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

We must now start to shift our focus away from biblical sources and onto Mesopotamian and Levantine mythology. It is in the Standard Babylonian Version (SBV) of the Epic of Gilgameš that we find important and coincidental similarities with the primeval history of the Book of Genesis [15] . In the middle of the first column and at the very beginning of the second of the first tablet, we discover Gilgameš's background:

Wild calf of Lugalbanda, Gilgamesh, is perfect in strength,

Suckling of the sublime wild cow, the wild cow Ninsun

Towering Gilgamesh is uncannily perfect…

…Two-thirds of him was divine, and one-third of him was human…

With knowledge of the Sumerian King List, we find out that Lugalbanda was once a king of Uruk. Many older Sumerian poems exist pertaining to Lugalbanda. He was a mortal who had joined with the deity Ninsun to produce Gilgameš. At first glance, one may wonder why the strange division of divinity and mortality. This may be due to the fact that Lugalbanda may have started off human, but was deified in the years to come. Reasons or events for this transformation are unknown. Other than his partial divinity, a lot of emphasis is placed on Gilgameš's (and the later Enkidu who was created by the gods) height throughout the rest of the narrative [16] .

[…] stately in feature,

[…] in body, lofty […]

His foot was a triple cubit, his leg six times twelve,

His stride was six times twelve cubits,

His thumb was […] cubits.

His cheeks had a beard like […]

The locks of his hair grew thick as a grainfield.

He was perfection in height,

Ideally handsome […]

This emphasis on height was also extremely significant in the many other translations of the story; such as the Hittite version in which Gilgameš is described as being eleven yards in height and his breast was nine spans in breadth. Normal humans in the epic(s) were never mentioned as being the same height as these demigods. In fact, the everyday citizens of Uruk were constantly astonished at the heights of both Gilgameš and Enkidu. The demigods found in the ancient Mesopotamian world display undeniably similar traits to the nephilîm . They are heroic and spoken of with high prestige, as is present within this epic; a lot of attention is directed towards their height; and these semi-divine beings existed before and after the Flood. In the next section, I will be providing evidence of how the deities themselves may also have been of high stature by referencing Ugaritic mythology, which will eventually lead us to believe that the sons of God including God himself may have been viewed as giants at one point in history.

References to deities of the Ugaritic [17] pantheon point to gigantism. Most of these references are directed towards one specific deity, Ba‛al Haddad. Judging by the Ugaritic sources, Ba‛al Haddad was the principal deity established as the main cult of worship at Ugarit. In the story entitled Ba‛al and Mot [18] we see such an example. From the very beginning of the story, a grudge between Ba‛al and Mot is present. Ba‛al Haddad was a mighty storm and fertility deity, and Mot is the god of death, pestilence and plague who ruled the Underworld. Constant references are made to Mot causing the heavens to wilt and collapse and with his deathly powers scorching the crops and the fruit of the trees; features exactly opposite of Ba‛al Haddad, who as mentioned earlier symbolized fertility. Mot ends up thinking he killed Ba‛al [19] , and Ba‛al disappears. Athtar, another deity, attempts to take the storm god's place on the throne at mount Zephon. Athtar seats himself on Ba‛al's throne, but finds that he is not tall enough to occupy it.

He (Athtar) [20] sat on the seat of the mightiest Ba‛al,

(But) his feet did not reach the foot-stool,

his head did not reach its top.

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  1. i.e. the nephilîm and the Flood of Noah and parts of the Eden narrative. [back to text]
  2. These gigantic features can also be seen in tablet IV, on the path to Humbaba in the Cedar Forest; tablet VI, the battle with the Bull of Heaven; and tablet X, the ferry ride to Ut-napishtim. [back to text]
  3. Ugarit, modern day Ras Shamra. [back to text]
  4. CTA 4 [back to text]
  5. Mot swallows Ba'al. Although many translations of this story imply that Ba'al used a substitute, disguised in his clothing, and hid in the shades of Mot's realm, the underworld. When Anat searches for him later on, she searches for her brother's shade. [back to text]
  6. Author's note. [back to text]

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