Image result for nephilim


Damien F. Mackey


Presuming that the “sons of God” of Genesis 6:2 were actually angels of the fallen variety, as many commentators will insist, then a comparison of this verse with the situation recorded in the Book of Tobit, of a very perverse kind of demon, Asmodeus, falling in love with the beautiful woman, Sarah, might help to throw some light on what this may all mean.


In my latest article:

Archangel Raphael – Binder of Demons and Healer. Part Two: An Antediluvian Visitation


I had noted that some major players in the Book of Tobit parallel some in Enoch 1, whose account of the Watchers appears to be, in turn, a recalling (albeit apocryphal) of that period described in Genesis 6, when the world prior to the Flood went so bad that God decided to destroy it (vv. 1-8):


When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their 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 humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them’. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.


I wrote:


There are some elements I find common to Enoch 1 and the Book of Tobit.


The angel Raphael, of course.

The particularly evil demon.

The female object of desire by the demon(s).

The holy man, observer and scribe.



and I continued with this attempt to make sense of those enigmatic verses of Genesis 6:2, 4:



Angel Raphael in the

Book of Enoch



The Nephilim


Whitney Hopler has written about Enoch 1, the angel Raphael, and the demons, as follows in her article, “The Watchers and Nephilim Damage Earth and Archangel Raphael Heals It”.

I give relevant parts of it here with comments


The book of 1 Enoch, which is part of the Christian and Jewish apocrypha (non-canonized books of the Bible and Torah), describes how demons (fallen angels) called the Watchers corrupt the people on Earth by teaching them a variety of sinful practices and having sex with them, creating giant offspring called Nephilim.


Mackey’s comment: The philosophically-minded (and myself as well) have great difficulty with the notion of fallen angels (demons) “having sex” with human beings. (Cf. Genesis 6:2)

It seems metaphysically absurd.

The demon Asmodeus, in the Book of Tobit, does not attempt to have sexual intercourse with Sarah, with whom he has fallen in love, but he does terminally prevent Sarah’s husbands from consummating their marriage (6:14-15):


Tobias replied to Raphael, ‘Brother Azarias, I have been told that she has already been given in marriage seven times and that each time her bridegroom has died in the bridal room. He died the same night as he entered her room; and I have heard people say it was a demon that killed them, and this makes me afraid. To her the demon does no harm because he loves her, but as soon as a man tries to approach her, he kills him’.


And I think that there may be a parallel here with the situation in that most intriguing verse of Genesis 6:2: “The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose”. The Hebrew word, nashim (נָשִׁים), translated as “wives”, appears to have a broader meaning, including e.g. “females”, “girls”.

Sarah had to suffer demonic obsession from Asmodeus, but, in other cases, the “sons of God” – presuming that this most controverted phrase actually refers to angels (gone bad) – may have possessed women at will, perhaps indicating a willingness on the part of the women. The mystical Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (d. 1824) claimed to have witnessed in vision this widespread demonic possession of antediluvian womanhood, these women being apparently willing accomplices (Life of Jesus Christ, Vol. I):


I saw Cain’s descendants becoming more and more godless and sensual. They settled further and fur­ther up that mountain ridge where were the fallen spirits. Those spirits took possession of many of the women, ruled them completely, and taught them all sorts of seductive arts. Their children were very large. They possessed a quickness, an aptitude for every­thing, and they gave themselves up entirely to the wicked spirits as their instruments. And so arose on this mountain and spread far around, a wicked race which by violence and seduction sought to entangle Seth’s posterity likewise in their own corrupt ways. Then God declared to Noe His intention to send the Deluge.

[End of quote]


Rather than the “sons of God” being the physical (impossible) progenitors of those “very large” children, presumably the Nephilim of Genesis 6:4: “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown”, they were more realistically the demonic driving force behind the human procreation of an extraordinarily different type of human being – extremely strong, clever, cunning, capable, violent and wicked.


Neanderthalic, perhaps.


Part Two: Their Nature


In his character this Azazel, as “one of the leaders of the angels who desired the daughters of men (6:4)”, is more akin to the demon, Asmodeus, of the Book of Tobit, who has fallen in love with a daughter of men, with Sarah.


The archangel Raphael is an interesting study and contrast with those spirits who had fallen.

Perfectly content being in heaven, he apparently did not volunteer to come out of his place (v. 18): ‘He wanted me to come and help you; I did not come on my own’. Not so the angels referred to by the Apostle Jude (1:6) – {in a verse that is often thought to have been influenced by Enoch 1}: “… angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day”.

For the sake of his earthly disguise, the angel Raphael will adopt a Hebrew name and patronymic (Tobit 5:10-12):


And Tobias said to him: ‘I pray thee, tell me, of what family, or what tribe art thou?’ And Raphael the angel answered: ‘Dost thou seek the family of him thou hirest, or the hired servant himself to go with thy son? But lest I should make thee uneasy, I am Azarias the son of the great Ananias’.


Commenting on this, and excusing the angel from lying, the author of the following article explains


St. Raphael did not lie


This theory of broad mental reservation may then explain how it is that St. Raphael did not lie when he said, I am Azarias the son of the great Ananias.

There is no falsehood in this statement, since “Azarias” means “the healer of YHWH” and “Ananias” means “The goodness of YHWH” or “The grace of YHWH”. Now, the Angel was then only disguising his true name (which means “God’s healer”) and testifying that he is sent into the world by God’s goodness. Thus, he gives his name through a certain riddle – but Tobit was thereby led to believe that the Angel was only a man.

Furthermore, Raphael truly states who he appeared to be. That is, the Angel truly declares who he came as. While it would have been a lie for Raphael to say, “I am not angel but only a man”, he said no such thing. Rather, he identified himself in an obscure manner and, thereby, withheld from Tobit a truth which he had no right to know.

[End of quote]


The name of the leader of the fallen angels in Enoch 1, Azazel (Heb: עֲזָאזֵל‎), though somewhat similar phonetically to Azarias, may have the meaning of “scapegoat”. However: “There is a great deal of confusion regarding the exact meaning of the word”, according to which adds:


In the retelling of the story of the sons of God and daughters of men (Gen. 6:1–4) in the First Book of Enoch, Azazel (or Azael) is one of the leaders of the angels who desired the daughters of men (6:4), and it was he who taught human beings how to manufacture weapons and ornaments (8:1–2). The identification of this Azazel with the biblical Azazel is clear from the continuation of the story, as the angel Raphael is commanded to “bind the hands and feet of Azazel and cast him into the darkness. Make an opening to the wilderness which is in Dudael and cast him there. Put upon him hard sharp rocks” (10:4–5). Dudael is the Bet Hadudo (or Bet Harudo) which is mentioned in the Mishnah (Yoma 6:8) and the association is certainly with the cliff from which the goat was cast. The remnant of a pesher (commentary) on Azazel and the angels found in Cave 4 at Qumran resembles the account in the Book of Enoch. Although the remnant is deficient, it is possible to learn from it that the pesher is dealing with Azazel and the angels who lusted after the daughters of men so that they might bear them strong men, and that Azazel taught human beings how to deal wickedly. Azael is also identified with Azazel in several late Midrashim (cf. Yalkut Shimoni, Gen. 44; Jellinek, Beit ha-Midrash, vol. 4, p. 127). Azazel also appears in the Apocalypse of *Abraham where he takes the form of a fallen angel.

[End of quote]


In his character this Azazel, as “one of the leaders of the angels who desired the daughters of men (6:4)”, is more akin to the demon, Asmodeus, of the Book of Tobit, who has fallen in love with a daughter of men, with Sarah. It is even possible that the oft-copied Book of Tobit, likely to have been substantially penned by Tobit (and Tobias) in the C8th BC (Tobit 12:20):


‘Write down all that has happened’


had exerted a literary influence upon Enoch 1, written centuries later.

Metaphysically speaking, I think that the behaviour of both the angel Raphael in the Book of Tobit and the demon, Asmodeus, testifies in favour of those (myself included) who believe that purely spiritual beings, such as angels, being incorporeal, do not eat or indulge in sexual activity – indeed, cannot. And so Raphael will tell Tobit and Tobias (12:19): ‘When you thought you saw me eating, I did not really eat anything; it only seemed so’. Another version includes “drinking”: ‘You were observing me, but I wasn’t eating or drinking anything. Instead, you were seeing a vision’.

Nor does Asmodeus ever attempt to have sexual intercourse with Sarah, with whom he has fallen in love. He can merely observe her like a eunuch. The metaphysical difference between angels (demons) and human beings is explained in the following piece from the article, “There were Giants on the earth… The Nephilim” (


The increasingly popular interpretation of the following passage is that it relates a story of angels interbreeding with the human race, and that this was a primary reason for God destroying most of humanity with the great flood.

First of all, it should be pointed out that angels are not humans, they are quite different creations of God. Satan and the other angels are spirit beings, and simply cannot have physical offspring (children). They do not marry (Matt. 22:30, Mark 12:25), they are incapable of procreation, and so are genderless creatures.

[End of quote]


This article, whilst rightly rejecting “the increasingly popular” view that this section of Genesis is referring to fallen angels cohabiting with humans, will opt for the more metaphysically proper scenario that this actually involved human cohabitation only:


The sons of God in Gen 6:2, in context, speaks of those men who were (or claimed to be) obedient to the will of God, they were the people of God, from the lineage of Seth (Gen. 5). In opposition to this are the daughters of men (not obedient to God), from the lineage of Cain (Gen. 4). These woman were quite attractive and alluring, and had little trouble enticing the sons of God into intimate relations and marriage. In doing so, the sons of God quickly abandoned God for these women and their ways.

[End of quote]


And this is the interpretation that I, too, have previously favoured.

In light of a deeper consideration of the Book of Tobit, however, specifically that strange situation it presents of a fallen ‘son of God’, Asmodeus, being desirous of a ‘daughter of men’, Sarah, I have thought to modify my view on this. Whilst continuing to accept the metaphysically ordered view that only humans were involved in the physical sexual activity that led to the emergence of the gigantic Nephilim, I am now inclined to add to this scenario the extra element of demonic possession. Thus I would tentatively suggest an understanding of Genesis 6:2-4 somewhat along the following lines:


And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

That the sons of God [fallen angels] saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they were able to take [possession] of whichever women they chose.

And the Lord said, ‘My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years’.

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God took possession of the daughters of men, who bore children dedicated to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.


That way, these spiritual beings do not have to suddenly begin doing such physical things for which they were not ontologically designed.


Holy Tobit and his most righteous son, Tobias (= prophet Job), were, like the singularly holy, Enoch, “a righteous man” (see below) witnesses to many of these extraordinary events.

Chapter 1:1-8 of Enoch 1


The word of the blessing of Enoch, how he blessed the elect and the righteous, who were to exist in the time of trouble; rejecting all the wicked and ungodly. Enoch, a righteous man, who was with God, answered and spoke, while his eyes were open, and while he saw a holy vision in the heavens. This the angels showed me.

From them I heard all things, and understood what I saw; that which will not take place in this generation, but in a generation which is to succeed at a distant period, on account of the elect.

Upon their account I spoke and conversed with him, who will go forth from his habitation, the Holy and Mighty One, the God of the world:

Who will hereafter tread upon Mount Sinai; appear with his hosts; and be manifested in the strength of his power from heaven.

All shall be afraid, and the Watchers be terrified.

Great fear and trembling shall seize them, even to the ends of the earth. The lofty mountains shall be troubled, and the exalted hills depressed, melting like a honeycomb in the flame. The earth shall be immerged, and all things which are in it perish; while judgment shall come upon all, even upon all the righteous:

But to them shall he give peace: he shall preserve the elect, and towards them exercise clemency.

Then shall all belong to God; be happy and blessed; and the splendour of the Godhead shall illuminate them.


would not have been out of place, generally speaking, in the mouth of Tobit (13:1-18).


The Demon Chained


The expulsion of the troublesome Asmodeus, who had driven poor Sarah to the point of suicide, is narrated briefly in Tobit 8:2-3:


Tobias remembered Raphael’s words. He took the fish’s liver and heart out of his bag and laid them upon the warm incense coals. The odor from the fish drove off the demon, and he sped off to the region of Egypt. Raphael went after the demon, bound him there hand and foot, and immediately put him in chains.


Likewise, Enoch 1 (chapters 8 and 10) tell of the chaos caused by Azazel and his downfall at the hands of Raphael


The lead demon, Azazel, teaches human beings how to become more violent and vain, chapter 8 says in verses 1 through 3: “And Azazel taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all coloring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways.”


After the holy archangels Michael, Uriel Raphael, and Gabriel ask God what he wants to do to solve the problem, God tells them his plans and assign each one of them to do something to help. God directs Raphael to punish Azazel for leading the effort to corrupt human beings, and also to heal the Earth from the damage that has occurred as a result.

1 Enoch chapter 10 records God instructing Raphael to “bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness” and “let him abide there forever, and cover his face that he may not see light.” God then says that “on the day of the great judgement” Azazel “shall be cast into the fire.”

The chapter continues with God assigning Raphael to “heal the earth which the angels have corrupted, and proclaim the healing of the earth … that all the children of men may not perish through all the secret things that the Watchers have disclosed and have taught their sons”.


[End of quote]



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