The Importance of the Mysterious
As many of you may already know, I have a deep fascination for both the mysteries of our world and those found within the Bible. In my endeavor to sit in wonder of these mysteries, I believe that a solid foundation, or prolegomena, is essential. This foundation encompasses a sense of awe and stability, recognizing that some things remain secret and belong only to the Lord, while others are granted to us by God for our understanding (Deut. 29:29).
One of my favorite subjects in this area that fills me with wonder is the exploration of the mysteries in the early parts of the Bible, particularly concerning the “Sons of God,” the Nephilim, and the various groups associated with them (did you know there were others?). Here is the result of my research on these four mysterious groups:
Four Bizarre Species
1. Sons of God:
The term “Sons of God” is found in Genesis 6:2, where it mentions that these beings took the “daughters of men” as wives. Their exact identity is significantly debated among scholars, with some, including myself, interpreting them as angels or divine beings. Jude 1:6 of the New Testament references the angels that are “now in prison because they did not keep their proper domain.” If the association is correct, these particular “Sons of God” or angels were confined to a state of punishment or holding for sins committed before the flood. However, it is important to note that it is only the particular angels that did this before the flood that are confined.
Many (including me again) believe that the subsequent existence of the Nephilim (the progeny of the angel/woman union), after the flood, is a result of the “Sons of God” who continued to engage in this unnatural amalgamation of species. However, this abominable practice seems to diminish significantly in subsequent years. This is probably due to the fact that angels are now more cautious due to the unfavorable penal award given to their colleagues. (Of special note: I do not believe that there was just one fall of the angels or celestial beings. I believe they can, and sometimes do, fall at any time. Another blog!).
The term “Sons of God” is a translation of the Hebrew phrase “בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים” (Benei HaElohim). It is a phrase used in the Bible to refer to divine beings, often understood as angels or celestial beings. While the term itself doesn’t have a direct Hebrew meaning beyond “Sons of God,” it is used in passages like Job 1:6 and Job 2:1, where it describes angelic beings presenting themselves before God. In these contexts, the “Sons of God” are indeed associated with angels.
The Nephilim are mentioned in Genesis 6:4: “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.” These are the offspring of the union between the “Sons of God” and the women they “married” (Gen. 6:2; can you imagine what that marriage ceremony was like? Who agreed to preside over it? What were the vows? I am just kidding…kind of, but you get the point…this is bizarre stuff!).
Nephilim are often associated with giants or powerful beings. It is noteworthy to emphasize again that these beings existed both before the flood and after the flood. While these beings may have played a significant role in God’s decision to flood the earth, it is crucial to remember that the primary reason for it was the proliferation of sin and rebellion among humanity. These beings are just one part of that larger narrative.
The name “Nephilim” (נְפִילִים) is derived from the Hebrew verb “naphal” (נָפַל), which means “to fall” or “to come down.” The term “Nephilim” is often associated with the idea of “fallen ones” or “those who have fallen.”
The Anakim are mentioned in various passages, including Numbers 13:33: “We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” This verse links the Anakim to the Nephilim and describes them as descendants of the Nephilim. Some believe that the description of their size is an exaggeration and that they were merely large individuals, not giants. Others, including myself, entertain the possibility that they could have been actual giants, significantly taller than the average person (perhaps 15-20 feet).
The name “Anakim” (עֲנָקִים) is believed to be derived from the Hebrew word “Anak” (עֲנָק), which means “necklace” or “collar.” The exact reason for this name is not explicitly explained in the Bible, but it may have been chosen to describe a group of people known for their tall stature or to signify something distinctive about them.
The Rephaim are mentioned in several biblical passages, including Deuteronomy 2:10-11: “The Emim formerly lived there—a people great and numerous, and tall as the Anakim. Like the Anakim, they are also counted as Rephaim, but the Moabites call them Emim.” The Rephaim are considered a distinct group, and this verse mentions their similarity to the Anakim. Og, King of Bashan, was described as the last of the Rephaim. We are told that he had a bed made of iron that was 13.5 feet long and 6 feet wide (Deuteronomy 3:11).
The name “Rephaim” (רְפָאִים) is derived from the Hebrew word “Rapha” (רָפָא), which can mean “giant” or “dead.” The Rephaim are associated with giants in the Bible, and the name likely reflects their imposing size. Additionally, the term “Rephaim” is sometimes associated with the dead or deceased in biblical contexts, possibly indicating a connection to ancestral spirits.”