““When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them,
The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.
Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them.
They were the heroes of old, men of renown.” - Genesis 6: 1 – 4
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been hearing about the mysterious Nephilim ever since I was a kid in Sunday School. And, frankly, they fascinated me. I mean, why wouldn’t they? These mysterious “sons of God” (sometimes called “Sons of Heaven”) coming down to marry the “daughters of man.” Kind of romantic, don’t you think?
But who were the Nephilim?
Well, if you listen to most modern day churches (at least the ones I spent any time in), the Nephilim were “fallen angels” sent to earth for being naughty. I’m not sure how sending them to earth was going to solve anything. All it did was make them more naughty. I mean, they were all making the sexy (GASP!). With girls (GASP!). And having babies and stuff. SHOCKING!
Pretty indicative of the Puritanical foundations of my fair country and it’s churches, if you ask me. Making the sexy = BAD. Therefore God had to go and smash everything like a child having a temper tantrum.
Maybe some will call that sacrilegious, but it makes no sense to me. What does make a little more sense are passages in the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilee. European churches tossed these books out ages ago as being of “questionable origin.” (Erm, excuse me, aren’t ALL the books of the Bible of rather questionable origin? Unless you’re a several thousand year-old creature who was THERE when they were being written. No?)
In any case, according to these books, the Nephilim weren’t necessarily fallen angels, but rather “Watchers.” Those charged with keeping an eye on humanity. Some think they were already here on Earth when they first cast eyes on sexy human women, while others believe that they chose to leave heaven and go against the dictates of “the god” in order to be with these beautiful women (Not a lot of women in heaven, apparently).
Whichever way you want to go, the end result was that the Nephilim (Watchers) ended up making the sexy with human females and having giant children who were insanely greedy and violent, not to mention cannibals.
Even worse, the Nephilim taught humans the arts of sorcery and war. Niiiiice. Of course, they also taught useful things like astronomy and the movements of the moon and tides. Good stuff. So, I guess you could say there were good Nephilim and bad Nephilim. But eventually the humans called out to God (though in some instances it’s claimed the good angels called God’s attention to the FUBAR) and God saved humanity by, uh, killing them. With a flood. A flood which killed off everyone but Noah and his family (because he was a good man and didn’t go around fornicating), but unfortunately left some of the Nephilim still alive.
Yeah, that worked out well. Because we’re so peaceful and stuff now.
But this is not the end of the theories on the Nephilim.
According to the Ancient Astronaut theory, the Nephilim were actually not angels at all, but alien beings. Only instead of making the sexy, they were running some kind of hybrid breeding program. The giants (and other weird creatures of mythology) were early experiments gone badly awry.
You can see how our ancient ancestors would mistake aliens for gods or angles. I mean, they had SPACESHIPS, for crying out loud. They were powerful in ways that couldn’t be explained with the knowledge of the time and so it was considered “magic” instead of the advanced technology and science it really was. Therefore, perfectly ordinary beings became gods.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
-Arthur C. Clarke
So, what is the truth?
Were Nephilim bad angels sent to earth as punishment? Were they Watchers who fell in love and chose to leave? Or were they beings from another world? “Sons of Heaven” in the literal sense.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as theories and opinions go.
Either way, it’s an interesting little side-note in the annals of our history. One I wish they’d spent a little more time on.
Can you imagine the stories a writer could get out of that tiny little bit of information? A forbidden romance between an angel and a human. A bloodthirsty conflict between two warring angel races with humans caught in the middle. Aliens visiting earth for mysterious purposes.
Oh, yeah, lots of fodder.
What’s your theory?