Mythos Monday: The Nephilim – Angels or Aliens?

“When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them,

The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.

Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

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: 1 – 4

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been hearing about the mysterious Nephilim ever since I was a kid in Sunday School.  And, frankly, they fascinated me.  I mean, why wouldn’t they?       These mysterious “sons of God” (sometimes called “Sons of Heaven”) coming down to marry the “daughters of man.”  Kind of romantic, don’t you think?

But who were the Nephilim?

Well, if you listen to most modern day churches (at least the ones I spent any time in), the Nephilim were “fallen angels” sent to earth for being naughty.  I’m not sure how sending them to earth was going to solve anything.  All it did was make them more naughty.  I mean, they were all making the sexy (GASP!).  With girls (GASP!).  And having babies and stuff. SHOCKING!

Pretty indicative of the Puritanical foundations of my fair country and it’s churches, if you ask me.  Making the sexy = BAD.  Therefore God had to go and smash everything like a child having a temper tantrum.

Maybe some will call that sacrilegious, but it makes no sense to me.  What does make a little more sense are passages in the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilee.  European churches tossed these books out ages ago as being of “questionable origin.”  (Erm, excuse me, aren’t ALL the books of the Bible of rather questionable origin?  Unless you’re a several thousand year-old creature who was THERE when they were being written.  No?)

In any case, according to these books, the Nephilim weren’t necessarily fallen angels, but rather “Watchers.”  Those charged with keeping an eye on humanity.  Some think they were already here on Earth when they first cast eyes on sexy human women, while others believe that they chose to leave heaven and go against the dictates of “the god” in order to be with these beautiful women (Not a lot of women in heaven, apparently).

Whichever way you want to go, the end result was that the Nephilim (Watchers) ended up making the sexy with human females and having giant children who were insanely greedy and violent, not to mention cannibals.

Not good.

Even worse, the Nephilim taught humans the arts of sorcery and war.  Niiiiice.  Of course, they also taught useful things like astronomy and the movements of the moon and tides.  Good stuff.  So, I guess you could say there were good Nephilim and bad Nephilim.  But eventually the humans called out to God (though in some instances it’s claimed the good angels called God’s attention to the FUBAR) and God saved humanity by, uh, killing them.  With a flood.  A flood which killed off everyone but Noah and his family (because he was a good man and didn’t go around fornicating), but unfortunately left some of the Nephilim still alive.

Yeah, that worked out well.  Because we’re so peaceful and stuff now.

But this is not the end of the theories on the Nephilim.

According to the Ancient Astronaut theory, the Nephilim were actually not angels at all, but alien beings.  Only instead of making the sexy, they were running some kind of hybrid breeding program.  The giants (and other weird creatures of mythology) were early experiments gone badly awry.

You can see how our ancient ancestors would mistake aliens for gods or angles.  I mean, they had SPACESHIPS, for crying out loud.  They were powerful in ways that couldn’t be explained with the knowledge of the time and so it was considered “magic” instead of the advanced technology and science it really was.  Therefore, perfectly ordinary beings became gods.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

-Arthur C. Clarke

So, what is the truth?

Were Nephilim bad angels sent to earth as punishment?  Were they Watchers who fell in love and chose to leave?  Or were they beings from another world?  “Sons of Heaven” in the literal sense.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as theories and opinions go.

Either way, it’s an interesting little side-note in the annals of our history.  One I wish they’d spent a little more time on.

Can you imagine the stories a writer could get out of that tiny little bit of information?  A forbidden romance between an angel and a human.  A bloodthirsty conflict between two warring angel races with humans caught in the middle.  Aliens visiting earth for mysterious purposes.

Oh, yeah, lots of fodder.

What’s your theory?

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12 thoughts on “Mythos Monday: The Nephilim – Angels or Aliens?

  1. I believe this was perfect research for a lil’ sum’sum’ I have coming up in the old TBW queue. This was fascinating. Do you think the human brain could comprehend two Nephilim making the sexy together? Would it be like the voice of God driving us mad upon hearing?

  2. Fascinating material. I actually didn’t know much about the theories regarding the Nephilim, save that they were some sort of angel. (Though I did used to like the Goth cowboy band “Fields of the Nephilim”…their songs suddenly makes a lot more sense…) I’ll have to look more into this…

    I like the notion that they were “angels among us” who taught us many of our modern skills. Sort of a secret society of uber-powerful beings, shaping human destiny through their interactions with us, for good or for ill? Awesome.

    Thanks for this post, Shea, this is great stuff!

  3. One of my crit partners is writing a pretty awesome Nephilim story. Cool stuff, and I’m surprised there isn’t more of this out there. I think you’d write some awesome fallen angel books, Shea.

    1. It’s definitely in the cards! I’ve had a fallen angel story (or two) rattling around in my brain for some time now. Not sure it will get written this year, but maybe in 2013. You know, if the world doesn’t end. 😉

  4. Long week, late comment, you’ll forgive me 🙂

    I’d go with the alien idea over the angel one, but then I’ve always found “green men from space” far more interesting and believable then the man-made godlings. I’m picturing a group of alien scouts, finding a planet (Earth), recognizing the “treasure” (women) and in the spirit of Kelly’s Heroes starting a breeding program on the sly for the specialty interests of galactic clientele. Nothing physical, more on the order of own your own Chimera. Of course, when the Big Boss finds out, he’s ticked about not getting his cut and well the rest of the story is pre-written.

    Great post, Shea 🙂

  5. I have been searching the web because me and a friend were wondering about ‘gaint beings’ and ‘gaint angels’ and found this page. the information is very good, thank you, and I know have a way better idea about this race. I have also been searching it because I have a modern day idea for a book about angels and am trying to find ideas to base it around. Please if you could, could you answer these questions below?

    Questions-
    I don’t believe that these angels just ‘appered’ and need a more logical way for my book so would it make sense that they were born in the place of stillborns or just infants?

    Is there any femail Angels that were born from the offspring and was there also any that went down to Earth?

    Do they age as fast as regular humans or do they age at a slower rate due to the fact that they live longer?

    It would really help me if you were to answer these but you don’t have too.

    -Kira.

    1. Hi Kira! Thanks for stopping by.

      Well, I don’t know how well I can answer your questions, but here goes.

      As far as the Christian Bible is concerned, the angels didn’t just “appear” on earth. They were either thrown out of heaven, or left willingly. Some scholars believe they were sent here deliberately to watch over humans and they are often referred to as the “Watchers” in ancient texts.

      Also according to the Bible, there were only male Nephilim born. However, the Bible was written during a patriarchal time by men and women were often ignored. Logic dictates that there would have been both male and female Nephilim.

      I don’t know anything about their aging process. I guess that’s something you can decide for yourself based on what suits your story!

      Here is a website with a bit more information on the Nephilim: http://www.nwcreation.net/nephilim.html

      And here’s a site with articles on the Nephilim from the Ancient Astronaut viewpoint:
      http://www.legendarytimes.com/index.php?op=news&func=news&id=4584

      Hope this helps!

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