I am told over and over again that there is no danger to crazy theories being broadcast on television since these ideas are just entertainment. And yet last night as the U.S. House of Representatives voted to reopen the government, a House stenographer had to be forcibly removed from the floor after she became enraged and shouted that the U.S. government was a Freemason conspiracy to mock God, for the Freemasons who wrote the constitution “go against God.” While the stenographer’s ideas are more along the Christian conspiracy track, it is nevertheless unhelpful that we currently have had several cable TV programs, notably Brad Meltzer’s Decoded and America Unearthed, pushing the same Freemason conspiracy line, feeding this paranoia.
Ah well, let’s move on to a different kind of crazy: aliens! Yesterday Scotty Roberts suggested that I had misrepresented his views when I described his appearance on Ancient Aliens Monday night as supporting a connection between the Anunnaki and the Nephilim.
As you know, I am always happy to correct my mistakes, but in this case I wasn’t wrong. Here are Roberts’s exact words in his brief appearance on Ancient Aliens:
The Nephilim are described in some translations as being giants. The relationship between the Anunnaki and the Nephilim is really a story of two cultures but are related. The Anunnaki was the god caste who created primordial man to enslave them, while the Nephilim were the offspring of those who came down and intermingled with humans.
Roberts, as you can see, claimed that the Anunnaki and Nephilim stories are related. As I told Roberts, his comments were obviously edited for television, but as presented on the show, he said what I had described.
But I also want to point out that Roberts’s Sitchin-derived ideas are not correct. First, the Anunnaki did not create human beings. In the sixth tablet of the Enuma Elish, it is Ea who fashions humans from the blood of a god and from clay. In the bilingual version of the creation myth (a variant version), it is Marduk who creates mankind. In the late version preserved by Berossus, it is again Marduk (under the Greek name Belus) who creates humanity from the severed head of another god.
None of these gods is among the Anunnaki. Only Zecharia Sitchin made them so. The warrant for this is that the Anunnaki take their name from the sky god An, and thus can be viewed as offspring of the sky. But in Greek myth, the Titans and the Cyclopes are also the offspring of the sky (Ouranos), yet they did not “descend” from outer space but rather were born of the earth (Gaia). Similarly, the Anunnaki are associated with the earth, and texts from Assyria and Babylon tell us that their mother was Ki, the earth itself.
In the Enuma Elish, Marduk assigns the Anunnaki to their stations, half to the newly-created sky above, and half to the realm under the earth. They could not have come down from the sky, for Marduk had only just made the sky from the chaos monster Tiamat. The bilingual version is more explicit. It states of Marduk in line 15: “The gods the Anunnaki he created at one time.” Thus, not only were the Anunnaki not beings from the sky, they were creations of Marduk, just like people. In “Enki and the World Order” (t.1.1.3), Enki is instead in charge of the Anunnaki, and calls himself their leader, but nevertheless makes plain that they are gods associated with earth, not the sky: “For the Anuna gods, Enki situated dwellings in cities and disposed agricultural land into fields.” While technically space gods might also have had vacation homes on earth, Enki, leader of the Anunnaki, comes from the Abzu under the earth, not from the sky. In “The Debate between Grain and Sheep” (t.5.3.2), the Anunnaki are gods of an earthen mound, not from the sky, for the great god An “spawned” them on “the hill of heaven and earth,” meaning that they were born here, not in outer space. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Anunnaki are judges of the underworld dead.
We obviously cannot say there was one official view of the Anunnaki, but the general sense is plain: They were not aliens from the skies but rather deities above, in, and under the earth.
So what do they have to do with the Nephilim?
Not a whole lot. The connection comes from some language used in Genesis 6:2: “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” The idea is that the sons of God (the Elohim—literally sons of the Gods) are cognate with the Anunnaki, for the name Anunnaki means “princely offspring” and thus are seen as the same. Yet the Sons of God are not synonymous with the Nephilim, the giants of Genesis 6:4, who were the heroes of old, the mighty men of renown. The Elohim are the fathers of the Nephilim. It is much later, with the Book of Enoch, that we see the Sons of God as a race of fallen angels who taught humans such aspects of culture as metallurgy and cosmetology (they were really into making women look sexy: 1 Enoch 8:1). It is only still later that the Nephilim, the giants whom God punishes by killing them off with the Flood (Jubilees 7:21–25), become conflated with the Fallen Angels, whom God punishes with eternal torment beneath the earth. The warrant for this, in turn, is the idea that Nephilim means “fallen ones” in a literal sense and thus must refer back to the Sons of Gods, or Fallen Angels, even though they are also their half-divine children.
(For a separate discussion of the Nephilim, see my previous article here.)
The Anunnaki are not known to have mated with humans, nor did they teach humans how to do makeup, nor did they defy the will of the chief gods. They are therefore not the same as the Elohim or the Watchers. They are not mortal, nor are they punished with the Flood, so they are not the Nephilim.
The only remaining similarity is the notion of a divine court, which is pretty much the definition of polytheism. The Elohim are often suspected of being the faded remains of a pre-Mosaic polytheist Canaanite pantheon, with greater and lesser gods. In the Ugaritic texts, for example, they are called bn ilm, the sons of the gods, and they meet in phr bn ilm, the assembly of the sons of the gods. One text, cited by Simon B. Parker, suggests that these sons of the gods mated with human women to create the semi-divine kings of the world, a motif also found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, where Gilgamesh, a king, is two-thirds divine and one-third man. His mother was the goddess Ninsun, who was, again, not among the Anunnaki. (Her father was An, like the Anunnaki, but her mother was Unas, while the Anunnaki were born to Ki.) The Jews, in adapting polytheist ideas to a new monotheist culture, demonized the old polytheist gods and heroes as fallen angels and sinners, recognizing their power but only in opposition to God.
So, the question of whether the Anunnaki and the Elohim and/or Nephilim are “related” comes down to whether you think that each culture had its own set of gods and semi-divine heroes, or whether you feel they all sprang from a common source. Either way, the Anunnaki and the Nephilim share virtually nothing in common except for a connection to the divine, which figures as diverse as Perseus, Alexander the Great, the Mayan Hero Twins, the Dogon Nommos, and innumerable others either claimed or had ascribed to them.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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