What does giants in Genesis 6:4 mean?

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By BibleAsk Team


The mention of “giants” in Genesis 6:4 has been a topic of debate and interpretation among scholars and theologians for centuries. The verse reads: “There were giants (nephilim) 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” (NKJV). This passage is part of the larger narrative in Genesis describing the increasing wickedness of humanity before the flood and the presence of the Nephilim, a term that has sparked various interpretations and theories.

Giants – Nephilim – Violent Ones

Translation of the word Nephilim suggests this Hebrew word may come from the root naphal, and that the Nephilim were “violent” ones, or terrorists, rather than physical “giants.” The term “mighty men” (Hebrew: “gibborim”) in Genesis 6:4 may refer to individuals who were renowned for their strength and prowess in warfare rather than their physical size. These engaged in acts of aggression and oppression against others.

Since in those days the entire human race was of great stature, it must be that character rather than height is designated by the word “giants.” The antediluvians generally possessed great physical and mental strength. These individuals, renowned for wisdom and skill, persistently devoted their intellectual and physical powers to the gratification of their own pride and passions and to the oppression of their fellow men.

The “sons of God” were none other than the descendants of Seth. The term “sons of God” simply means the children of God. The Lord spoke of Israel as His “firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22), and Moses called the people of Israel “children of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 14:1). And the “daughters of men,” were the godless Cainites.

God has ever warned His followers not to marry unbelievers, because of the great danger to which the believer is thus exposed and to which he usually succumbs (Deuteronomy 7:3, 4; Joshua 23:12, 13; Ezra 9:2; Nehemiah 13:25; 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15). But the Sethites did not heed the warnings. Guided by sense attractions, they were not content with the beautiful daughters of the godly race, and often preferred Cainite brides. These unholy alliances between Sethites and Cainites were responsible for the rapid increase of wickedness among the former.

Theological and Moral Lessons

The term “giants,” in Genesis 6:4, serves theological and moral purposes within the larger context of Genesis. The story highlights the moral decline of humanity before the flood and the consequences of sin and rebellion against God. It underscores the importance of obedience and righteousness in the sight of God and serves as a warning against the corrupting influence of wickedness and violence.

Conclusion

The word Nephilim suggests this Hebrew word may come from the root naphal, and that the Nephilim were “violent” ones, or terrorists, rather than physical “giants.” Ultimately, the story of the Nephilim in Genesis 6 serves theological and moral purposes within the larger narrative of the Bible, highlighting the consequences of sin and the importance of obedience and righteousness before God.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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