(NIV) Genesis 6:1 When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal ; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
(King James) 4There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
I included the King James for verse 4 because the word giants is more familiar than the word Nephilim.
These verses always puzzled me while a Christian. When bible school teachers discussed the flood, they always (at least I can never remember) any teacher starting with Gen 6:1. They would start with Gen 6:5 or later. Having read the bible through cover to cover twice and having studied it on numerous occasions, this verse always struck me as strange.
There were so many questions to answer.
Who were the sons of God? Was one of them Jesus? Are these brothers of Jesus? Are these angels? Were there daughters of God?
Who were the Giants or Nephilim? What happened to them?
Anyone’s guess is as good as anyone else’s because other than these 4 verses nothing else is written about this phenomenal event. I was once told that the giants died in the flood, but if that is the case then we should expect to find fossil evidence of them somewhere.
My search for these answers lead me to the book of Enoch (great-grandfather of Noah). This Jewish apocryphal book answers some of these questions. It is not considered part of the Christian bible except in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Parts of this book would make a great science fiction movie! The next paragraph I copied from Wikipedia to summarize Enoch.
“The Book of Enoch describes the fall of the Watchers, the angels who fathered the Nephilim. The fallen angels went to Enoch to intercede on their behalf with God after he declared to them their doom. The remainder of the book describes Enoch’s visit to Heaven in the form of a vision, and his revelations.”
If you want to belittle this book by saying it is not part of the bible, you have another problem. The book of Enoch is quoted in the New Testament in Jude!
Jude 14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Enoch 1:9 “And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones To execute judgment upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
Let’s get back to Genesis 6.
The phrase “heroes of old” implies that this story was written long after this alleged event happened. Since this was only the 6th chapter of the first book of the bible, I decided (around age 20) to investigate biblical chronologies. My Sunday school teachers made it sound like the bible was written immediately after events took place by eye witnesses. Research from archaeologists, historians, language experts, and biblical scholars reveal that was not the case. More importantly to me, the bible’s words prove that the stories of Genesis were written thousands of years after they allegedly occur.
The book of Genesis was written at least 2850 years after its alleged events occurred because it mentions places and events that did not occur until thousands of years later. It was not written immediately after the flood or after the exodus from Egypt. I have several examples of this in my power point presentation, but I shall mention just one easy to understand example here:
Genesis 36:31 These were the kings who reigned in Edom before any Israelite king reigned
This verse must have been written AFTER at least one Israelite king had reigned. Saul does not become king until around 1050 B.C., so Genesis was written AFTER Saul became king, about 2850 years after creation (biblical timelines vary).
Keeping this in mind, the most logical explanation for these verses is that they are a reference to other religions that we call mythologies today. The Jews were exposed to many religions in which stories were told about gods and sons of gods having sex with earth women. For example, in Greek mythology Hercules is the son of Zeus and an earth woman. Hercules was “a hero of old, a man of renown.” I used Hercules as a more familiar example, admitting that Greek myths were probably not the ones responsible for these verses. However, the idea of gods having super babies with earth women is a concept in many ancient religions of 1000 B.C.
Whether or not you accept this explanation, you have to admit that these verses are strange. I find no meaning in these verses for telling me how I can live a better life.