Brand is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies and Religious Studies at Brown University, and holds a Ph.D. in Bible and Late Antiquity from New York University
Brand notes, “Nephilim play a central role in a popular Second Temple era story regarding the origin of evil: the myth of the Watchers (ʿīrîm). The depiction of the benê hāʾelōhîm who mate with human women in Gen 6:1–4 became the basis of an explanation of the origin of both the flood and of evil. In the fullest form of this story, angels mated with human women and produced giant children who caused destruction, while the angels themselves caused sin by teaching humans illicit knowledge. When the physical bodies of these giants were destroyed, they became evil spirits that plagued the earth.”
The Second Temple era was from 516 BC–70 AD which is millennia after the Torah and infamous for being a period of historical fiction, wild speculation, forgeries, or whatever that period’s folkloric tall-tales might be—such as folkloric tall-tales.
Watchers is a Second Temple era a.k.a. for Malakim/Angels/benê hāʾelōhîm/sons of God.
As for that they, “produced giant children” it must be asked:
What’s the Second Temple era’s general usage of whatever vague, generic, subjective, multi-usage and term we have as the modern English word “giants”?
What’s Miryam Brand’s usage of the vague, generic, subjective, multi-usage and modern English word “giants”?
Do those usages agree?
Indeed, that dead Nephilim, “became evil spirits” a.k.a. demons, is folklore from millennia after the Torah. For a biblical view, please see the article, Demons Ex Machina: What are Demons?
They above questions are key since, for example, Brand wrote, “The identification of the angels’ offspring as giants relies on the reference to Nephilim in Gen 6:4, as the Nephilim are called giants in Num 13:33.”
In the English Bibles which employ it, “giants” is merely rendering (not even translating) “Nephilim” in two verses and, “Repha/im” in 98% of all others. Thus, that, “the Nephilim are called giants in Num 13:33” means, “the Nephilim are called Nephilim in Num 13:33.”
Not that it matters since that verse is part of an evil report by unreliable guys whom God rebuked.
Miryam Brand went on to write, “It also reflects the consistent Septuagint translation of all references to gībbōrîm, něfīlîm, benê ʿanāq, and rêfāʾîm as γίγας, giants. This translation itself is the result of a synthetic reading of Gen 6, Num 13:22, Num 13:28, Num 13:33, and Deut 2:10–11.”
But how it is consistent to render very different words with different morphologies and different meanings all by one single word: doing so was a terrible idea. In part, it leads undiscerning English readers to chase an English word around a Hebrew Bible.
Also, if the, “translation,” again, it is actually just a rendering, “of all references to…γίγας, giants” that begs the key questions of what, “γίγας, giants” means. That word, gigas related to gigantes and gigantos which are all references to Greek mythology’s false Earth goddess Gaia: with gigantes and gigantos referring to being earth-born as in born of Gaia.
She appears to be implying that gigas/gigantes/gigantos/giants has something to do with subjectively unusual height, which they do not:
Gen 6 refers to Nephilim but not to any height.
Num 13:22 merely notes where Anakim were living.
Num 13:28 refers to various “strong” people groups which included the Anakim.
Num 13:33 is a tall-tale about very, very tall Nephilim who, in non-LXX versions, are correlated to Anakim—which is impossible.
Deut 2:10–11 notes that the Rephaim tribe, including its Anakim clan, et al., were subjectively, “tall” compared to the average Israelite male who was 5.0-5.3 ft. in those days.
Miryam Brand further wrote, “At the same time, while the books of 1 Enoch and Jubilees identify the Nephilim of Gen 6:4 with the giants, the Damascus Document may imply that the term Nephilim indicates the angels themselves…This identification is based on the root n–f–l, ‘to fall,’ as a reference to the fallen angels. The vagueness of the verse at Gen 6:4 itself, which simply states that ‘the Nephilim were in the land during that time,’ can also support this secondary interpretation.”
This is all in the for what it’s worth category—which is not very much if anything at all.
1 Enoch, Jubilees, and the Dead Sea Scrolls Damascus Document are all from millennia after the Torah.
Again, “identify the Nephilim of Gen 6:4 with the” means, “identify the Nephilim of Gen 6:4 with the Nephilim.”
Moreover, “Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them” thus, it is simply not the case that, “the term Nephilim indicates the angels themselves” and that, “This identification is based on the root n–f–l” is just a word-concept fallacy or sorts.
As for, “that ‘the Nephilim were in the land during that time,’ can also support this secondary interpretation” well, that would make for an odd narrative indeed. The contextual focus of the Gen 6:1-4 narrative is the sons of God and daughters of men: their attraction, their marriages, their mating, and their offspring. But this view would have the author artificially interrupting the contextual focus on the narrative to throw in a passing reference to Nephilm who have nothing to do with it.
Or, rather, perhaps, it has it that, “Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the Nephilim came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them” who are unnamed.
Or, “Sons of God were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them” or, something.
Miryam Brand circuitously argues, “In the Greek of 1 En. 7:2, human women who have mated with the rebellious angels produce three kinds of creatures: ‘first large giants, and the giants begot Nephilim, and to the Nephilim were born Elioud’…The identification of the Nephilim in 1 En. 7:2 as the sons of giants reflects an unusual interpretation of Num 13:33a: ‘And there we saw the nephilim sons of giant(s) (haněfîlîm benê ʿanāq)’; this phrase was more commonly (and correctly) understood as referring to giant-like beings rather than the literal sons of giants.”
But this denotes the continued problem with employing the term giants since now, non-LXX versions are not referring to the Anakim, the sons of Anak (Arba’s son) clan but to Nephilim as sons of giants—just how may different words all mean giants?
For example, she refers to, “Nimrod the ‘giant’ (relying again on the Septuagint rendition in LXX Gen 10:8–9)” the Hebrew for which is gibbor.
She notes, “In 1 En. 15:8–11…while the physical bodies of the giants were killed, their spirits were tied to earth, and subsequently turned into evil spirits” a.k.a. demons. For a biblical view, please see the article, Demons Ex Machina: What are Demons?
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