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.

The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness had become, and that every inclination of the

thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made

man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said,

“I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth….”

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

 (The Book of Genesis 6:4-8)


By Pastor Andy Basilio


Where did the giants come from? [i] The text quoted above gives the answer. The operative words are “and also afterward.”

Afterward the Flood, that is. But I’ll return to that shortly.

The key words in the text above are written in a special way.  The words form a chiasm. A chiasm is a technique of writing with a purpose. It uses parallelism to do that. The words or thoughts expressed in the first half of the parallelism are repeated in the second half which reverses them. The purpose is to make a larger point. So, we watch out for the reversal in a parallelism because that is how the chiasm makes the larger point.

Here is the chiastic construction (ABBA) of those important words in Genesis:

The above chiasm looks simple but it reveals a whole lot about the Nephilim.  The words in the first half of the parallelism (A/B) are: “Nephilim” and “sons of God.”  Right off the bat, that settles the question of who the sons of God were.[ii] Second, the parallel of “Nephilim” (A, top) is “children” (A1, bottom). The children were Nephilim-kids.

And, third, the most important of all is the reversal that occurs in the middle.  The author calls our attention to the middle. It is the way he wrote it. It is a chiasm, alright? The “children” were the result of intermarriage between the “sons of God’ and the “daughters of men.”

And that is the larger point in the chiasm!  Male Nephilim had children by the daughters of men.

Now that may look natural on the surface, but the reversal says, “not so fast”! The reversal says the union was a reversal! The intermarriage was not normal.  The Nephilim did something to these daughters of men that produced offspring that were giants like their dads were. In other words, something that was not supposed to happen happened!

The Nephilim found a way to somehow bridge the gap – genetically and physically – between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” and entered the world of man to populate it. That is the larger point in the chiasm. And it is a BIG one!

The shocking thing was not that there were Nephilim on the earth in those days. That is a given. The larger point is the shocking thing.  The intermarriage and the offspring were an absolute absurdity. It was not what God ordained marriage to be.

The offspring of the Nephilim (giants) were “men of renown.”  The NIV describes them as “heroes.” They were known for their magnificent feats. What would call attention to the offspring of the Nephilim if they looked like your everyday Tom, Dick and Harry?  Did they go to a gym in Austria someplace and pumped iron, maybe? They were “men of renown.” What does this mean? They were renown as the offspring of the Nephilim. That is, they were giants, too.

So, did the Nephilim inveigle their way into human affairs, promising to change things for the better of mankind? Were the sons of the Nephilim friendly, cuddly giants? The next verse paints a grim picture. “The Lord saw how great wickedness on earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”  The Nephilim’s offspring were bad seed.  The text is silent about how many offspring of the Nephilim did it take to infect the whole earth with their wickedness![iii] The people of the earth “had become” wicked. Mankind was taken for a ride that took a wrong turn. Hence, the Flood.

But enough of that. I went there to get to here. Where did the giants come from AFTER the Flood? I mean, the Flood destroyed every living thing on earth – man and beast and fowl of the earth, except Noah, his wife, their three sons and their respective wives –  yet the text says, “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days (i.e., before the Flood) – and also afterward.” So how could there be Giants left after the Flood if all expect Noah and his immediate family were the only survivors of the Flood?  This is implied absurdity!

We know now that there indeed were giants on the earth after Noah’s Flood.  Before the Israelites

reached the land of Canaan Moses sent 12 men to spy out the land. They came home with a disturbing news. They claimed they saw giants in the land of Canaan! This is what they stated in their report: “The land we explored devours[iv] those living in it. All the people we saw are of great size. We saw Nephilim there [the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim].[v] We seemed like grasshoppers in our eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Num 13:33).

But the spies also said this: “We went into the land to which you sent us…. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there (v27-28). The spies learned who the descendants of Anak were: “from the Nephilim”!

It gets better.[vi]Before Moses died, some 40 years after the spies told him about seeing giants in the land of Canaan, he reviewed the Law of God in the hearing of Israel.  And he assured them that if they remained true to the Covenant then God will destroy the giants living in Canaan for them. Moses knew the clans of the giants by name: Emites– “a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites. Like the Anakites, they too were considered Rephaites” (i.e., giants; see Deut 2:11,21).

And how about good old Goliath whom David slew (2 Sam 17:4)?  And didn’t he have 4 other brothers who also were giants?  His brothers died at the hands of David’s men (1 Chronicles 20:4-8).

The prophet Amos, perhaps two generations removed from David, received a review lesson from God. The Lord said, “I destroyed the Amorite before them, though he was tall as the cedars, and strong as the oaks” (2:9).

Thus, the evidence points to CANAAN as the dwelling place of the giants AFTER the Flood.

Now this is getting to be interesting. The Bible traces all men back to one family, Adam and Eve. The first couple was responsible for all generations of men and women who filled the earth after them.[vii] Nations came from tribes, that came from clans, that came from families.  In those days very often the  territory where a tribe lived were named after its family-ancestor (e.g., Gen 4:17). So here is the 64-dollar question: where did the name “Canaan” come from?

It was the name of one of Noah’s grandson!

Noah had 3 sons, Shem, Ham and Japhet.  According to the table of nations recorded in Genesis Ham was the father of Canaan. It was Canaan who went out and settled in a land that was later named after him: CANAAN. The Genesis record of the sons of Ham: Cush (ancient Etiopia), Mizraim (ancient Egypt) Put (ancient Libya?) and Canaan. The record adds: “Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and the Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites” (Gen 10:6-15).[viii]

Did you read the name “Amorites” in there?  God described the Amorites in these words: they were “tall as cedars and strong as the oaks.”If you think these physical characteristics of the Amorites were impressive God spoke through the prophet Amos and said, “I destroyed (them)”!

And Canaan’s territory is also in the record: “Later the Canaanite clans scattered and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, as far as Lasha” (Gen 10:6-, 15-20).[ix]

Now, tell me. Where did the Israelites encounter the giants? In CANAAN!

And who was the first guy named Canaan? He was Noah’s grandson!

Noah was a righteous man, correct?  So, my next 64-dollar question is, WHAT HAS NOAH TO DO WITH ALL THIS GIANT BUSINESS? I can’t wait to write the sequel to this other absurdity!



[i] Two weeks ago, I was talking with the Director of an Assisted Living facility where we minister on Sundays. She told me they were doing Bible lessons on women of faith in the Bible.  And what puzzled her was her discovery that the workbook she was using included Noah’s wife. This was what prompted me to write this piece.

[ii]Nephilim (Heb plural) seem to come from the root naphal, “to fall.” Nephilim (n) would mean “fallen ones.” No amount of exegetical acrobatics can “sons of God” refer to the “godly line of Seth.” Or to an “alien race” for that matter.  By chiastic construction the sons of God were the Nephilim. (The word incubus indicates that the concept of a coital bond of non-human beings and human beings have entered our world of language.)

Nephilim do not refer to the godly sons of Seth

[iii] They were sons of the Nephilim. Their powers were superior to man.

[iv] The Hebrew word is akal, primary root “to eat.”

[v] Did you catch that? The Nephilim women were bearing children after the Flood! The word is ben (“sons”) used to describe natural generation, e.g., of Seth by Adam and Eve (Gen 5:4), of Noah’s “sons” Shem, Ham and Japhet (Gen 11:7). As in the case of Adam and Eve who became the ancestors of the human race, so the “sons of God” only needed one of them to “marry” a daughter of man to become the ancestors of the Nephilim race on earth. But the Genesis text does not say one “son of God”; it says “sons of God.” Even Nephilim is plural in Hebrew. They must have been all over the place! (The Book of Enoch says there were 200 of these Nephilim.)

[vi] What gets “better” is the development of the story, not what the story tells about.

[vii] This is the Genesis account. The term means a beginning. Jesus and Paul affirmed the origin of the human race (Mat 19:4-6; Rom 5:12).

[viii] The Jebusites were the original settlers of Jerusalem. David dislodged them and claimed Jerusalem to be the capital of his throne (2 Sam 5:6).

[ix]These sites are so ancient we cannot even now locate some of them on ancient maps of Palestine. But we know that “Sidon towards… Gaza” refer to the eastern seaboard of Canaan from north to south.  Sodom and Gomorrah, I think, could not be too far away from Mamre where God visited with Abraham while on His way to the twin cities (Gen 13:18; 18:1). The Bible says it took the whole of dawn for Lot to reach Zoar from Sodom (Gen 19:15, 23). We are talking about 5 to 6 hours of walking here. (How many miles can a man walk in the dark while dragging along a wife who did not want to come with him in the first place? And as if that was not enough, the fleeing party included Noah’s sons-in-law who thought Dad had gone nuts! We can be sure they were not singing a version of Bing Crosby’s “Dancing in the Rain.”)When the twin cities were burning Abraham can see from a vantage point Sodom and Gomorrah in flames and the smoke rising to the heavens (19:27). Today Mamre is modern Hebron. Some of the Canaanites were the original settlers of Mamre (from mara, “in the sense of vigor” – Strong; also “bitter,” Exodus 15:23; Ruth 1:20).




  1. This is a superb article that should engender fruitful discussion. One discussion point, for instance, is the word naphal. It is used many times in the Torah. It generally describes the act of falling, either by a man (“Abraham fell on his face”–Gen. 17:17; “[his] brothers fell down before his face”–Gen. 50:18) or the falling of an animal (“If a man opens a pit. . .and an ox or a donkey falls into it.”–Exodus 21:33). Or, it can refer to a facial expression: “And his face fell”–Gen. 4:5. Or to something that “falls” upon man: “[a] deep sleep fell upon Abram”–Gen. 15:12. Is it, however, descriptive of a “state of being,” such as “fallen man” or “fallen ones”? Metaphorically, yes, but I don’t find a consistent “plain reading” of the Torah text that suggests this. A noun that derives from the verb, naphal, is nephel, meaning miscarriage or discard. Some think that’s the word from which Nephilim derives. I don’t agree with that view–the word, for one, is not found in the Torah, so it lacks common authorship. However, it does convey an interesting imagery. Inasmuch as a miscarried baby is “discarded” by its parent, were the Nephilim–post-flood–discarded by God?

    1. Good point on nephel. The sense of “discarded,” I think, seem apropos to the subject of heaven “discarding” the rebel angels and hence become known by that word. A word has fields of meaning. I might even point out the possibility of the use of nephel as a pun.

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