on the nephilium

a friend’s 10 yr old daughter wants to know about the nephilium in Genesis 6.

help me compile a good answer for her (remember, she’s 10 so keep it simple as possible – yet not oversimple either).


so far I might just keep it simple and say they are the offspring of the fallen angels (“sons of God” and the women of the earth – anything much more than that would be speculation.

7 responses to “on the nephilium

  1. There’s a good kids novel by Madeleine L’Engle that features the nephilim. It’s called Many Waters (via the Song of Solomon), and it takes place in the weeks before the flood. If you aren’t familiar with L’Engle (she wrote A Wrinkle in Time, most famously), look her up! She’s a Christian who writes YA science fiction novels. . . she’s very imaginative, but most people I know don’t have a problem with her.

    In Many Waters, the nephilim are fallen angels who party in a flashy, dissipated style along Noah’s antediluvian neighbors. L’Engle puts golden seraphim on earth to keep a check on them. Two teenage boys from the 20th century stumble into a time machine and end up having to choose between the temptations of the nephilim and their culture, and the alternative that Noah’s family presents. It might be a fun read aloud, or it might be good for your daughter to read on her own, if she’s up for it. Skim through it first, though; there’re some teenage passions and romantic excitements that you might find too mature for her just yet. And it doesn’t attempt to explain what the nephilim were definitively, either; it just gives a young mind something to latch onto.

  2. I’m not sure saying they are the offspring of fallen angels is keeping things simple. 😉 The simpler response would seem to be: “This is a really tough passage, and it’s honestly quite difficult to know exactly what it means. There have been many suggestions, but in the end we simply do not know for sure.”

  3. Brian,
    Two things: (1) not sure why you added a Latin plural ending to a Hebrew word but it makes it sound cooler 😉 , (2) I would actually consider sharing this brief note from the NET Bible taken from Gen.6:1 commenting on ‘sons of God’: “The Hebrew phrase translated “sons of God” (בְנֵי־הָאֱלֹהִים, bÿne-ha’elohim) occurs only here (Gen 6:2, 4) and in Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7. There are three major interpretations of the phrase here. (1) In the Book of Job the phrase clearly refers to angelic beings. In Gen 6 the “sons of God” are distinct from “humankind,” suggesting they were not human. This is consistent with the use of the phrase in Job. Since the passage speaks of these beings cohabiting with women, they must have taken physical form or possessed the bodies of men. An early Jewish tradition preserved in 1 En. 6-7 elaborates on this angelic revolt and even names the ringleaders. (2) Not all scholars accept the angelic interpretation of the “sons of God,” however. Some argue that the “sons of God” were members of Seth’s line, traced back to God through Adam in Gen 5, while the “daughters of humankind” were descendants of Cain. But, as noted above, the text distinguishes the “sons of God” from humankind (which would include the Sethites as well as the Cainites) and suggests that the “daughters of humankind” are human women in general, not just Cainites. (3) Others identify the “sons of God” as powerful tyrants, perhaps demon-possessed, who viewed themselves as divine and, following the example of Lamech (see Gen 4:19), practiced polygamy. But usage of the phrase “sons of God” in Job militates against this view. For literature on the subject see G. J. Wenham, Genesis (WBC), 1:135.”

    • Otherwise I should add that the term “Nephilim” is obscure and we are unclear just what it refers to.

  4. Hmmm….Although it’s kind of cool and provocative to conjecture on this subject, it is all speculation at best, so you may just want to tell her that no one really knows.

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