Who Were the Nephilim?
Genesis 6 and Numbers 13—a fresh look
by Bodie Hodge on July 9, 2008
Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God (bene Elohim) saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.
Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God (bene Elohim) came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.1
Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. 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.”
Genesis 6 and Numbers 13 (pre-Flood and post-Flood) list the term “Nephilim” that has been the center of discussion for many years. At this point, the identity of the Nephilim and the sons of God is still being debated in Christian circles.2 There is a popular unbiblical view that the Nephilim are space aliens. Of course, most creationists rightly reject this particular view for multiple reasons, but that is not for the discussion in this chapter.
Of the views with some biblical support, some believe that fallen angels bred with women and resulted in giants called Nephilim. Some believe the sons of God were the result of fallen angels who overtook ungodly men to breed with women.
There is a great deal of confusion over the word Nephilim. No one today really knows what it means.
Some believe they were the Sethites (descendants of Adam’s son Seth). There are some minor views as well, such as kings, rulers, or heads of leading family groups as being godly from Psalm 82. This view has many similarities to the Sethite view but eliminates many of Seth’s descendants and merely keeps with the leaders/kings (as well as some other leaders of other tribes) as godly. So, I will now leave this minor view out and discuss the Sethite view, which should encompass it for the most part. Another variation of the Sethite view is that these godly men had relations with ungodly women, and the offspring followed after other “gods” as opposed to God—and “fell away” in tremendous ways. This is called the “fallen men” view. There are other minor views as well as other minor non-biblical views but these are the primary ones I will discuss.
There is a great deal of confusion over the word Nephilim. No one today really knows what it means. It is related to the verb series “to fall” (naphal) in Hebrew, which is why some direct this to fallen angels or more appropriately, the offspring thereof. However, this also gives strong support to the view that men had fallen away from God. It was these two concepts that helped give rise to the various views mentioned above.
Many have associated the Nephilim with giants. Giant traits may not have been limited to Nephilim alone: Goliath, a giant, was not considered Nephilim. As mentioned, the term Nephilim is unclear in definition. It is related to the verb “to fall” and the King James Version translates it as giants from the influence of the Latin Vulgate’s (early Latin translation by Jerome) term gigantes as well as the context from Numbers 13. The context of Genesis 6 does not reveal they were giants. There may have been some influence on the Latin Vulgate by the Septuagint’s (Greek translation of the Old Testament about 200–300 years before Christ) use of Greek word gigentes.
For full article, see: https://answersingenesis.org/bible-characters/who-were-the-nephilim/