Who were the Nephilim in Genesis?
The Nephilim (fallen ones) were Satan’s angels mingling with humankind before the flood. They were contemporaries of the angelic “sons of God” who sinned (Gen. 6:4), NOT their offspring (who are called “men of renown”). The Nephilim are mentioned first in Gen. 6:4 because they conspired with humans (Gen. 6:1-2) seducing the angelic “sons of God” to leave their proper abode (2 Pt. 2:4; Jude 1:6-7) and take human wives (Gen. 6:1-2).
The classic view regaining popularity today claims the Nephilim are the offspring of these human-angelic unions, not Satan’s fallen angels. The view is largely based upon the Book of Enoch which recent scholarship has show John the apostle rejected.
Article update here
While the understanding of the Nephilim in Num. 13:33 is quite concrete, Gen. 6:4 is vague. As a result, Num. 13:33 is sometimes used to interpret Gen 6:4. Many interpreters follow Num. 13:33 of the MT and equate the Nephilim in Gen. 6:4 with the giants of the post-flood period (compare Kline, “Divine Kingship and Genesis 6:1–4,” 197n30). This interpretive method is then superimposed upon Gen. 6:4a, making the Nephilim the semidivine, giant offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of men.-Peterson, B. N. (2016). Nephilim. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
“Sometimes used” misstates its universality, “always used” is the fact even where its not directly cited for it forms the bridge to the Anakim, Rephaim, Emim and Zamzummim (Deut. 2:10-11, 20) and all interpreters have inferred from that. In other words, everything reported in scripture regarding “giants” “mighty men” etc. after the flood, is irrelevant immaterial and incompetent towards the meaning of the Nephilim. They didn’t exist on earth after the Flood.
The LXX translators render the Hebrew term “Nephilim” as γιγαντες (gigantes), meaning “giants.” However, older versions of the LXX render “Nephilim” merely as “assailants” or “violent men” (compare Green, The Unity of the Book of Genesis, 57). The LXX writers likely made an interpretive call, probably influenced by Num 13:33.-Peterson, B. N. Already Cited above.
Moses sent spies ahead to weigh the risk of conquering new land (Num. 12:17-20). His admonition “be ye of good courage” (Num. 13:20) implies these spies weren’t the bravest of men. Although they came back with a glowing report of the land, they claimed the people were too powerful to defeat, adding some of them were “giants” the children of Anak (Num. 13:28-29).
Caleb didn’t share their cowardice, he “stilled the people…let us go up at once…for we are well able to overcome” (Num. 13:30). Caleb was winning the argument until the lying spies exaggerated the threat the children of Anak posed:
The interpretive mistake to take the word of these cowards the children of Anak come from the Nephilim when Scripture emphatically declares everyone alive in Noah’s day died in the flood, which includes the Nephilim (Gen. 7:21-23). Moreover, as spies that information (if not invented by them) had to come from a claim of the Anak themselves. Is it wise their acceptance of Anakim self-aggrandizement be accepted against the teaching of scripture all the Nephilim died in the flood? On what basis is that sound, their scholarship? Their keen appraisal of the threat?
Repeating “Nephilim” in Num. 13:33 indicates these spies were unhinged, terrified Moses would send them in. Clearly they lied about these being “Nephilim” to win the argument. Caleb proved he was right by defeating three of these sons of Anak (Josh. 15:14). Its stated so briefly it is implied it wasn’t much of a fight, Caleb easily dispatched them and therefore the cowardly spies had lied. Although “tall”, we have no sound basis to accept that is relevant to the Nephilim (Deut. 2:10-11).
The telescoped prophecy in the book of Revelation sheds light on this.
Satan had cast down a third of his angels to stop the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15; Rev. 12:3-5). Then it fast-forwards to Christ’s ascension (Rev. 12:5) and then to Lady Zion’s flight into the wilderness symbolic of God’s special protection in the midst of apostasy (2 Th. 2:3-4, 9-12). During this end time Michael and his angels cast Satan and his angels out of heaven, implying they had returned to heaven to avoid dying in the flood (Rev. 12:7-12).
It is implied by the lifting of the restraint of evil in the end time, which did not restrain the spirit of antichrist teaching doctrines of devils (2 Th. 2:2; 1 Jn. 2:18-22), that God was restraining the reappearance of the Nephilim on the earth after the flood (2 Thess. 2:6-7; Rev. 9:1-2, 14-15).
Its time to make a decision, either believe Scripture the Nephilim did not exist on earth after the flood or believe the cowardly spies. If you accept the report of the spies, then everything else said about giants after the flood is relevant and my position is wrong. If not, then follow my exegesis that restricts itself to God’s Word and lets deduce from Genesis alone who the Nephilim were and what they were likely doing in Noah’s day.
If you choose to believe Scripture, read on. Otherwise, have a nice day.
In the Days of Noah mankind joined Satan’s rebellion against God hoping to gain immortality for their children. Giving their beautiful daughters to the Nephilim Fallen Angels they enticed the angels of God watching over mankind to leave their proper habitation and take human wives of their own, whoever they chose. As God gave man dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:26-27) the ultimate blame for the fall of the Sons of God rests upon them.
1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.- (Gen. 6:1-4 KJV)
6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (Jude 1:6-7 KJV)
Lest Adam and Eve eat of the tree of life and become immortal, God drove them from the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24). The earth’s population soon numbered in the billions, and among them walked Satan’s Angels the “Nephilim” (Gen. 6:4 05303 נְפִיל “fallen ones”). These contended with God’s angels (01121 בֵּן 0430 אֱלֹהִים “sons of God”) for the hearts and minds of mankind.
Satan offered man a “work around” God’s denial of immortality, claiming sexual unions with angels would produce immortal offspring. So the first human/satanic conspiracy against God was born, Nephilim flaunted their relations with the beautiful daughters of men seducing God’s angels to depart from their chaste habitation to go after “strange flesh”, taking as a wife whomever they chose.
Then the LORD YHWH ordained their pact with Satan would not stand, His Spirit will not contend with that evil and wicked generation forever, in that they are flesh (confirmed sinners). Accordingly, all will end in a flood in 120 years.
“There were giants”, past tense. These fallen angels (Nephilim ESV; Giants KJV) are mentioned first because they conspired with men parading their illicit unions before the angels of God to seduce them.
God’s threat doesn’t slow them down one bit, after that they continued to have relations with the daughters of men and produce hybrid children who indeed were mighty like the angels, but they would die physically like men in the flood. They were men of renown who built the megalithic structures that exist today all over the earth and under the sea. These also were terrible men of war greatly feared, given to drinking the blood of whatever they killed, animals or men (Gen. 9:3-6).
The global flood killed all on earth having the breath of life, just as God promised in Gen. 6:3. God’s angels who sinned were separated from their hybrid human offspring. They were driven into Tartarus to be bound in chains suffering in dense darkness to await the day of their judgment (Gen. 7:21-23; Jude 1:6-7; 2 Pet. 2:4)
The hybrid human/angel “mighty men” who refused to believe Noah’s preaching that God would forgive their “Frankenstein nature”, but otherwise were not evil rebels against God—went to a special prison separated from both humans and angels. Christ descended into hell preaching forgiveness to these and those who gave the answer of a good conscience towards God in like figure to the church were saved post-mortem (Eph. 4:8; 1 Pet. 3:18-20 Rotherham).
The unclean spirits of the Nephilim who died physically in the flood are later seen wandering the earth as unclean spirits (Lk 4:33; Rev. 18:2) or rising from the abyss (Rev. 9:3) as demon locusts. Why did they suffer different fates? Perhaps, those guilty of corrupting the image of God in man via hybrid children were punished in the abyss, but those who had not allowed to remain above ground joining the unclean spirits of the hybrid human/angel children. Both classes of unclean spirits desperately seek a token of corporeality by possessing insects, animals and men.
Satan and his angels not caught on earth when the Deluge came, remained in the TELEIOS until the end time when Michael and his angels cast them out (Rev. 12:7-9, 12) and these will appear disguised as the Dragon’s army and fleet of extraterrestrial warships (Rev. 16:12-14; Dan. 11:36-39; 8:10; 9:27).
The abrupt change of subject, the subordination of Gen. 6:1 to Gen. 6:2, this section explains why the Flood happened.
This was an evil generation (Gen. 6:5-6), these daughters may have been out of wedlock, not under authority (cp. 1 Cor. 11:10)?
“When … Began” (02490 חָלַל chalal):
Unlike the hiphil form in verse 1…translated as a niphal, meaning “to be profaned, or polluted”. The resulting translation…”And it happened that the polluted part of humanity [perhaps those who are defiling the name of the Lord ] became great [or many] upon the face of the earth and daughters were born to them.”-Wright, Archie T. The Origin of Evil Spirits 2nd Edition (2015), p. 58
Sons of God are angels Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7. Seputagint agrees (ángeloi toú theoú.) as do the apostles (2 Pet. 2:4-5; Jude 1:6). Christ said angels in heaven don’t marry (Mat. 22:29-30; Mk. 12:24-25; Lk. 20:34-36) begging the question if apostate angels on earth can. Its inconsistent those who speculate angels “materialize physical forms” to appear physically, can’t fashion the equipment necessary for sex.
They took wives (plural) for themselves, although they surely knew God’s standard was monogamy (Mat. 19:5-6). “Whomever they chose”, ruling out these were arranged marriages.
 The traditional “abide in” is a guess lacking any linguistic support.”-Speiser, E. A. (2008). Genesis: Introduction, Translation, and Notes (Vol. 1, p. 44). New Haven; London: Yale University Press.
The KJV “strive” fits the context best. We can infer from Gen. 3:22 men craved immortality, and this explains mating with immortals. No way God would be locked in battle with reprobates forever, He will cancel this covenant with death, all the immortals would die like men in 120 years in the Deluge (Gen. 7:21-23).
“Not strive with (“flesh”=) corrupt man forever” (Gen. 6:12), God would end it 120 years.
Moses wouldn’t have God contradicting Himself, set human life span to 120 years then record they lived much longer after the flood (Gen. 11:10-32). Therefore, God would end the “workaround” to immortality by a flood in 120 years.
“There were giants (05303 נְפִיל nephiyl) in those days”, past tense and connecting it to Gen. 6:1-2 before. Whether they were “giant” in size, or this is figurative of their status as “giants among men having great accomplishments” isn’t certain. They are definitely giants in Num. 13:33. Perhaps both are correct. I prefer the transliteration “Nephilim” meaning “fallen ones” as they are Satan’s angels fallen from heaven. As contemporaries who were instrumental in the fall of the “sons of God” they certainly are not the offspring mentioned later in the verse.
Both the “sons of God” and the Nephilim died physically in the flood, note the emphatic “all that was on dry land died” (Gen. 7:21-23). Angels still possessing their physical bodies are never called “spirits” except once (hapax legomenon) in Heb. 1:14 where they are “ministering spirits” conflating Heb. 1:7 — “Makes his angels [fast] like the wind, his ministers a [consuming] flame of fire.”
In this exposition far too much weight is laid on the term πνεύματα* in Heb. 1:14, and the decisive statement in the verse is completely neglected… the fact that it is here an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον* ought to restrain us. The context does not give us any compelling reason for calling angels πνεύματα*… It is thus better to leave this definition rather colourless. The essential determination of πνεύματα* is not the fact that they are πνεύματα*, but the fact that they are λειτουργικὰ πνεύματα*, i.e., incomprehensible beings which have a sacred office.-Barth, K., Bromiley, G. W., & Torrance, T. F. (2004). Church dogmatics: The doctrine of creation, Part 3 (3rd ed., Vol. 3, p. 453). London; New York: T&T Clark.
The Nephilim were “demons”, what survived the death of their corporeal nature are therefore the “spirits OF demons” in Rev. 16:14 (cp. Ac. 23:8, 9). The unscriptural claim angels materialize physical forms when entering our sphere is a massive violation of Occam’s Razor, arising from the ruling against their corporeality ordained by the Fourth Lateran Council. That angels create living bodies to wear as clothing proposes they have creative power reserved for God alone (Deut. 32:39) and is both fantastical and bizarre. Angels physically (Jdg. 6:11) transit the Multiverse from the TELEIOS to our MEROS (1 Cor. 13:10)—through an “opening” or “portal” connecting the realms (Mk. 9:1-7; Gen. 28:12; 2 Ki. 2:11; Ezek. 1:1; Joh. 1:51; Ac. 7:56; Rev. 4:1; 19:11).
The Nephilim did not survive the Flood, the “Nephilim” in Num. 13:33 notwithstanding. Calling them “Nephilim” to exaggerate their size was meant to sow fear among the Israelites, who were beginning to believe Caleb (Num. 13:25-33) they should not fear. That they were NOT Nephilim is clear from Caleb defeating three of these sons of Anak (Josh. 15:14). Although “tall”, it is obvious they were not Nephilim (Deut. 2:10-11).
“Mighty men” having great physical strength. “Men of renown”, famous. Judging by the megaliths at Pumapunku and elsewhere, perhaps renowned also for technological skill.
“Preached to the spirits in Prison” (1 Pet. 3:17-22): “Spirits” in the NT always refers to nonhuman spiritual beings unless qualified (as, e.g., in Heb. 12:23; see Matt. 12:45; Mark 1:23, 26; 3:30; Luke 10:20; Acts 19:15–16; 16:16; 23:8–9; Eph. 2:2; Heb. 1:14; 12:9; Rev. 16:13, 14).”- Davids, P. H. (1990). The First Epistle of Peter (pp. 139). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: According to Genesis 2:7 the “substance of the human soul is the divine spirit of life uniting itself with matter.”-Oehler, G. F., & Day, G. E. (1883). Theology of the Old Testament (p. 150). New York; London: Funk & Wagnalls. When the body dies the “soul” becomes a shadow of its former self (07496 רָפָא rapha’, Isa. 14:9; 26:14, 19), the separation from the animating principle in a human body renders it powerless, unable to do more than exist. Hence, at physical death angels gather godly souls to their people (Gen. 25:8) in paradise third heaven to be present with God the Eternal Son (Lk. 23:43; 2 Cor. 5:8; 12:2, 4), but the wicked immediately descend to their proper place in sheol/hades (Luke 16:22-23). Figuratively, they are powerless to stop entry through the gates of hell (Isa. 38:10; Isa. 5:14; Ezek. 32:21).
Therefore, when Christ’s human flesh was put to death, His human soul required a “quickening” by the Holy Spirit of God, and in Him Jesus went and preached to the spirits in prison whom Noah tried to convince but who were “not able to believe” (1 Pet. 3:20 544 ἀπειθέω apeitheo) God would forgive their hybrid angel/human nature and accept them. They were a special case of unbeliever and therefore saved post-mortem. That this depicts their salvation is obvious from its being in like figure to the church who gave the answer of a good conscience to God upon hearing the Gospel preached. Confirming this, Peter associates “suffering for good” with “bringing us to God” (1 Pet. 3:17-18). Therefore, this is not about a proclamation of damnation to imprisoned spirits. Indeed, that would make this antithetical to Peter’s theme, an example of cruelty, pushing spirits in prison away from God proclaiming how dammed they were (which they certainly would know) making THEM suffer for “nothing good”.