well as a very different interpretation of the scripture you reference.

Hmm, just reading the previous posts, I didn’t realize the Nephilim were around after the flood. So maybe they were just big people . . .

Bump

Karl Keating?

Anyone?

[quote=DominvsVobiscvm]Re: Who Were the Nephilim? Karl Keating?
[/quote]

I doubt it. How tall is he?

Peace in Christ…Salmon

Alright, here is what my Douay-Rheims Bible has:

The sons of God seeing the daughters of men, that they were fair, took to themselves wives of all which they chose. –Gen. 6:2

Now giants were upon the earth in those days. For after the sons of God went in to the daughters of men, and they brought forth children, these are the mighty men of old, men of renown. –Gen. 6:4

Here is the *Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary of Gen.*Verses 2 and 4:

Verse 2: The Sons of God. The descendants of Seth and Enos are here called “sons of God” from their religion and piety: whereas the ungodly race of Cain, who by their carnal affections lay groveling upon the earth, are called the children of men…

Verse 4: Giants. It is likely the generality of men before the flood were of a gigantic stature, in comparison with what men now are. But these here spoken of, are called giants, as being not only tall of stature, but violent and savage in their dispositions, and mere monsters of cruelty and lust…

It’s more likely that the “sons of God” were the descendants of humans rather then that of angels (since it is totally unheard of that angels can reproduce) and the whole JW theory is that God caused the flood to wipe out this race. But the Nephilim are mentioned in Numbers 13:33 (as you pointed out) and are called the “sons of Enac”, meaning they still survived.

No where in the passage does it say that God caused the flood in order to wipe out the offspring of fornicating angels but rather, “the wickedness of men was great on earth, and that all the thoughts of their heart was bent upon evil at all times” (Gen. 6:5).

You said that your uncle argues that this is theory is from Christian tradition…This is nothing more then a smokescreen. If your uncle gives such wait to Christian Tradition on this matter, then why isn’t he a Trinitarian :wink:

Miguel.

Just an interesting thought:

In Madeleine L’Engle’s Many Waters, the Nephilim and Seraphim are bad and good angels, respectively, who interact with humans. The Nephils, as they are called, take human wives, but the Seraphim do not.

L’Engle does a lot of research for her writing, so maybe she has something. Or maybe it’s just fiction. At any rate, it’s a good book!

if you want an answer with some substance, (not to say that any of the replies are bad) then post the question to the apologists! Not to mention the fact that I would also like to hear their response… :cool:

I agree deacon… I remember Catholic Apologist Robert Sungenis giving a good answer on this issue in his Q and A website…I can’t seem to find it now. :confused:

Miguel.

I heard Scott Hahn speak on this on Scripture Matters. He explained it as being the Sons of God were Adam’s decendents through all children other than Cain, while the daughters of man are from Cains line. He put it as showing that the decendents of Cain were more worldly (they built cities, remember), while those of the others were closer to the simple life close to God. I know that he was much better at explaining this then I am…

Angels fornicating with humans? Ahhhh New Age & Hollywood hooey… :stuck_out_tongue:

Get yourself a Douay-Rheims HAYDOCK commentary Bible…its about $100, but INDESPENSIBLE in knowing the Catholic faith and how it is interpreted and taught by the Fathers and Saints…the ONLY ones who are qualified and blessed by the Holy Spirit to do rightly do so. :thumbsup:

Angels fornicating with humans? Ahhhh New Age & Hollywood hooey…

Not true at all; most post0Biblical Jewish works regarded the Nephilim as such. As did all the pre-Nicene Church Fathers who commented on the subject.

The “Sethite” theory is relatively new.

Genesis 6:4 “The Nephilim were 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. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.”

The Apocryphal Book of Enoch talks extensively about the Nephilim, my understanding is that they are not very nice.

[quote=ralphinal]I heard Scott Hahn speak on this on Scripture Matters. He explained it as being the Sons of God were Adam’s decendents through all children other than Cain, while the daughters of man are from Cains line. He put it as showing that the decendents of Cain were more worldly (they built cities, remember), while those of the others were closer to the simple life close to God. I know that he was much better at explaining this then I am…
[/quote]

Yep Scot Hahn is teaching right out of the Bible footnotes.
Navarre Bible page 65-66.
“6:1-4 Alluding to a myth in ancient times to the effect giants were the offspring of women who mated with beings of a higher order, the sacred author is stressing here the headway that sin and disorder have made…it has been interpreted as meaning good men, the descendants of Seth who indiscriminately took as wives decesandants of Cain, here called the daughters of men.
This is the explanation given by St Augustine, St John Chrysostom, and St Cyril. Mankind’s moral decline on account of pride and abuses of marriage prepares the way for the upcoming account of the flood.”

[quote=Faithful 2 Rome]Angels fornicating with humans? Ahhhh New Age & Hollywood hooey… :stuck_out_tongue:

Get yourself a Douay-Rheims HAYDOCK commentary Bible…its about $100, but INDESPENSIBLE in knowing the Catholic faith and how it is interpreted and taught by the Fathers and Saints…the ONLY ones who are qualified and blessed by the Holy Spirit to do rightly do so. :thumbsup:
[/quote]

This is certainly not the only good Bible in existance. :smiley:

If you want the BEST it is.

And to interpret angels mating with humans is in major error.

And to interpret angels mating with humans is in major error.

Why did all the pre-Nicene Fathers teach it, then?

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