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Biblical Archeology answers, “Who Are the Nephilim? The mysterious beings of Genesis 6”

Ellen White—no, not the founder of Seventh Day Adventism—(Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible, University of St. Michael’s College) and formerly the senior editor at the Biblical Archaeology Society wrote the post Who Are the Nephilim? The mysterious beings of Genesis 6 on February 08, 2022.

To the question, “Who are the Nephilim?” White replies, “The giant Goliath is best known for facing the formidable but slight David and losing. Many theorists believe that Goliath was a descendant of the Nephilim of Genesis 6.”

We’re not told how many are referred to by “Many” nor who they are but they are mistaken since Nephilim didn’t make it past the flood in any way, shape, or form.

Note the usage of the vague, generic, subjective, and multi-usage modern English word “giant” without defining it. More importantly, without elucidating the usage of it in English Bibles—which is that it implies nothing whatsoever about height at all.

Goliath was a Repha and most reliably, just shy of 7 ft.

White refers to that “The Nephilim, the product of the sons of god mingling with the daughters of Adam, the great Biblical giants, ‘the fallen ones,’ the Rephaim, ‘the dead ones’—these descriptions are all applied to one group of characters found within the Hebrew Bible.”

This is too much, too fast. Technically, it was, sons of God and daughters of men even though, granted, they were daughters of Adam by extension and definition.

Now, by “giants” white implies unusual height yet, we’ve no reliable physical description of Nephilim and Rephaim were “tall” subjective to the average Israelite male who was 5.0-5.3 ft. in those days. Ergo, where were the giants?

She refers to Nephilim as the fallen ones due to the root naphal referring to fall/fallen/to cause to fall/feller, etc.

She is myopic in referring to Rephaim as the dead ones since the root repha has a wide range of meaning/definition and usage from dead to healing so she might as well have referred to them as the healed ones or the healing ones.

White tells us, “The Nephilim are known as great warriors and Biblical giants (see Ezekiel 32:27 and Numbers 13:33).”

Yet, Ezekiel does not seem to be referring to the Nephilim at all but was merely employing the root naphal and Numbers 13:33 is just part of an “evil report” by utterly unreliable guys whom God rebuked: they just made up a tall-tale.

As for that “It was once claimed that the mating of the sons of god and the daughters of Adam that resulted in the Nephilim caused the flood” White notes “It is unlikely that this interpretation is correct because Genesis 6:4 presents nothing but praise for the Nephilim and no criticism is present.”

The text does not present them as necessarily evil but mighty and well known. Yet, they are part of the premise for the flood which is why ill is read into their narrative—and likewise with their parents.

White notes, “Genesis 6, Ezekiel 32, and Numbers 13 are the only passages that mention the Nephilim by that term,” which is questionable yet, her point is to ponder, “where do the names Rephaim and ‘the dead ones’ originate?” but she told us of, “the Rephaim, ‘the dead ones’” so it’s not “names,” plural, not “and,” plural.

In any case, the primary question should be: what does the one thing have to do with the other—Nephilim and Rephaim—the biblical answer to which is: nothing whatsoever.

Having referred to “the Rephaim, ‘the dead ones’” and then “names Rephaim and ‘the dead ones,’” she then writes, “these are not two separate titles, but rather a name, Rephaim, and a meaning, ‘dead ones,’” which is still misguided and myopic.

Now, she specifies, “The Bible refers to two groups as the Rephaim. The first are dead people who have achieved an almost divine status, similar to the concept of Saints. The second is a term that is applied to races of Biblical giants. It is this second usage that is often conflated with the Nephilim.”

Well, I would more simply, and contextually, put it as that the root refer to the dead and the word refer to the people group.

The concept of, “dead people who have achieved an almost divine status” comes from Ugaritic literature according to which when a king or hero died they were called kings and heroes but after they had been dead for a while they were called Rephaim, could be summoned, etc. Yet, that Pagan theology isn’t incorporated into the Bible.

As for that Rephaim “is applied to races of Biblical giants”: they were not races nor giants. There are various a.k.a.s for Rephaim, such as Zamzummim and Emim and Anakim were a clan of that tribe (see Deut 2).

We will have to see about how Rephaim “is often conflated with the Nephilim.”

Yet, White abruptly ends the article with references to “Rephaim (Anaqim, Og, Goliath)…their purpose in each narrative is to die” and that’s about it.

Thus, I will have to take it upon myself to note that while Rephaim “is often conflated with the Nephilim” such conflations are erroneous.

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