Were the Nephilim fallen ‘angelic beings’ or rather just ‘fallen man’ in the Genesis account? The Nephilim are reported to have been on the earth before and after the flood. I am going to show you an account from the Bible of a Nephilim who lived after the flood. There are a number of distinguishing features that confirm that this man was definitely a Nephilim.
Before I start, here is some background information from Don Stewart (Blueletterbible.org) who explains that the popular view that the Nephilim were ‘angelic beings’ is not something that all early rabbinic literature held too.
However, it is often not appreciated that such an interpretation of Genesis 6 is far from uniform in Jewish tradition. The following list shows nine other texts where non-angelic interpretations are held:
While Philo himself calls these ‘sons of God’ angels in one place, he later called them ‘good and excellent men’ Q. Gen. 1.92). Moreover the Targums and the Rabbinic literature are unanimous in viewing the ‘sons of God’ as human beings. Targum Onkelos on Genesis 6:2 and 4 reads ‘sons of princes’ (or great men, and Targum Pseudo-Jonathan has the same. Targum Neofiti has ‘sons of the Judges’ in both verses.
Tosefta, Sotah 3: 9a interprets ‘sons of God’ as men of the generation of the flood. In the Midrash Rabbah, they are understood as ‘sons of judges’ and as leaders (Gen. R. 26.5 on Gn. 6:2, quoting Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai, c. AD 140), or as the generation of men at the time of the flood. Symmachus translates Genesis 6:2 as ‘the sons of the rulers.’
Although this material is admittedly somewhat later than 1 Enoch and Jubilees, which are both to be dated in the second century BC, the citations from Philo and the Targums are certainly not irrelevant for New Testament exegesis-indeed, the Rabbinic material generally represents a stream of Jewish tradition which is certainly relevant as a background for New Testament studies. And the citations in this second group are diverse and frequent enough to give strong indication of the existence of a ‘non-angelic’ view of the ‘sons of God’ in Judaism, especially more orthodox Judaism, before or during the time of the New Testament (Wayne Grudem, 1 Peter, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, IVP, 1988, pp 211,212).
See link below.
Below I have bolded, underlined and put my comments in brackets to clarity and emphasis, I apologize in advance for the messy look.
Let’s go back to the very beginning.
Genesis 2:23 And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
The word flesh in the verse above is the word ‘basar’ which has the root meaning – to bear news, bear tidings, publish, preach, show forth, to gladden with good news, to bear good news, to announce salvation as good news, preach, (Hithpael) to receive good news.
When God completed the last of His creation with Adam and Eve who were made of flesh, He declared that ‘it was very good’.
God’s creation was ‘good news’ indeed and announced/preached and published right at the very beginning of the Bible in the book of Genesis.
When God sent Jesus into His creation, the angels proclaimed that it was ‘good news’.
Luke 2: 9-11 9 Just then, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! For behold, I bring you ‘good news’ of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the City of David a Saviour has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord”!
Adam is known as the first son of God – Luke 3:38
Jesus is known as the last Adam – Son of God – 1 Corinthians 15:45 So it is written: The first man Adam became a ‘living being’; the last Adam, a ‘life-giving Spirit’.
The verse below demonstrates a vitally important message.
Matt 3:16-17 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the ‘Spirit of God’ descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My ‘beloved Son’, in whom I am well-pleased.”
Jesus came in the flesh and is a life-giving Spirit (1 John 4:2) (Romans 8:9). Jesus shows us that we are made ‘sons of God’ by the ‘presence of the Holy Spirit of God in us or with us’. Through the leading of the ‘Spirit’ we become the ‘messengers’ of the ‘good news’ in the flesh.
Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the ‘SPIRIT’ of God, they ‘ARE the SONS of GOD’.
Mark 16:14 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel/good news to all creation.
Romans 10: 15 or “whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “how beautiful are the feet of those who bring ‘good news’ of good things.
Hopefully now you have seen how ‘men’ are made ‘sons of God’ by the presence of ‘His Spirit’ in them that brings the ‘message’ of ‘good news’. If you will bear with me for a while, I will prove in the text that the Nephilim were fallen men.
Genesis 6: 1-8 When men began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the ‘sons of God’ (by definition from what I have explained above are those who had the Spirit of God in them or with them) saw that the daughters of men were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “MY SPIRIT” (This is the Key word) shall not abide IN MAN forever, for he is FLESH: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim (meaning fallen ones) were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the ‘sons of God’ came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. These were the MIGHTY MEN who were of old, THE MEN OF RENOWN. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a RIGHTEOUS MAN, (Romans 1:17 righteous meaning, good, upright, excellent, worthy, or ‘good news’ –) blameless in his generation. NOAH WALKED WITH GOD. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with VIOLENCE. (This is a Key word) And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all FLESH had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with VIOLENCE (Note this Key word is mentioned twice in this portion of Scripture and is a one of the relevant words that identifies a Nephilim who lived after the flood.) through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
In these verses above it is explains how there were men on the earth who multiplied and that the Nephilim – ‘fallen ones’ were also on the earth at that time. Then it goes on to explain how the Nephilim came into being. We are told that there were ‘sons of God’ (which we have established are those who have the Spirit in them) who procreated with the daughters of men (ordinary men, no Spirit to make them ‘sons of God’) and the same became, MIGHTY MEN, MEN OF RENOWN. The most important sentence in the portion of scripture above is where God declares that “My SPIRIT shall not abide IN MAN forever, for he is FLESH”: He is reiterating the importance of the His Spirit abiding in man, which I believe further confirms that the ‘sons of God’ at one time had the Holy Spirit in them. Also of note; why would God mention that man is made of flesh in the very same sentence? It seems that there is something important in mentioning flesh here. As referenced earlier, the word flesh/basar meant good news in the very beginning when God first created man and now He is distraught that the good news no longer applies and regrets that He had ever created man because he is filled only with VIOLENCE through those who fell. This is contrasted with Noah who walked with God and preached the GOOD NEWS of righteousness and was saved.
HERE IS A MIGHTY MAN OF RENOWN – A NEPHILIM WHO LIVED AFTER THE FLOOD
Therefore thus saith the Lord God;
12 Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him:
‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “You were the seal of perfection”,
full of wisdom (Wisdom comes from God – Luke 2:52, Proverbs 2:6,) and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;
every precious stone adorned you:
carnelian, chrysolite and emerald,
topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl.
Your settings and mountings were made of gold;
on the day you were created they were prepared.
14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.
You were on the HOLY MOUNT OF GOD; (held a high position)
you walked among the fiery stones. –
15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you.
16 Through your widespread trade you were filled with VIOLENCE, and you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace FROM THE MOUNT of God, (the HIGH POSITION the FIRST ESTATE – the FIRST PLACE he held)
and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.
It would appear when reading this description above that King Tyrus was in fact Satan, this isn’t the first time that a person was referred to as Satan in the Bible. Here is a verse where someone was called Satan and yet we clearly know that this person was not! Matt 16:23 Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s! (Peter’s ACTIONS were like Satan’s, just as King Tyrus’s were)
I believe what this is showing us, is that this man King Tyrus held a high position, in fact the highest position possible it would seem, just like Satan had; he was a King, a Mighty Man, a Man of Renown, a Giant so to speak in stature, but not physically. At one time he was adorned in beauty and wisdom (wisdom comes from God – Luke 2:52, Proverbs 2:6 and James 3:13-18). This shows that King Tyrus was a ‘son of God’ at one time but became violent just like the men before the flood, he became a fallen one (like Satan) and God told him that he would drive him from the mountain of God – the first estate – the high dwelling place where he had been ‘full of wisdom and beauty in the beginning’…...
Is this man a fallen Angel or a Fallen Man? – I think very much a Fallen Man!
Before I go on any further I would like to qualify why I translate the word angel for ‘messenger’ in the next few verses, it is important to line these verses up with the account in Genesis since this is talking about the very same event!
Angels can be heavenly beings, but we are angels/messengers too,
The definition of what an angel http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/angel/
Superhuman or heavenly being who serves as God’s messenger. Both the Hebrew malak [J; ‘m] and the Greek angelos [a [ggelo”] indicate that these beings also act decisively in fulfilling God’s will in the world. But these two terms ALSO apply to HUMAN BEINGS as MESSENGERS – see verses (1 Kings 19:2 ; Hag 1:13 ; Luke 7:24 ).
Here is another piece of the puzzle that I hope will make more sense for you now from the ESV which is the best translation from the Greek.
Jude 4: 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, UNGODLY PEOPLE, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. 5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who DID NOT BELIEVE. 6 and (the word ‘and’ in the Greek can also be translated as ‘namely’) Namely the messengers (referred to as ‘sons of God’ in the OT) who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, (just like King Tyrus – when he left his dwelling place of authority on the mount of God where he was full of perfection and wisdom) He has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
Jude 1-7 from the King James Version speaks of ‘strange flesh’; here is the meaning given for Strange Flesh. The other, another, other, to number as opposed to some former person or thing, the other of two, another: i.e. one not of the same nature, form, class, kind, different
I see the ‘strange flesh’ as giving one’s self over to that which is opposed to God – to another god, to someone or “something” else! The strange flesh – particularly in this passage meant going after “the same sex” for that is what Sodom and Gomorrah were judged for, as well as idolatry which is greed! Colossians 3:5 put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed which is idolatry.
Romans 1: 22 Although they claimed to be wise (as mentioned before wisdom comes from God), they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever Amen. (No angels here) For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural; and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
Just my conjecture here. ‘strange flesh’ – not the ‘flesh’ that God had created in the beginning which was ‘good news’, being ‘one’ as husband and wife and honouring God, producing good offspring, bearers of the ‘good news’ through Him and for Him. Instead man was doing that which was opposed to God’s perfect will. The flesh had become tainted, full of violence, producing no offspring after God’s own heart which was bad news!
Here is a piece of the puzzle lining up Scripture with Scripture
1 Peter 3:19 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare the messengers (referred to as ‘sons of God’ in the OT) when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment.
Just what are these chains of darkness you might ask?
Job 17:13 If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.
Job talks about the grave being darkness. The word for chains means to be bound so I see that the people of the Flood are bound in their graves until the time of Judgement.
2: Peter 1 – 17 – 21 to 2: Peter 2-4 and Romans 1 add another piece to the puzzle.
2: Peter For He received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice from the Majestic Glory said to Him, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we ourselves heard this voice from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. We also have the message of the prophets, which has been confirmed beyond doubt. And you will do well to pay attention to this message, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever brought about through human initiative, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. Now there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies that even deny the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with ‘FALSE WORDS’; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. For if God did not spare the messengers (referred to as ‘sons of God’ in OT), when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a ‘PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS’, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.
In the verses above especially in 2 Peter it almost mirrors Genesis 6:3; you have mention of the Holy Spirit who the prophets (e.g. Noah a preacher of righteousness/good news) were carried along by, contrasted with the messengers/’sons of God’ who brought a false message, they were false prophets and ungodly men who were committed to their graves until the time of judgement. The MESSENGERS ‘MESSAGE’ WAS WRONG!
Examining the three references in the book of Job to identify what the sons of God are?
Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
Job 2:1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them ‘to present HIMSELF before the Lord’. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 3 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” 4 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”
If you take these two passages in Job 1:6 & 2:1 in context looking carefully at the text you will see that Satan ‘ROAMS THE EARTH’ – where he was cast down to! This defines where the ‘sons of God’ were who were presenting themselves before God. Joshua gives us a good example to show that the ‘sons of God’ were earthly men! – (Joshua 24:1 Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel/son/s of God to Shechem and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel. And they presented themselves before God.)
From the text in Job 1:6 & 2:1, it looks like Satan was going to test the ‘sons of God’ on earth, and then God asked him had he considered Job instead?
The other reference in Job 38:7 reads slightly different and could possibly speak of the Angels as heavenly beings as this passage casts the readers eyes heavenwards towards the stars rather than earthward as in the Job 1 account.)
The word Stars from the Blue lexicon (of Messiah, brothers, youth, numerous progeny, personification, God’s omniscience o-kawb’; probably from the same as H3522 (in the sense of rolling) or H3554 (in the sense of blazing); a star (as round or as shining); figuratively, a prince:—star(-gazer)
Verse from Job 38 when the ‘morning stars’ sang together and all the ‘sons of God’ shouted for joy?
The only problem I have is this verse in Hebrews 1:5 says – For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father“? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? This verse tends to rule out angels/heavenly beings as ‘sons of God’ for me?
At this point in time taking everything in context from what I have studied I don’t believe the Nephilim/Fallen Ones were anything to do with angels coming down and changing themselves to be like us so they could procreate with mankind. The text describes the Nephilim as the ‘sons of God’, who were led by ‘His Spirit’ at one time, they were made of ‘flesh’ (good news) but had ‘fallen’ just like King Tyrus and God said that ‘His Spirit’ would not plead with them anymore and so he brought the flood to the earth on the ungodly. © D A Cleland