One question that seems to come up every now and then is the matter of the Nephilim mentioned in Genesis 6. Many modern interpretations by Biblical scholars and teachers is that these “giants” are the offspring of an incident during which angels took human wives. There is often disagreement as to whether these were angels that had already fallen in Lucifer’s rebellion, or if this was a “second fall,” wherein some of those spiritual beings who managed to resist Satan’s apostasy fell later, and for more carnal reasons.
Here below is a letter I wrote to a friend in response to her asking me what I knew of the subject – reprinted with her permission:
That’s quite a question, and in fact has been asked of me before by at least one other person from Crosswalk. The idea of angels and humans mating is actually quite an old one – and to be honest, quite a dangerous one. Some of the more free interpretations of the early chapters of Genesis have Lucifer (or sometimes Sammael) seducing Eve, that making sex the “forbidden fruit” spoken of as an actual fruit in parable.
Some even go so far as to say that this union was what conceived Cain, this being partly responsible for his later acts against Abel, whom the story concludes was Adam & Eve’s “true” first son.
This is not only quite untrue (and contradicted in the Scriptures) but actually leads to all sorts of doctrinal problems as well. First of all, even before the whole Serpent incident, we have these verses: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.’” (Gen 1:27,28) Now that word there “replenish” means simply “fill” not “refill” as those indoctrinates of the gap theory would have us believe.
The important part here, though, is that man was commanded to be fruitful and multiply long before Eve and the Serpent met, and so sex could not possibly have been the “sin” mentioned there. Even worse, if we say that Cain’s true father was a fallen angel, we have a huge problem. The entire concept of free will would be tainted, for it must be that Cain and Abel had equal opportunity to be faithful. Yah Himself encouraged Cain this way, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his (sin’s) desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” (Gen 4:7)
If we give heed to this interpretation, then anyone whose father was a drunk, a wife-beater, a drug user... they would all have something of an excuse, but as it’s written, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” (Eze 18:20)
Concerning angels in general, we know this to be true of the resurrected saints, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Mat 22:30) “For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.” (Mark 12:25) Turning to Genesis 6 we specifically find this said: “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” (Gen 6:1,2) It specifically says that these beings took the daughters of men as “wives,” meaning they were married to them.
Some have said that the verses in Matthew and Mark speak specifically of the HOLY angels, but that these that took the wives were fallen already, therefore were under no obligation to follow the commandment given to angels to not have human wives. This is impossible for several reasons. For one thing: “But to which of the angels said He at any time, ‘Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?’ Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb 1:13,14) Now it says the righteous angels are ministering spirits, but even if they fall away and are no longer “ministering,” are they also no longer spirits? No, their nature will not change: “[Yah] maketh His angels spirits; His ministers a flaming fire.” (Psa 104:4)
Angels are spirits, and human beings are flesh which has been animated, and made into a “soul” by the action of the Holy Spirit upon it, as is stated in Gen 2:7. There can be no union between the two, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6) These verses speak of man being “born again” by the Spirit in order to be suited for the spiritual kingdom which is in Heaven, and it draws a clear distinction between the two.
Now, the question is: “Why could not the angels, being spirit, manifest themselves in flesh and thus have union with women?” Well, it is true that spirits have, at times, been made manifest in flesh. “And [Abraham] lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, and said, ‘My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant.’” (Gen 18:2,3) These three “men” were Michael and two other angels, for while the one declared to be the Lord in verses 13 on down stayed with Abraham to intercede (the job of Christ) on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah, the other two, who are clearly called angels in Gen 19:1, continue on into the valley and save Lot from the fire and brimstone they rain down just afterwards.
I can think of no Biblical place where fallen angels are given this power (which would surely have to come from the Throne Itself), and even when the holy angels substantiate, it is a rare occasion. That Christ Himself did this is declared here: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1 Tim 3:16) Note that even when the Son of Yah did it, it was said: “great is the mystery” of this thing. Not a usual set of circumstances! :)
Now with all this in mind, we can come to Genesis 6 and see exactly what it does say, and what we can conclude from that (admittedly) mysterious chapter. The title “Sons of God” here, or the Hebrew, “Bne H’Elohim” is used several times in the Scriptures. Other than the Genesis 6 account, however, it is used only in the book of Job (for the Old Testament). In these places it is clear that they are angels, however they are the _holy_ angels, for it is they who “shouted for joy” (Job 38:7) at the creation of the world. In no place are fallen angels called by this name!
Now, in the 11 times the phrase “sons of God” is used in the Bible, 3 of them (in Job) clearly refer to angels, and twice as many (6) refer unquestionably to human beings in verses such as, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.” (1 John 3:1) The only two “unknowns” are in Genesis 6, verses 2 and 4.
Now enter Jewish mysticism. These are the guys who claimed that Adam had a first wife named Lilith, who refused to be submissive to her husband, and was thus transformed into a baby-killing demon by Yahweh. These are the ones who claim that God is manifest into ten parts called Sephira, and each “Sephiroth” is an aspect of His divinity (the Son who became Christ being only one of these ten). It was during their contemplation of Moses’ account of creation that they concluded that the sinful angels must somehow have formed bodies and copulated with human women. Of all these legends and myths, Paul writes that we are to have a pure doctrine, “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.” (Titus 1:14)
Of the result of the mating between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men,” we find that “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” (Gen 6:4)
These giants, or “Nephilim”... what were they? Wouldn’t that indicate some kind of supernatural influence? Wouldn’t that make it more likely that their fathers were mighty angels? Those who accept this doctrine have certainly tried to make a case for it, but there is no foundation for this. For one thing, if the angels made themselves human, how could their “seed” have remained divine? When Christ was conceived, the Holy Spirit did not assume a “human” form. No, Gabriel said, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) That word “overshadow” is used also in Mat 17:5, of the “bright cloud” that shone upon the three apostles (Peter, James & John) as they watched Yahshua transfigure into His angelic form. There were no human forms of intercourse involved in that conception.
And notice that the Bible does NOT say that the Nephilim are ONLY the offspring of these unions in any case! Reading the verse carefully, it says “and ALSO after that,” these matings produced more of what seems to be the same.
So what WERE the Nephilim? And who WERE the Sons of God? All of this has been leading up to those two questions. Well, unfortunately, the word only appears in three places – and in all of them it is translated merely as “giants.” However, other than the Genesis account, we find the other two appearances were in Numbers 13, where the Anakim, or “sons of Anak” were described as giants so big that the spies were “as grasshoppers” in their own sight. Of course we know these were great exaggerations, and no such monstrous giants were found in that land when the Israelites eventually DID cross over into Canaan. It was, after all, an “evil report.” (Num 13:32)
From this greatly exaggerated account, the Biblical commentaries took their definition of the word Nephilim, and so we think of them as giants, whereas the Bible itself never speaks of true Nephilim in terms of size. The actual word for “giants” as we understand the term (i.e., extraordinarily large men) is Rephaim, as rendered in Deu 3:11 and various other places. Some of the Nephilim (i.e. the ones from Numbers 13) may ALSO have been giants (e.g. Joshua 13:12), but the word itself, applied to the offspring of the “sons of God” and “daughters of men” in Genesis did not necessarily indicate any supernatural characteristics. What it DOES clearly say about the offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of men is this: that they were “mighty men,” and “of renown.” This means that they were strong (either in physical terms or in numbers), and were well known. But what were they known for? The next verse tells us:
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen 6:5) This interbreeding caused a lot of evil in the world – so much so, in fact, that it made the flood the best thing that Yah could do for the planet. Apparently, there was something very, very wrong with the offspring mentioned here.
“And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.” (Gen 4:16) The next few chapters describe the unfolding of Cain’s descendants. “And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: ‘For God,’ said she, ‘hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.’ And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.” (Gen 4:25,26)
That last part is important, because it seems to indicate that the descendants of Seth became really dedicated to Yah’s service in their lives. This next part is also important: almost ALL of chapter 5 of Genesis describes Seth’s offspring! Almost all of it is dedicated in detail to listing the genealogy of the godly descendants of Adam – yet by the time of Noah, “it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” (Gen 6:6) What happened? Were there the godly to warn the unrepentant? Where were those who had begun to “call upon the name of Yah?”
We know that the descendants of Seth called upon Yahweh’s name, and the Scripture also says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom 8:14) This title could rightly be theirs, and moreover, it is the only reasonable explanation for why all the earth was corrupt except for those in Noah’s immediate family. Surely this is one of the reasons why intermarriage with those who do not share the same faith as a Christian is severely discouraged. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (2 Cor 6:14,15)
Joining yourself to one who is not a servant of your Father will always result in trouble – even Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived, had this problem. “But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.” (1 Kings 11:1,2,4)
Going back to Genesis, we see that chapter 4 speaks of Cain’s descendants, and Chapter 5 of Seth’s. Eight verses describe Cain’s offspring, while 29(!) verses talk about the ancestry of Noah. Where did they all go? “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, ‘My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.’” (Gen 6:1-3)
It was this inter-breeding that led to the corruption of ALL the descendants of man, from both Seth’s side and Cain’s, except for one man, Noah, and his three children. No gradual falling away is mentioned, for Noah’s great-grandfather was Enoch, who is praised even down in the book of Hebrews for his unmatched faith. No, it was something sudden – something dramatic – that caused the fall of Seth’s line, and no other explanation that I have yet seen than this one ties up all the loose ends so clearly.
The term “Watchers” comes from this verse, “This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” (Dan 4:17) These were the angels, it seems, to whom were given the task of causing Nebuchadnezzar’s 7-year madness. This chapter (Dan 4) is the only one in which the watchers appear – also in verses 13 and 23. The Hebrew for that term is “Iyr,” so the term “Grigori,” which doesn’t quite sound Hebrew in any case, must have been applied to them later on. I have yet to see the connection established between the Grigori and the “angels” in Genesis 6 anywhere outside of Jewish folklore; the Watchers in Daniel are holy long after the events described in the Bible’s first book.
About that website you gave me, describing the “fall of the Grigori,” this is actually background information for a role-playing game called “In Nomine,” which is something like “Vampire: The Masquerade” for angel-enthusiasts. A person chooses a character, and decides on its attributes, and then based upon certain rules and codes of conduct, they make up stories that determine how their character will perform. Some true angelic doctrine may have filtered into their mythology, but it’s not something we should be concerned with.
I think that about covers the matter, and I hope I was thorough with it. Of course if you have any more questions, be sure to let me know. And I was even thinking that this would make a fairly good article, with your permission of course? :) This isn’t, as I said, the first time someone has asked me about this topic.