Skip to content

Who Were the Nephilim?

Who Were the Nephilim?

The Bible’s answer

 The Nephilim were giants, the violent superhuman offspring produced when wicked angels mated with human women in the days of Noah. a

 The Bible account says that “the sons of the true God began to notice that the daughters of men were beautiful.” (Genesis 6:2) Those ‘sons of God’ were actually spirit creatures who rebelled against God when they “forsook their own proper dwelling place” in heaven, materialized human bodies, and “began taking as wives all whom they chose.”​—Jude 6; Genesis 6:2.

 The hybrids born from this unnatural union were no ordinary children. (Genesis 6:4) The Nephilim were giant bullies, tyrants who filled the earth with violence. (Genesis 6:​13) The Bible describes them as “the mighty ones of old times, the men of fame.” (Genesis 6:4) They left behind a legacy of violence and fear.​—Genesis 6:5; Numbers 13:33. b

Misconceptions about the Nephilim

 Misconception: The Nephilim are still alive on earth today.

 Fact: Jehovah caused a global flood to destroy that violent ancient world. The Nephilim were wiped out along with all wicked people. In contrast, Noah and his family found favor with Jehovah and were the only ones preserved alive at that time.​—Genesis 6:9; 7:​12, 13, 23; 2 Peter 2:5.

 Misconception: The Nephilim were fathered by humans.

 Fact: Their fathers are called “sons of the true God.” (Genesis 6:2) The Bible uses this same expression to describe angels. (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7) Angels had the power to materialize in human form. (Genesis 19:​1-5; Joshua 5:​13-​15) The apostle Peter spoke of “the spirits in prison, who had formerly been disobedient when God was patiently waiting in Noah’s day.” (1 Peter 3:​19, 20) Referring to the same circumstances, the Bible writer Jude explains that some angels “did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place.”​—Jude 6.

 Misconception: The Nephilim were fallen angels.

 Fact: The context of Genesis 6:4 indicates that the Nephilim were, not angels, but hybrid offspring born from sexual relations between materialized angels and women. After the angels “began taking as wives all whom they chose,” Jehovah said that in 120 years he would take action against the ungodly world of that time. (Genesis 6:​1-3) The account adds that “in those days,” the materialized angels “continued to have relations with the daughters of men” and that they produced “the mighty ones of old times,” the Nephilim.​—Genesis 6:4.

a The Hebrew word transliterated “Nephilim” possibly means “The Fellers.” Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies says the word refers to those “falling on men with violence and rapine [plunder], and causing them to fall.”

b Evidently the Israelite spies quoted at Numbers 13:33 saw people whose size reminded them of accounts of the Nephilim, who had died centuries earlier.​—Genesis 7:​21-​23.