Who Are The Nephilim?

This study will explore what the Bible reveals regarding the identity of the Nephilim.

11 min read

The majority of people believe that the Nephilim are a race of hybrid humans that came about as a result of interbreeding between fallen angels and humans. This study will reveal the biblical facts on the matter.


The biology of life is designed in such a way that interbreeding can only take place when the parties involved are of the same kind or species. A horse cannot breed with a cat; a kangaroo cannot breed with an octopus; a human cannot breed with a gorilla; and so on. There is of course genetic engineering that pushes the limits of nature creating chimeras that are not of natural occurrence. There are certain factors involved in order for a man and woman to procreate. Age, health, and menstrual cycle to name a few are factors that cannot be ignored. When these factors are matched properly, reproduction is possible. But it does not stop there. Homo Sapiens must pair with Homo Sapiens. A male must copulate with a female. Animals cannot breed with plants. Plants cannot breed with insects. Even then, species must be of the same kind. If we believe that we were created by an all-knowing Creator-God, then logic dictates that His natural designs are not to be trifled with.

Nature of Angels

Angels are not human. An angel is a completely different kind of being. Hebrews 1:7 says that angels are spirits that radiate as a flame of fire. Ephesians 6:12 says these spirit beings are not flesh and blood like we are. Hebrews 13:2 tells us these beings can take on human form. Romans 1:20 tells us God created things that are invisible to us, but are understood and seen by how these things impact us. Angels are not genetically compatible with humans.

Angels Do Not Procreate

Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25, Luke 20:35 tells us that angels do not marry or are given in marriage. 1 Corinthians 7:2 tells us that sex should be within the confines of marriage. With that said, we know that angels did not marry and procreate with human beings because they are unable to do either of these things. The fact that angels have no flesh and blood as humans do (Ephesians 6:12), means they do not have DNA chromosomes as we do. They are not made of the same substance as we are. Since angels are not beings made up of flesh and blood, an obvious assumption must be understood; their substance is not made up of living cells as we are. Since they have no living cells, they cannot produce sperm cells like human males can. Since they cannot produce sperm cells, then neither can they procreate with humans. They are a completely different kind of creature. Since there is no marrying and giving in marriage among angels, it can be logically assumed that there are no male/female genders among them either. Male and female genders serve only one purpose, procreation. True, the Bible refers to them using a male pronoun, but we must understand the limitations of our vocabulary. We use language relevant to us. So just because we use language we understand does not mean the same applies to celestial realms.

Sons of God

Understanding the context in which this term is used is vital to identifying who these Sons of God are. The phrase “Sons of God” is applied to both humans as well as to angels. (Genesis 6:2, Job 1:6), If the sons of God referred to in Genesis 6:2,4 are not angels, then the only explanation left is to identify them as men, humans. If so, where do we go to see who exactly are they? In context, the sons of God are the descendants of Seth. Cain killed Abel. In doing so, Cain became a slave of the enemy (Satan), basically, he became his son by way of his deeds. (Romans 6:16) Abel was a servant of God (son of God) due to his obedience. When Abel was killed, Seth took his place as the son of the covenant. It was the line of descendants of Seth that Jesus eventually was born from.

Now just because the descendants of Seth were those belonging to the covenant line of the promise does not mean these were all holy and saintly individuals. Many of these joined the ranks of the servants of Satan. Read Genesis chapter 5. Here we see the lineage of Adam down to Noah. Notice in verse 1 that it says God created man in His image, this is in reference to the generations of Adam. As it continues to name the genealogy of Adam, it completely skips the fact that Adam had Cain and Abel and only mentions Seth and his descendants. That’s because this was the only descendant line of importance in the genealogy of Christ, thus the reason why the descendants of Seth were considered the sons of God. We can trace the full genealogy of Christ all the way to Adam in Luke 3:23-38.

Daughters of Men

Who are the daughters of men? We must understand that most of the Bible is written from the perspective of men being the head of a household and therefore the male gender plays the dominant role in any story unless otherwise stated. The custom has always been that men choose a wife. In this case, it was the men that belonged to the descendants of Seth that found the women belonging to the descendants of Cain and saw that they were all beautiful. Of course, they were all cousins so they figure, what’s the harm seeing they were all family. But there was a division between the two, a breach between the family line of Seth and the family line of Cain.

Seth was the son of obedience while Cain was a murderer who was cast away as a reject from the presence of God. God promised to protect his life by placing some type of identifying mark on him. We must also understand that Adam and Eve continued to procreate as God commanded in Genesis 1:28. They had many sons and daughters. They lived many hundreds of years so if they had children every year who knows how many hundreds if not thousands of children, not to mention twins and triplets and so on. Brothers and sisters must have undoubtedly intermarried with each other as there were yet any autosomal recessive genetic disorders at the time. As the descendants of both Cain and Seth increased and they all built their own homes and even cities, no doubt they crossed paths at some point. This is how the sons of Seth found the daughters of Cain to be very attractive and chose to marry them and have children together.

“For some time the two classes remained separate. The race of Cain, spreading from the place of their first settlement, dispersed over the plains and valleys where the children of Seth had dwelt; and the latter, in order to escape from their contaminating influence, withdrew to the mountains, and there made their home. So long as this separation continued, they maintained the worship of God in its purity. But in the lapse of time, they ventured, little by little, to mingle with the inhabitants of the valleys. This association was productive of the worst results. “The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair.”

The children of Seth, attracted by the beauty of the daughters of Cain’s descendants, displeased the Lord by intermarrying with them. Many of the worshipers of God were beguiled into sin by the allurements that were now constantly before them, and they lost their peculiar, holy character. Mingling with the depraved, they became like them in spirit and in deeds; the restrictions of the seventh commandment were disregarded, “and they took them wives of all which they chose.” The children of Seth went “in the way of Cain” (Jude 11); they fixed their minds upon worldly prosperity and enjoyment and neglected the commandments of the Lord. Men “did not like to retain God in their knowledge;” they “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans 1:21). Therefore “God gave them over to a mind void of judgment.” Verse 28, margin. Sin spread abroad in the earth like a deadly leprosy.” (Patriarchs and Prophets page 81 paragraph 2)

Origin of the Nephilim

So who are the Nephilim? Genesis 6:4 calls them Giants, heroes of old, and men of renown. They were the children of those that intermarried between the sons of Seth and the daughters of Cain. So why did they become Nephilim rather than normal people such as their parents? Well to answer that we need to dig a little deeper.

We must understand that a giant in those days must be compared to something smaller. How tall were people during the lifetime of Adam and Eve? Many of us have had children taller than we who brought them into the world. The odds that Adam and Eve had children taller than they were quite good. But they would not have been called giants in comparison to their parents considering that Adam and Eve were already more than twice the size of the tallest men today.

“As Adam came forth from the hand of his Creator, he was of noble height, and of beautiful symmetry. He was more than twice as tall as men now living upon the earth, and was well proportioned…. Eve was not quite as tall as Adam. Her head reached a little above his shoulders. She, too, was noble—perfect in symmetry, and very beautiful.” (Spiritual Gifts 3:34)

“As man came forth from the hand of his Creator, he was of lofty stature and perfect symmetry. His countenance bore the ruddy tint of health and glowed with the light of life and joy. Adam’s height was much greater than that of men who now inhabit the earth. Eve was somewhat less in stature: yet her form was noble, and full of beauty.” (Patriarchs and Prophets, 45)

So if the descendants of Seth and Cain were so tall, who did they inherit their greater height from?

“Seth was of more noble stature than Cain or Abel, and resembled Adam more closely than did his other sons.” (Patriarchs and Prophets page 80 paragraph 1)

Apparently, the greater height was inherited from Seth who inherited his height from Adam. But would this race of taller men be considered giants? In comparison to their grandfather Adam, no. Adam was not considered a giant because his height was considered the norm. So why were the Nephilim distinct?

First and foremost, we must take into account the author of this narrative, Moses. Moses lived during the postdiluvian era. People in his time were much smaller and did not live almost a thousand years as did the people during Seth and Cain’s time. Much of what Moses wrote about in Genesis was given to him by vision. So in contrast, his effort to describe the people of that age left him no recourse but to call them all giants. Now we take Moses' statement “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that…” and the first thing we do is that we interpret what he is saying with our preconceived idea that these “giants” are the result of intermarrying between the descendants of Seth and Cain. So the only way that these extraordinary children became so unlike the normal humans of that era was that the fathers were all demonic angels that begat monstrous hybrid children when they procreated with human females. We read something into the text that was not there, to begin with.

Let's reread Genesis 6:1-7 with a little different understanding. Assuming what has been explained so far to be true with the assistance of quotes from EGW, let’s read these verses with more clarity.

“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” (Genesis 6:1-3)

Moses just got done listing the descendant line from Adam to Noah in the previous chapter. The chapter before that was the story of Cain and Abel. Logically, Moses’ next narrative would be what happened with the generations of Seth and Cain. He already covered the story of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel. So now he is relating the story of the families of Seth and Cain. “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them…” Who is Moses talking about? He is talking about everyone who was alive on this planet, Adam and Eve included. He then focuses on two specific groups, “…the sons of God saw the daughters of men…” He is referring to the sons of Seth and the daughters of Cain.

Why is Moses referring to them that way rather than simply saying that they are the sons of Seth and the daughters of Cain? He is using that language because he’s trying to convey the connection of how men slowly departed from obedience to the degeneracy that they finally succumbed to. This was Moses’ segway to the story of the destruction of the world by way of a flood.

Men taking wives and having children is simply doing what God commanded them to do. But Godly men intermarrying with rebellious and wicked people takes on a much different scenario. This is why Moses chose the words we read in verse 2. Because of this, verse 3 makes more sense seeing God was highly displeased with what happened in verse 2. Now let's read verse 4.

“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”

When Moses said “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that…” who was he referring to? The logical answer to that is, everyone, including Adam and Eve. Why did Moses call them giants? Simply because the people of that age were a whole lot bigger than the people of his day. Understand also that Moses did not have the luxury of periods commas and punctuation marks. There were no sentences or paragraphs. We read the bible so nicely and neatly with chapters, verses, paragraphs and sentences but that is not how Moses wrote his Pentateuch. So we take his writings and we take his statement about “There were giants in those days” and then we insert a comma and say “when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men…” and assume he’s talking about the same people because it’s in the same sentence. This is why we misunderstand the context. Yes, there were giants in those days, everyone in the antediluvian era were skyscrapers compared to Moses. Yet, we assume that these giants were the descendants of the sons of God and the daughters of men when in actuality, the entire human population before the flood were giants. The children of the sons of Seth and the daughters of Cain were no different than their parents physically or genetically. Human biology can easily explain that. However, the last part of verse 4 states “…the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown…” Why were the descendants of Seth and Cain mighty men, men of renown? They were mighty men of renown because they became men of war.

The children of Seth were originally peaceful, loving people who feared God. The children of Cain were already rebellious and degenerate like their father. The family of Seth lived in the mountains and the family of Cain lived in the valleys. They were supposed to be separate from one another. But when they joined together and began intermarrying with each other, the rebellious influence of Cain’s descendants was spread amongst each other. All they wanted to do is conquer more territory and make war with whoever got in their way. Their conquests were known far and wide. This is why they were known as mighty men of renown.

These mighty people did not die off during the deluge. Their descendants survived in the genes of Noah and his children. Noah was not a small person, and neither were his three sons. Remember, they lived during the age of the giants before the catastrophic flood. They were one of them. Noah lived 350 years after the flood and died at a ripe old age of 950 years. He lived 20 years longer than Adam and 19 years less than Methuselah. King David battled against giants in the Philistine armies. (2 Samuel 21:16, 18) He killed Goliath in hand-to-hand combat. (1 Samuel 17:50) Joshua’s spies trembled at the sight of them. (Numbers 13:33)These giants lived long after the flood. Many of these giants had something physically odd about them. They had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. (2 Samuel 21:20),(1 Chronicles 20:6) This may have had something to do with the mark God placed on Cain to identify him as one who was not to be messed with. God protected him so that no one would take vengeance on Cain for killing Abel. Genetics has a funny way of showing up somewhere down the line of descendants. Certain genetic traits can skip generations and show up here and there in the hereditary chain.

The truth is that these descendants of Seth and Cain were no different than anyone else in physical form. The reason they were singled out was due to the fact that their rebellious nature escalated to such an extent that it brought upon the entire planet the wrath of God by way of a global flood.