Nephilim, Children of Another God
H. Abdul Al-Dahir
The Hebrew words translated as “giants” are Nephilim (Gen 6:4 etc) and Raphaim (Deut 3:11 etc). According to the Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew & English Lexicon, the word ‘nephilim’ bears a striking resemblance to the Aramean constellation, Nephila. Nephila was known to the West as Orion, the gigantic astral hunter who is accompanied by his two dogs, Sirius aka Canis Major and Maera aka Canis Minor. Hesoid described Orion as the son of the sea god Poseidon and the Cretan princess, Euryale. Upon his death, Zeus elevated this demigod into the heavens as a giant astral god. The Greek demigod Orion appears to have originated in Akkadian mythology as Uru-nanna or ‘the light of heaven’. Also, the word ‘Nephila’ appears to be related to the word ‘npyl’; the Aramaic word for giant. According to Peake’s ‘Commentary on the Bible’, the Nephilim were Orion’s/Nephila’s offspring. The Hebrews claimed descent from the Arameans (Deut 26:5). The Biblical authors appear to acknowledge a tribal alliance with the Arameans initiated through intermarriage between the Hebrews and the Aramean tribal confederation.
The Hebrews believed themselves to be the children of their tribal god, YHWH (Deut 32:19 & Isa 63:16) and non-Hebrews to be descendants of their particular creator gods (Deut 32). Hebrews considered intermarriage with the children of other gods as blasphemous as it implied a pollution which would deviate the worship of the Hebrew god to other gods. According to Exodus 34:10-17.
10 “Then YHWH said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, YHWH, will do for you. 11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 Do not worship any other god (el), for YHWH, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous god (el).”15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods (elohehem) and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.”17 “Do not make any idols.”
This prohibition against marrying the children of other gods began with the intermarriage of the daughters of Adam with the sons of other gods (elohim). From this marriage was born the Nephilim. According to Genesis 6:
“When the descendants of Adam/Adamites (ha adam) began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of the gods (bny ha elohim) saw that the daughters of Adam (bnwt ha adam) were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then YHWH said, “My Spirit will not contend with Adamites (ba adam) forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of the gods (bny ha elohim) went to the daughters of Adam (bnwt ha adam) and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.5 YHWH saw how great the wickedness of the Adamites (ha adam) had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the heart was only evil all the time. 6 YHWH regretted that he had made Adamites (ha adam) on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So YHWH said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the Adamites (me adam) I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of YHWH.”
According to the Biblical authors of Genesis, the Hebrew god, YHWH did not view this Hebrew and non-Hebrew inter-tribal marriage arrangement favorably and destroyed the mixed blood offspring in a great flood. The Hebrews labeled these extinct tribal federations as Nephilim or deceased ones. ‘Nephilim’s’ Hebrew root, ‘nephal’, means to fall, to die. Labeling extinct tribes and tribal federations as ‘the fallen ones/the deceased ones’ was common in Semitic cultures. Even today, the Arabs label their ancient, extinct tribal federations as Albaeeda or the ‘far off ones’. By contrast, the extant tribal federations are labeled as Albaqia or the ‘the ones who remain or still survive’.
The ancient Hebrews derived the word ‘nephilim’ from the huge constellation Nephila (aka Orion) so the word ‘nephilim’ carried the connotation of a giant, even though the denotative meaning of the word means ‘the deceased/fallen ones’. The constellation Orion was also known to the Hebrews as Kesiyl which means the lazy one in Arabic and fat/stupid in Hebrew. This name change from Nephil to Kesiyl by the Biblical authors may have been done to discourage astral worship by disparaging a very popular astral god. Such name changes that show dislike are common throughout the Bible; eg. Eshabaal to Eshbosheth (man of Baal to man of shame), Meribaal to Mephibosheth (Baal contends to the mouth of shame) etc..
Accrediting one’s paternity to a well-known mythological figure, which also happened to be a constellation, seems to have been wide spread in the Middle East. The royal house of Tyre accredited their eponymous ancestry to Melqart whose constellation is known in the West as Hercules. So, it is not surprising that the pre-monotheistic Hebrews also accredited their ancestry to the astral god YHWH, the fire breathing astral serpent (2 Sam 22:4-16 & Psalms 18:6-15) whose lunar topographical image portrays a smoke snorting serpent wrapped around a tree and as the constellation Draco in the West and AtTineen in the Ancient Near East. Both Draco and AtTineen mean ‘snake’ and/or ‘dragon’. The biblical authors have Jacob defeat this astral god in a wrestling match (Gen 32:24-30) just like the the Greek sun god Apollo wrestled with the snake that guarded the Oracle of Delphi. The constellation that depicted this struggle is known as Ophiuchus or ‘the one who holds the serpent’. The astral serpent is the constellation Serpens whose stars outline the body of this reptile.
Another Hebrew word for giant/giants, ‘ripha/riphaim’, also has the meaning to heal in both Arabic and Hebrew. Another equatorial constellation (equatorial constellations as Orion and Hercules are especially bright and large in the Middle Eastern sky) that is associated with healing is the constellation Ophiuchus. This constellation, like both Orion and Hercules, is a very large constellation which was known as Eshmun in ancient Phoenicia. The constellation Ophiuchus was also associated with Aesculapius, the Greek god of healing, whose emblem was a snake entwined staff which today is associated with the medical emblem, the caduceus. Moses forged a brazen serpent or nechushtan, which was carried aloft on a pole before the fleeing Israelites (Numbers 21:8,9), was credited with the power to snake bites.
The snake association of all of these constellations referred to in Biblical texts is apparent. Indigenous serpent worship mingled with the worship of similar deities of the occupiers, both Semitic, as the Assyrians and the Babylonians, and non Semitic as the Persians, Greeks and Romans. The Greeks occupied Palestine from 330 BCE to 63 BCE at which time the Romans, who were greatly influenced by Greek culture, overtook the occupation. So, it is not surprising that the culture of the occupiers became imbedded into the native cultures they occupied. The Aramean constellation Nephila became associated with the Greek demigod Orion and the Biblical god YHWH was associated with the moon and the constellation Draco, the serpent who guarded the astral tree of life (constellation Ursa Minor).
Draco was known in Greek mythology as Ladon, the dragon that guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides. The Hesperides were the property of the Greek queen of the gods, Hera. The golden apples, which grew in this garden, imparted immortality to anyone who consumed them; the same as the tree of life imparted immortality to the residents of Eden. Also, Hercules, known as Melqart to the Tyreans, is accredited with strangling two snakes who were, most likely, the constellations Serpens and Hydra. Orion, who is Osiris in Egyptian mythology, seems to have been associated with the equatorial pole star AthThuban or the snake which was located in Draco’s tail. The constellation Ophiuchus, known as Aesculapius to the Greeks, was associated with a snake entwined staff which is very reminiscent of the nehushtan or caduceus with magical healing powers that Moses carried on the exodus (Numbers 28:8,9). The nehushtan was supposed to have magical healing powers much like the Sumerian snake god, Ningizzida who, like Aesculapius, was associated with the caduceus. The nehushtan was destroyed by the Judean King Hezekiah because the Hebrews worshiped it as an idol (2 K 18:4).
From the above evidence, it seems that a good part of Biblical mythology was written as a reaction to the snake cults as well as the astral cults that were a very prevalent part of the early Hebrew religion. Another snake deity of Babylonian/Akkadian origin, Tiamat, a river goddess, became Leviathan, who like YHWH, was a fire breathing serpent according to Job 41. Tiamat/Leviathan was a water serpent who may also have ended up in the sky as another constellation swimming in the great heavenly ocean. The ancient Egyptians worshiped the constellation Sobek (the handle of the Big Dipper or Ursa Major) as one of their creator gods. Sobek was the crocodile god who crawled out of the watery chaos or ‘nun’ to create creation much as YHWH created creation from the dark waters in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis.
Astral cults and snake cults seem to be intricately intertwined in Biblical mythology. The Biblical authors attempted to distance the Hebrews from their mythological astral ancestry by inventing an earth enveloping flood which drowned the Nephilim or descendants of the astral god, Nephila. Perhaps not all succumbed to the deluge, as these same authors imply that the wives of two of Noah’s sons, Ham and Japhath, were surviving descendants of the Nephilim. The authors of the Biblical texts label both the Hamitic people and the offspring of Japhath as ‘goyim’ or non-Hebrews.
The cult of the serpent was celebrated throughout Israel and later Judea. The Beersheba altar, where YHWH is carved as a serpent, the nehushtan, Moses’ brass serpent, the Galilean Migdal synagogue stone with its carving of snakes coiled around trees and an ouroboros surrounding the flower of life as well as the many ophic artifacts found throughout this land indicate wide spread snake cults. These snake cults were present even in the time Jesus walked the earth as is indicated by the Galilean Migdal stone. These snake cults were so embedded into the religion of the area that the Masoretes left them as part of the texts that Jews and Christians honor as ‘the word of YHWH’ who, according to Psalm 18, roared like thunder while hail, glowing coals and flames blasted from his nostrils. YHWH was indeed a formidable astral dragon who attempted to destroy the Nephilim, the children of the god Nephila, in an earth enveloping flood. Nevertheless, the blood of this astral god lingered in the descendants of Ham and Japhath, which caused the tainted bloodline of these offspring to be forever labeled as ‘goyim’ and to be forever excluded from the congregation of YHWH. The ban lasted until the Hebrew religion absorbed the religious beliefs and practices of their non-Semitic occupiers; the Persians, Greeks and Romans. Under Roman occupation, Hellenized Hebrews like Paul of Tarsus, thought it expedient to include Nephila’s descendants into the congregation of YHWH. To accomplish this feat, Paul elevated Jesus to the status of a demigod.
Paul morphed Jesus into a Promethian figure who, like the Titan Prometheus, offered himself as a bloody sacrifice to benefit humanity. Under the influence of Greco-Roman mythology, the goyim were thus cleansed of their ‘Nephilim’ heritage and became eligible for inclusion into the congregation of YHWH; at least according to the followers of Pauline doctrine aka Christians. Those racial purists who claim Jewish heritage, however, insist that the goyim offspring of Nephila remain excluded and that the ‘racially’ untainted Jew must continue to segregate himself/herself from the goyim. This attitude has led these Jews to build walls of segregation and to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its native inhabitants. The irony is that these racial purists have proven, through DNA testing, to be goyim who originated from the southern Russian Steppes. Meanwhile, the result of this same DNA sampling among Palestinians has demonstrated that the Palestinians are the original Hebrews. So the irony is that Nephila’s offspring, the goyim, rule Palestine by executing and ethnically cleansing the original Hebrew population that converted to Islam in the 7th Century. The two astral gods, YHWH and Nephila are locked in a strange conflict. The ruling goyim have claimed descent from the Yahwists (Hebrew worshipers of YHWH) and the former Yahwists are now Muslims. And so, Biblical mythology continues to entangle the Middle East in the coils of the fire breathing astral serpent, YHWH.