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What I am not asking

I am not asking who the giants are, nor, who the sons of God are. Nor am I asking what the event was that marks the before and afterwards.

Question

In view of this passage

“There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭6:4‬ ‭

Specifically surrounding the phrase “and also afterwards” וגם אחרי כן

Whatever the ‘afterwards’ is

Based on the Hebrew text grammar, who or what was before and also afterwards?

  1. Giants were before and afterwards
  2. sons of God laying with the daughters of men and having offspring were before and afterwards

Which of these is it, or is it another explanation from within the immediate passage or broader context?

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  • What version are you quoting ? Both the KJV and YLT punctuate differently and cast a different meaning altogether from what you are quoting.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 6 '19 at 3:15
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    I wish not to dwell on translations, it is the Hebrew that I am most interested in. I can’t quite see how a translation, a second hand document can relay with greater accuracy that which the original intended to convey. For if I were going to select a translation I would be tempted humanly speaking to choose according to my own prejudice and bias. And that would defeat the purpose of seeking truth, a non starter. But I do believe it was the NKJV that I quoted to answer your question @NigelJ Sep 6 '19 at 3:57
  • The NKJV is not grammatical in this verse. 'When etc' is a clause. There is no verb to tell us what happened ... when. The verse in this version does not make sense. It isn't proper English.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 6 '19 at 4:16
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    Once again @NigelJ English translations or any other translation is not of concern to me, the original, does it point to the giants הנפלים or the sons of God בני האלהים ? Sep 6 '19 at 4:31
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    Ok that’s a new idea @NigelJ, you are saying that all three groups were afterwards. And it’s at this point that I would like a second opinion on the Hebrew rather than continue to discuss a translation because I never understood this from the English before. I could quote this text in other languages and the translation makes it very clear it was only the giants that were before and afterwards. Sep 6 '19 at 12:14
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Current mainstream Christian and Rabbinical traditions choose option 1 instead of option 2.

Thus there were giants in those days (before the flood) and also afterwards (after the flood). The giants after the flood were descended from the giants before the flood (a slight point in favor of the flood not being global). Goliath and his odd kinsmen were examples of such giants, and it was reported by the spies that there were giants in Palestine, as per Numbers 13.33:

There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” [NKJV]

However, some rabbinical traditions at the time of Christ that were popular in Palestine choose option 2. Option 2 does not speak to the universality of the flood at all, as it would allow for more such offspring even after the flood. That is, many believed there were still libidinous angels that would seek out virgins to sleep with or at least violate somehow. We also see this in Paul's writings:

1 Cor 11.10:

Because of this, the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, on account of the angels. [LEB]

The interpretation of the phrase because of the angels will determine whether option 1 or option 2 is believed at the time of Paul's writings.

One possibility of the head covering was to ward off these angels. Here is the (excellent) Hermeneia commentary discussing interpretations of this passage[1]:

What is the meaning of διὰ τοὺς ἀγγέους, “because of the angels”? Several suggestions are made. The fallen angels of Gen 6:1f. are meant. The demons are held to be sexually libidinous. Yet the thought need not be that of their sexual desire in particular. It can also be a general allusion to the possibility of woman in her weakness being harmed by demons. Others think of the order of creation, arguing that the angels are the protectors of this order. But Lietzmann rightly objects that in that case ἐξουσία would have to be understood as a sign of subordination, which does not suit the word at all. Finally, there are those who think of the presence of angels at divine worship. If the statement is understood in its context as giving a reason (διὰ τοῦτο, “for this reason,” and διὰ τοὺς ἀγγέλους, “because of the angels”), then the ἐξουσία is a protection, in the sense of a compensation for the natural weakness of woman (in metaphysical terms: because she is God’s image only in a derivative sense) over against cosmic power. Paul has no interest in further, more precise definitions.

This connection was also argued by Tertullian[2]:

Of course, it is on account of the angels, he says, that the woman’s head is to be covered, because the angels revolted from God on account of the daughters of men. Who, then, would contend that it is only women, that is, married women no longer virgins, that are a source of temptation? Unless, of course, unmarried women may not present an attractive appearance and find their lovers? Rather, let us see whether it was virgins alone whom they desired when Scripture speaks of the ‘daughters of men’; for it could have used the terms ‘men’s wives’ or ‘women’ indifferently. But, since it says: ‘And they took to themselves wives,’ it does so because they took as their wives those without husbands. Scripture would have used a different expression for those who had husbands. Now, they could be without husbands either because they were widows or virgins. So, in naming the sex in general by the term ‘daughters,’ he embraced species in genus.

Thus this interpretation would support option 2. One can also view this prophetically, e.g. that the bride (the church) is subject to being defiled (committing fornication or adultery) by evil spirits when she is not under authority, and the offspring of such a union is a grotesque monster, a mixing of the church with the world.

However others argue that "because of the angels" in Paul's writing is to be taken that we have guardian angels that protect us, contrasting Gen 6.4, so even though this passage is viewed as a reference to Gen 6.4, the meaning is reversed. For example, St. John Chrysostom [3]:

Hence it is evident, that the saints have angels, or even all men. For the apostle too saith of the woman, “That she ought to have power on her head because of the angels.” And Moses, “He set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels2 of God.” But here He is discoursing not of angels only, but rather of angels that are greater than others. But when He saith, “The face of my Father,” He means nothing else than their fuller confidence, and their great honor.

And this became the more widely accepted tradition in modern Christianity, which would support option 1 rather than option 2.


[1] Conzelmann, H. (1975). 1 Corinthians: a commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (pp. 189–190). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

[2] Tertullian. (1959). Disciplinary, Moral, and Ascetical Works. (H. Dressler, Ed., R. Arbesmann, E. J. Daly, & E. A. Quain, Trans.) (Vol. 40, pp. 178–179). Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press.

[3] John Chrysostom. (1888). Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople on the Gospel according to St. Matthew. In P. Schaff (Ed.), G. Prevost & M. B. Riddle (Trans.), Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew (Vol. 10, p. 368). New York: Christian Literature Company.

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  • The means that they cross the world wide flood does not demand a local flood. They crossed by way of Noah’s daughter in laws Canaan his first grandchild being a carrier of Nephilim genes. Back to rereading your answer Sep 21 at 20:48
  • Interesting points. Sep 21 at 20:50
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    Yes, that's possible, @NihilSineDeo, but I only said "a point in favor", not "conclusive proof", and then updated to "slight point", since I don't want to get into a debate about the flood's extent (I don't have a strong opinion there)
    – Robert
    Sep 21 at 20:50
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I will clarify. The sages teach that these Nephilim were angels who despised the humans for their sins and G-d told them that they wouldn't be able to stand up to the trial of not sinning, moreover that they will sin harder. Therefore they are called Nephilim - 'The fallen', and B'nei Ha'elokim - The sons of the mighty - which signifies both that they were with the almighty, and that they themselves were phisically huge.

Thus the event was before the flood when the humans sinned grieviously and the angels despised them etc.

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  • That’s not what the sages taught but if you can include a reference I might consider your interpretation. The fallen angels and human women had children those are the Nephilim. Nimrod became a Nephilim and he wasn’t an ‘angel’ Apr 23 at 0:08
  • Nimrod is definitly not from the Nefilim. And the sages, Jewish, say that explicitly in the Midrash rabah and, if I remember correctly, quoted by Rashi on the spot. Apr 23 at 0:16
  • He was a Gibborim which in the Samaritan text both Gibborim and Nephilim are one and the same. Apr 23 at 0:54
  • Not the same at all. Compare גיבורים נפילים in dictionary. Also study the story of Nimrod, he called to actively mutiny against G-d, he condemned Avraham to the fire, and he was the head king in the 4-5 kings war (Amrophel אמרפל). According to the Jewish original text. Apr 23 at 1:48
  • Once again show me a reference that the Nephilim were the Benei Ha’Elohim and we can talk after. Until then the Nephilim are their children from the sons of God’s copulation with human women. Apr 23 at 1:53

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