Author of the Month

The Nephilim: Their Origins and Evolution (cont.)
By Petros Koutoupis

This quickly brings to mind a point to which Michael S. Heiser made in his argument with a Sitchinite named Erik Parker [8] . Heiser made a reference to the Aramaic written Book of Job found at Qumrân, part of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection. The constellation of Orion is written as נפילא (nephîlā'). This is the feminine form of the Aramaic masculine נפיל (nāphîl). Coincidently enough nephîl literally translates to 'giant' and its Aramaic plural form registers נפילין (nephîlîn). To make this a Hebrew word, we must take the ending character ן (nun) and alter it to a ם (mem). We then end up with נפילים. It would come as no surprise if early orthography would reveal that even in the Aramaic, there is a possibility that nephîlîn may have not always had the yod in its second syllable, which would have looked like this: נפלין. This evidence helps to make sense of it all. We can see how the Greek Septuagint (LXX) labeled these nephilîm as giants and why they were constantly described as giants in Numbers 13:33 and their Post-Exilic references. Numbers 13:33 is a lot clearer with this understanding because we can now see how a race of giants (nephilîm ) gave birth to another race of giants (Anakim) followed by the birth of a third race of giants (nephîlîm), who towered over the Israelites. Now the question is, was this originally an Aramaic word? If so, at what point in history did the Hebrew language adopt this loan word? I cover a possible answer to this at the conclusion of this paper.

The Roles and Evolution of the Nephilim

It is extremely important to start looking at some of the grammatical clues followed by characteristics of the nephilîm detailed in these 2 verses. Even though the evidence clearly suggests that the word signifies 'giants', I still feel that there is something most scholars miss when it comes to the nephilîm . To review, the nephilîm were a product of the sons of God and the daughters of men. Breaking the last part of this verse (Genesis 6:4) down even further, and studying the grammar, we find that it literally translates to the following:

הגברים אשׁר םעולם אנשׁי השׁם
…the mighty ones who from old, men [of] name.

These nephilîm are clearly spoken of with great honor. Could this be a Biblical Age of Heroes identical to that Hesiod spoke of in his The Works and Days [9] ?

...Zeus, son of Kronos, created yet another fourth generation on the fertile earth, and these were better and nobler, the wonderful generation of hero-men, who are also called half-gods, the generation before our own on this vast earth. But of these too, evil war and the terrible carnage took some; some by the seven-gated Thebes in the land of Kadmos as they fought together over the flocks of Oidipous; other war had taken in ships over the great gulf of the sea, where they also fought for the sake of lovely-haired Helen. There, for these, the end of death was misted about them. But on others, Zeus, son of Kronos, settled a living and a country of their own, apart from human kind, at the end of the world. And there they have their dwelling place and hearts free of sorrow in the islands of the blessed by the deep-swirling stream of the ocean, prospering heroes, on whom in every year three times over the fruitful grain land bestows its sweet yield.

Much like the hero-men, who were also called half-gods, the nephilîm were also a product of semi-divinity; the sons of God and the daughters of men. When analyzing this piece of scripture even further, the Epic of Gilgameš, quickly runs through my head. I will be explaining and discussing this epic later on in this paper. While these clues are not concrete enough to form a final conclusion, we must now look at all the other evidence.

The post-exilic literature has revealed to us a different perspective of the nephilîm , one unlike the writings of Genesis 6:4. It is in the later literature that we see a dark side to the nephilîm ; one of blood-thirst and sin. It is also in the Post-Exilic writings that we find the sons of God (a.k.a. the Watchers) and the nephilîm leading mankind to their corruption and destruction.

PreviousPage 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6Next
  1. Michael S. Heiser is a scholar of Ancient Hebrew and Semitic Languages. [back to text]
  2. Lattimore, Richmond, trans. Hesiod: The Works and Days/Theogony/The Shield of Herakles. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan P, 1959. 37. [back to text]

Site design by Amazing Internet Ltd, maintenance by Synchronicity. G+. Site privacy policy. Contact us.

Dedicated Servers and Cloud Servers by Gigenet. Invert Colour Scheme / Default