The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

Who are the Nephilim – Aliens, Demons or Just Plain Folk? (Part 4)

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Identifying the Players

Since we have dismissed the alien and fallen angel interpretations, we are still left with identifying the “daughters of men” and the Nephilim in Genesis 6. Our methodology remains basic: let the Bible interpret itself.

The Sons of God

The actions of the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1–4 are probably similar to those described in Judges 2:10–12:

And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals, and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they proved the LORD to anger.

Substitute “sons of God” for “sons of Israel,” and you have a pretty good idea of what was going on when the “sons of God” took the “daughters of men” as “wives for themselves” (Gen. 6:2). By this time in the history of Adam’s race—who if you recall is described as “the son of God” (Luke 3:38)—the faithful descendants have grown scarce. The intermingling of the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (Gen. 3:15) becomes final with only a remnant left to save (6:5–8).

The Daughters of Men

The “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” are unequally yoked in marriage. Notice that the two groups intermarry. This is a clear indication that the relationships are conventional and not an attempt by fallen angels to create a super race of half-human/half-demonic beings. The godly line of Adam compromised their faith and yoked themselves with the ungodly, of which we know appeared early in recorded history (Gen. 4:8, 19, 23). The Israelites are constantly warned not to marry the “daughters of” the ungodly. Isaac was not to take for himself a wife “from the daughters of the Canaanites” (Gen. 24:3). The same charge was given to Jacob (28:1). Esau, the rejected son, “took his wives from the daughters of Canaan” (36:2). One of the signs of apostasy is when the godly intermarry non-believers: “While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab” (Num. 25:1). Paul takes up this theme in the New Testament: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever” (2 Cor. 6:14–15)?

The “sons of God” had become politically powerful. We know from Psalm 82:6 that rulers are described as “gods [elohim] . . . sons of the Most High” (see John 10:34 and Ex. 21:6). Earlier in Psalm 82 we are told that these judges do not follow God’s pattern of justice and “judge unjustly” by showing “partiality to the wicked” (82:2). They are said to “walk about in darkness” (82:5). In order to increase their power, the “sons of God” of Genesis 6 take multiple wives and thereby increase their rulership and familial connections. “In this transgression,” Meredith Kline writes “[the sons of God] flagrantly violated the sacred trust of their office as guardians of the general ordinances of God for human conduct.”[1]

Their Offspring

As we’ll see, the offspring of the union between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” are not the Nephilim. “[T]he offspring of [Gen. 6:4] are depicted as mighty men which were of old, men of renown, i.e., men who made a name for themselves, a reputation. Compare Nimrod, a city founder, called a mighty one in the earth in Gen. 10:8, and a mighty hunter before the LORD in 10:9. . . . [T]he context certainly provides a proper hermeneutic for understanding this in the light of the culture and language of the day. City building in 4:17, polygamy in 4:19, tyranny in 4:23–24, along with leaders taking law and order into their own hands for personal benefits, and warfare among the leaders in 4:23–24 are all described.”[2]

The Nephilim

In the alien and fallen angel views, the Nephilim are thought to be the offspring of the union between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men.” A careful reading of the text will show that there is no causal relationship. The Nephilim were already present: “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward. . .” (Gen. 6:4). We read about the Nephilim later in biblical history in Numbers 13:33 where nothing is said about the “sons of God” and “daughters of men”: “There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” The Bible mentions the “sons of the Anakim” as being a “great and tall” people (Deut. 9:2). Of course, there’s also Goliath “whose height was six cubits and a span” (1 Sam. 17:4).

These four brief articles were designed to bring some sanity into the discussion of the Bible. Too many Christians want to believe the sensational over what’s biblical.

Endnotes:

[1] Meredith G. Kline, “Divine Kingship and Genesis 6:1–4,” Westminster Theological Journal, 24 (1962), 196.
[2] Stephen R. Schrader, “Genesis,” Liberty Bible Commentary: Old Testament (Lynchburg, VA: The Old-Time Gospel Hour, 1982), 30.

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