The Nephilim are mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 6 and Numbers 13. How often have you heard a pastor or Bible teacher offer a solid explanation of these passages? I think many Christians who know their Bible well in many respects could not give a theologically sound answer to a basic question a child might ask such as, “Mom, where did the Nephilim in the Bible go?” or “Are the Nephilim still here today? How do we know?”
The Nephilim are also what I would call (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) the gateway drug to so many other weird stories you will find online today. It’s likely we will hear more about these passages in the Bible from a variety of people – both Christian and not. So it would be beneficial to brush up on these passages and decide what you believe theologically about them.
So let’s start by looking at the two passages in Scripture.
The Nephilim in Genesis 6:1-7 (BSB)
Now when men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they took as wives whomever they chose.
So the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days shall be 120 years.”
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and afterward as well—when the sons of God had relations with the daughters of men. And they bore them children who became the mighty men of old, men of renown.
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was altogether evil all the time. And the LORD regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—every man and beast and crawling creature and bird of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.”
The Nephilim in Numbers 13 (BSB)
And the LORD said to Moses, “Send out for yourself men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each of their fathers’ tribes send one man who is a leader among them.”
So at the consent of the LORD, Moses sent them out from the Wilderness of Paran. All the men were leaders of the Israelites, and these were their names:
From the tribe of Reuben, Shammua son of Zaccur;
from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat son of Hori;
from the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh;
from the tribe of Issachar, Igal son of Joseph;
from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Nun;
from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti son of Raphu;
from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel son of Sodi;
from the tribe of Manasseh (a tribe of Joseph), Gaddi son of Susi;
from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel son of Gemalli;
from the tribe of Asher, Sethur son of Michael;
from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi son of Vophsi;
and from the tribe of Gad, Geuel son of Machi.
These were the names of the men Moses sent to spy out the land; and Moses gave to Hoshea son of Nun the name Joshua.
When Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, he told them, “Go up through the Negev and into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether its people are strong or weak, few or many. Is the land where they live good or bad? Are the cities where they dwell open camps or fortifications? Is the soil fertile or unproductive? Are there trees in it or not? Be courageous, and bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)
So they went up and spied out the land from the Wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo-hamath. They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, dwelled. It had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.
When they came to the Valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes, which they carried on a pole between two men. They also took some pomegranates and figs. Because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut there, that place was called the Valley of Eshcol.
After forty days the men returned from spying out the land, and they went back to Moses, Aaron, and the whole congregation of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran at Kadesh. They brought back a report for the whole congregation and showed them the fruit of the land.
And they gave this account to Moses: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and indeed, it is flowing with milk and honey. Here is some of its fruit! Nevertheless, the people living in the land are strong, and the cities are large and fortified. We even saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the land of the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the sea and along the Jordan.”
Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We must go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly conquer it!”
But the men who had gone up with him replied, “We cannot go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are!”
So they gave the Israelites a bad report about the land that they had spied out: “The land we explored devours its inhabitants, and all the people we saw there are great in stature. We even saw the Nephilim there—the descendants of Anak that come from the Nephilim! We seemed like grasshoppers in our own sight, and we must have seemed the same to them!”
Jude 1:3-16 (BSB)
This passage does not mention the nephilim but it will come up in the videos below.
Beloved, although I made every effort to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt it necessary to write and urge you to contend earnestly for the faith entrusted once for all to the saints. For certain men have crept in among you unnoticed—ungodly ones who were designated long ago for condemnation. They turn the grace of our God into a license for immorality, and they deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Although you are fully aware of this, I want to remind you that after Jesus had delivered His people out of the land of Egypt, He destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own domain but abandoned their proper dwelling—these He has kept in eternal chains under darkness, bound for judgment on that great day. In like manner, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, who indulged in sexual immorality and pursued strange flesh, are on display as an example of those who sustain the punishment of eternal fire.
Yet in the same way these dreamers defile their bodies, reject authority, and slander glorious beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he disputed with the devil over the body of Moses, did not presume to bring a slanderous charge against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” These men, however, slander what they do not understand, and like irrational animals, they will be destroyed by the things they do instinctively. Woe to them! They have traveled the path of Cain; they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam; they have perished in Korah’s rebellion.
These men are hidden reefs in your love feasts, shamelessly feasting with you but shepherding only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried along by the wind; fruitless trees in autumn, twice dead after being uprooted. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, also prophesied about them:
“Behold, the Lord is coming
with myriads of His holy ones
to execute judgment on everyone,
and to convict all the ungodly
of every ungodly act of wickedness
and every harsh word spoken against Him by ungodly sinners.”
These men are discontented grumblers, following after their own lusts; their mouths spew arrogance; they flatter others for their own advantage.
2 Peter 2:1-12 (BSB)
This passage will come up. Make special note of the reference to Tartarus in one of the videos because that is going to come up again in future posts I’ll be doing.
Now there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow in their depravity, and because of them the way of truth will be defamed. In their greed, these false teachers will exploit you with deceptive words. The longstanding verdict against them remains in force, and their destruction does not sleep.
For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them deep into hell, placing them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if He did not spare the ancient world when He brought the flood on its ungodly people, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, among the eight; if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction, reducing them to ashes as an example of what is coming on the ungodly; and if He rescued Lot, a righteous man distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)—if all this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.
Such punishment is specially reserved for those who indulge the corrupt desires of the flesh and despise authority. Bold and self-willed, they are unafraid to slander glorious beings. Yet not even angels, though greater in strength and power, dare to bring such slanderous charges against them before the Lord.
These men are like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be captured and destroyed. They blaspheme in matters they do not understand, and like such creatures, they too will be destroyed.
Who Were The Nephilim?
Here are a few videos to get you started. I went with Doug Wilson and Dr. Peter Gentry. They have different views which you will see. There are many other videos by pastors on YouTube if you want to go deeper. I chose these two because I generally trust Wilson and Gentry has a solid reputation at Southern Seminary.
A short video with Doug Wilson from twelve years ago. This gives you the quick overview.
Here’s another more recent video that addresses the Nephilim and other related topics in more depth.
This is a longer video by Dr. Peter Gentry from Southern Seminary.
I mentioned that the topic of the Nephilim can lead to all kinds of rabbit holes. I’m leaving those for another post. I want to stick with only Scriptural interpretations as the foundation. I’ll share some of the weird stories and ideas in another post.
The Holy Bible, Berean Study Bible, BSB
Copyright ©2016, 2020 by Bible Hub
Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.