In the Torah and several non-canonical Jewish and early Christian writings, nephilim (in Hebrew הנּפלים means those causing others to fall) are a people created by the crossbreeding of the "sons of God" (benei elohim, בני האלהים) and the "daughters of men". (See Genesis 6:1.) The word nephilim is loosely translated as giants or titans in some translations of the Bible, and is left as nephilim in others.
The origination of the Nephilim begins with a story of the fallen angels. Shemhazai, an angel of high rank, led a rebel sect of angels in a descent to earth to instruct humans in righteousness. The tutelage went on for a few centuries, but soon the angels pined for the human females. After lusting, the fallen angels instructed the women in magic and conjuring, mated with them, and produced hybrid offspring: the Nephilim. Template:Fact
The Nephilim were gigantic in stature. Their strength was prodigious and their appetites immense. Upon devouring all of humankind's resources, they began to consume humans themselves. The Nephilim attacked and oppressed humans and were the cause of massive destruction on the earth.
The traditional Jewish view, deriving from the Book of Enoch, is that the fathers of the nephilim, the "sons of God", were the Grigori (also called the Watchers); however, there is some controversy on this point (Targum Yonathan) . Some commentators have suggested that the nephilim were believed to have been fathered by members of a Hebrew pantheon and are a brief glimpse of early Hebrew religion, most of the details of which was later edited out from the Torah, and that this passage may have offered monotheistic Hebrews a way to fit semi-divine pagan heroes into their cosmogony. However, the idea that the Torah was somehow changed is not in keeping with traditional Hebrews|Hebrew practice, in which if even a single character is out of place in a parchment translation of the original Hebrew Torah, the entire parchment must be destroyed and replaced anew.
Others, especially some |Christians, suggest the "sons of God" were fully human. It is sometimes suggested that ridding the Earth of these nephilim was one of God's purposes for flooding the Earth in Noah's time.
Despite the literal text of the Bible and its traditional interpretation, the idea that heavenly beings mated with humans is controversial, particularly among many Christians, who cite an interpretation of the teaching of Jesus in the Book of Matthew that Angels do not marry; however, they may take the verse in question out of context, because Jesus said that the resurrected do not marry in heaven, but are "as the angels". Others who find the idea of angels mating with humans as distasteful have suggested more figurative interpretations of the nephilim, such as the idea that they were the offspring of men possessed by demons. In the more modern light of an alien abduction scenario, some have speculated a form of artificial insemination being implemented.
Still others, including the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Latter-day Saints, take the view of Genesis 6:1 that the allusion refers to some men, from the godly lineage of Seth, called sons of God (an expression denoting those in covenant relationship with Yahweh - cf. Deuteronomy 14:1; 32:5), began to pursue fleshly interests, and so took wives of the daughters of men, i.e., those who were descended of Cain. Not only is this unequivocally stated in most Orthodox versions of ' Enoch and Jubilees, but this is also the view presented in a few extra-biblical, yet ancient works, particularly the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan.
According to several ancient works, including Enoch and Jubilees, as well as 2 Peter 2:4 and Epistle of Jude 1:6 in the New Testament, the fallen angels who produced the Nephilim were cast into Tartarus (Gehenna), a place of 'total darkness'. However, Jubilees also states that God granted ten percent of the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim to remain after the flood as demons, to try to lead the human race astray (through idolatry, occult, etc.) until the final Judgement.
Other Hebrew words sometimes interpreted as "Giants"
In the Hebrew Old Testament, there are a number of other words that, like "Nephilim", are sometimes translated as "giants": Emim (Heb: 'the fearful ones'), Rephaim (Heb: 'the dead ones'), and Anakim (Heb: 'the long-necked ones'). This has led to a great deal of confusion, even to the point of medieval legends recounted in the Talmud of a giant stowing away on Noah's Ark. However, it is possible that these names in the Torah were not meant to signify any antediluvian race that survived the Great Flood, but may have denoted groups of Canaanites.
The Book of Joshua refers to "Og king of Bashan", who "had survived as one of the last of the Rephaim." The Rephaim may have been the same Canaanite group known to the Moabites as Emim, i.e., "fearful", (Deuteronomy 2:11), and to the Ammon (nation)|Ammonites as Zamzummim. The second of the Books of Samuel states that some of them found refuge among the Philistines, and were still existing in the days of David. Nothing is known of their origin, nor anything specifically connecting them with Nephilim.
See also : Valley of Rephaim
In the Torah, the Anakim are the descendants of Anak, and dwelt in the south of Palestine, in the neighbourhood of Hebron. In the days of Abraham, they inhabited the region afterwards known as Edom and Moab, east of the Jordan river. They are mentioned during the report of the spies about the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. The book of Joshua states that Joshua finally expelled them from the land, excepting a remnant that found a refuge in the cities of Gaza, Gath_(city)|Gath, and Ashdod. The Philistine giant Goliath, whom David later encountered, was supposedly a descendant of the Anakim.
It is interesting to note that the Sumerians called their gods the Annunaki. Abraham, being the son of an idol maker in the Chaldean city of Ur, would have known of these gods. (Midrash ) Thus, the words Anak and Anakim (plural) could be bastardized versions of Annunaki. This would equate the Nephilim with the Sumerian "demigods" such as Gilgamesh.
Note that it is more commonly suggested by traditional Jewish sources (such as the Midrash) that the spies saw large and powerful inhabitants in Canaan and because of their own fears, cowardice, and inadequate faith in YHVH, saw themselves as grasshoppers in the eyes of the Canaanites, whether they were actual 'giants' or not.
Nephilim in other works
The story of the Nephilim is chronicled more fully in the Book of Enoch (part of Ethiopian biblical canon).
There are also allusions to these descendants in the dedeuterocanonical books: Book of Judith, Sirach, Book of Baruch, 3 Maccabees, and Book of Wisdom.
Nephilim in parahistory
There have been many interesting attempts to reconcile mythology with science; many have theorized that mythology can and does contain grains of truth in the form of a highly distorted "folk memory".
In this context, the Nephilim have been associated with inhabitants of Atlantis that allegedly descended from extraterrestrials. The most prevalent theory among those that accept the correlation between science and the Bible is that the Nephilim were actually surviving Neanderthals, or a Homo sapiens-Neanderthal hybrid.
It is believed by some people that modern man shared several thousand years of history with Neanderthals, and also that the Middle-Eastern region was home to some of the last surviving pockets of Homo sapiens neandertalensis or H. neandertalensis. Therefore, it is conceivable that a folk memory of these creatures survived by way of mythology. In addition, it appears that the very last Neanderthals adopted some of the technological and cultural innovations of their H. sapiens contemporaries. The theory is that surviving Neanderthals or hybrids might have been large, powerful men possessing the intellect and societal characteristics of our own species, which would explain their identification as "mightiest ones" and "men of renown." One flaw in this theory is that H. neanderthalensis were slightly shorter than H. sapiens. On the other hand, they were giants compared to their even shorter predecessors, Australopithecus and Homo habilis.
Zecharia Sitchin and Erich Von Daniken both claim that the Nephilim are our ancestors and that we were created by an alien race. In Sitchin's voluminous works he uses Semitic language etymology and translations of Sumerian cuneiform tablets to equate the ancient mesopotamian gods with the fallen angels (the "sons of Elohim" in Genesis). Seeing that all angels were created before the Earth, they can not be from the Earth... and thus, they could all be considered "extra-terrestrial" semantically. (see:Ancient astronaut theory)
David Icke has a similar theory, in which interdimensional reptilian beings somehow created offspring through genetic engineering, whose traits are large stature, light skin, and susceptibility to any form of hypnotic suggestion (which, he states, is when the demons possess their offspring and demand allegiance), and that this bloodline has been in control of the world from the days of Sumer to today.
Cultural references to Nephilim