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In the Torah and several non-canonical Jewish and early Christian writings, nephilim (in Hebrew הנּפלים means the fallen [ones]) are a people created by the crossbreeding of the "sons of God" (beney ha'elohim, בני האלהים) and the "daughters of men". (See Genesis 6:1.) The word nephilim is loosely translated as giants or titans in some translations of the Bible, and is left as nephilim in others.

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-4, English Standard Version)

The phrase "sons of God" is sometimes translated into English as "sons of gods". The Hebrew word, "Elohim", is a plural form, but is often used with single verbs and adjectives (as in this case) when the single meaning refers to the "Godhead."


The traditional Jewish view, deriving from the Book of Enoch, is that the fathers of the nephilim, the "sons of God", were the Grigori (also called the Watchers); however, there is some controversy on this point (Targum Jona than) [1]. Some commentatorsTemplate:Fact have suggested that the nephilim were believed to have been fathered by members of a proto-Hebrew pantheon, and are a brief glimpse of early Hebrew religion, most of the details of which was later edited out from the Torah, and that this passage may have offered monotheistic Hebrews a way to fit semi-divine pagan heroes into their cosmogony. Others, especially some Christians, suggest the "sons of God" were fully human. It is sometimes suggested that ridding the Earth of these nephilim was one of God's purposes for flooding the Earth in Noah's time, despite the fact that the nephilim are present in the Book of Numbers. However, given that the Bible does not state permanent nephilic extinction, it stands as reasonable, in this context, to consider that a similar "racial" development may have taken place after the flood. After all, the words "and also afterward" i Gen 6:4 could well be interpreted as referring to the postdeluvian era. In the Book of Enoch, Azazel is said to have been "bound hand and foot" under the desert sands of "Dudael" as punishment for his disobedience to God.

Despite the literal text of the Bible and its traditional interpretation, the idea that heavenly beings mated with humans is controversial, particularly among many Christians, who cite an interpretation of the teaching of Jesus in the Book of Matthew that Angels do not marry; however, they may take the verse in question out of context, because Jesus said that the resurrected do not marry in heaven, but are "as the angels". Others who find the idea of angels mating with humans as distasteful have suggested more figurative interpretations of the nephilim, such as the idea that they were the offspring of men possessed by demons. In light of the alien abduction scenario, some have speculated a form of artificial insemination being implemented.

Still others, including the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, take the view of Genesis 6:1 that the allusion refers to some men, from the godly lineage of Seth, called sons of God (an expression denoting those in covenant relationship with YHWH - cf. Deuteronomy 14:1; 32:5), began to pursue fleshly interests, and so took wives of the daughters of men, i.e., those who were descended of Cain. Not only is this unequivocally stated in most Orthodox versions of I Enoch and Jubilees, but this is also the view presented in a few extra-biblical, yet ancient works, particularly the Second Book of Adam and Eve.

Other Hebrew words sometimes interpreted as "Giants"

In the Hebrew Old Testament, there are a number of other words that, like "Nephilim", are sometimes translated as "giants": Emim, Rephaim, and Anakim. This has led to a great deal of confusion, even to the point of medieval legends recounted in the Talmud of a giant stowing away on Noah's Ark. However, it is unlikely that these names in the Torah originally were meant to signify any antediluvian race that survived the Great Flood, and in all probability, they denoted groups of Canaanites.


The Book of Joshua refers to "Og king of Bashan", who "had survived as one of the last of the Rephaim." The Rephaim may have been the same Canaanite group known to the Moabites as Emim, i.e., "fearful", (Deuteronomy 2:11), and to the Ammonites as Zamzummim. The second of the Books of Samuel states that some of them found refuge among the Philistines, and were still existing in the days of David. Nothing is known of their origin, nor anything specifically connecting them with Nephilim.

See also : Valley of Rephaim


In the Torah, the Anakim are the descendants of Anak, and dwelt in the south of Palestine, in the neighbourhood of Hebron. In the days of Abraham, they inhabited the region afterwards known as Edom and Moab, east of the Jordan river. They are mentioned during the report of the spies about the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. The book of Joshua states that Joshua finally expelled them from the land, excepting a remnant that found a refuge in the cities of Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. The Philistine giant Goliath, whom David later encountered, was supposedly a descendant of the Anakim.

"The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them." (Numbers 13:32-33, English Standard Version)

Note that it is more commonly suggested by traditional Jewish sources (such as the Midrash) that the spies saw large and powerful inhabitants in Canaan and because of their own fears, cowardice, and inadequate faith in YHVH, saw themselves as grasshoppers in the eyes of the Canaanites, whether they were actual 'giants' or not.

Nephilim in other works

The story of the Nephilim is chronicled more fully in the Book of Enoch (part of Ethiopian biblical canon).

There are also allusions to these descendants in the deuterocanonical books of Judith, Sirach, Baruch, and Wisdom of Solomon.

Nephilim in parahistory

There have been many interesting attempts to reconcile mythology with science; many have theorized that mythology can and does contain grains of truth in the form of a highly distorted "folk memory".

In this context, the Nephilim have been associated with everything from Atlantis to extraterrestrials in efforts to rationalize their literal existence. One theory is that Nephilim were actually surviving Neanderthals, or a Homo sapiens-Neanderthal hybrid.

It is believed by some people that modern man shared several thousand years of history with Neanderthals, and also that the Middle-Eastern region was home to some of the last surviving pockets of Homo sapiens neandertalensis or H. neandertalensis. Therefore, it is conceivable that a folk memory of these creatures survived by way of mythology. In addition, it appears that the very last Neanderthals adopted some of the technological and cultural innovations of their H. sapiens contemporaries. The theory is that surviving Neanderthals or hybrids might have been large, powerful men possessing the intellect and societal characteristics of our own species, which would explain their identification as "mightiest ones" and "men of renown." One flaw in this theory is that H. neanderthalensis were slightly shorter than H. sapiens. On the other hand, they were giants compared to their even shorter predecessors, Australopithecus and Homo habilis.

Zecharia Sitchin and Eric Von Daniken both claim that the Nephilim are our alien ancestors and that we were created by an Alien race. (see:Ancient astronaut theory)

David Icke has a similar theory, in which interdimensional reptilian beings somehow created offspring through genetic engineering, whose traits are large stature, light skin, and susceptibility to any form of hypnotic suggestion (which, he states, is when the demons possess their offspring and demand allegiance), and that this bloodline has been in control of the world from the days of Sumer to today.

Cultural references to Nephilim

  • The book series The Fallen by Thomas E. Sniegoski revolves around a modern-day teenage boy who discovers he is nephilim. The four books have been made into a six-part TV series for ABC Family, which is set to debut in August 2006. [2] [3]
  • The Greek Melodic Death Metal band Septic Flesh have a song entitled "Nephilim Sons" on their 5th album, Revolution DNA.
  • In the Madeleine L'Engle novel Many Waters, Nephilim are present, and indeed seduce and mate with human women. The nephilim and women are generally perceived as being married, although the children seem to remain with their mothers.
  • The Light Brigade is a DC Comics four-part series in which the nephilim and the Grigori are Nazis trying to claim the world they think they should have controlled by finding the Spear of Destiny.
  • In the motion pictures The Prophecy II and The Prophecy 3: The Ascent, the creation of Nephilim was a major source of conflict between opposing camps among the angels. Gabriel (played by Christopher Walken) at first opposes the union between man and angel, but then relents after being made human for a period of time.
  • In the video game Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness the Nephilim are angel-human hybrids that died out. The corpse of the only remaining full-blooded Nephilim is referred to as 'The Sleeper' and is brought to Prague in a sarcophagus by a cult that wishes to resurrect the species in order to bring about a 'New Order'. The series heroine, Lara Croft, stumbles across this due to a string of murders (including that of a former mentor) and sets upon a quest to stop the cult from succeeding in their goals.
  • In the video game Diablo II: Lord of Destruction the Ancients Ones are referred to as "Spirits of the Nephilim". They guard The Worldstone Keep, which leads to the Throne of Destruction, where Baal, the boss of the game resides. Their names are; Madawc The Guardian, Korlic The Protector, and Talic The Defender.
  • In the video game Wing Commander: Prophecy, Nephilim is the code name given to a race of insectoid extraterrestrials who invade our galaxy via an artificial wormhole.
  • The Invisible Masters of a series of erotic mind-control stories are hinted as possibly being Nephilim. The stories are presented as being based on investigations of the phenomena and the re-discovered repressed memories of victims.
  • In the Xenosaga game series, Nephilim is the name of a mysterious little girl who seems to exist as a spirit or other non-corporeal entity. Also in Xenosaga is the "Song of Nephilim", a plot point in the form of a song that seems to drive people mad. The connection between the character and the song is as yet unknown.
  • In the video game Shadowbane, the Nephilim are one of the playable races, introduced by the Rise of Chaos expansion on December 9, 2003.
  • In Mick Farren's Renquist Quartet, the Nephilim are a race of aliens ruled by a king named Marduk Ra. They conquered Earth in prehistory, and are the basis of all religions. They conducted experiments on primitive humans, creating a warrior race. The Nephilim then left Earth to pursue a war. The abandoned warriors became the basis of vampire legends.
  • The band AFI's album "The Art of Drowning" (2000) contains a song titled "The Nephilim." In the lyrics, the Nephilim or "Fallen Ones" make for a figurative representation of their feelings of rejection and other-ness.
  • In the computer role-playing game series "Exile" and its remake series "Avernum", the Nephilim (abbreviated as "Nephils") are a race of feline humanoids. Jeff Vogel, designer and programmer of the games, has said that he invented the name for this race independently.
  • The second verse of the Frank Black song "All My Ghosts" is all about the Nephilim:

Have you heard about the heavenly angels/ How they came to earth and met some ladies/ With whom they mated/ And their young became giants every one

  • The alien Shivans in the computer game Descent: Freespace fly a heavy bomber codenamed Nephilim by the Terrans.
  • Format C: by Edwin Black features Anakim in the latter stages of the book as a race of giants who have survived in captivity over the years.
  • The Polish heavy metal band Behemoth wrote a song called "The Nephilim Rising" for their album Demigod.
  • The nephilim have been written about by David Icke in such books as "Children of the Matrix" where he takes the point of view that they are extra dimensional reptilian humanoids that have genetically manipulated human beings so as to make them more susceptible to possession (apparently this is done by a gene that makes one go into a trance-like state whenever there is any ritualistic patterns) so that they control us incognito.
  • Lynn A. Marzulli wrote a novel entitled "Nephilim", in which alien abductions turn out to be the return of the Nephilim (as per the Book of Enoch). This book spawned the "Nephilim Trilogy" in which he interwove many popular occultic phenomena in an eschatological scenario.[4]
  • In the game Blue Stinger, Nephilim is the mysterious character that seems to follow the main character Elliot around, although her intentions are not known to Elliot.
  • Nephilim is a clan in the game GunZ:The Duel.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game set Guildpact, there is a rare cycle of five creature cards, called Dune-Brood Nephilim, Witch-Maw Nephilim, Ink-Treader Nephilim, Glint-Eye Nephilim and Yore-Tiller Nephilim. They are depicted as dark, powerful, god-like monsters whose coming is a sign of a great catastrophe.
  • In the online video game Guild Wars, one of the unique hammer-type weapons is called "Gavel of the Nephilim".

See also

External links