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The Fall of the Rebel Angels by Hieronymus Bosch is based on Genesis 6:1–4

The Nephilim (/ˈnɛfɪˌlɪm/; Hebrew: נְפִילִים) are mysterious beings or people mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.[1] They are large and strong;[1] the word Nephilim is loosely translated as giants in some Bibles but left untranslated in others. Some Jews think they were fallen angels. They are mentioned in Genesis, Numbers and Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible. People aren't sure who the Nephilim were.[1][2]

The Biblical book Numbers 13:33 says that they later lived in Canaan at the time that Israel conquered Canaan.

A similar Hebrew term, read as "Nephilim" by some scholars, or as the word "fallen" by others, appears in the Biblical book Ezekiel 32:27.[3][4]

What are Nephilim[change | change source]

Some people think Nephilim are Giants,[5] others Fallen Angels,[6] others to be the result of angels mating with humans,[7][8][9] and some that they descended from the Biblical figures of Seth and Cain.[10][11][12]

Brown-Driver-Briggs thought that nephilim are "giants".[13] Robert Baker Girdlestone thought that they are 'those that cause others to fall down'.[14] Ronald Hendel thinks that it means 'ones who have fallen'.[15][16]

The majority of ancient biblical translations think they were "giants".[17] Symmachus thought they were "the violent ones"[18][19][20] and Aquila thought they were either "the fallen ones"[18] or "the ones falling [upon their enemies]".[20][21]

Some Jews believe that the Nephilim had children called Elioud. Aramaics think that Nephilim refer to the children of Orion.[22][23] J. C. Greenfield thinks that the Nephilim is based on bad things in Sumerian beliefs.[24] Early Arabs thought that fallen angels were sent to Earth looking like men, and they mated with humans.[25][26]

Mentions of Nephilim in the Hebrew Bible[change | change source]

In Genesis 6:4:

The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them; the same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.[27]

In Numbers 13:32–33,:

And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come of the Nephilim; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.[27]

In Ezekiel 32:27:

They lie with the warriors, the Nephilim of old, who descended to Sheol with their weapons of war. They placed their swords beneath their heads and their shields upon their bones, for the terror of the warriors was upon the land of the living.[28]

The Sons of God Saw the Daughters of Men That They Were Fair, sculpture by Daniel Chester French.

Idea about nephilim fossils[change | change source]

Cotton Mather thought that fossilized leg bones and teeth discovered near Albany, New York, in 1705, were the remains of Nephilim who died in a great flood, though paleontologists thought they were mastodon remains instead.[29][30]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Nephilim". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-11-06.
  2. Doedens, J. J. T. (2019). The Sons of God in Genesis 6:1–4: Analysis and History of Exegesis. BRILL. pp. 75–76. ISBN 978-90-04-39590-9. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  3. For the view that "Nephilim" appear explicitly in Ezekiel 32, see Hendel, Ronald S. "Of Demigods and the Deluge: Toward an Interpretation of Genesis 6:1–4". Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 106, no. 1, 1987, p. 22. JSTOR 3260551.
  4. For the view that the term "Nephilim" does not appear explicitly in Ezekiel 32:27, but that a related word is used to deliberately refer to the traditions about Nephilim, see Doak, Brian R. "Ezekiel's Topography of the (Un-)Heroic Dead in Ezekiel 32:17–32". Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 132, no. 3, 2013, pp. 607–624. JSTOR 23487889.
  5. Kosior, Wojciech (22 May 2018), "The Fallen (Or) Giants? The Gigantic Qualities of the Nefilim in the Hebrew Bible", in Waligórska, Magdalena; Kohn, Tara (eds.), Jewish Translation – Translating Jewishness, De Gruyter, pp. 17–38, doi:10.1515/9783110550788-002, ISBN 978-3-11-055078-8
  6. Kosior, Wojciech (2010-01-01). "The Sons of Gods and the Daughters of Man. The Cosmic Misalliance and Its Effects in Genesis 6:1-6 (Synowie bogów i córki człowieka. Kosmiczny "mezalians" i jego efekty w Księdze Rodzaju 6:1-6)". Ex Nihilo. Periodyk młodych religioznawców 1(3)/2010, pp. 68-83.
  7. New American Bible, footnotes page 1370, referring to verse 6.
    The angels too, who did not keep to their own domain but deserted their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains, in gloom, for the judgement of the great day. Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the surrounding towns, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual promiscuity and practiced unnatural vice, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
    —Jude 1:6–7, New American Bible.
  8. "Matthew 22:30"., from the New American Standard Bible translation.
  9. Bob Deffinbaugh, Genesis: From Paradise to Patriarchs, The Sons of God and the Daughters of Men
  10. "The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of the nobles would come to the daughters of man, and they would bear for them; they are the mighty men, who were of old, the men of renown."—Genesis 6:4 ( translation)
  11. Later Judaism and almost all the earliest ecclesiastical writers identify the "sons of God" with the fallen angels; but from the fourth century onwards, as the idea of angelic natures becomes less material, the Fathers commonly take the "sons of God" to be Seth's descendants and the "daughters of men" those of Cain.
    —Jerusalem Bible, Genesis VI, footnote.
  13. Brown, Francis; Driver, S. R.; Briggs, Charles A. (1907). A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. p. 658; p. 658.
  14. Girdlestone R. (1871) Synonyms of the Old Testament: Their Bearing on Christian Faith and Practice. p. 91
  15. Auffarth, Christoph; Stuckenbruck, Loren T. (22 February 2004). "The Nephilim were on the Earth: Genesis 6:1–4 and its ancient Near Eastern context". In Auffarth, C.; Stuckenbruck, L.T. (eds.). The Fall of the Angels. Brill. pp. 21–34. ISBN 978-90-04-12668-8.
  16. Marks, Herbert (Spring 1995). "Biblical naming and poetic etymology". Journal of Biblical Literature. 114 (1): 21–42. doi:10.2307/3266588. JSTOR 3266588.
  17. Van Ruiten, Jacques (2000). Primaeval History Interpreted: The rewriting of Genesis I–II in the Book of Jubilees. Brill. p. 189. ISBN 978-90-04-11658-0.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Wright, Archie T. (2005). The Origin of Evil Spirits: The reception of Genesis 6.1–4 in early Jewish literature. Mohr Siebeck. pp. 80–81. ISBN 978-3-16-148656-2.
  19. The Greek translation reads 'οι βιαιοι; the singular root βιαιος means "violence" or "forcible" (Liddell & Scott, eds. (1883). Greek–English Lexicon. New York, Harper – via Internet Archive (
  20. 20.0 20.1 Stackhouse, Thomas (1869). A History of the Holy Bible. Blackie & Son. p. 53.
  21. England) Rich Seminar on the Hexapla (1994 Oxford (1998). Origen's Hexapla and Fragments: Papers Presented at the Rich Seminar on the Hexapla, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, [July] 25th-3rd August 1994. Mohr Siebeck. p. 190. ISBN 978-3-16-146575-8.
  22. e.g. Peake's commentary on the Bible 1919
  23. Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon p. 658; Strongs H5307
  24. Karel van der Toorn; Bob Becking, Pieter Willem van der Horst (1999). Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 72–4. ISBN 978-0-8028-2491-2.
  25. Reed, Annette Y. ""Fallen Angels and the Afterlives of Enochic Traditions in Early Islam&quot". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)[permanent dead link]
  26. El-Zein, Amira (2009). Islam, Arabs, and Intelligent World of the Jinn. Syracuse University Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-8156-5070-6.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Pentateuch. Jewish Publication Society. 1917.
  28. Hendel, Robert S. (1987). "Of demigods and the deluge: Towards an interpretation of Genesis 6:1–4". Journal of Biblical Literature. 106 (1): 22. doi:10.2307/3260551. JSTOR 3260551.
  29. Rigal, Laura (2001). American Manufactory: Art, Labor, and the World of Things in the Early Republic. Princeton University Press. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-691-08951-5.
  30. Rose, Mark (November–December 2005). "When Giants Roamed the Earth". Archaeology. 58 (6). Retrieved 15 October 2014.

Other websites[change | change source]