Gen 6:4 The strangest verse in the Bible ?

If SOF was running a competition for the strangest verse in the Bible, then Gen 6: 4 would have to be a strong contender.

Who were the Nephilim? And what are they doing roaming around in Genesis as an apparent afterthought to the story of creation ? (Presumably they were all wiped out in the Flood which comes along next).

Comments

  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    Host hat on

    Rublev, when you want to discuss a text, please either give the text or give a link to it. Some people reading Keryg don't have a Bible handy.

    Here is the text of Genesis 6:4

    The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterwards—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.

    Host hat off
  • I found an Orthodox essay on this. It doesn't describe them as supernatural, but as the people of the earth after the "Sons of God" (the people of Seth) chose wives of "the daughters of men" (those of Cain.)

    It is evangelistic rather than academic, but gives a view I hadn't heard before:

    Who are the nephilim?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Thanks for this article Mark - it's a really interesting explanation which gets around the problem of a separately created race of human giants and also provides an explanation for the Flood which takes place next.
  • It is indeed a really interesting article. Far better than the explanation of Nephilim given in Madeline L'Engle's novel "Many Waters" which posits the fallen angel theory.
  • If you read the whole chapter, the "fallen angel" theory just doesn't make much sense.
  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    People (well, they have always been men in my experience) were sometimes described as "a nephil" in the kibbutz sector at the beginning of the movement (British Mandate and and early State days). They were usually big but not necessarily un-humanly HUGE. It seemed more to do with more strength, character and endurance; along with the gift of encouraging everyone else not to give up at a task.
    I have not heard it recently though - say 10 years and even then of someone over 60 when discussing his Glory Days.

    They are mythologically recognised I think, more than thought of as "actually exisiting". Like a character in a story - you don't ask if they were "real", they just are.
    Though perhaps various streams of "The Religious" would face questions from too-smart-by-half students and would have ready-prepared answers for that eventuality.
  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    I have also heard of "nephilim" in Maori narrative. Can't remember what they were called in Te Reo Maori now. They came to East Cape/ Mahia Peninsula "from the stars" and were big and "shining white, not like us at all ".
    The person who told me this heard it from an Original Source which is why I can rely on it (sort of) and quote it it here
  • There was some discussion about these verses in the recent thread on exorcism. That part of the discussion starts here. It’s not the only strand weaving through that thread; it does continue into the next page.
  • Are there any analogues to the Nephilim in the folklore of the ancient Hebrews, Canaanites, and other cultures of the Ancient Near East?
  • Curiosity killedCuriosity killed Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    It turns up in Dead Horses and Christians in polyamorous relationships in Purgatory too.
  • Are there any analogues to the Nephilim in the folklore of the ancient Hebrews, Canaanites, and other cultures of the Ancient Near East?

    Genesis IS the folklore of the ancient Hebrews.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    Are there any analogues to the Nephilim in the folklore of the ancient Hebrews, Canaanites, and other cultures of the Ancient Near East?

    Genesis IS the folklore of the ancient Hebrews.

    Yes, but there is archaeological evidence of folk practices as well (which I don't know anything about). Perhaps folklore was too limited of a term.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    The only other giant mentioned in the Bible is Goliath the Philistine. But he isn't said to be one of the Nephilim. The rabbis thought that he was descended from Orpah just as David was descended from Ruth the Moabite. One descendant becomes the greatest hero of Israel and the other becomes its greatest enemy.
  • Haven't read the article yet. But, growing up fundamentalist and taking Genesis pretty literally, I found the Nephilim at least mildly fascinating. IIRC, I was taught the "sons of God" were angels--possibly fallen ones. After all, they were crossing boundaries, and a) possibly going against God's will by being on Earth, b) having sex c) with human women. Don't remember if there was any particular judgment of the Nephilim.
  • Addendum:

    Here's Wikipedia's take on them. Skimming through, I noticed a link to an article about the Greek Titans, deities overthrown by the Olympian crowd. They were supposed to be very strong and some very large (e.g., Atlas). And in the same general part of the world. So comparing them with the Nephilim makes sense.

    Of course, we can go by the "Stargate" movie and following series, and speculate that most/all of the ancient deities were real, and were space aliens (or impersonated by them).
    ;)

    On the mention of Hebrew folklore, I had a wild wondering as to whether Lilith (the goddess/demon, Adam's first wife, and sometime feminist icon) might have some connection with the Nephilim. So I plugged "Lilith Nephilim" into Duck Duck Go. There are articles that mention a connection. She appears in a lot of pop culture these days, but there are also articles more interested in history, religion, and folklore.

    There's also a Lilith article at Wikipedia, but it doesn't mention Nephilim.
  • Possibly a bit too much of a tangent, but "Nephi" is a major figure for Mormons (as evidenced by the First & Second Books of Nephi contained in the Book of Mormon).
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Does that mean that the Nephilim are the ancestors of the Mormons?
  • Could just be a coincidence of naming.
  • Rublev wrote: »
    Does that mean that the Nephilim are the ancestors of the Mormons?

    I don't think there is any genealogical connection in the Book of Mormon between Nephi and the Nephilim. There are lots of figures in the Old and New Testaments with similar or identical names who are not genealogically related, at least not through direct paternal or maternal ancestry.

    Nephi, in the Book of Mormon, is one of a group of Jewish people who came to the Americas before Christ, some of whom became the ancestors of today's Native Americans. (This is what the Book of Mormon says, not modern genetics, which finds no relationship between ancient Jewish people and Native Americans.) Native Americans (to make a long, racially-problematic story short) are said to be the descendants of Laman, Nephi's brother, and those people from the group outside Laman's family who became followers of the Lamanites, whereas the Nephites were eventually destroyed. So a Native American Mormon today might perhaps, based on this understanding, be a distant cousin (many times removed) of Nephi?

    Based on the conversations I have had, quite a few (perhaps most) present-day Mormons, especially those who are not in church leadership, are uncomfortable with the claims of ancestry (and portrayal of race) in the Book of Mormon, and do not think of them as very important in their religion. They probably have quite a bit of skepticism regarding it, even if many of them do not bring that skepticism up in public.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    It wasn't a serious question. But I have learned something new about the Mormons. Next time they call round I shall ask them more about Nephi.
  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    Number Two Son (the family Tanach and Regional Influences expert - yes, really) has just turned up for the weekend. So I said "Hello, how are you? and followed up with "You know the nephilim...?" He said the idea of them was also present in several other cultures' mythology. But 8 years after the end of his studies (not to mention 3 years in the army) he has forgotten any details, sorry
  • Rublev wrote: »
    It wasn't a serious question. But I have learned something new about the Mormons. Next time they call round I shall ask them more about Nephi.

    Are you talking about Nephi, Utah USA?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I thought I was talking about the First and Second Books of Nephi. But clearly there is a whole world of Nephi out there.
  • The Wiki on Nephi, who is credited with writing First and Second Nephi, and for whom Nephi City, Utah, is named.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    So we have now tracked down the Nephilim, alive and well in Utah. Who knew?
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