Genesis 6:4 states “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.” This verse references a race of giants called the Nephilim who lived on the earth prior to the flood. Their existence raises some important questions and implications.
Who were the Nephilim?
The Nephilim were a race of giants who lived on the earth prior to the flood. The verse states they were the offspring of the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men.” There are differing views on the identity of the “sons of God.” Some believe this is referring to fallen angels or demons who mated with human women, producing superhuman offspring. Others believe it refers to godly descendants of Seth intermarrying with ungodly Cainites. Either way, the Nephilim were a hybrid race of giants who dominated the pre-flood world.
Why were the Nephilim significant?
The verse describes the Nephilim as “mighty men” and “men of renown.” This means they were looked up to as great warriors and heroes of old. Their physical stature and prowess made them celebrities and legendary figures. However, Genesis 6:5 goes on to say that the wickedness of man was great on the earth at that time and every intention was evil. So while the Nephilim may have been revered, they contributed to the violence, immorality and corruption that overran the world, leading to God’s judgment by flood.
Some also believe the Nephilim introduced and promoted false religion, sorcery, and idolatry as a way to control and subjugate the human population. Their agenda was focused on keeping people enslaved to sin and ignorance about the one true God. So the influence of the Nephilim kept people away from their Creator and stoked God’s anger.
How does the existence of giants impact our theology?
The fact that giants once existed challenges the popular notion that humanity has been on an upward evolutionary trajectory over millions of years. It lends credence to the biblical timeline that sophisticated civilizations date back only thousands of years. The prescence of giants also testifies to the reliability of Scripture, as their remains have been unearthed around the world. Additionally, it demonstrates that the demonic realm seeks to deceive and dominate humans, using hybrid demi-gods to promote a godless culture.
Most importantly, the existence of Nephilim shows that evil will ultimately be judged. God refused to let these powerful hybrids and their corruption continue indefinitely. He stepped in to destroy their dominion and punish sin, while saving righteous Noah and his family. The Nephilim were wiped out with the rest of wicked mankind in the judgment of the flood. But one day there will be a final judgment where God eradicates evil forever and establishes His perfect reign over a restored world.
Are there giants today?
Genesis 6:4 notes that the Nephilim existed even after the flood, implying some may have survived God’s judgment. Some believe giants like Goliath were genetic descendants of the pre-flood Nephilim. However, there is no conclusive biblical evidence for Nephilim coexisting with humans today. That said, the spirit behind the Nephilim lives on in the demonic realm’s continued efforts to promote idolatry, false religion, and spiritual rebellion against God. The warning from Genesis remains – unchecked evil inevitably leads to judgment.
Examples of giant remains
Archeological discoveries have uncovered evidence that giants really existed in the ancient world:
- Giant bones and skulls unearthed at ancient burial mounds in America, particularly the Ohio valley region.
- Weapons of enormous size belonging to giant warriors found in Greece.
- Giant footprints fossilized in stone at sites in Africa.
- Ancient Jewish and Roman historians like Josephus referencing bones of giants being on display in public places.
While some findings may be hoaxes, there are enough examples from disparate cultures around the globe to confirm the existence of giants.
The Nephilim in extra-biblical texts
The Nephilim are mentioned in some ancient extra-biblical sources, which provide additional insights about how they were viewed:
- The Book of Enoch (7:2) describes giants 3,000 ells high (around 4,500 feet).
- The Book of Jubilees (7:21–25) details that they could kill men with their bare hands.
- The Book of Giants from the Dead Sea Scrolls mentions the Nephilim’s height and influence.
- The Rephaim are described as giants in Ugaritic texts dating back to 1300 BC.
While not canonical, these sources lend credence to the notion that the ancients encountered and documented a race of formidable giants.
Nephilim co-existing with adamites
According to Genesis 6:4, Nephilim lived concurrently with “daughters of man,” presumed to be the female descendants of Adam. The text portrays these groups intermarrying and producing offspring. This raises some interesting questions if the Nephilim really were giant hybrids:
- How could giants and humans reproduce if they were completely different species or creatures?
- Were there families that contained both giants and normal-sized people side-by-side?
- Did the Nephilim have special abilities or superhuman traits compared to their human spouses?
- What happened to the children of these mixed marriages in terms of their stature and skills?
Unfortunately the Bible does not provide this level of detail about Nephilim-human relations. But it does make clear that giants could somehow breed with humans, adding to the biblical intrigue surrounding these ancient colossal beings.
Association with the flood
A key reason that God judged the world with a flood in Genesis 6 was because of the proliferation of Nephilim giants and the corruption they engendered on the earth. Verse 5 states: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Then verse 11 remarks: “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.” The dominant influence of the giant Nephilim no doubt contributed to the severity of evil and violence that overwhelmed the ancient world.
This highlights God’s extreme displeasure with unrestrained evil and those exalting themselves as objects of worship in place of the Creator. The same sins that brought the flood judgment will again one day bring God’s wrath on the world’s wickedness. The existence of ancient giants like the Nephilim provides a warning about the inevitable judgment that awaits those who rebel against God’s sovereignty.
Goliath and other giants
The giants known as the Nephilim were not the only oversized beings mentioned in the Old Testament narratives. There were also the Anakim, Emim and Rephaim, who were tribes or clans of very large people described as giants or comparing in height to the Nephilim. The most famous giant was Goliath, the Philistine warrior defeated by David.
Goliath stood around 9 feet tall and his armor weighed over 120 pounds (1 Samuel 17:4-7). His great size instilled fear in the Israelite army. Other giants included King Og of Bashan whose huge iron bed was over 13 feet long (Deuteronomy 3:11). And there was the giant with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot that Joshua and the spies encountered in the land of Canaan (2 Samuel 21:20).
So Scripture records the existence of many human giants even after the flood. They stood well over seven and even nine feet, possessing incredible strength. Though not the original Nephilim, these later giants were evidence of genetic anomalies producing supersized humans both before and after the flood.
Nephilim size and features
There are no precise details in Scripture about how tall the Nephilim giants actually were. However, a few clues in the biblical text as well as extra-biblical sources yield some possibilities about their stature and appearance:
- Numbers 13:33 says the Nephilim made the Israelite spies look like grasshoppers in comparison.
- 1 Samuel 17 says Goliath at about 9 feet made armored Saul look small in comparison.
- Some Nephilim may have had six fingers and toes (2 Samuel 21:20).
- They were descendants of Anakim giants who were described as strong and tall like cedars (Amos 2:9).
- The Book of Enoch claims Nephilim were over 400 feet high.
So they potentially ranged anywhere from 9 feet to over 400 feet tall! Even on the low end, they would have towered over average humans. Their immense stature aligned with descriptions of being “mighty” men and warriors. They must have had incredible strength to match their size.
How did giant Nephilim exist?
Given the much smaller stature of humans both then and now, how could giants like the Nephilim arise? There are several possible explanations:
- Supernatural origin – If the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 were angels/demons, their coupling with humans may have genetically altered humanity’s development, producing unnaturally large offspring.
- Genetic anomalies – Rare gigantism disorders could have produced abnormally large humans exceeding seven or even nine feet at times.
- Ideal environment – The pre-flood world environment may have been “hyperbaric” with greater air pressure and oxygen levels, promoting larger growth.
- Diet/lifestyle – Their diet and living conditions could have promoted greater height and body mass.
While definitive evidence is unavailable, a combination of supernatural engineering and ideal living conditions most likely enabled Nephilim to grow remarkably large in stature compared to humans both before and after the flood.
There are several key takeaways from the brief mention of Nephilim giants in Genesis 6:
- They were real creatures verified by archaeological finds.
- They possessed great size and abilities beyond normal humans.
- They were hybrid offspring of angelic/demonic beings and humans.
- They were associated with violence and evil before the flood.
- They significantly influenced the spreading wickedness on the earth.
- Their judgment by God in the flood stands as warning about the inevitable judgment of evil.
The fact that giants once walked the earth reminds us of the accuracy of Scripture, the demonic threat we face, and urgency of overcoming evil with good. The Nephilim’s existence and destruction exalt God’s sovereignty and righteousness in redeeming humanity.