What were the Nephilim?

I am a bit confused about whether or not the ‘Sons of God’ in Genesis 6 were divine entities or humans.

I personally see no reason why the Sons of God in Job cannot be humans, given how there are other verses which speak of humans ‘coming before’ God. Humans are also called ‘Sons of the living God’ in Hosea 1:10.

This is the one part of the Unseen Realm which I am unconvinced by. I just don’t see the evidence that the Sons of God were divine. (I’ll admit the Bene Elim in Psalm 89 were though)

See this post:


I would recommend reading this series of blog posts by Tim Chaffey. It is a summary of a thesis he wrote on the subject. He goes though the strengths and weaknesses of several theories concerning the Sons of God, and explains his reasons for supporting the fallen angel theory.

The Sons of God and the Nephilim - Part 1 - Intro
Part 2 - critique of godly Sethite view
Part 3 - critique of Royalty view
Part 4 - support for Fallen Angel view
Part 5 - more support for Fallen Angel view
Part 6 - response to critiques of Fallen Angel view
Part 7 - identity of the Nephilim

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Well…the answer is both. The sons of God in Genesis 6 are fallen angels, but they possessed the bodies of men in order to copulate with the daughters of men as they are spirit beings, and only flesh begets flesh. Nephilims are the offspring of such an unholy, abominable union. I see nothing special about nephilims other than they are men of renowned, giants among men. No super human strength, abilities etc…

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While I don’t discount it as a possibility, I don’t think it would have been necessary for the Sons of God to possess men to copulate. The are several instances of spiritual beings in Scripture taking physical human form. For example, the two angels who appear with God (also in human form) before Abraham in Genesis 18 and later rescued Lot from Sodom. It is possible that the fallen angels could have simply taken physical human form to copulate with the women, unless they somehow lost that ability when they fell from Heaven. The Bible doesn’t say either way.

I’d imagine 8+ foot tall giants would be pretty strong…

To say that angels can take physical form, thereby copulate with humans is a pretty big leap. Forgive me for what I am about to say, but there was no super sperm involved. The bible says, that only flesh can begat flesh. The fallen angels could have have taken physical form but it doesn’t necessarily have to be fleshly bodies. It could have been spiritual bodies, which we ourselves will one day receive, and we are told that these bodies will be just like the angels.

I’d imagine 8+ foot tall giants would be pretty strong…

It is possible that these men could be 8’ tall, but I see nothing in scripture pointing to their physical status. I have to follow scripture.

The word Nephilim probably comes from an Aramaic word meaning ‘giant’, not the Hebrew verb ‘Naphal’, meaning ‘to fall’. Numbers 13:33 also suggests that they were giants.

I think the ‘Sons of God’ were probably divine beings, due to the following verses:

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.

If Satan was among the Sons of God, then they too must have been divine beings.

For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the Sons of God (Bene Elim) is like the LORD,

These are clearly heavenly beings here.

I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High (Bene Elyon), all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.”

It makes no sense to declare that a normal human will ‘die like men’. The phrase ‘Bene Elyon’ is also giving to divine council members in Ugarit.

Perhaps most importantly is Deuteronomy 32:8:

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.

The context here is that of divine allotment among the nations, as in the next verse it is declared that Israel is YHWH’s portion. Context then suggests that these Sons of God were divine.

This verse refers back to the Tower of Babel, where the language used is very similar to that used in Genesis 6, which can hardly be a coincidence, since both have a link to the Sons of God. I think this is probably the best evidence for Divine Nephilim.

Now Israelites are called ‘sons of the living God’ in Hosea 1:10. But this is only one verse, compared to many more verses where the term clearly refers to divine beings.

If you study the book of Genesis. you will see that it is pretty straight forward in its interpretation. You are guided by your understanding of “Nephilims” from Genesis in this verse.
In the book of Numbers, these men were scared and disobedient. They did not want to fight the inhabitants of the land, because of the might they observed; forgetting that they had God behind them. They were so scared, they exaggerated their claims in order to work the people up so as not engage the inhabitants.

@Wookin_Panub So why is it recorded in Numbers 13:33 “the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim”? The spies called them Nephilim and then the author added the parenthetical of the sons of Anak. Based on a literal reading of Numbers Nephilim were still alive after the flood. Feel free to dance around this as you see fit.

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I believe they were humans. Posted about this recently. But to summarize I agree with John Calvin, who wrote:

That ancient figment, concerning the intercourse of angels with women, is abundantly refuted by its own absurdity; and it is surprising that learned men should formerly have been fascinated by ravings so gross and prodigious. (Calvin’s commentary on Genesis.)

A more likely (“probable” would be a stretch) explanation: The sons of God were the “good” bloodline that descended from Seth. The “daughters of men” were exotic beauties in the “bad” bloodline of Cain. The progeny of the ill advised union between the two groups was worse yet, including a group of giants who it appears was something like a gang of thugs. (Brutes is perhaps a better word than giants.) Calvin blames Jerome (a worthy scapegoat!) for a faulty translation, pointing out (among other things) the Moses never actually comments on their size.

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I don’t like that explanation, I already made a list of areas in scripture where divine beings are called ‘Sons of God’. I also pointed out that the word ‘Nephilim’ proabably means giant. I also find it uncomfortable from a theological sense, it makes God seem like a racist.

Because it was the mightiest and strongest thing they could think of and that the people could relate to. Furthermore the global flood had already taken place hundreds of years after, in which only the stories of Nephilims remained and were probably exaggerated themselves.

However, the human explanation might answer a question which I asked before

Do you think the God directed ethnic cleansing of Joshua’s conquest of the Holy Land makes God look like a racist? Or even the simple fact that in OT times God had a favored race?

I believe the answer is yes and no. The Nephilims were a result of a unholy union/alliance between man and demons. The demons knew of the coming of Christ among men and may have tried to taint the human blood line. Even though it probably wouldn’t have affected anything. The fact that the demons would try this and that man was in union with them, would have been enough for God to wipe man off the face of the planet, apart from the 7 He saw as righteous.

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You write:

What we have, in effect, is the first of many warnings in the bible against syncretism

I sounds more like a diatribe against race-mixing when you put it that way. Do forgive me if I am misunderstanding you.

So you are saying that the Bible is in error? The inspired text? And yet you trust Genesis for which only stories could be the source as writing wasn’t in use to not be an exaggeration? I think you have started down that slippery slope.

I am sure that you are aware of the verses that use “sons of God” to refer, unambiguously, to humans? A couple examples:

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Rom 8:14, NASB)

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:26, NASB)

Far from it! I believe that Nephilims were in fact real as scripture says. But, that it was, “the land of the giants” is a stretch. I see nothing in scripture to indicate that.

  1. I don’t follow the NT, only the OT.
  2. The New Testament was written many centuries after the OT, enough time for terminology to change meaning. The Sons of God in Genesis 6 were referred to as ‘Watchers’ in Second Temple literature.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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