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Nephilim: Giants in the Earth: Genesis 6:1-4, July 31, 2017

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Nephilim: Giants in the Earth: Genesis 6:1-4, July 31, 2017

The Internet has some fanciful conjectures about the sons of God (Bene ha Elohim) and their illegitimate offspring with beautiful human women, the Nephilim or giants. The late Zecharia Sitchen wrote about the Sumerian 12th planet Nibiru, which catapults around the sun every 3,600 at a different angle from that of the plate of accretion of our other planets. In what is really pseudo-science, he tries to bring evidence for his theory from Sumerian cuneiform writing. Perhaps, extrapolation to the heliocentric solar system is involved, because the ancients believed that the sun went through the middle of the earth and in their three-story universe, they did not understand the earth to be a planet orbiting the sun.

If Sitchen derived his theory from the Sumerians, with a heliocentric solar system, because they did seem to have the sun surrounded by 11 planets – he calls Nibiru the 12th. The collision of the earth with Nibiru was supposed to take place on July 21, 2012. This planet entering into our solar system every 3,600 years would have completely disrupted our solar system and the course of its planets, and in any case, how would the Anunnaki[1] have been able to get from Nibiru to the earth unless they had space ships? Now we are getting into consummate science fiction.

In the sixth chapter of Genesis, a foreign tradition, however does seem to have been inserted. In the context of God’s creation and the Fall, this story about the fallen angels seems to be the last straw before God decided to flood the whole earth. After the Fall, where Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were shut out of the Garden of Eden, things proceed to get worse. Cain murders Able, and Lamech swears revenge for anyone who might injure him; and finally, the fallen angels transgress the divine order of heaven and violate human women on earth.

A lapse of time is implied when the sixth chapter of Genesis begins.[2] “People began to multiply on the face of the earth.” In the consciousness of the biblical tradition, God sat on a throne amidst the court of heaven, with the angels there to carry out God’s bidding. For example, see Job 1:6ff. Thus, these sons of God are not the Sethites (the offspring of Seth) as opposed to those of Cain, the Cainites, but angelic beings who belong to the heavenly court. Because the daughters born to human beings were beautiful and the angelic-beings saw them, they became promiscuous and took whatever women they pleased and had intercourse with them. The evil perpetrated by these fallen angels became the last straw after which God decided to flood the earth.

Their illegitimate offspring were the Nephilim, giants, warriors, heroes. Like a medieval “nobleman” encountering a lone peasant woman unawares, he felt free to do anything he wanted with her and would rape her. “Just have to be a star and they will let you do anything you want to them.” As we recently heard.

The story reminded of the twelve Titans, the giant children of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaea (Earth) whom Zeus overcame. Perhaps the biblical writers were referring to this different tradition or a Sumerian or Babylonian one here in Genesis.

In naïve primordial thought, I believe that the divine kings were considered gods and their courts were considered to be in heaven.[3] In Karl Jasper’s axial theory, the great religions began with the protest against the divine king, who killed 200 people before breakfast, drafted all the men and placed their women into his harem: Moses before the Pharaoh, Socrates before the Athenian Assembly, Christ before Caesar, Confucius before the Chinese emperor; he included, Martin Luther before the Pope and Emperor, even.

Thus, the biblical consciousness distinguishes earthly kings and God on the heavenly throne. Moses called himself Ebed Jahwey, the servant of God. “Moses” was an Egyptian throne name, meaning “born of a God or son of a God”: Tuthmosis, born of the God Toth, Amunmose, born of the god Amon, Ramesses (Ra-moses), born of the God Ra, etc. Because God’s name was too holy, Moses did not put Yahweh into his name. Put Pharaoh wanted to be worshiped like a God, even as the later Caesars did. And when the Pharaoh’s chariot would come by, his heralds would shout “Abrek, Abrek!” (Do homage!) The people would have to bend face down to the ground. They were not allowed to look at the Pharaoh.

Thus, these Nephilim or giants were probably the sons of great and powerful leaders, who became warriors and heroes and they could take women, whomever they liked, for themselves among the common folk, whether married or virgin, relatives or strangers.[4]

The latter interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4 seem more plausible than Anunnaki descending from the planet Nibiru and impregnating earthly women, who then gave birth to the Nephilim, the giants.

There were some giants, of course, because we hear of Goliath of David’s fame and Og, a king of Bashan whose iron bed was 6 feet by 13 feet for his gigantic frame.[5] But these Nephilim did not need to be gigantic in size as much as being heroes, warriors, arrogant and strong. In those days kings could easily have had a 100 sons, because they had harems. Just think of Solomon who had 1,000 wives, 700 princesses and 300 concubines!

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[1] See Numbers 13:33 where the Nephilim and the “Anakites” are mentioned. Perhaps Sitchin gets the name Anunnaki from this verse. The Israelites felt like grasshoppers in comparison to them. I wonder if Sitchen received his term “Anunnaki” from the cuneiform tablets?

[2] “Angel Marriages,” by Gerhard von Rad, Das erste Buch Mose, chap. 1-12:9, (Verlag von Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht in Göttingen, 1949), pages 92-94.

[3] See Psalm 82. God is reproaching the gods of the nations for their injustice. But kings used to identify with their gods before they were regarded as mere humans because of the axial religious protest.

[4] Wolfgang Muscles excerpt in Reformation Commentary on Scripture, Genesis 1-11, edited by John L. Thompson, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press), page 233.

[5] See Deuteronomy 3:11

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