The Nephilim and the Wisdom of Not Knowing

Darren Aronofsky's Nephilim in his 2014 film, Noah. Rock-creatures that look like the tree-creatures in the Lord of the Rings?... Yeah, right.

Darren Aronofsky’s Nephilim in his 2014 film and environmentalist manifesto, Noah. Rock-creatures that look like the tree-creatures in the Lord of the Rings?… Yeah, right.

This summer, our church has been doing a “summer Bible study” on Genesis 1-11. Interestingly, the sermons have skipped over the part about the Nephilim, in Genesis 6:1-4:

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 (ESV).

I can understand that there are good reasons for skipping this passage. First, this passage is … uh.. a bit… weird. Secondly, no one really has a clue as to what this really means…. That is right. No one really knows for sure what Genesis 6:1-4 is all about… and neither do I.  Still, I think there is something we can still learn from the Nephilim passage.

Who were the Sons of God who were Attracted to the Daughters of Men?

I have covered a couple of possible ideas before about how to understand this passage. Could they be cavemen? What about the idea popularized by some Jews in Jesus’ day that the Nephilim were were “the Watchers” in the apocryphal Book of Enoch, a book that oddly enough was quoted in a positive way by the canonical Book of Jude (Jude 1:14)?

The oldest view held by Christians over the ages has been that the “sons of God” were fallen angels, which is the idea presented in the Book of Enoch (do not bother looking for the Book of Enoch in your Bible… you will not find it). The main problem with this view is that such a fantastic claim regarding angels marrying human women is out of step with the rest of the biblical narrative. As an alternative, another view, namely one referenced by the Dead Sea Scrolls, says that the “sons of God” were the “children of Seth” that married the “children of Cain” that were in rebellion against God.  Yet another view, argues that these “sons of God” were earthly kings (see Meredith Kline’s essay).

Various scholars tie these “sons of God,” the Nephilim, to the reference to the “giants” that the Hebrew scouts saw in the Promised Land, while the Jews were still wandering around in the Sinai desert, after fleeing from Egypt (Numbers 13:33).

Maybe, even Goliath was a member of the Nephilim (1 Samuel 17:51).

A nice, helpful summary of these views can be found at this Patheos blog by Kermit Zarley (a somewhat eccentric and controversial Bible blogger, who doubles as a golf pro…go figure… but he is pretty accurate in his research on this particular issue of the Nephilim). Also, here is Southern California pastor John MacArthur giving the standard “fallen angels” view in more detail.

Now, I tell you all of this not to confuse you.

Instead, I do tell you all of this for two reasons. There are two dangers we should avoid: one on one side, and one on the other.

First, I tell you this because sometimes I think we expect the Bible to answer all of our questions. Unfortunately, when we do that, we risk misusing the Bible to try to make it do something that God never intended for it to do.

The human desire for answers is quite understandable. Clearly, all of these various interpretations about the Nephilim can not all be right.

At the same time, there are views of the Nephilim that are simply not anywhere in the ballpark. Sorry, but while Darren Aronofsky’s film Noah might have a provocatively, challenging environmentalist message, his idea of the Nephilim being rock-creatures that look too much like the tree-creatures in the Lord of the Rings movies is a bit way out there. Aronofsky’s Nephilim tell us more about himself than he does about the Bible.

When reading the Bible simply becomes an exercise of projecting one’s own spiritual autobiography, then merely voicing your own, uninformed opinion eventually becomes counter-productive. While it may come across as self-revealing, it is really only an excuse for elevating one’s self instead of God’s Word. Narcissism edifies no one. Eventually, throwing one’s hands up in the air in frustration, thinking, “What is the point? Everyone has their own interpretation!,” is not the “answer” either.

A better way to look at it is to consider some of the biblical themes that are touched on by the Nephilim story, and how it relates to other passages of the Bible that have a greater sense of clarity. Whether you hold to the “fallen angels” view or the “children of Seth” view, there are some common threads. For example, since the Nephilim are “giants” that are in rebellion to God, does it not give us some sense that God’s Word is introducing to us the theme that God will conquer the “giants” that stand in the way on our path towards Jesus? Will He not guarantee that “Promised Land” of His rest, despite the “giants” that are rumored to oppose us? Will He not slay the Goliaths that cause us to tremble in fear?

When it comes to difficult parts of the Bible, we do not need to know THE one and only answer. But in saying this, it does not give us license to say, “Hey, anything goes!

So surely, there are lessons to learn from Genesis 6:1-4, even if the passage is rather obscure. This might be tricky for preachers to tackle from the pulpit, but we need not skip over these “tough passages” in our own personal study. We can still wrestle with them, seeking wisdom from other mature believers who have wrestled with them, too. You might see something that the Lord has taught you that I have not seen. Perhaps you can share it with me so that I can learn from you (but can we pledge not to go crazy over this? We do not need to make things up. You are only telling us something about yourself, and not God’s Word, when you do that!).

At the same time, do we always need to have the right answer? Can we be content to just let the Bible be the Bible, and to celebrate its mystery? Can there be any wisdom in saying, “Hey, I am willing to listen and learn, trusting that the Lord will have His own way here, but … I really do not know the answer?



About Clarke Morledge

Clarke Morledge -- Computer Network Engineer, College of William and Mary... I hiked the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of the famous Colorado Fourteeners, with some friends in July, 2012. My buddy, Mike Scott, snapped this photo of me on the summit. View all posts by Clarke Morledge

5 responses to “The Nephilim and the Wisdom of Not Knowing

  • John Paine

    Great post Clarke. The argument that the Nephilim may refer to hominids such as Neanderthals, or human interbreeding with hominids, is intriguing. There’s an interesting post by Sandra Dimas on this topic at that forms a good starting point for further inquiry.


  • jriddett

    Love the last line on this post. Great article.


  • Abel

    The Nephilim existed in the old world, before the flood. Goliath wasn’t a Nephilim, he was a very large and tall man. The Bible is being literal in this passage. The sons of God being angels that came down and forsook their stations to take themselves wives of the daughters of men, and they had children by them. Then those children grew to be the Nephilim, who were mighty men and famous (maybe like Hercules or other mythologically known figures)


  • Taylor

    I don’t think it’s narcissism. I do agree with relating the topics back to Gods word. However, I believe in educating one self about many experiences around us. That’s how we evolve and transform. Hearing others stories is essentially like going to a group therapy session. A testimony. A great one at that. So, you can deny it or you can believe it. Take it with a grain of salt. Realize this is all beyond us. Having compassion to hear others out makes a collective story. Think back to history and what we can trace back to the source. Without those accounts of history we wouldn’t know about any of these things. The Bible itself would be out of the question. Humans put stories together through the Holy Spirit into the Bible. The holt spirit still speaks today. It is up to your own spirit and discernment to know what is holy and what isn’t. If you feel like you’re drowning in fire., I wouldn’t consider it holy unless it liberates you. I’ve had my own experiences with one giant in particular. I’ve been through possession and have been grateful enough to be saved multiple times from demonic attacks. The only thing I can tell you about the neph., is most of what you’ve already said. It is very literal. They violate you in almost any way they can. They can possess as well with legions of demons to back them. Which in turn makes it hard for a priest but not for God. They walk among us as ghosts would. Luring and hunting. Always watching. They’re referred to as giants because you cannot run or hide. They’re there always. Your responsibility comes down to seeking God. God brings truth and exposes webs of lies. He is full of love even for the sinners. Which is good news for us. But it’s not a fair world. The devil does indeed prowl like a lion too. They also refer God to a lion. Two lions in a den.., what could go wrong? Historical accounts are precious. They tell stories that can confirm today’s conversations. Today’s experiences and tomorrow’s end. It’s overwhelming sometimes to think of how much is actually out there. This world will start to make you believe in fables. I do like that you address more than one point and question them. You’re on the right track. I don’t know everything but what I do know.., is we have to be careful. We have to seek. It’s so important that we put the pieces together. To try our best at least. It’s that doubt,, of ever finding out the truths to this world that will stop you dead in your tracks if you let it. I’ve had a lot of experiences and honestly some I could live without. One of them is that giant. They’re actually very tree like. Rigid structure like a rock. Super scary to deal with. I’m scarred and not many can say they’ve been hurt by something like that. The only one I can turn to is God. He knows what I’ve been through and he will gladly head my story out. Every time. Any of yours too. Because that is apart of your testimony. Strengthens the faith while surely testing you. Cause how can you deny validations? Especially when they’re outside of your own perception. For example, others who see what you’re seeing. Animals even. The giant will follow you like any of the other demons. But they’re a lot harder to get rid of and they’re there when you don’t realize it. They can manifest themselves to be seen. Years ago when I was drawing in my school notebook. I drew this random demented thing that I had paid no mind to. To pass time in class. Little did I know, years down the road I would see this thing right in front of me. The exact same thing that I drew and it gave me chills. I wondered, had this violent creature always been there? And if so, for how long? When would I actually be safe? The answer wasn’t pleasant. I would have to be dead and in heaven. This world isn’t safe. It’s a war. A war we cannot fully see but yet it’s right in front of us. I could go on about what it is. Anyways, I was unfortunately yes … into magic at the time. I never did any dark magic so I thought I was okay. I was experimenting to see if it was bad or if it was misunderstood. I learned quickly off and on. This time., it was permanent. I was about to sleep when I kept hearing the bedroom door open and close repetitively. More than usual and it sounded purposeful. Most times it was the AC. I would have continued to think that if I didn’t feel the bed being bumped a few times near my feet. It was in a cycle of right to left and back again to the door. I had my eyes shut tight because I have experienced past demonic happenings that weren’t of my doing. So I knew when something bad was around. I just didn’t know HOW bad. I finally had the guts to open my eyes. I regret it immediately. But what could I do anyways? It was already happening. Like a trauma in creation. This thing was TALL I mean it was barley fitting under the ceiling. It had to crouch. It was about to turn my way with this insidious grin. I shut my eyes again before it looked at me. It was right by my feet coming for me. The experience was so surreal because it looked like a stop motion picture. With every movement it made., I was closer to having a heart attack. It’s nice to have small experiences to know what’s out there.., not so much this. This will have you paranoid every night that it will come back. To not hurt you,, but to kill you. What happened next was I had woken up (I’ll call them my roommate) at the time. I slapped them silly and was shaking like a madman. They told me that the cat would have freaked out if something like that was in here. So I started to deny what I had seen. I figured that yea I know animals are sensitive to these spiritual presences. My roommate decided to go check around the house anyways. I then start to feel super hot and sick. I feel like I can’t speak and that I’m being choked. My face starts to make weird expressions that I cannot control and that I’m fighting against. I turn to the cat so I can see if she could notice anything at all. Well,, the car started to do something it’s never done at me. It growled like it was threatened. Ears back and everything. I mean it looked as if the cat wanted to kill me too. But I knew it wasn’t me. It was something else inside me now. I could feel it and it was talking to me. Showing me gruesome things to feel as if I have already carried out terrible deeds. To torment me. I was scared that I could lose control. I looked into the mirror across from the bed and there was this glare in my eye. Whatever it was, wasn’t me. My own face was smiling dementedly back at me. My roommate had returned and notice the car upset but continued off of bed. I tried to pray in my head and brush it off. Cause I had been sick for a while and wanted to believe it was that. But it didn’t go away. It got worse. The lights turned back off and suddenly I could feel something climbing between my legs. I know it’s a lot of information but it basically violated me like I said in all ways. I fought enough to leave on my own and lock myself up in a bathroom. I felt dangerous. I was about to kill myself because I knew this thing was going to consume me until there wasn’t anything left. It was going to not just hurt me but others. That thing had to be over 15 feet. It was like a tree that’s for sure. Now to know it was inside was terrifying. It was hell. I was in the bathroom for the whole day. That would be a hilarious sentence if I wasn’t being possessed. I was exorcising myself with prayer videos. Ones specifically targeted towards possession. I was desperate and I had no time left. I was in its grip. Way too close for comfort. In the past I had been saved by not only God but a kind angel. I repented and God saved me again. However this thing has been following me for a very long time. To the point of which it begin when I notified a group of people of my existence. The people that worship the devil have all kinds of names throughout many eras. But they exist today in high places. They know me well and have used them to try to lure and hurt me. I’ve been guided by God but also tormented by the devils plans. Just as plato had said, “only the dead have seen the end of the war”. This thing left me with a message. “We’re not done with you yet”. Ever since I have used Gods word as armor. It works well but it takes more patience with higher levels of demons. For that, you will need much more help. The help of others faith. The more voices that speak of God, the better. The more specific,. The better. Commandment prayers are your best friend. The fight isn’t over but it will not last forever. I may be traumatized and paranoid but that doesn’t mean I don’t have faith. I have had good spiritual experiences too. One with complete joy and safety. It felt like heaven. Peaceful. However, these are all too real. Just because you don’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there. The last thing I’ll leave you with is that it wasn’t just after me. It’s after everyone. But especially to those that see them or it. Because it knows you know. You can go spread the word. Your testimony and we all know the devil doesn’t want that. It doesn’t want you to get away. To have any peace what so ever. It’s only here to devour and destroy. So please consider the idea that there’s more. For those of you who wander up on this page looking for someone to relate with., you’re not alone. I’m sorry for that but also now you know. We are not here to be ignorant. We are here to give our testimony and hope others will untie to be saved together. If anyone is curious enough to reach out., I have drawings of my encounters with demons and this giant. Plus more experiences that will make sense of some of the confusion that is called our reality. That or if you need help with demons. I know a few ways to scare them off through the word and prayers. Other things provided by a church as well. This is only for the visitors that need this information. Not anyone who will scorn. I provide part of my testimony in hopes others will be understood. That others won’t feel alone in bizarre situations. Remember, no matter how bad they seem to be and feel. They already lost and God is the strongest source. For God will deliver you from the depths of the devil and his followers. Email:


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