Rev. H. S. Warleigh
The Rev. H. S. Warleigh, Vicar of Ashchurch, delivered a paper to the Society of Biblical Archaeology in April 1876 arguing that the Nephilim could be used to reconcile the Bible with science by identifying pre-human ancestors with the antediluvian giants. He expanded his paper as a chapter in his 1883 book Genesis in Advance of Science, which he published anonymously. The following is his explication of Genesis 6:4, in which he argues that the Giants of that verse were not only Paleolithic pre-humans but also responsible for ancient archaeological wonders.
Ver. 4. We come now to a most important paragraph in the sacred narrative, which has not had bestowed upon it that research which it so richly merits, and therefore, like a mine unworked in its depths, it has not given forth those treasures which it is so capable of yielding. This deficiency is owing, maybe, partly to the mis-translation of the verse, and partly to the interpolated words needed, as it was supposed, to make sense. Commentators, therefore, have taught us that before the Flood there were men of very great stature and strength; that they were the progeny of the sons of God and the daughters of men; and that it was through these giants that the human race became so wicked and corrupt. The sacred text, however, by no means sanctions all this. It tells us that there was a race of intelligent beings on earth to whom it gave the name of ‘The Nephilim,’ who were in existence in the days of Adam, and also during some ages before Adam was created; and that in their time they were renowned for some acts and doings which are not specified. This information is very contracted, but it is enough to raise intense curiosity, and create a strong desire to know more. Close research, however, though it will not reveal all we may wish for, yet will afford much more knowledge than appears on the surface. The passage consists of an intimation which, with many others, shows that the Divine oracles are in advance of the age, and in it the prescience of God seems to have supplied us with information which was intended to harmonise, on some important points, the discoveries of modern science with the teachings of the Bible; whilst its tendency leads to the certain expectation that, when both the Bible and the book of nature are thoroughly understood by us, we shall see that the two are in perfect keeping, and that God is the Author of the one as well as of the other. It is our imperfect views concerning both books, and our erroneous expositions of each, which make them seem at variance; and both theologians and scientists should wait for further light, and vigorously and cautiously pursue it, before either pronounce against the book of the other. We will examine the various clauses of this passage, the whole of which should be read as a distinct paragraph.
I. The word’ giants,’ which is made to stand for ha Nephilim, is now allowed to be wrong and misleading. This very ancient race may have been of great stature and strength, but’ giants’ does not convey the idea contained in the name given them by the inspired writer. His mode of expression here is exactly of the same kind as when he writes of the Amorites, the Hivites, &c., and where he always puts the definite article ha before the noun, to denote that they were races known by these names. Ha Nephilim is clearly the name of a race, or people; though whether of the human race or not must be decided on other grounds. It will appear in the sequel that they were not.
II. Who, then, and what were they? First, they were not the sons of God mentioned in verse 1. This wild and groundless fancy has been entertained by some; but if Moses had meant us to understand that the two were identical, he would have given some indication of it; but, instead of this, he writes concerning the antiquity of the Nephilim, what could not be said of the sons of God. Their name is very suggestive, both in its meaning and in what it implies. It comes from naphal=‘ to fall’; and Nephilim means the fallen ones. Some have thought that it must mean the fallers, as though they were notorious for making raids and attacks on others. But this is not the aspect of the verb, which expresses what persons are in themselves, not what they are in relation to others. This is abundantly evident from the way in which it is always used by the sacred writers. Nephilim is in reality a participle in Poel; and therefore a few examples out of many others in the same construction, will be most to the point. 1 Chron. x. 8: ‘They found Saul and his three sons fallen [nephilim] in Mount Gilboa.’ 2 Chron. xx. 24: ‘Behold they were dead bodies fallen [nephilim] to the earth.’ Ezek. xxxii. 22: ‘All of them slain: fallen [nephilim] by the sword.’ Thus it is certain that the idea conveyed by nephilim, whether used as a proper name with the definite article, or as a participle, is not intended to mean fallers or aggressors on others, but is applied to persons who in some sense had themselves fallen from a higher to a lower condition.
But now the question arises, In what sense or aspect were the Nephilim fallen ones? Here, again, the usus scribendi of the verb naphal, and even of its participle in Poel, will help us, seeing it is not unfrequently applied to those who have fallen away or revolted from one ruler or master to another. Thus, keeping to the same part of the verb, Trijah called Jeremiah a naphal because, in the time of the siege, he thought the latter was falling away to the Chaldeans (Jer. xxxvii. 13). And Nebuzar-adan is said to have carried away captive, not only the remnant of the people, but also those that fell away [nephilim] to him (Jer. xxxix. 9). The same thing, in the same form, is repeated in lii. 15. Those Jews who forsook their own king, and went over to the King of Babylon, are called nephilim in 2 Kings xxv. 11, and there the word is rendered’ fugitives.’ These examples are sufficient to prove that one application of the word naphal is to those who desert a cause or party, or to those who rebel against a ruler. Now is it not evident that this ancient race were called ‘ha Nephilim,’ because they were fallen creatures?—as are also the race of man. As there is but one Creator, we may be sure that He Who made us made also them; and equally sure we may be that He made them holy. They were, however, but creatures, and therefore liable to change. Of course they were made capable of improvement, but on that very account they were capable also of degeneration; and this latter was displayed by The Nephilim. They violated the laws of their nature and of their Maker, and therefore they became fallen ones. They forsook their God, rebelled against His authority, deserted from His side, and fell away to the enemy. These were the Nephilim, and this is the reason why they were so called. God made them upright, but they became apostates. They rebelled against their Maker and King, and they brought themselves to a miserable plight. It is not improbable that the state of the earth and of the atmosphere, as they are described in Gen. i. 2, and as they were before the renewing work of the six days, was superinduced by their violation of law. Moses says the earth became tohu—rendered ‘without form’; but Isaiah testifies that the Lord did not make the earth tohu, which is rendered ‘vain’ in xlv. 18; and Jeremiah teaches that the state of things called tohu is brought about only by the rebellion of moral creatures (iv. 22-26). This being the case, and as the Nephilim inhabited the earth for ages before the creation of Adam, it seems likely that it was their rebellion and consequent degeneracy which caused that marred condition of the earth’s surface, out of which it was raised by the six days’ work. These Nephilim, too, must have been among the things and persons which Adam was commissioned to ‘subdue,’ and over whom he was to have ‘dominion’ (Gen. i. 28).
III. But in what age or ages did they live? The answer to this inquiry will discover to us still greater wonders concerning this race; and the passage before us contains three marks which afford considerable help on this point—‘in those days’; ‘and also after the sons of God had married the daughters of Adam;’ and ‘which were from of old.’ In this order these marks must be examined.
(a) The sacred text on the first point is emphatic, and literally reads thus: ‘The Nephilim were on the earth in days, the those.’ In this instance the pronoun has the definite article. This part of speech is often tantamount to a demonstrative pronoun, even when it stands alone affixed to a noun. Here, however, we find a pronoun, as well as a noun, and the former takes the article; and thus some definite time was alluded to, which was in the writer’s mind, and which he must have before spoken of or alluded to. Now, the only place where time is expressed or implied is in verse 1, by the adverb ‘when,’ which has the force of ‘the time when.’ ‘Those days,’ then, refer to the period ‘when Adam began to be many on the face of the ground;’ and for the purpose before us it will be sufficient if we conclude, that this period was the third or fourth century of the world; for it must have been about that time that Adam’s clan began to be many, and that daughters were born to Adam and his wife. We cannot be far wrong if we say that The Nephilim race were on the wide earth when these daughters were born, and when yet the human family extended no farther than the ground on the confines of Paradise.
(b) There is a second note of time: ‘And also, after that, the sons of God came in unto the daughters of Adam, and they bare to them.’ This is not the same time as the other, but another, distinct from the first. Had Moses meant the same period he would have used the conjunctive vau alone; and then the clauses might possibly have been read thus: ‘The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, even when the sons of God,’ &c. Instead of this he employs a combination of words, some of which might appear superfluous. His words are, vau gam ahchrei keen = ‘and also, afterwards’—namely, when the sons of God, &c. Evidently, therefore, the period when Adam began to be many, and when the birth of daughters took place, was one time, and when these daughters were married was another. Nor was the interval between the two periods, anything less than what we should deem long. The average age of the men when they married was about a hundred years, and we may well infer that the then marriageable age of the women was much the same. The state of the case, then, was this: The Nephilim were on the earth when these daughters were born; and they were on the earth also when these daughters were married and had children. Headers may fix what interval they like: it could not have been short, or there would not have been sufficient importance to state so explicitly the second note of time. The object of the sacred writer was not so much to point out the existence of the Nephilim (for they appear to have been well known, even in the days of Moses), but to show at what periods they lived on the earth; and hence the pains to express so distinctly the two periods. The fact cannot be contravened, that these Nephilim lived during the time of Adam, and that it is more than probable they were on the earth up to the time of the Deluge. Whether they were not there even afterwards will be seen further on.
(c) But the most wonderful thing concerning the chronology of this race remains to be developed. As they were created beings, the question will be asked, When were they created—before or after the time of Adam? On this point the Hebrew text is explicit and clear, but the English translation has sadly obscured it by its italicised words, and commentators have not only adopted these words, but have added to the obscurity by their explanations. The words in italics are ‘children’ and ‘became’; and their insertion has upset the grammatical construction of the original. The word ‘children’ is thus made to be the antecedent of ‘the same’; as though the sense were, ‘the same children.’ Then, the inserted word ‘became’ makes these ‘children’ to grow up mighty men. After that, the original, me ohlam, is softened down and contracted into ‘of old,’ which commentators make to refer to times no longer back than those between the creation of Adam and the Flood; and thus the perversion of this splendid and important paragraph is completed. The Hebrew reads thus: ‘The Nephilim were on the earth in those days; and also afterwards, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of Adam and bare to them; the same [Nephilim] were Ha Giborim which [were] from everlasting.’ Me ohlam is the Hebrew which we have translated ‘from everlasting,’ and these are the words so translated in Ps. xc. 2, xciii. 2, ciii. 17, and other places, as Micah v. 2, in all which places they are applied to the eternity of God. It should, however, be noted that ohlam does not necessarily include an eternity like that properly attributed to the Deity; for its lexical force is, that duration of time which is proper to the one to whom it is applied; and, as used with respect to the Nephilim, may go back for ages before the creation of Adam, and must go back much farther than his time. If the sacred writer had intended that past period usually designated ‘times of old,’ he would not have used ohlam but hedem, which is perpetually so translated in the O.T.
Nor should any be surprised that these intelligent beings were created before the days of Adam. It must be allowed that angels were created before man, and that some of them fell and became demons; and what evidence have we for supposing that the human race and the angelic race are the only rational ones that God ever created? Could the variety of intelligent races be restricted to two? and was the wisdom of God unable to devise, and His power unable to create, any other genus or other genera of intellectual beings, who should be able to know and love their Maker, though perhaps in different degrees? Surely none who believe in God at all, will come to this conclusion. Whether a greater variety of such creatures should be made, depended upon His will, not upon His ability. What evidence is there that He did will to restrict His intelligent moral creatures to two genera? Let us look abroad upon vegetable creation and see what an infinite variety there is, and then survey what an amazing number of kinds are found in the lower animal creation; and then let it be considered that each genus has its many species, and that the species even have an almost infinite variety. When we do this, we shall be amazed at the vast numbers of distinctions and differences in all these works of God; although there is such a oneness and unity, amidst all the multiplicity, as to prove that all proceeded from the conceptions of One Infinite Mind. Now, shall the morally intellectual creation be an exception to this universal variety, and that, although there is no abstract reason to make it so? Would not the glory of God be more declared, and His power and wisdom more magnified, by a variety of species in the genera of moral and mental races, than by a restriction in these races to two species? He is thus more glorified in the rest of creation, why not in this also? Reasoning, then, from analogy we cannot conclude that angels and men are the only species of beings which He has made capable of adoring and serving Him.
But what says the Bible on this subject? In the first place we point to the Nephilim as a distinct species of the highest created genus. And possibly the same may be said of the Rephaim, the Zuzim or Zamzumim, and the Emim, all of whom are mentioned in Holy Writ, though never found in any of the genealogies of the human kind. The Anakim cannot be put into this category, for they appear to be but a variety of the Nephilim species. Then there is that remarkable passage into Isaiah xlv. 18, which has been alluded to, but which must now be quoted and examined: ‘Thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain [tohu], he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.’ Now, while it is here declared that God did not make the earth in the stats of tohu, mentioned in Gen. i. 2, it is said also, that when He made the earth, it was that it should be inhabited; from which we may safely infer, that as soon as the earth was made fit, whenever that was, inhabitants were also made, to live in it. This text further teaches that an earth, in a state of tohu, was not fit, in God’s estimation, to be inhabited. It does not say, nor imply, that it could not be inhabited, it teaches only, that as He intended the earth to be inhabited, He did not make it in the state called tohu, which really means marred, disorganised. He would not put any of His creatures into an earth marred and disorganised. If by the rebellion, the idleness, and the neglect of the mental and moral inhabitants, the earth became marred, that is another matter. Such a thing was possible, and such a thing, it would appear, actually took place some time before Adam was created, when God, during six previous days, repaired a spot to make it fit for man. Now, while God declares by Isaiah that He made the earth to be inhabited, He also declares by Moses that He made both the heavens and the earth in the beginning, when the universe was first created. Putting both passages together, it would appear, that from the time that the earth was made, it has never been without inhabitants. Now, inasmuch as the earth was made myriads of ages ago, it may be supposed that during those ages there was a succession of intelligent creatures on the earth, each one fitted for its then state; and each succeeding one, higher and more perfect in creational status than its predecessor; and each one in its turn becoming extinct, as we see was the case with other parts of God’s creation. Perhaps God did not design them for immortality and eternal life. Possibly, indeed, the race called angels were at one time inhabiters of the earth, when some of them passed their probation well and were rewarded, while others of them failed and were condemned (Jude 6).
Now, after weighing these considerations, it will not be difficult to conclude, that many different species of rational creatures have successively lived on the earth, ever since the beginning of creation, which of course must be the beginning of time, and that the Nephilim formed one of these species. We may thus arrive at an increasingly sublime view of the Ever-living Infinite Creator, and enlarge our conceptions of His boundless attributes. The study of astronomy helps us to understand, better than without it, the immensity of Deity, and His all-pervading presence; as does the study of geological ages, aid to a comprehension, though an imperfect one, of His eternity; and surely a contemplation of a succession, not only of generations upon generations, but of races upon races, throughout ages only less than God’s eternity, must also tend to enlarge our minds and increase our knowledge of the Holy One, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, Who, whilst He stamps, during these ages, improvement and progress on all His works, is Himself so infinitely perfect as to be incapable of improvement; Who also, while He sees myriads of generations and thousands of races come to an end, ever Himself remains the same Unchangeable One, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, Which was, and Which is, and Which is to come, the Almighty. Surely whatever has this effect must be true and right.
The only objection that even shallowness can bring against this may possibly be, that mute animal creation, in its improved successive genera and species, lived on the earth and inhabited it, as shown by the remains of successive geological ages; and that, therefore, these may have been the inhabitants alluded to by Isaiah, without supposing that rational beings were always on the earth. If this should really be urged, let two things be considered. First, the object of the passage, and of the whole chapter, is to magnify the Lord by referring to the greatness of His works, and to show by the marvels of these works, how able He is to accomplish His promised design of ultimately delivering His people from all evil. Now would this be done near so effectually by pointing to the lower parts of creation? If thus restricted, the argument would be, ‘Israel shall be saved with an everlasting salvation, &c. (verse 17); and to encourage your faith, remember God made the earth, and made it to be inhabited by mute animals from insects upwards.’ Surely no thinker would use a comparatively weak argument when a stronger is at hand; nor would any prophet offer any but the strongest incentive to faith, especially in depressed and despairing times. Taking, however, the wide view of this text, we shall see how calculated it is to encourage the hopes and sustain the faith of God’s people, and how certain it is that this wide view is the correct one. According to this, the argument would be— God made the earth to be inhabited, and you, His chosen ones, shall inhabit it for ever, even though all others be consumed out of it. This you may rely upon, for it is the purpose of Him who made the heavens and which cannot be contravened. ‘Israel shall be saved with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end.’ But, secondly, the point is set at rest by the use made by the inspired writers of the verb yahsab, the infinitive of which Isaiah employs. It occurs hundreds of times, but it is applied only to that kind of inhabiting or of dwelling or sitting in a place, which belongs to moral and intellectual beings; and on this account it is often applied to the marriage state of such persons. We may then conclude that ever since the earth has been an earth, or habitable place, even from the beginning, it has had living upon it rational, intelligent creatures; and the inference is fair and logical that the Nephilim were some of them.
It should be noticed that these Nephilim were in the earth when the human family were only in the locality of Eden. The English Version, as we have seen, erroneously reads, ‘Men began to multiply on the face of the earth;’ whereas the sacred text distinctly says, ‘the face of the ground;’ which was a very contracted space. Here, then, we see a broad contrast. The Nephilim occupied the earth; the human family only a small region in the place where Adam and his wife went when they were banished from Paradise. Mankind at that time, and indeed up to the time of the Deluge, were the few, the Nephilim and other such races were the many. ‘When Adam began to be many on the face of the ground . . . the Nephilim were in the earth in those days.’ This should be noticed, for it relieves thoughtful minds of many difficulties which theology has created, and which it transfers to the Bible, greatly to its detriment and much to the hindrance of the truth contained in the pages of that Divinely inspired Book.
A few corollaries here will not be out of place.
I. Geology has revealed to us almost as great wonders in the earth below, as astronomy has, in the heavens above. It is well known that the former science has discovered proofs of the presence in the earth of intelligent beings and their doings, long before the time which the Bible assigns as the period when man was produced. We cannot question the reality of these geological discoveries, if we follow truth wherever it may lead us. Allowing, what some theologians aver, that the discovered ‘works of art’ might have been produced by a natural process, and that some of the specimens adduced are forgeries, still these averments will by no means cover the whole question, nor set aside all the facts discovered by this science. On the other hand, if, again, we are determined to follow the truth, however and wheresoever it may lead, we cannot mistake the teaching of the Bible that man’s era began about six thousand years ago. Geologists keep to their facts, which they believe to be thoroughly reliable, and repudiate the scriptural date of man’s creation. It is a pity that on this point they should allow themselves to be led astray by theologians. These latter aver, that only one race of rational beings has ever lived on the earth. This grievous error theologians have identified with Bible teaching, and have quoted certain texts to support their inventions, which texts they have—unknowingly perhaps—misapplied. These texts do teach that all mankind—all of the genus homo—without exception, have proceeded from Adam and Eve, and that they were to dwell on all the face of the earth; but these texts do not say, nor even intimate, that other races beside the human were never on the earth, or, that all rational creatures which ever existed on the earth must have proceeded from Adam. This is the confusion of theology, palmed upon God’s Book, and not the teaching of the Book itself. Now, geologists have relied on this theology, and, like the professed believers in the Book, they have substituted the one for the other, or rather they have identified the two. They found theology inconsistent with geology, and they took it for granted that the Bible also was inconsistent with it—at least, concerning the era of man’s creation. What, however, does the Bible really teach? If we take it as it is, without traditional perversions and theologic delusions, we shall see that it alludes to many races, and puts forth with prominence the race of the Nephilim. Nor should we fail to point out most distinctly, as a very noteworthy fact, that, whilst the Bible takes pains to record, in more places than one, the genealogies of the patriarchs and of other leaders of the human race, and whilst Moses says these Nephilim were persons of renown, yet they are not found in any of the registers, nor reckoned among the human race. They are mentioned, and that too very distinctly and remarkably, but not amongst mankind. We cannot account for this significant and telling fact except by receiving the literal teaching of Gen. vi. 4: ‘The Nephilim were in the earth in those days .... which were, from everlasting, the mighty ones, men of renown.’
But now to the geologic point. Here are a people who must have lived all through that Tertiary period, in the upper strata of which the artistic works and traces of intelligence are found. And it would appear, too, that they were living in a state which gave them plenty of opportunities to make tools of flint and bone, and no opportunity of discovering metals and of working them, except in a few spots which were hilly and naturally drained. Is it not obvious that the geologically discovered works of art were the products of these Nephilim, or of one of those races which were prior to man? With the Nephilim before us, why should geologists say to believers in the Bible, ‘Your Book is not true, at least in one matter, for it teaches that man was made only six thousand years ago; but we have discovered works of art which were manufactured at periods immensely further back than that, and therefore man must have been in existence far, far before the alleged period’? And why should theologians say to geologists, ‘Your alleged works of art are fictitious—they are the effects of natural causes, and do not prove your point, nor any analogous one’? Both are wrong on some points and right on others. The discovery of innumerable works of art, done some time in the Tertiary period, proves that intelligent manufacturers were then and there present to make them. But this does not show that these manufacturers were of the human species. Geologists will have to alter their phraseology to what will not specify the kind of agents who made the adduced specimens of work. Then they will be impregnable. That mankind were the agents is assumed, but cannot be proved. On the other hand, theologists will act more wisely, and more in accordance with truth, if they admit the geological facts concerning these artistic works, and contend only for the other true fact—that none of the genus homo were the manufacturers of them. The Spirit of Jehovah appears to have caused this marvellous paragraph (Gen. vi. 4) to be recorded purposely to help both parties to arrive at the whole truth of the matter; and the devout believer in the Divine inspiration of the Bible, may well rejoice that that Book, which he deservedly prizes above gold, is so much in advance on many points, even of modern science. The Bible was not indeed written for scientific purposes, and its language, like the language of science, is in accordance with phenomena; yet, where the things of nature do crop up, there it is found to be in exact accord with those sciences, or those parts of science, which are ascertained as finally and undoubtedly correct. Take, for instance, the origin of life. How long did biologists contend that- life might, under certain conditions, be produced by non-life?—but now it has been demonstrated, by experiments long pursued, with the most scrupulous and careful caution, and with an ingenuity and at an expense beyond praise, that life can arise only from previously existing life. But this is what the Bible has ever taught. This, however, does not make it the less satisfactory that this truth has been proved by the actual experiments and discoveries of science. And may it not be possible, and may it not be the design of the Supreme Scientific Teacher, that scientists should discover, from simply a scientific point of view, all that the Bible teaches concerning God and His works and ways, save and except the great work of redemption? But even here metaphysics is capable of proving that, given the creation of a free moral agent, redemption is inevitable. Meanwhile the research and results of scientific inquiry deserve grateful recognition and admiration. And, at least in two ways, theologists may well, with great advantage to Bible truth and progress, follow the example of scientists. These latter study their book of nature independently of philosophical tradition. Let the former do the same. Then, when these have made discoveries opposite to their former utterances, they at once, with admirable candour and honesty, repudiate the past and avow the present. Should not those show the same noble spirit, and should they not themselves seek for and show that repentance which they urge on the other? Can they say that they have searched into all the depths of Holy Writ? that they know all that the Divine Oracles are capable of teaching them? and that all the opinions which they hold are in accordance with that revealed Book? Have they nothing to discover, nothing to give up, nothing to modify? Verily, modern theology has much to alter, much to set right, before it can fully achieve its professed object of saving souls and of enlarging the extent of Christ’s kingdom on earth.
II. In the next place, this paragraph of the Bible bears strongly on the speculations of those who give to the civilisation of Egypt, and to the vast attainments of the Egyptians in arts and science, a much earlier origin than the Bible date of man’s beginning. They aver that such amazing perfection in these things, and such progress and completion in the structure of language, as were displayed, when history first made acquaintance with the Egyptians, must necessarily have taken for their growth a period immensely longer than the Bible era. For the moment let this be conceded, and then our mysterious paragraph might open the way to account for all that is affirmed by Egyptologists. The Nephilim, we are told, were in the wide earth, and had been there for many long ages. If we identify this race with that into which Kain married, we may infer from chapter iv. that some of them, through surrounding circumstances, were in a state of low civilisation, out of which he lifted them. But this was probably not the case with all the families of this race. Some of them, we may suppose, - were better situated in those parts of the earth, where there would be a good river drainage, and where civilisation and its concomitants could be developed. It would appear that Kain’s adopted countrymen lived in what had been swampy places, which precluded them from much progress in anything. He was the first to build a city for them, and to organise them into a community living together; for it is probable that before then, as we have already seen, they lived in huts placed on piles. In the valley of the Nile, however, there was a natural drainage, and it must ever have existed. Whatever people, therefore, lived in that locality, they would find the absence of all obstacles to improvement, and the presence of many helps and facilities; and they would on that account make much faster progress in arts, civilisation, and knowledge than could be accomplished by other peoples less favourably circumstanced. Egypt, the land of Moses’ birth, the one with which he was best acquainted, and whose learning he had largely imbibed, would certainly be included in what he calls the earth (ha eritz). It seems, then, almost certain that when any of the descendants of Noah found their way into Egypt, they would find there a people living in an advanced state of civilisation. As to any objection arising from an alleged universality of the Flood, it will be subsequently shown from Holy Writ, that this was not universal with respect to the surface of the wide earth, but to the whole of mankind who lived upon it, except eight persons. Moreover, as these Nephilim had been so widely diffused over the earth, and were so in the time of Noah, he and his sons and their progeny must have known the fact, though their geographical knowledge was not sufficient to tell them the extent of the wide earth, nor anything concerning the nations which dwelt upon it. Is it not nearly certain, too, that Noah, who walked with Elohim and had personal converse with Him, would be acquainted with the benevolent mission confided to Adam and attempted to be carried out by Kain, but more correctly carried out by Seth and Enoch, who proclaimed the name of the Lord? Furthermore, seeing some of the descendants of the Nephilim existed in the clays of Moses, is it too much to suppose that the people of the dispersion knew the fact of their existence, and expected wherever they went to meet with them? It would indeed appear, that the plan of God to reclaim this race by human agency, was the last opportunity which would be afforded them; and now they must either be turned from their evil ways, or gradually retire before the superior race, and at last be exterminated. And indeed it would appear that this latter was ultimately their fate. When the family of Mizraim, the second son of Ham, came into Egypt, they would at once find themselves in most favourable circumstances, amidst a civilisation which had been growing and improving during many thousands of years. Some have wondered at the marvellously rapid progress, and the magnificently splendid development of science and art among the Hamites in Egypt—a people from whom we should have least expected such mighty results, seeing they were under a curse. They were far in advance of any of the rest of Noah’s descendants. How was this? Does not the secret of it lie in the facts, that the Nephilim were in the earth even after the Flood? that numbers of them must have been in the valley of the Nile? that they were there in a state of civilisation? and that when the Mizraimites emigrated thither from Shinar they would mingle with the aborigines, and very likely many of the two races would intermarry and become one people, and in time few would be left of the pure original race? Some of these few it seems must have emigrated to Palestine, possibly at the very time when the Philistines, the descendants of one of Mizraim’s sons (Gen. x. 14), settled there. Effete, worn-out aborigines have ever had to retire before a young energetic race, unless the one has amalgamated with the other, which has seldom been the case to any great extent.
The descendants of the Antediluvian Nephilim occupied a portion of Palestine in the days of Moses. In the report of the Spies, which he adopts in his narrative, we find a remarkable statement, which, when correctly rendered, reads thus: ‘And there we saw The Nephilim, the sons of Anak, which came of The Nephilim; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight’ (Num. xiii. 33). Several points in this passage should be noticed. (1) There can be no reason to doubt that these Nephilim were descended from those mentioned in Gen. vi. 4. Moses was the writer of both passages, and, if both were not of the same race, he would not have sanctioned the phraseology of the Spies, or he would have given some hint to indicate the difference. Instead of this, he words his narrative exactly as he does in Gen. vi. 4, with just that addition which the change of times and circumstances would require. He again affixes the definite article, and writes ha Nephilim--the Nephilim— evidently alluding to those mentioned before, and with whose name both he and the Spies were well acquainted. (2) In Palestine, the branch of the Nephilim who lived there took a fresh name—the Anakim. Moses writes thus: ’The Nephilim, the sons of Anak;’ or, rather, ‘sons of Anak,’ without the article. If Moses had put the article before beni, ‘sons,’ he would have implied that there were no others of this race except the Anakim branch; but the omission of it shows that other branches were yet somewhere in the earth. That the Anakim were Nephilim is evident from the words ‘sons of Anak, which came of the Nephilim.’ Now the father of Anak was Arba, or Arbah (Josh. xv. 13, xxi. 11; Deut. ix. 2 ; Gen. xxxv. 27); and it is not a little remarkable that the Palestinian branch of the Nephilim were not called ‘Arbahim,’ after him, but ‘Anakim,’ after his son Anak.
This cannot be accounted for by the supposition that Arba was not a person of consequence; for Joshua tells us (xiv. 15) he was a ‘great man,’ and moreover the chief city of the Anakim was named after him—Kirjath Arba. It can be accounted for only by the fact that the Anakim were not the children of Adam, and had different customs from those of mankind. Gen. x. shows how uniform and constant was the practice among this latter race, to call cities and localities after the name of the patriarch of their tribe; and that the practice of the Anakim was the very opposite to this, is one factor in the proof that they were not of the genus homo.
We have seen that these Anakim were descendants of the Nephilim; and now it should be noticed that, although the word ‘Nephilim’ does not mean ‘giants,’ yet those so designated were giants, and were possessed of amazing strength. The Spies reported them as being far larger than themselves; and indeed it was this fact which made the Israelites despair of ever conquering them. Moses himself thus writes of them: ‘A people great and tall, the children of the Anakim, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak?’ They were the then standard specimens of military prowess and physical strength; and to compare the other branches of the Nephilim tribes to the Anakim was to indicate the superhuman power of these tribes (Deut. ii. 10, 11, and 21, 22, 23), and to show that they also were ‘great and tall.’ We may gain some idea of the height of these giant Anakim by taking the case of Og, King of Basan, whose bedstead was nine cubits, or thirteen feet six inches, long, and four cubits, or six feet, wide; and whose weight was so enormous that it was required to be of iron (Deut iii. 11). Now, whether we make this ‘bedstead of iron’ to be his sarcophagus, as some have conjectured, or whether we take it as an ordinary bedstead or couch, does not much matter for the point before us. Whether bed or coffin, it might be taken as one-fourth longer than the body of Og, which would make him to be about ten feet high. And to this would agree the statement concerning Goliath of Gath, who was six cubits and a span, or nine feet four inches, in height (1 Sam xvii. 4). It will be presently seen that both Og and Goliath were of the seed of the Nephilim. Now can we, or ought we, to take these two persons as of the pure human race? Doubtless, if the Bible said or implied that they were so, we should receive it; but that common-sense Book does neither. On the contrary, it tells us that ‘the Nephilim were in the earth before the days of the Flood’; that they had been on the earth me ohlam--‘from a period ages back’; and that many of their descendants, under various names, lived in Palestine in the time of Moses, who expressly testifies that they came from the Nephilim, and who does this as though the fact were well known, and therefore not to be disbelieved or wondered at as impossible. And while he says all this, and more, of these Nephilim and their descendants, he nowhere puts them into the human genealogies, nor intimates nor implies that they belonged to the race of mankind. Again, how evident it is, that those usually called the ‘giant races’ were not Adamites.
It is not a little significant that in a few places the Bible incidentally connects the Anakim descendants of the Nephilim with Egypt, and this would imply that they must have been acquainted with Egyptian civilisation. Num. xiii. 22 contains a short but vastly important parenthesis in an ethnological point of view—‘Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.’ Hebron is much celebrated in sacred history. It was known by that name to Abraham, and the oak of Mamre under which he long dwelt was close to the city. It was situated in a beautiful valley midway between Jerusalem and Beersheba, and consequently it was not much above twenty miles north of the confines of Egypt, a convenient place therefore for emigration from that country. Even in the early times of Abraham, its name Hebron (or rather Chebron, as it should be spelt) was settled and well known to all, and therefore it must have been so designated long before the time of that Patriarch. Prior to that period, it was called Kirjath Arba = ‘the city of Arba,’ after the name of Arbah the father of that Anak who gave his name to the Anakim. Hebron must indeed have been very ancient; and as Anak, and consequently his father Arbah, came of the Nephilim, it was in reality a Nephilim city. Now Moses connects this place with Zoan in Egypt, and it seems to have been the mention of Hebron which brought Zoan to his thoughts. This is curious. How may it be accounted for? He is writing of the time when the Spies went to search out the land, and he says that Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the sons of Anak, were then at Hebron. In the midst of this, and without any expressed reason, he parenthetically observes that Hebron was more ancient than Zoan. The two cities were evidently connected in his mind. But he is writing of the Anakim, and it seems obvious therefore that they were the link of connection. The Anakim originally migrated from Egypt, and in numbers so large, and under some unknown circumstances sufficiently remarkable, as to give a name to the place where they rendezvoused, and from which they started to go to Palestine. Zoan must have been that place, as the name indicates, for it means ‘a departing-place,’ and that, too, not as a station or halting-place for a caravan of travelling merchants, but as the starting-place of a migrating people. All philologists allow this; and the fact of this signification of Zoan is very telling. Seeing Moses was well versed in all the learning of Egypt, he must have known the place also as Ha Awar, which was the ancient Egyptian name. Moses, however, as was natural, gave it the Hebrew name, and herein he is followed by the other sacred writers. It is not improbable that Zoan was the form of name given to the place by the Hebrews when they were in Egypt, and if so they purposely gave, in the Hebrew language, a name exactly of the same force and meaning as was the Egyptian name Ha A war = ‘the place of departure,’ or ‘the house of departure.’ Manifestly, therefore, that spot was known in very ancient times as the place in which a large migration collected and from which it started. Zoan was in the east of Lower Egypt, not far from the part where the Israelites were located; and let anyone trace the journey from Zoan to Hebron, and he will see how easy it was for a people to go from the one to the other. And let him further consider the beauty, the fertility, and the security of the valley of Hebron, and he will perceive how natural it was for an offshoot of the Nephilim to select that place for a settlement. Heath, when deciphering some of the Egyptian papyri, met with the record of a people which emigrated from Egypt to Palestine, and he supposed they might have been the Israelites; but it is more likely that they were these very persons who were going to Kirjath Arba. And may it not have been likely that Arba, the head of the tribe, went, with a comparative few, beforehand, to select a suitable locality and to prepare a city, and that afterwards his son Anak would follow with the main body of the tribe? If so, this would account for the facts that Arba built the city and that Anak gave his name to the tribe.
It is both curious and gratifying to observe, that the meaning of the word’ Hebron’ falls in exactly with the above theory. In Hebrew it is always spelt Chebron, and it evidently comes from the verb chabar, ‘to join together’ as companions, for the sake of society, of mutual help and defence; so that, according to the ideas of a Shemiticspeaking people such as the Hebrews, Hebron or Chebron was the place where a society was formed and joined together for the common welfare. This, too, falls in with the conjecture that some of the Anakim, with Arbah, went before to prepare the place, and were afterwards joined by the rest of the people. Nor would it by any means be far-fetched to suppose that chabar was formed from the old and rarely used root, chab, ‘to be bound to,’ ‘to be under mutual obligation,’ and that chabah was, as well as chabar, formed from the same old root; and then Chebron would carry with it, to a Shemitic thinker, the idea of a place of shelter, perhaps from danger or perhaps from oppression and want, as possibly was the case with these Anakim emigrants. Certain it is that chabah signifies to lie hid, as it were in security. A derivative of it is found in Is. xxxii. 2, where it is rendered ‘a hiding-place’; and also in 1 Sam. xxiii. 23, where the reading is ‘lurking-places,’ referring to the rocks and caves where David and his men lay concealed, and were sheltered from Saul. It should not be forgotten, that in early times the roots of a language were but few, and that people were obliged, in coining new words in order to express new ideas, to take the same roots and, by a little alteration or some addition, to make them serve to point out different phases of the same thought, or various circumstances and combinations of the same action. Thus chab, chabar, and chabah would be of the same family; and Chebron might wrap up in itself the combined idea of mutual obligation among members of a community, brought together in one place, for shelter and defence. Indeed, the English word ‘society’ carries with it the same complex idea. It is also curious and worthy of recollection at this point, that Hebron was chosen to be one of the cities of refuge, as if Moses wished thus to preserve its historical associations and traditions.
Nor is this all that in the Bible connects the Nephilim with Egypt. Moses mentions (Deut. iii. 11) another tribe of mighty ones whom he calls Ha Rephaim, but unhappily the E.V. renders the word by ‘giants,’ and thus puts the Rephaim as a tribe out of sight; though they became as much a people as Ha Amonim (ii. 20) and Ha Moabim (ii. 29) = ‘the Amonites’ and ‘the Moabites.’ Moses distinctly and clearly calls them Ha Rephaim, and no one can have a right to denationalise them. Rephaim does not mean ‘giants,’ though, as in the case of the Nephilim, they were giants; and this, if there were no other proof, would be sufficient to show that they were not of the human family. They were known as a people called Rephaim as early as the days of Abram (Gen. xv. 20), when they dwelt in the fortified city of Ashteroth Karnaim and were worshippers of the goddess Ashteroth or Astarte. By the combined forces of the kings, as mentioned in Gen. xiv., they were conquered, though not exterminated. It is probable that before then they were a numerous people, but that afterwards they remained greatly reduced in number; for we read (Deut. iii. 11) of ‘the remnant of the Rephaim.’ In the days of Moses, Og was their king, reigning in Basan, and it would appear that he and his people were the only remains of the Rephaim. They were exterminated by Joshua. In after times we meet with a few of this Nephilim race, but whether they were of the Anakim or the Rephaim branch does not appear. It seems that when Joshua destroyed the Anakim, in the east of Palestine, some few fled to the Philistines and were distributed among the inhabitants of Gath, Gaza, and Ashdod (Josh. xi. 21, 22); but their numbers grew smaller and smaller, so that, as it would appear, in the time of David five only were left, one of whom was Goliath, who was slain by David himself. The others were a brother of Goliath, Ishbi-benob, Saph, and a man whose name is not given, but who is described as of great stature, with four-andtwenty fingers and toes. All these were destroyed by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants (2 Sam. xxi. 15-22). Then it was, and not till then, that this very ancient race of the Nephilim in all its branches was finally exterminated.
But now, further, as to the point of their connection with Egypt. Rephaim comes from raphah, ‘to heal’ or ‘to embalm,’ and the names of physicians and embalmers were taken from this verb. Thus we read that ‘Joseph commanded his servants the physicians [rephaim] to embalm his father’ (Gen. 1. 2). Job told his miserable comforters that they were physicians of no value (Job xiii. 4). Asa sought to the physicians (2 Chron. xvi. 12). In these cases the vowels of course are different, but the consonants—which are the only essential parts of a Hebrew word—are the same, and we do not infer without reason that the Rephaim were the healers and embalmers of their day. Now Egypt was the land of embalming. All its inhabitants were embalmed after death. It was done for the rich and the great by a process exceedingly expensive but very effectual, whilst the poor had to resort to a cheap process which did not turn out to be efficient; still, by whichever of the processes, much skill was required, and, as such very large numbers had to be embalmed, the art would necessarily give rise to a class of men who would devote themselves to it. How natural it was to call this class the embalmers—the Rephaim; and how spontaneously would the name arise and become current, especially as the same class of men were also the healers. We have called the Rephaim a nation or people: perhaps it would be more precise and accurate to call them a class, but one so distinct and acknowledged as to require the definite article to be prefixed to their name, as it was prefixed to the name of that class called priests. Thus, while in their individual capacity, and as separately exercising their art, they might be called rephaim, they would as a body and as a distinct profession be called ha Rephaim, just as we have a body of professional men called medical, because they use means and medicine to cure diseases.
Now when that branch of the Nephilim, afterwards called the Anakim, went from Egypt by Zoan to Hebron, how natural and, as they would think, how proper and necessary, it was that some of the Rephaim should go with them; and this circumstance would make the Hebrew name of their chief city all the more appropriate, and is an instance which shows how a history may be contained in a name, whether of a place or person. It should be here mentioned, too, what is remarkable and significant, that Moses does not celebrate the Rephaim as renowned for war, nor does he refer to their overthrow as an example of the power of God, as he does in the case of others. No doubt they could fight and did fight, when they had from a class become a nation on the other side Jordan, but it was not with bravery and success. Chedorlaomer in the days of Abram easily conquered them, and Joshua found little or no difficulty in taking their fortysix cities. Moses quotes the saying well known to the Israelites, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’ and he favourably compares with the Anakim, the power and military prowess of the Emim, the Horim, and the Zamzumim; and if he could with propriety have put the Rephaim into the same rank he doubtless would have done it. But whilst he speaks highly of their fenced cities, their walls, gates, and bars, he attributes no warlike qualities to the Rephaim people themselves. All this looks as if this branch of the Nephilim had gained no prestige in war, and that, because their profession, occupation, and habits kept them to peaceful pursuits. It may be concluded then, that originally, these Rephaim were, as their name denotes, the medical men and embalmers of their times; and that the occasions for the exercise of the arts of healing and of embalming—particularly this latter—were naturally so numerous and so incessant, as to necessitate the formation of a large class of persons whose duty it should be to study the above arts and to be trained in the practice of them. Indeed, this has been the custom of all nations, and it was very common in ancient times to institute various castes of professions, trades, and callings, and to restrict the practice of them to the descendants of the respective classes. These castes would of course become more and more numerous, until they became tribes or even nations; and this would appear to have been the case with the Rephaim. Their calling would make them rich; its necessity and usefulness would gain them respect and influence. It seems to have been the custom in Egypt for the rich and great ones to have a requisite number of these Rephaim among their retainers. We may be sure that Joseph’s case was no exception to the general rule, and the physicians who embalmed his father are called ‘his servants’ whom he commanded. The great ones of those Nephilim who emigrated from Egypt to Palestine, and there became the Anakim, no doubt would have their domestic and household rophaim or Rephaim, and as more than these might be needed more would naturally go to them.
The fact that these Rephaim were embalmers and bad so much to do with the dead, explains—what has been such a puzzle—why it was that a derivative of the same root which supplied rephaim should be applied to the dead. But as a derivative of rapha is applied to embalmers, is it at all unnatural to apply another derivative to the embalmed? On the contrary, is it not just what might have been expected? Rapha means ‘to heal,’ and naturally it has supplied riphuth, rendered ‘health’ in Prov. iii. 8; and alsorephuroth,’ medicines,’ found in Jer. xxx. 13, xlvi. 11; Ezek. xlvii. 12. The derivative applied to the dead has its own form, and is spelt in Hebrew —to give it precisely--r’phahim. All this lies upon the surface, and is in strict accordance with the Hebrew and its cognate languages; and it is not a little wonder that commentators should not have perceived it, instead of making such heathenish and unfounded conjectures as are resorted to by Rosenmiiller respecting Job xxvi. 5—’ Dead things are formed under the waters.’ Literally, Can the Rephaim do anything under the waters? Job knew that the Rephaim lived in the region of the Dead Sea, and he sanctions what may be inferred from Gen. xiv. that the Sodomites and Gomorrahites were not of the human race, but, though (as was often the case) called after the name of their cities, were in reality none other than Rephaim. And they afford a specimen of the extreme wickedness of all the branches of the race of the Nephilim, and their case shows the reason why they were exterminated. Job lived in the days of Jacob, and therefore not long after the destruction of Sodom, &c., the sites of which in his time were under the waters of the Dead Sea; and the force of his words, which very likely were a proverb expressive of helplessness, is, ‘Can the Rephaim under the waters go forth to do anything? So your words, Bildad, are as helpless as they.’ The fact is, this passage in Job ought not to be taken as an instance where the dead are meant, but in its national application, for it has the definite article, which is never the case where the dead are referred to. Moreover, it is satisfactory to observe that in this passage the LXX Version has gigantes, the rendering which it usually gives to Ha Rephaim, and not nekroi = ‘the dead,’ as it usually renders the word where the dead are undoubtedly meant. This ought to be considered conclusive as to the exact meaning of Job xxvi. 5.
It should be further noticed that when rephaim means the dead, it always refers to those who were great and powerful when on earth, and who therefore would receive when dead the highest, the most effectual, and the most expensive kind of embalming. This is evident from Is. xiv. 9, where in one of the poetic clauses it is made to answer to ‘the chief ones of the earth,’ and ‘kings’ in the corresponding next clauses of the verse. It was because these great ones had so much irresponsible power, that they became tyrants, that they oppressed their own people, and invaded the territories of others with fire and sword. On account of these doings they were called tyrants, and fabled as gods and giants. The principal reason for embalming was, by preventing the decay of the body to its earthly particles, to keep the soul, as they thought, in connection with the body as long as possible, and to preserve their name in remembrance. But in the Bible these embalmed ones are treated as not worthy of remembrance, or of the future they contemplated for themselves. In more passages than one they are put into contrast with the humble righteous, and are visited with contempt. This is conspicuously the case in Is. xxvi. 19, where the glorious, immortal future is restricted to the righteous, and brought into contrast with the fate of the wicked tyrants, of whom it is said, ‘The earth shall cast out the dead.’ Literally, the earth shall cast out, as an abortion, the rephaim = ‘the embalmed ones.’ It is perhaps designed, that in this all-important passage the word rephaim should be put into close contact with the word, the root of which, supplied the word nephilim. The word rendered ‘cast out’ is the future of naphal, ‘to fall’—strictly speaking, to fall in a way discreditable to the fallen ones, and calculated to bring them into contempt. Nehphll, a derivative of naphal, is applied to an abortion, and rendered ‘an untimely birth,’ as in Ps. lviii. 8, which passage and its connection greatly illustrates the text in Isaiah, where he declares that instead of meeting with honour, they should be treated ignominiously as an abortion, as a nothing, as fallen ones, and this, too, by the very earth which was the scene of their former exaltation; whilst those whom they despised and oppressed shall flourish, shall be glorious and sparkling with beauty like the fragrant herb that is revived and beautified by the morning dew. It may be concluded, almost with certainty, that the Rephaim were a branch tribe or caste of the Nephilim race, that they were the constituted healers and embalmers of that part of this race which lived in Egypt, that the Hamites learnt the art of embalming from them, that they emigrated to Palestine with those who were afterwards known as the Anakim, that there they became a distinct people and were finally destroyed by Joshua.
Let us now make a summary of the question and of the whole argument.
When Adam was created and put into the Garden of Eden, there was, in the earth at large, an opposition to him and to right, which he was to ‘subdue,’ and then ‘have dominion over.’ This opposition could not arise from the beasts of the field, for they were not then dangerous to man. Though almost all parts of the earth were sterile and required cultivation, after the model of Eden, yet opposition could not come from the earth, as earth. Opposition could arise only from moral, intellectual beings, and such must therefore have existed when Adam was made. To subdue, was not to destroy, but to conquer opposition, and bring the conquered ones under the rule of right; and the mission therefore confided to Adam was one of benevolence. When Kain was banished from home, there were, besides himself, but two other human beings in existence, his father and mother. He had therefore no sister whom he could make his wife, as is commonly supposed; and if he had had one, it is not likely that either he or she would have committed the crime of incest, or that the innocent sister would have been banished with the guilty Kain, or that the parents would then have allowed either the one or the other. In the land of his wanderings, however, where he feared he should be slain, he married a wife, originated a tribe, and founded a ruling dynasty over his adopted countrymen, in accordance with the unrepealed mandate to the human family to subdue and govern. When there were but four human beings in the earth, and the fourth an infant, they began to proclaim the name of the Lord to some people capable of learning, and for whose welfare the knowledge of God was necessary. This also was in conformity to the commission given to Adam. Adam had become many on the face of the ground outside the Garden, before any daughters had been born to him and his wife. But Moses tells us that at this very time, whilst the human family occupied only the ground cultivated by Adam and his sons, there was a race in the wide earth of moral, intellectual beings, whom he calls by the significant name of Ha Nephilim, or ‘ the fallen ones,’ and who were so ancient that he applied to them the term me ohlam, a duration which must have included many ages, perhaps millions of years; and moreover he calls them mighty ones, and attributes to them some works or actions which gave them renown. Yet he makes no mention of them in any of the generations of mankind, which he must and would have done had they been of the human race. If all this combined and varied evidence is fairly weighed, and the plain words of Scripture really believed, it seems impossible to deny the fact that, prior to the era of Adam, there were races of mental and moral beings, who, though inferior in creational status to the genus homo, yet were capable of intermarriage with the sons and daughters of man, and who in point of fact did supply Seth, Enos, and others of Adam’s sons with wives, and who could have supplied husbands to his daughters when at last they were born, and would have done so, if these daughters had not married their own brothers and perhaps their own nephews. These are the positions we take; and though we do not say they are absolutely demonstrated, yet we think they can be satisfactorily maintained, for the evidence in their favour is far stronger than that for many things undoubtingly received among us. The positions themselves may be new, but they may nevertheless be true, and ought not to be scornfully or inconsiderately rejected, but fairly examined; and if the evidence against them be not stronger than it is for them, then they ought to be received by all.
To the thoughtful and unprejudiced we now venture to propose a few queries.
May it not be fact that the ancient accounts and fables, of the achievements of some still more ancient mighty ones, originated from what was known of the doings of these Nephilim, or of the doings of some of their branches? Could they reasonably and adequately have been originated, except either on the fact, or the supposition, that such a race existed? The ancients often spoke of a race of mighty giants, and of their wondrous doings, and we have taken for granted that they were of the human species. But what evidence is there that can be at all relied upon for this notion, or that the ancients thought them to be of their own race? Indeed, what evidence does exist, rather goes to the contrary; and it may be safely affirmed, that such persons and doings, as were these fabled giants and their doings, could not have arisen from any of the human family, or from anything done by them. True, there have been a few who undoubtedly were of the human species, and whom we have been pleased to call giants; but this was taking the ordinary standard of men, and these so-called human giants were dwarfs compared with the Nephilim giants and those of ancient mythology. Josephus declares, that’ the race of the giants had bodies so large, and countenances so entirely different from other men, that they were surprising to the sight, and terrible to the hearing.’ He adds: ‘The bones of these men are still shown to this very day, unlike to any credible relations of other men.’ He calls them ‘men,’ but that, in a Hebrew writer, would not show he considered them of the human race, for he had before called angels men, as indeed Moses had done (‘Antiq.’ V. ii. 3). It cannot be shown that any of the human family were so great in stature as were the fabled giants, nor that any nations of really human beings, were ever able to move such ponderous weights or to execute such mighty works, as were fabled of these giants.
Nor could these fables be founded altogether in mere fancy. Doubtless they may from fancy have received additions, since they were first formed from the original traditions; but even fancy must have some foundation, and exaggerations of things could not be made unless there were some reality in the things exaggerated. Now it is too contrary to all experience, and to the recorded doings and capabilities of the human race, to allow us intelligently to believe that any achievements of man could- have originated, by any amount of exaggeration, the accounts of the marvellous works of the fabled giant races. Men have never been famed for giant physical strength, though for mental and spiritual capacities they will ever be remembered. The strength, the stature, and the capabilities of the giant races have ever been spoken of as superhuman. Indeed, they would not have been deemed giants at all, but for these uncommon qualities. But they were uncommon, and were never found amongst mankind.
One fact deserves special notice. In the Hebrew Bible, a place is often mentioned called ehmek rephaim = ‘valley of Rephaira.’ Now in two places at least (2 Sam. v. 18, 22) the LXX translates the phrase koilas Titanon = ‘valley of the Titans.’ This is remarkable. The Titans are said to be of the giant race, and they are said to have dwelt at first in heaven, a sure token that they were in friendship with that One Who was esteemed to be the God of heaven. They were afterwards cast out—that is, they lost the friendship of God—and they became His opposers, and made war with Him. All this is implied or expressed in the name Nephilim, which shows that those who bore it were in a fallen state; but it implies that they, before their fall, were in their created unfallen state, when their name was Ha Giborim. Now the translators of the Septuagint were Hebrews, and did not believe in the myths of the heathen. Yet they must have known that there was some kind of foundation for these myths, and that it was the giant race and not the human race that gave rise to them. How remarkable, then, that these Hebrews who lived 250 B.C.; who disbelieved myths; who, notwithstanding, knew that they were founded in truth, which became hidden in error; who knew also that they originated from a race of giants and their doings, not from the human family and their doings,— how remarkable that such men as these should have identified the Titans with the Bephaim, who were identified in genus if not in family with the Nephilim! Here, it would appear, we have all we are looking for. In the most ancient of historical times, it was believed that in more ancient times still, there was a race of physically mighty giants, ‘unlike men,’ who were a terror even to the gods, whose feats were superhuman, whose thunderbolts were dreadfully destructive, whose marvellous doings were unequalled, and whose wickedness could not be surpassed.
Nor is this all, for other Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible translate Rephaim by Gēgĕneis = ‘earth-born,’ and Theomachoi = ‘fighters against God.’ In the estimation, then, of the Christian authors of these versions, these Rephaim were of earth, not Ouranidnes, ‘of heaven,’ as the heathen said, and, moreover, rebels against God; and it should be remembered, also, that they knew these Gegeneis, these Theomachoi, these Ouraniones, to be of the giant races; and inasmuch as these Christian versionists, identified them with the Rephaim, they must have held that the Rephaim and their fellow species gave rise to the ancient myths.
The existence, then, of these myths which refer to the superhuman achievements of physically superhuman races, entirely fall in with, and materially support, the Biblical account of the Nephilim and the Rephaim; and inasmuch as they lived during the geological Tertiary period they may, if scientists choose, be called the Tertiarians. The discovery of the Nephilim race throws a flood of light upon many obscure things, and modifies some of our received opinions.
But there is a further suggestion. May it not be, that the Nephilim race were the builders of those mighty structures around which so much mystery has ever rested, and which have drawn forth so much speculation and research? Take, for instance, such structures as Stonehenge, but especially the great pyramid of Egypt. This was ancient when history or even human tradition began; and its design, as well as the mode of its erection, appears to have been as unknown and as mysterious then as now. Tradition handed down surmises, and really nothing more. Egyptologists of the past generation were men of immense research, and so are those of the present day; but the varied and widely distant dates which they assign to this pyramid, show that they know nothing certain about it. Could a structure so mighty, so peculiar, so indestructible, so prominent, and especially noticeable, ever have been raised after the human era began, and yet the period of its erection be lost before history began? It appears impossible. Let scientists begin their investigations afresh, and let them start on the supposition of a Tertiarian race of mighty gigantic beings. A less clue than this has often led to satisfactory results—results which have supplied the missing link and harmonised the discrepancies and contradictions, not of science itself, but of scientiflc deductions. Christian traditionalists have thought it incumbent on them to justify, not really the Bible—though they have thought so—but what orthodoxy says concerning it; and when they write about these mighty works, and the civilisation and progress in science which they indicate, it makes one smile to see the gratuitous pains they take to show, that all this progress, whether in architecture and other arts, or in language, or in science, may be brought within the short compass of those times which transpired before history began. They appear to forget two things—that from their and our point of view, mankind at large must have had space for an amazing loss and digression and degeneration; and this process would require many generations. Then there would be the required time for, not individuals merely, but large communities, to be convinced of their folly and lack; then time to get into the better way in spite of previous training, long-imbibed prejudices, and longer-sustained national habits. Then time would be needed to adjust the national mind and habits to the new practices and plans. Besides this, no short period would be required for such progress in arts, science, and language as ancient civilisation exhibits. Yet in early times a perfection in these things existed. Did the previous part of human times give space for these processes, all of which are very slow, especially the latter process?—for the downhill path of degeneration is much more rapidly passed than the upward path of improvement. As to the rapid course of the one and the slow progress of the other, let us consult all history, and the present experience of all nations, and we shall see, that digression in national deterioration, that a process of national reaction, and the progress of a nation in the cultivation of learning and in perfecting such arts and science as architecture and astronomy, are in their nature too slow to allow space for them all to have taken place within the period from the days of Adam to the time when history began. All this points to a race, prior to the Adamic era, who were capable of superhuman works and who were sufficiently civilised and knowing to plan and execute them.
Then these Christian traditionalists seem to forget another thing. The Book of God really does not need their line of defence. Let it be taken as it is, and let it speak for itself, and it will soon appear that it does not thank us for attributing to it difficulties which are not intrinsic, but palmed upon it, and then for an unwise officiousness to meet them, as if they were not alleged but real. Orthodox tradition may need special pleadings, but the Bible does not, and it scorns them. It tells us, incidentally indeed, but still clearly and decisively, of a mighty race of giants who existed at latest from the Tertiary period, and quite capable of those mighty works, some of whose remains we read of and behold, and also of giving rise to those accounts and myths of marvellous feats and doings which could not have originated in fancy, nor have been founded on human achievements. The human genus has ever been small physically, but great mentally. It would appear that in the successive creations which have taken place, the exhibition of brute force has become less and less, and the development of mental and spiritual force has increased, till it reached its perfection in man, who was made only a little lower than Elohim, and who, when matured in holiness, intellect, and knowledge, is destined to be a co-heir with the Son of God Himself. If men will not believe the testimony of the Bible, let them at any rate be just, and not attribute difficulties and blots to it which it has not, nor take the uncalled-for pains to get rid of them in a way which the honesty and straightforwardness of that Holy Book does not sanction. If the object be to investigate the truth, and the whole truth, should not these truths, the mere outlines of which are here given, be duly and fairly weighed?
Source: Genesis in Advance of Present Science: A Critical Investigation of Chapters I. to IX. by a Septuagenarian Beneficed Presbyter (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, &. Co, 1883), 251-285.