Tag: history

Were the Nephilim in Genesis 6 Extraterrestrials?

According to the History Channel, yes. But I do not trust the spirit behind those programs. They are not at all interested in telling people what God was saying to mankind during those cited episodes in the Bible that seem to be describing ETs to them. The programs just want to divert from any notion that there is ONE GOD who is a Loving Boss. Their definition of ET would be a life form that is not spiritual but physical, and has evolved farther than humans and may have produced us as an experiment. There is never a message of love for us or intervening on our behalf as God has done through the centuries. The Bible-believing Christian could define ETs as angels or demons because they are not from this earth. Jesus defined God, who is the ultimate “ET,” as being a spirit, not a physical entity simply with superior DNA. If Satan can get people to believe that God is nothing more than a physical entity that’s more evolved than we are, then there is less desire to worship him….and this could be the bottom line of this deception. Who are we to trust, the History Channel along with its evolutionary bias, or the Word of God to humanity? From a biblical perspective, determining the actual identity of the nephilim is difficult. There are four theories:

Theory #1: Offspring of Seth—The sons of God were the godly line from Adam to Seth down to Noah, and the Nephilim were fallen children who sought after false gods. A portion of the Dead Sea Scrolls contains the earliest known reference to the phrase “children of Seth,” stating that God had condemned them for their rebellion. Other early references to the offspring of Seth rebelling from God and mingling with the daughters of Cain are found in Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Augustine of Hippo, Julius Africanus, and the Letters attributed to St. Clement. It is also the view expressed in the modern canonical Amharic Ethiopian Orthodox Bible. Orthodox Judaism rejects the idea that angels could intermarry with men. Consequently, most Jewish commentaries describe the Nephilim as being from the offspring of “sons of nobles,” rather than from “sons of God” or “sons of angels.” Note: Jewish or Christian commentaries are not considered to be word-for-word God-breathed by Christians or Jews.

Likewise, a long-held view among some Christians is that the “sons of God” who fathered the Nephilim spoken of in the text, were in fact the formerly righteous descendants of Seth who rebelled, while the “daughters of men” were the unrighteous descendants of Cain, and the Nephilim the offspring of their union. Holders of this view have looked for support in Jesus’ statement that “in the days before the flood they (humans) were marrying and giving in marriage.”

Some individuals and groups, including St. Augustine and John Calvin, take the view of Genesis 6:2 that the “angels” who fathered the Nephilim referred to certain human males from the lineage of Seth, who were called sons of God probably in reference to their being formerly in a covenantal relationship with Yahweh (Deuteronomy 14:1; 32:5). These sources assert that men began to pursue bodily interests, and so took wives of the daughters of men, e.g., those who were descended from Cain or from any people who did not worship God.

Theory #2: Offspring of angels— Fallen angels bred with human women and had offspring that were called Nephilim. A number of early sources refer to the “sons of heaven” as “Angels.” The earliest such references seem to be in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Greek and Aramaic Enochic literature. Also some Christian apologists shared this opinion, such as Tertullian and especially Lactantius. However, “angels” in this context has sometimes been considered to be a sarcastic epithet for the offspring of Seth who rebelled. The earliest statement in a secondary commentary explicitly interpreting this to mean that angelic beings mated with humans can be traced to the rabbinical Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, and it has since become especially commonplace in modern-day Christian commentaries.

The New American Bible commentary draws a parallel to the Epistle of Jude and the statements set forth in Genesis, suggesting that the Epistle refers implicitly to the paternity of Nephilim as heavenly beings who came to earth and had sexual intercourse with women. Genesis 6:4 implies that the Nephilim have inhabited the Earth in at least two different time periods—before and after Noah’s Flood. If the Nephilim were supernatural beings themselves, there is a theory that the “giants of Canaan” in Numbers 13:33 were the direct descendants of the antediluvian Nephilim, or were fathered by the same supernatural parents.

Some Christian commentators have argued against this view, citing Jesus’ statement that angels do not marry. Others believe that Jesus was only referring to angels in heaven. Evidence in favor of the “fallen angels” interpretation includes the fact that the phrase “the sons of God” (the Hebrew words literally mean “sons of the gods”) is used just two times outside of Genesis chapter 6. In both instances (namely, Job 1:6 & 2:1) the phrase refers to angels.

The story of the Nephilim is further elaborated in the Book of Enoch. The Greek, Aramaic, and main Ge’ez manuscripts of 1 Enoch and Jubilees connect the origin of the Nephilim with the fallen angels. Although Christians do not believe these sources are “God-breathed” like the books of the Bible, they can contain historical facts.

According to these texts, the fallen angels who begat the Nephilim were cast into a place of total darkness. However, Jubilees also states that God granted ten percent of the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim to remain after the flood, as demons, to try to lead the human race astray until the Final Judgment. In addition to Enoch, the Book of Jubilees also states that ridding the Earth of these Nephilim was one of God’s purposes for flooding the Earth in Noah’s time. These works describe the Nephilim as being evil giants. There are also allusions to these descendants in the books of Judith, Sirach 16:7, Baruch 3:26–28, and Wisdom of Solomon 14:6, and 3 Maccabees 2:4.

Theory #3: Fallen angels overtook men—Fallen angels possessed men and caused them to breed with women; the offspring were not a mix but completely human. One question is, would such people who are
overtaken by demons and/or fallen angels warrant the title of “sons of God?” In all of Scripture, demons are never described as “sons of God.” This is similar to Theory Two.

Theory #4: Fallen men view—Godly men (sons of God) took ungodly wives, and their descendants (the Nephilim) followed after the false gods, rejected God, and fell far from God in wickedness. This is similar to Theory One.

Conclusion: Take your pick. I’m not sure if we can know for certain. I am not comfortable with fallen angels being the parents of the Nephilim because Jesus said that angels do not marry, therefore I assume they do not reproduce like humans. I also assume they lack sexual organs to perform such a task, unless they did exactly what the Holy Spirit did to Mary. If demons can do this, I assume that would mean they can create the necessary physical genetic code material, and I think only God can do that. There are no other Creators beside Him. This would make for a great sci-fi movie – evil angels steal genetic code from God in order to produce a human race against God! For an in-depth work on the Nephilim, go to Who Were the Nephilim – Answers in Genesis


CL – I have never studied this outside Scripture and really appreciated your commentary and extended references. This is something I searched myself (just Bible Commentaries) and came to my own conclusion which you have included here – but I have always still been unresolved and desirous of more information from knowledgeable resources. This was great and when I have time I will search more out.

Alona R – In all of my Bible studies I had never heard of most of your references, just Judith and the Maccabees. Thank you for all your research and references.

Q & A: Slavery

The Biblical type of slavery has nothing to do with the horror of African-American slavery from our history. This issue causes uninformed critics to deride the Holy Scriptures unfairly. Biblical slavery was “manservanthood.” These were people who owed money and they worked off their debt and were freed later. Like any power situation with fallen man, there are abuses, but the Bible states what proper behavior is for both the “slave” and the “master.” The 1787 Constitution’s treatment of slaves is clearly unbiblical. For example, notice how it bars runaway slaves from being legally emancipated if they escape to a free state:

“No person [slave or servant] held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged [emancipated] from such Service of Labour, but shall be delivered up [involuntarily returned] on Claim of the Party [slave-owner or master] to whom such Service or Labour may be due.”

Now compare how the preceding constitutional mandate for the return of runaway slaves blatantly contradicts Deuteronomy 23:15-16:

“Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee; he shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best; thou shalt not oppress him.”

So have this defense ready when people put down the Bible regarding this issue.

Chris L – Nice answer. On that same vein, I know a lot of people, including me, struggle with the passages detailing God ordering the complete destruction of men, women, and children, e.g. 1 Sam. 15. Even if we can show passages where Israel’s laws are unbelievably protective of women and children, particularly for its time, that sort of passage just has this quality that is difficult to ascribe to our notion of a loving God. Even if the people He wanted destroyed had done some horrible things to Israel, I wouldn’t normally feel that would justify killing their children. Yet we know God is perfectly just. Even the killing of Egypt’s first-born sons is a bit unnerving. I’ve heard that ‘Old Testament is different’ argument, but does that really cut it?

Dave to Chris L – On the surface, the notion of God ordering the deaths of women and children (and sometimes even the livestock) sounds horrible. But we need to understand what God was accomplishing in those OT days. He was establishing Truth and proper worship and behavior. The Jewish nation was supposed to set that example, but too often they began to act like the surrounding nations who were all pagan and had horrible practices. So I think that at times God had to execute groups of people in order to slow down the advancement of horrible behavior. Pagan behavior is strongly a generational thing. In other words, kids learn hate toward groups of people (Israel) and other ungodly behaviors from parents and their cultures. So, at critical times I believe, God in His wisdom saw what the future would be if He did NOT eliminate those families. It is much like our medical approach to cancer. Malignant cells rapidly reproduce and starve out normal cells. In order to preserve the whole (or body), those bad cells must be killed. I also think if we could actually see how those pagan nations lived and that their next generation would be worse, we could more fully understand the so-called severity of God. I am sure that, in the long run, more people come to have eternal life because the magnitude of evil was delayed at certain times throughout history.

Mark D – Does the Bible condone slavery? In a word, no. The Bible acknowledges slavery, and too many read acknowledgment as approval. While the subject is more complex than can be answered briefly, a few things need to be noted. One is that slavery as described in the Bible is not the same thing as America’s historical slavery of blacks. One size or one description does not fit all when it comes to slavery as we find it mentioned in the Bible. There were time limits, financial goals and master-slave relationships that make the slavery of the Bible a whole different animal than what we know in American history.

We need to remember that former societies were not simply versions of the current societies we know today. People’s opportunities, expectations for family and business, social structures, and economic relationships have varied wildly over the years. Back in Old Testament times, slavery was a broad name applied to several social/financial relationships.

In Old Testament Hebrew culture, slavery wasn’t based on race. They had had experience with that themselves when they were slaves in Egypt. One must think economically rather than racially if they are to understand an important distinction from what we know from our own (American) history.

Exodus 21:21, for example, regulates the treatment of slaves: “And if a man beats his male or female slave with a rod, so that he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished.” Leviticus 25:39-40 tells the Israelites that if one of their “brothers” sells himself to another for financial reasons, he was not to be treated as a slave, and was to be released at a certain point (the Year of Jubilee). Slavery was a temporary condition unless the slave determined otherwise. Again, there are far too many regulations about the treatment and eventual release of slaves to go into detail, but the two books referred to earlier in the paragraph give a picture of regulation rather than condoning. From a Biblically spiritual perspective, what God’s law brought was a series of directions and restrictions that prevented violence, extortion and permanent slavery on a nation and society that had known bondage and was surrounded by nations that often treated its slaves abominably.

Probably the biggest indicator that Western modern slavery and the various conditions called “slavery” in the Old Testament is the complete prohibition against kidnapping. Exodus 21:16 couldn’t be clearer: “He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.” In the New Testament, I Timothy 1:8-10 puts kidnappers in a list of the most grievous sinners.

Yes, the apostle Paul writes to slaves in New Testament times to serve their masters faithfully, among other things. But for those who see all things politically, it may be hard to remember that the Bible is not a political document. (For those who believe that it’s God’s Word, however, we believe it transcends and affects politics at the same time, getting to the root of individual change, thereby changing societies overtime). Paul wrote to people in nearly every conceivable role and status in life (husbands, wives, children, soldiers, employers), encouraging them in their position to love and serve God. He makes it clear that spiritually, as receivers of God’s grace, everyone in every position is equal. For a glimpse at his heart, check out the book of Philemon, where he comes this close to asking/demanding a friend to release his slave, using strong persuasion instead of the authority he could have used. Lastly, for those who love history, one can find a deeply Christian and Biblical foundation to the anti-slavery movement. Britain’s William Wilberforce is perhaps the most dramatic example, but even in the US, we have Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Just a little research reveals the deeply Christian roots of the modern anti- slavery movements, just as one can find the same deep roots in today’s anti-sex trade activity.

Christians see a containment of excesses in the Scriptures in the Old Testament, followed by a planting of many seeds in the New Testament (our freedom in Christ, equality of all believers) that laid the eventual groundwork for the political removal of slavery, especially in those societies that had a strong Christian influence at one time.

For more telling Scriptures on the subject, see http://www.openbible.info/topics/slavery

Lance M (a close friend and history expert, especially on slavery) – Excellent discussion on death and slavery. Dave, your cell example was awesome. I am teaching similar stuff with my Powerhouse Youth. Mark D’s slavery thought: I do have to say that the American slavery and the Egyptian format were very similar. Both groups had no choice and suffered greatly. Both were treated this way because of race (viewed as animals at best).

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