I said over three years ago, I'd look into this and get right back to you. The more I looked into it, the more confused I got.
Finally, the topic popped up again with an Internet friend as we were discussing the lines of Cain and Seth in the book of Genesis. I've come to the conclusion that the Nephilim were born of a mixed line of Cain's descendants (the sons of the earth) and Seth's descendants (the sons of God).
First, the question is a bit off base because the asker assumes that it was due to the “giants” or “sons of God” that the world was destroyed in the flood. However, this is not the case because the world was destroyed because of the corporate wickedness and rebellion that had taken place by that time;
“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5, ESV)
Granted, the “sons of God” played a part in the judgment, but the overall reason was the sinfulness of mankind in toto. Now, from a previous paper that I have written for school, I have systematized the different views on this subject;
1. The “sons of God” are identified by Davis as being whom?
a. In the textbook, Davis describes the “sons of God” as the either of two views.
i. The “sons of God” were the “fallen, wicked angelic beings who cohabited with the ‘daughters of men’ in a most unnatural way” (Davis, pg. 110).
ii. The “sons of God” is a reference to the Godly line of Seth who married unbelievers and created according to Davis, an “unholy alliance” (Davis, pg. 112).
b. A third view purposed by Davis is that the “sons of God” came in the form of Cainite dynastic rulers (Davis, pg. 113). However, this view is rejected by Davis due to inconsistencies.
c. Speaking on this topic, scholar F.F. Bruce states:
This term is used in the OT only of angelic beings, perhaps of higher rank. It was only because the possibility of sexual relationships contradicted the general concepts of angels that the early rabbinic expositors understood it to mean persons of high social class, i.e. there was a disregard for social differences, and the very early Church Fathers, followed by the Reformers, referred to the descendents of Seth (so Leupold). The earliest Jewish interpretation was of angelic beings; so LXX, Jubilees, Enoch, Josephus (c.f. 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6) (Bruce, pg. 120).
d. It is the author’s opinion that this passage refers to the fallen and wicked angels. This seems to be the most consistent interpretation of the text given the usage else where in Scripture (c.f. Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7). This view also adds meaning to another debated verse come in the form of 1 Corinthians 11:10 which states; “That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels” (1 Cor. 11:10, ESV, emphasis added). When this verse is viewed in light of the Genesis 6 account, it becomes increasingly possible that Paul was telling the church that this prevision was one of the reasons of why the woman should cover her head. However, it must be stated that the author is extremely teachable on this subject and does not set-forth this view with firm conviction.
2. Who are the “nepilim”?
a. Answers in Genesis contributor Bodie Hodge lists four possibilities for the identity of the “Nephilim” which are:
i. The Fallen Angel View – “Satan and/or his fallen angels bred with human women and had offspring that were called Nephilim” (Hodge, 2008).
ii. Fallen Angels Overtook Men View - Fallen angels and/or Satan possessed men and caused them to breed with the “daughters of men” resulting in the birth of Nephilim (Hodge, 2008).
iii. Sethite view – “The sons of God were the godly line from Adam to Seth down to Noah, and the Nephilim were fallen children who sought after false gods” (Hodge, 2008).
iv. Fallen Men View – “Godly men (sons of God) took ungodly wives, and their descendants (Nephilim) followed after the false gods, rejected God, and fell far from God in wickedness” (Hodge, 2008).
b. However, Hodge goes on to state that “AiG” does not take an official position on this topic. Nor is this topic critical from the standpoint of Biblical authority.
c. Two respected theologians add their view to this subject, namely, F.F. Bruce and John Calvin. In regards to the identity of the Nephilim, F.F. Bruce states;
Nephilim: c.f. Num. 13:33, where they are giants, but here probably ‘fallen ones’. The obvious inference is that they were they were the offspring of the unions just mentioned, and the setting suggests that they were ring-leaders in the evil being described (Bruce, pg. 120).
d. Calvin, who believed that the “sons of God” were bore of unequally yoked believers and unbelievers, goes on to state that the “Nephilim” were oppressors of men:
Among the innumerable kinds of corruptions with which the earth was filled, Moses especially records one in this place; namely that giants practiced great violence and tyranny. I do not, however, suppose, that he speaks of all the men of this age; but of certain individuals, who, being stronger than the rest, and relying on their own might and power, exalted themselves unlawfully, and without measure. As to the Hebrew noun, (nefilim,) its origin is known to be from the verb (naphal,) which is to fall; but grammarians do not agree concerning its etymology…To me there seems more truth in the opinion of those who say, that a similitude is taken from a torrent, or an impetuous tempest; for as a storm and torrent, violently falling, lays waste and destroys the fields, so these robbers brought destruction and desolation into the world. (Calvin, pg. 149)
Now, if these were in fact angels, then it would make sense that they were not in fact destroyed in the flood. Not in regards to the offspring of the “sons” but rather, the rebellious angels in particular. Also, the Genesis genealogies are not complete, and within the blood line of Noah could have been the line of the Nephilim at some odd point. Thus, genetically, there would be an opportunity for the line to replicate. However, this is truly a subject that I have never really pondered and will have to get back to you at some point with a more cogent answer. Having stated that, your statement seems the most likely; that through Ham, the Nephilim line was propagated. You may be on to something. This also fits well with my afore mentioned comment on the genealogies. Also, consider what you have already stated in regards to “one parent.” If we all came from one set of parents, and there is genetic variation, then the potential must have been there in Adam and Eve. To add further support to your view, consider what Moses states about the Nephilim:
“The 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. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.” (Gen. 6:4, ESV)
I take this as meaning “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them; they were also there after those days…” If I am correct in rendering Moses in this fashion, then he is proclaiming that the Nephilim were there in that age and also ages after the time after they took the “daughters of man.” Thus, you would have to be correct because this line would have to been transmitted in some fashion…through Noah in some manner after the repopulation of the earth. Does this make sense in any way??? I hope this helps in some way but to be honest, I would have to look into this much more in depth to give a sound answer.
- Jeff Krause