Nephilim, Sons of God,

and the Heroes of Old


“The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when

the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them.

They were the heroes of old, men of renown.”           Genesis 6:4 (NIV)


Nephilim- (Hebrew: “nepilim”) “The term itself almost certainly means ‘fallen ones,’ whether morally fallen in the general sense or fallen from (i.e., cast out of) heaven in a more specific sense.  It has been plausibly proposed that the Nephilim were princes born into the royal houses of the ‘sons of God’ (Gen. 6:4) and that they were ‘the mighty tyrants who . . .esteemed their might to be their right.’ Certain Jewish exegetes have ingeniously assumed that the later Nephilim strain of Num 13:33 was preserved through the Flood in the persons of Noah’s daughters-in-law.  The literature of the intertestamental period, however, takes a different tack.  According to Sir 16:7 the ‘ancient giants’ were rebellious and deserved divine punishment.  Wisd. 14:6 and Bar.3:26-28 are even more specific:   The giants were destroyed by the Flood.  If so, the later Nephilim were namesakes, not descendants, of their earlier counterparts.” (New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, 1997)



Sons of GodIn Job 1:6 and 2:1 the same Hebrew phrase “sons of God” is translated “angels.”


Heroes- (Hebrew: “gibbor” or “gibborim”) and is translated as “mighty men” in 2 Sam. 23:8.

            The LXX (Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures around 250 BC) translates “gibbor” with the Greek word “gigas” or “gigantes” (“giant”) in:

            Gen.10:8-9,1 Chr. 1:10, Ps. 19:5,6, Ps. 33:16, Isa. 3:2, Isa. 13:3, Isa. 49:24-25, Ezek. 32:12; 32:21, 27; 39:18, 20



Nephilim is used in the Hebrew in Numbers 13:32,33:

“All the people we saw there are of great size.  We saw the Nephilim

there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim).”


This was a true report (but, faithless) since Deuteronomy 2:10-12 records:

“The Emites used to live there (Moab) - a people strong and numerous,

and as tall as the Anakites.  Like the Anakites, they too were considered

Rephaites, but the Moabites called them Emites.  Horites used to live in Seir,

but he descendants of Esau drove them out.


Rephaites was the general name for people like the Anakites, Emites, Horites.  In Deuteronomy 2:20 they are called Zamzummites by the Ammonites:

“That too (region of Moab at Ar) was considered a land of the Rephaites,

who used to live there; but the Ammonites called them Zamzummites. 

They were a people as numerous, and as tall as the Anakites.”


The Greeks who settle in Philistia (coming from Caphtorites) and became known as the Philistines destroyed a group known as the Avvites in Deuteronomy 2:23.

Emites , Anakites, Horites, Zamzummites, Avvites where all considered to be descendents of Rephaites which is another name for Nephilim since it says “the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim.


Goliath, who was more than 9 feet tall, was a Rephaite.1 Sam 17:4, Sam. 21:19; 1 Chron. 20:5. 

Rapha was one of the ancestors of this distinct group known as the Rephaites: 2 Sm. 21:16, 18,    20, 22; 1 Chron. 20:4, 6, 8.


King Og reigned over the territory of Ashtaroth and Edrei in Bashan.  He had a bed that was more than thirteen feet long and six feet wide.  (Deut. 3:1-11) 

“Only Og king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaites. 

His bed was more than thirteen feet long and six feet wide.”


David’s men dealt with four other descendants of Rapha:

Ishbi-Benob who had a bronze spearhead that weighed 7 1/2 pounds (2 Sam. 21:16)

A huge Rephaite with 12 fingers and 12 toes (2 Sam.21:20)

Lahmi, Goliath’s brother, who had a spear like a shaft of a weaver’s rod (1 Chron. 20:5)

An Egyptian who was 7 1/2 feet tall (1 Chron. 11:22-23)


There have been skeletons excavated in Palestine that are 3.2 meters or10 1/2 feet!!

            (New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, 1997, p.678)


Here is a quote from the Jewish historian Josephus who wrote around 70-90 AD:

“For which reason they removed their camp to Hebron; and when they had taken it, they slew all the inhabitants.  There were till then left the race of giants, who had bodies so large, and countenances so entirely different from other men, that they were surprising to the sight, and terrible to the hearing.  The bones of these men are still shewn to this very day, unlike to any credible relations of other me.” (Antiquities ch. II vs 3)

Justin Martyr says: “The angels transgressed this appointment and were captivated by love of women.  And         they begat children , who are those who are called demons.”

Irenaeus wrote: “In the days of Noah, He justly brought on the Deluge for the purpose of extinguishing that          most infamous race of men then existent, who could not bring forth fruit to God.  For the angels who      sinned had commingled with them.”

Tertullian: “They are the same angels who rushed from heaven on the daughters of men.”

Commodianus:  “From their seed, giants are said to have been born.  By them, arts were made known in the earth.”