This post forms part of my series of posts on “Epicness in the Bible“.
The Nephilim is one of those curios stories in the bible, dropped here and there, and overlooked by many. But the trail can be followed all the way from early Genesis to Samuel. It all started a while after God created humans and they multiplied. The Bible tells us that the “sons of God” saw the “daughters of men“, and thought they were pretty darn smashing. So they chose against the natural order of things, came to the earth and married these human women. The children that came from those unions were giants, called Nephilim.
Now at this point in the story, there is a lot that can be speculated, seeing as the bible doesn’t really go into much more depth concerning them. The assumption is that the “sons of God” had to be either angels or demons (fallen angels, and therefore still actually angels). So these Nephilim were the children of either demons or angels. What do you get when you cross a demon with a human? No it’s not a joke, it’s a rhetorical question. Did they have supernatural powers that other humans don’t have? Were they maybe able to fly? To walk in the spiritual dimention? The only thing we know is that they were really big, and mighty warriors. In the book of Enoch there is written some more about them, but I haven’t gotten around to reading that yet so I can’t say (the book of Enoch is referenced in the bible, but is not part of the text).
The Nephilim are referred to as “the mighty men who were of old“. They were pretty bad-ass apparently. Now all of this happened before the great flood (you know the whole Noah story). It seems like the Nephilim were so bad, and were making the world so rotten, that God finally had to destroy the world in order to save it from the evilness of man. But the story of the Nephilim doesn’t end with the flood… you remember that Noah, and his children, and their spouses all went on the ark together? Well it seems like one of them were still carrying some of that Nephilim DNA, and thus the giants’ lines weren’t totally wiped out with the flood.
So skipping forward a few hundred years, we now find the Israelites traveling through the desert to get to the promised land (the exodus from Egypt). So they are camped on one side of the Jordan river, and they send out spies to go and scout out the land on the other side of the river to see if they can take it over by conquest, but the report brought back from the spies was not favorable: “And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them“.
So at some point, the Nephilim gene came through strong again in a man by the name of Anak. He spawned a lot of people in whom the gene was strong again, and so his offspring, the Anakim, were mostly giants as well. Surely they were not as hardcore as the Nephilim of old, because of their DNA mixing with normal people through the years (no time for a lesson in genetics 101 now) – but some of those traits still came through.
The Israelites took over most of Canaan by conquest nonetheless (having the advantage of God on their side). During the years of the long conquest of Canaan, Joshua drove the Anakim from the hill country, and then Caleb finally drove them out of Hebron as well – but a small remnant stayed alive and went to live in the cities of Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod.
Fast forward another few hundred years. The Israelites, under the kingship of their new king Saul, are encamped against the Philistene ranks, ready for war. And every day a giant from Gath, named Goliath comes out to taunt them. He is said to be three meters tall and everyone is afraid of him. Is it a coincidence that the well known giant Goliath came from Gath, one of the places where the last Anakim were driven to? Probably not, I think it is safe to assume that Goliath himself was Anakim, a descendant of the Nephilim.
Now the rest of the story most people know, Goliath met his end at the hand of David who was later to be king of Israel. But this is not the last recording of the Anakim, we also see David’s mighty men killing off more giants, named Ishbi-Benob, Saph (Sippai), and Lahmi, as well as an unnamed giant with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot.
This is as far as I can trace the mentions of the Nephilim and their descendants, it is possible that the last of the really serious giants were killed off in David’s time. I plan on writing more on David, his mighty men, and their exploits in later posts.