Nephilim and Genetics

I’m reading GAE by @swamidass and recently got through the section on chapter 11 about Nephilim. I found this section particularly compelling for his argument. It’s a difficult passage and it’s hard to know what to do with it. He suggests it may have something to do with interbreeding and genetics. Well, basically everyone thinks it has something to do with hybrids and interbreeding. So I had to decide what do I think Genesis 6:4 means?

I was studying it more, and then it hit me - it has to interbreeding and genetics of course! :rofl:

What do I mean by that? IMO various interpretations are reading way too much into the text, and we should think about it from basic human experience AND also from a female’s perspective. I’m only reading men’s interpretations. Let me stick up for women here. I’ll explain as I go.

We like to look at our kids and notice where they got their physical features from - mom or dad. This has to do with genetics - but even people who had no knowledge of genetics centuries or millennia ago, would have easily noticed their kids had mom’s nose, or dad’s eyes, etc. I think Genesis 6:4 is a parenthetical reference just to give some extra information.

What else surrounds the Genesis 6:4 verse? There’s a discussion of sons of God seeing beautiful women and taking wives of all they chose. To me this verse is talking about powerful men lusting after beautiful women and being promiscuous, much like we see with David and Solomon.

@swamidass references Bodie Hodges from AIG in his book Nephilim: Who Were They? | Answers in Genesis

He mentions various views, in some of which the sons of God could be referring to rulers or some of Seth’s lineage. I agree with those two views.

But notice he’s assuming the daughters of “men” in comparison to the sons of God means the emphasis is that the women were ungodly. That’s possible, but I don’t think the text is emphasizing that as the most important detail here. What’s the important detail it seems everyone is leaving out? "And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” What I interpret this passage to be saying is that God is seeing that the longevity of man is adding to his sinfulness. Then the text adds some parenthetical references of another consequence of longevity and marrying beautiful women: giant men.

Bodie Hodges mentions:

"Interestingly, Moses, who penned Genesis, said that the Nephilim were on the earth pre-Flood and also afterwards:

Genesis 6:4a
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days— and also afterwards (emphasis added)

Some translations say “and after that,” and one could argue that this was still referring to a pre-Flood time. However, it makes much more sense that this phrase refers to this post-Flood event, especially since Genesis 6 was penned by Moses."

The passage to me is making a distinction that after the flood, Noah’s sons did not have this gigantic trait; instead it was a trait of one or more of their wives, perhaps a recessive trait.

I think that’s also the emphasis of Genesis 6:2 - that the women were particularly beautiful because they were tall. Models today have to be tall. Who else do we consider to be tall, exotic women? It popped in my head - the Amazon women. hmm… The Amazon Women: Is There Any Truth Behind the Myth? | History | Smithsonian Magazine

I checked out more passages on gigantic men in the Bible to confirm my exegesis and was going to type those out, but then I realized AIG had an excellent article here: Giants in the Bible | Answers in Genesis

The author there even discusses legends around gigantic men…but leaves out the gigantic women :wink:

I agree the text, at first, doesn’t initially emphasize tall women, but you can probably see if you look at it the way I am - that the “Sons of God” line were strong, muscular men, and the daughters of men were beautiful tall women, they would produce beautiful, strong, muscular, tall men. Always emphasizing the men… :roll_eyes:

This is relevant to me because I am a very tall woman - 6’0". My husband is tall. My two boys are giants. They have been in the 95-99 percentile. My son just turned 4 and weighs 54 pounds. I assume that we have more Neanderthal DNA than most - they were tall and European correct? I’m also ethnically Dutch, considered the tallest people in the world. But I think that may actually be prejudiced and too focused on Europe.

Notice that in the Smithsonian magazine article, it describes the ancient Greeks decided the Amazonian women must be Scyhthians. That would put them in Japtheh’s mostly European lineage, maybe relating them to Neanderthals, and me too! :joy:

I was just think that height might be a fascinating genetic study, especially since the Bible emphasizes which people groups had this height gene, even clarifying they were called by different names by different groups.

“The Emim had dwelt there in times past, a people as great and numerous and tall as the Anakim. They were also regarded as giants [Hebrew rephaim ], like the Anakim, but the Moabites call them Emim” (Deuteronomy 2:10–11).

It seems there are already some studies Scientists Discover the Genes that Decide How Tall You Are | Time

I would love to know if I’m related to the tall people of South Sudan. Sign me up for that genetic testing and comparison :smiley:


Another “giant” legend just came to mind - I wondered if it was old. Jack and the Beanstalk - Wikipedia

“According to researchers at Durham University and the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, the tale type (AT 328, The Boy Steals Ogre’s Treasure ) to which the Jack story belongs may have had a Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) origin (the same tale also has Proto-Indo-Iranian variants),[8] and so some think that the story would have originated millennia ago. (4500 BC to 2500 BC)”


I apologize for replying to my own thread. :upside_down_face:

I checked the Hebrew Strong's Hebrew: 1368. גִּבּוֹר (gibbor) -- strong, mighty - it’s possible the text is saying "…when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them: These were the mighty [female] warriors who were of old, and the men of renown.

NLT has it “In those days, and for some time after, giant Nephilites lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes and famous warriors of ancient times.”

Edit: I checked again. There’s a word in the text that means “who” so yeah, I wasn’t right :slight_smile: That sentence has to be talking about men only I think. :slight_smile:

I’m not sure how far you can take “Beauty = Tall”, because standard of beauty change with time and culture. ALL children tend to be taller today than when I was a kid. Better nutrition and antibiotics in food have a lot to do with that.

If you consult the documentary Mickey and the Beanstalk, you will see that noted authority Ludwig von Drake agrees that the story is very old. Start around 2:00 here.


Definitely agree. Lol, I think some people see me as a tall person as an ogre and some beautiful perhaps. Beauty is subjective.

But it’s possibly implied in the text, and I was saying generally culturally we tend to value height for beauty and athletic ability so that makes sense. I found my tallness to be embarrassing as a teenager, then I got over it when I realized I can always see in a crowd. :joy:


Good one. That’s perfect. :rofl: :roll_eyes: :joy: :joy:

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I literally don’t know what the Jack and the Beanstalk story is - but I was looking back and Genesis again, and it seemed a little similar to Genesis 4:23-24 where Lamech tells a tale of killing a young man.

Wikipedia referenced this article Fairy tale origins thousands of years old, researchers say - BBC News which tells mentions a story about a Blacksmith and Devil and Tubal-Cain is mentioned as a blacksmith in the same context. Fascinating but I’m getting tired of researching ideas… :roll_eyes: It’d be a good one tho. Sigh. I’ll probably end up checking this out too…I’m a sucker for a good puzzle.

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Thanks for reading the book so thoughtfully.

You also have to decide what might be permissible. And that’s where this strongly makes my point. Even if you don’t think it’s the best interpretation, that passage, and others, leave a gapping lacunae in the Genesis account. If Scripture is important, it is hard to see how Scripture rules out the idea of people outside the Garden.

If that isn’t ruled out, even if it isn’t your prefered view, maybe you can make space for the GAE.

Put another way, would it bother you so much if one of your kids came to personally affirm the GAE? I can’t see how that would be so bad. Maybe it wouldn’t be your instinct, but it could be faithful to Scripture. So why oppose it?


There are some interesting folklore on tubal-Cain :slight_smile: .

I’ll respond to all of this when I finish the book and put it in the thread you set up :slight_smile: I just thought this was a topic of genetics that deserved its own post, to see if anyone had feedback.

there is more?

Would you like a Fionna avatar?

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How is this possible?

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According to Rashi, Tubal-Cain’s name literally means “Cain’s-Spices”, with the Hebrew word Tū́ḇal (תובל) deriving from the word Tū́ḇlin (תבלין) meaning spices. Rashi states that he was named this, because he “seasoned and improved the work of Cain” In other words, because he was a blacksmith, who helped to make weapons which could be used to kill more efficiently, he invokes his ancestor Cain’s sin of murder. Futhermore according to Tanhuma bar Abba, one day, Tubal-cain and his father Lamech were hunting together with Tubal-cain serving as an aid for his blind father. In the distance is Cain who Lamech believes to be an animal. He confirms with Tubal-cain that, it is an animal, however Tubal-cain deceives his father, and lets him shoot and kill his forefather Cain, possibly because of Tubal-cain’s blood lust. When Lamech realizes what he has done he throws his hands up in a fit of mourning, accidentally killing his son Tubal-Cain.

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Bad choice of words. I literally forgot. I had to look it up - beans, beanstalk, golden egg, talking harp. The giant comes tumbling down. I remember learning it now. I hated fantasy as a kid - I thought the story was dumb and probably tried to forget.

Shows what I know. I also thought science was dumb as a kid. Now I love fantasy and I guess science too. :upside_down_face:

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@deuteroKJ I wonder if you have the time and would be so kind as to give an expert opinion on this verse - is “men of renown” part of a clause that describes “gibbor” or not necessarily? I’m really curious because of the legends of female warriors.


The syntax definitely equates the two. Besides, the “mighty ones” is masculine plural, so it couldn’t exclusively be to women.

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This is interesting. Is it true that a son will always grow to be taller than his mother? - BBC Science Focus Magazine

So if men marry women that are as tall as them, their sons will be taller, and if those men marry tall women their sons will be taller, etc if this holds true. But I wonder how high it can go. :joy: At least today.

Then maybe the emphasis on the text is not that this tall gene is random. It’s that the culture was to select wives for their genetics to get tall men for dominating an army.

We shy away from genetic manipulation today. I can see why God found this to be incredibly evil. Maybe those people groups after the flood were also self selecting for a while.