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p.8c What are Nephilim? What does the word mean?

Heiser states “I don’t think nephilim means “fallen ones.” Jewish writers and translators habitually think “giants” when they use or translate the term.” (Unseen Realm)

Giants was used in the Greek Septuagint, but it does not necessarily refer strictly to their stature. Long before the Septuagint version, this was written in the Hebrew using the word ‘naphal’ which is still used in the Hebrew.

OT:5303 nephil (nef-eel') (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive (Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary) The plural is made with ‘im’ added to the singular meaning, making its pronunciation nepheelim or nephylim, nephel becomes plural. In the same manner as eloh-im is plural; it means many gods when it speaks of those other than the true elohim YHWH (who is echad- a united one).

OT:5307 naphal (naw-fal'); a primitive root; to fall, in a great variety of applications(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary.)

Fallen is often descriptive of a change of state of one’s nature, (into sin). Those fallen are in a spiritually and morally degraded state than what they were before . Heiser describes the sons of God as falling from a divine state, from being deities. This is completely the wrong nomenclature.

An example of to fall is used in the description of Adam and Eve’s fall in Gen.3, their condition went from sinlessness to sinfulness. For man Jesus provided a way to return to be transformed to mankinds original state by his sacrifice, the other beings that fell (angelic creatures), the change of being sinful is permanent.

Nephilim in Hebrew

נְּפִלִים in Gen.6:4 is pronounced Nephilim.

נְּפִילִים Numb. 13:33 another yod י is pointed out by Heiser that is inbetween the pey and the lamed letters, stating “a long “i” vowel sound. Hence nephilim is technically (correctly) pronounced “nepheeleem.”

However he also states, “ This word is pronounced “nophelim” with long “o” (the raised dot between the first and second consonants, reading right to left as Hebrew requires), not the middle long “i” vowel as required. The vowels are different. You don’t need to read Hebrew to tell that, either – it’s visually obvious. This shows us that the word nephilim is NOT the active participle of Hebrew naphal. The practical point here is that nephilim cannot mean “those who fall” or “those who fall upon”—that meaning does not match the form, and the form does not match the meaning. Not only does the shape of the word deny this view, but there is no following preposition “upon” in Genesis 6:4 or Numbers 13:33 – a preposition that IS present elsewhere when this word occurs in descriptions of battle elsewhere.”

As far as being pronounced “nophelim.” There is nothing in the vowels that make the phonics of an O, as Heiser claims.

This is the word נפלים without vowels; this is the word written in the Tanach with the vowels נְּפִלִים .

In Numbers 13:33 there are two yods, one before after the lamed. With the vowels נְּפִילִים this is clearly a ‘eh’ sound after the N and a ‘ee’ sound. There is no ‘oo’ vowel in it. The yod does not change its meaning, it is minimal.

י The yod is always a consonant, when it has a vowel, (it is silent) so it would be pronounced, yee, with a long ee).









or ։






. dot above letter





Vowels are pronounced AH, AY, EH, EE, OH, OOH. It’s been sometime since I attended Hebrew school but I can still read it and Heiser is wrong. The Hebrew vowels are called nikud when seen below the consonants, nekuda when above.

For example a dot above this letter makes this either a ‘s,’or a ‘sh’ sound, depending on where it is placed on top; left or right. Without the vowel it would be difficult to know.

נְפִילִים The Hebrew spelling of Nephilim Heiser is referring to is found in Numbers 13:33: “And there we saw the Nephilim, (הַנְּפִילִים) the sons of Anak, who come of the Nephilim; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight '

נְפִילִים Nephilim (or pronounced nepheeleem)

וֹ א - These Hebrew letters (Consonants) make an oh sound.

וּ אֻ these Hebrew letters make an ooh sound.

They are not present in this word. The vowels purpose is to give these sounds to the letters.

Only Heiser has a different way to pronounce this word than the Hebrew text (and he even contradicts himself making several different conclusions to pronounce nephilim to nephulim and nophilim). He is wrong, there is no O or U in the word, it is a short e, under the first letter (an eh sound.) And an ee sound under the pey and lamed. He is confusing you with his explanation to determine the words pronunciation of Nephilim to change the meaning by it not being connected to naphal.

“What about the form of the word nephilim that lacks the “middle yod”? And what about the dots under the letters? …Specifically, they are called “vowel points.” … He then postulates “A word with “historically long” vowels could be written “defectively”—that is, in an abbreviated form when only the vowel POINTS were used. The nephilim that lacks the middle yod vowel marker is written “defectively” and only has the “dot vowels.” (The Meaning of the Word Nephilim: Fact vs. Fantasy Michael S. Heiser)

I see; so he is presenting this as being written wrong in the Masoretic text which is used by the Jewish people. How does he know this? The way the Bible was written , the Masoretes meticulously examined the copying for mistakes before it was allowed to be dispensed as Scripture.

Does he have proof this is what happened? No. Genesis which came first has it written differently than in Numbers. This extra yod is meaningless to the actual word. Whatever the reason for the yod, I do not see this changing the meaning or the subject.

An example is this in the word for the name David, דוד -- דויד

David’s name has 2 different spellings with a yod just like nephilim in Numb.13. David can have DWD, three letters in the Old Testament (788 times) or four DWYD (285 times). (source: The spelling of the name “David” in the Hebrew Bible by David N. freedman University of Michigan Ann Arbor)

One way with chireq and the other with chireq yod. Is a proper masculine noun, no big grammatical discussion on why it has to be changed to a shureq.

Yet Heiser makes a large point of how vowels change the word, but in this word they do not. Instead of an o sound he now presents, “ This form is pronounced “nephulim” with middle long “u” vowel – not middle long “i” vowel as required. This shows us that the form of the word nephilim does not derive from the passive participle of Hebrew naphal either . The word nephilim does not mean “fallen ones” if the root is considered to be Hebrew naphal.”

Which is it and ‘O’ or a ‘U’? It’s neither according to the Hebrew word in the Bible, and that is what I’m going by and so should you.

Besides, Heiser calls the sons of God as fallen which does seem to confirm the word.

5303 nephiyl or nephil -- (from The Online Bible Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon). Not neph ulim or nophilim

As far as the Masoretic text being ‘defective’ in this portion. Emmanuel Tov endorses the Masoretic text of the Torah “the textual development of the Torah differed from that of all other Scripture books. Quite unusually its textual witnesses may be divided into two text blocks. "Block I" contains the Masoretic Text group consisting of proto-MT scrolls and the followers of MT, among them a group of tefillin. "Block II" consists of a large group consisting of the source of LXX, the SP group, the Qumran tefillin, and more. The latter block usually contains a popularizing text featuring harmonizing and facilitating readings, while block I contains a more original text.” Underline mine

On the Hebrew word NAPHAL

Dr. Heiser says, This brings me to the heart of the matter — the incoherence of reading “fallen ones” when your eyes hit npylym [ נפילים ] or nplym [ נפלים ]. Here’s why I think naphal is an inferior explanation to the one I propose . It has to do with the way the term is handled in the Septuagint (it is translated with gigantes ; “giants”) being a coherent translation choice with the linking of giant clans described in the Torah and Joshua with the word nephilim in Num 13:33. I’ll try to unpack it .”(Unseen Realm)

Again these are two different languages, Hebrew and Greek. So are we to reject the Hebrew and go with the Greek according to Heiser. This is his objective, to make sure the meaning is not connected to the meaning of ‘to fall,’ naphal (singular). One does not have to do the gymnastics Heiser has done on this word to understand it. First and foremost the spies brought back a bad, or “evil” report claiming very large people they saw, the sons of Anak were all descended from the Nephilim andthey were everywhereall the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature” NKJV (Num. 13.1-2, 32-33; Joshua 11:22). While they may have seen a few giant people, they were not ‘all the people’ they saw. Nor does it mean they were Nephilim.

Calling them nophelim or nephulim, does not matter, for we read they are identified as giants in this passage just as they were in Gen. 6 of the Septuagint. The problem of great stature is resolved from just reading the history on the battles showing this is not what they encountered. Giants are mentioned 10 times altogether from Genesis to Joshua. 1 time in Genesis, once in Numbers, 4 times in Deuteronomy, 3 times in Joshua when they entered the land (this will be covered in detail on the subject of giants in the next portion as we go into the Scripture).

Heiser says, However, there’s another possible defense for the meaning “fallen.” Instead of coming from the verb naphal, the word might come from a noun that has a long-i vowel in the second syllable. This kind of noun is called a qatiyl noun. Although there is no such noun as naphiyl in the Hebrew Bible, the hypothetical plural form would be nephiylim, which is the long spelling we see in Numbers13:33” (Unseen Realm)

‘Another possible defense’,Might come’, ‘hypothetical plural’, all are guesswork and means nothing; neither is 2 yods a long spelling.


From the verb נפל (napal), to fall, which appears to have to do with the verbפלל (palal), to distinguish, orפלה (pala), to be extraordinary. Verb נפל (napal) means to fall (down, down to, into or upon). The plural form נפלים (napalim) literally means 'fallen ones.'

We can keep drilling down on this but it is already sufficient for our understanding of the root of the word.

Gen. 24:64-65 records Rebekah’s encounter with Isaac (v. 64)And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she alighted from the camel.” The Hebrew word for alighted is naphal, which normally means “to fall.” The picture being conveyed is that when she saw Isaac, she “fell in love at first sight.”

Who are the Nephilim

The Bible calls demons "evil spirits" and "unclean" (Matthew 10:1; Mark 1:27) and teaches that they are fallen ‘angels’ under the chief cherub’s control (also a fallen angel) called Satan (Rv. 12:9). Satan and his demons (his, under his leadership) also attack Christians in various ways, often by false teaching (2 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Peter 5:8).

Heiser explains the sons of God are evil, The beings that did the evil act of Genesis 6 were not the nephilim. The transgression in that passage was between human beings and the sons of God . The sons of God and the nephilim are not the same; that latter are offspring of the former we aren’t even told that the flood was the fault of the sons of God, and so how would it be that their offspring, the nephilim, are fallen in the sense of being inherently evil? (The Meaning of the Word Nephilim: Fact vs. Fantasy)

“Even Genesis 6, where the nephilim make their grand appearance, does not say they are fallen.” (ibid.)

So according to Heiser the Nephilim are ‘not fallen’, ‘nor evil’, but the sons of God are fallen? All mankind was called wicked and evil in their heart, Gn. 6:5 “ the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” That is with the exception of Noah and family.

But of course he must have an opposite opinion, and here it is, " the other clans that spring from the nephilim are the enemies of Israel for sure (like the Anakim), and so could be seen as evil. The giants in the book of Enoch and other Jewish literature composed after the biblical material (as far as the existing texts we know about) are certainly evil." (The Meaning of the Word Nephilim: Fact vs. Fantasy)

Heiser “I alluded to the difference between NT demons and the OT gods of the nations (called shedim in Deut 32:17, unfortunately translated “demons”) in a footnote in Ch. 32 of Unseen Realm. However, the difference is summarized much better in Doug Van Dorn’s primer companion to The Unseen Realm . Here are Questions 72, and 75:

Heiser writes in ‘More Unseen Realm’--Question 72. Are these corrupt sons of God demons or fallen angels?

Demons are neither fallen angels nor the offending sons of God, yet they belong to the same spirit world because they are disembodied spirits. [1] The sons of God who sinned before the Flood were imprisoned until the time of the end, and so they are not the demons of the New Testament. The corrupt sons of God put over the nations are called shedim, a term of geographical guardianship. (chapter 15 more unseen realm Divine Allotment Cosmic Geography.”(More Unseen Realm)

However the book of Enoch which Heiser endorses tells us the sons of God are angels, fallen angelsAnd when the angels, the sons of heaven, beheld them, they became enamoured of them, saying to each other, Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of men.”

So we have Heiser using Enoch when it serves his purposes, but ignores it when it does not. Again Heiser’s contrary opinion causes confusion to the Bible and is contrary to his own writings. There were no nations yet when these supposed gods fell. Heiser does not say exactly when they fell or exactly why? Was it done by individual or collective choices? Exactly when did God appoint the 70 fallen gods over the 70 nations? Where is this spoken of in Scripture?

Has Heiser mixed fallen spirits, the demons that try to influence nations as once being divine sons of gods, that he calls elohim that God created before creation when in fact God did not create other ‘gods’! These and other questions are unanswered by him because this is all fantasy. There is no Bible Scripture for any of this. But there is in other books and myths.

Heiser says the Nephilim are demons, the offspring spirits of the sons of God. That their offspring continued or returned again. So why are the dead Nephilim demons and not the sons of God.

Josephus writes, for many angels {a }{This notion, that the fallen angels were, in some sense the fathers of the old giants, was the constant opinion of antiquity.} of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength; for the tradition is, That these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants. (74) ( THE WORKS OF JOSEPHUS Complete and Unabridged Translated by WILLIAM WHISTON, A.M.)

Josephus seems to equate them with fallen angels, Heiser instead believes they are divine members of a council, deity that continued after the serpents temptation.

3. (125) For which reason they removed their camp to Hebron; and when they had taken  it, they slew all the inhabitants. There were till then left the race of giants, who had bodies so large, and countenances so entirely different from other men, that they were surprising to the sight, and terrible to the hearing. The bones of these men are still shown to this very day, unlike to any creditable relations of other men. ” (126) (ibid.)

This certainly does not sound like small creatures, yet Josephus calls them men. But Heiser says “Given the backdrop we’ve covered, it would seem obvious that Nephilim ought to be understood as “giants.” (Unseen Realm). Does this means anywhere giants come up in Scripture, they are Nephilim? How do you distinguish large men if all the giants are Nephilim?

 Even King Saul is said to be a head taller than any of the people (1 Sam. 9:2), but he was not called a giant. If Goliath was only 6’6” (as Heiser claims), it seems strange that Saul would not also have been considered a giant. Regardless, the stories, the legends of these men of renown are not about 6’6 or 7ft. tall people but were very large.

Ancient depiction of giants who look 9-10 ft. tall

If the Nephilim produced more giants (they are specifically called this because of their size- being giants- in Septuagint) than what about giant people today, some are much larger than Goliath according to Heiser (who was only 6’6 according to him). We still have people 7’6- 8’0 tall.

How does Mr. Heiser explain Giants in our modern age? The tallest human being we know of was an American, Robert Wadlow, (born in 1918) who died in 1940. He was listed at 8 feet 11 inches. John William Rogan: 8 feet 8" (1868-1905); John Carroll, who was 8 feet 7-1/2 inches tall; Väinö Myllyrinne: 8 feet 3" (1909 - 1963); Sultan Kosen: 8 feet 3 inches. (1982- ); Zeng Jinlian: 8 feet 2 inches (1964 - 1982) she was unable to stand up straight having a severely deformed spine, or she would have reached the height of at least 8'-8" with a normal curvature of the spine. A 29-year-old Sulemana Abdul Samed currently has the height of 9 ft. 6in.

All of these people were taller than Goliath according to Heiser. So why are they not Nephilim too?

Exactly how large does one need to be a nephilim species? 7’6, 8’6, 15 ft.? If they were only 6’6 (as he says goliath was)…were they smaller nephilim? Did they have children and continue to have giants as Heiser claims? Where does the Scripture say this? We have giants today but they are not the offspring of the Nephilim?

The giants

What is described in Numb. 13 is far more than a person that is a foot or two taller. In Numbers 13:33 KJVAnd there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” The Septuagint states, “ all the people whom we saw in it are men of extraordinary stature. Sounds pretty bleak to be that small in their presence.

According to Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum Th.m,Ph.d. I would put forth his explanation in defining the word Nephilim as a more trustworthy scholarly assessment than how Heiser explains it.

“the Hebrew word nephilim does not mean “giants” in the sense of big, huge people. The reason some English Bibles read the word as “giants” is not based upon the Hebrew, but on the Septuagint, which translated the Hebrew word Nephilim by the Greek word gigentes. The Greek word gigentes is the source of the English word giant, but it does not quite mean the same thing. The Greek term gigentes is the word for the Latin “Titans.” Titans were part man and part god; they had human characteristics, but at the same time were superhuman. When the Jewish translators were trying to find a Greek word that would express to the Greek reader what the Nephilim were, the best word in Greek was gigentes. In English however, the word giant gives the wrong connotation altogether. So it is best to transliterate the Hebrew word Nephilim or “fallen ones.” These are the product of the union of the sons of God and the daughters of men, as is explained in the remainder of the verse. According to rabbinic interpretation, these beings were so named,… Named “Nephilim, because they fell and caused the world to fall. Moreover, this is more in keeping with the meaning of the term. The phrase were in the earth in those days means the days of the intermarriage, but not after the Flood.

The nephilim, were human but giants in superhuman their fathers : the same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.” (Ariel commentary on Genesis)

The Greek and Roman mythologies of gods and goddesses intermarrying with humans, produced (gods); (so called men of renown) such myths are mentioned in the Ugarit and elsewhere. These are the mythological views of the pagans with shreds of truth. The Genesis 6 the account is what actually happened, it is the source of truth. What Heiser unpacks to his listeners is speculation.

Again let’s revisit Gen 6:4 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.”

Heiser ignores the content of the scripture. It is the sons of God that ARE those who took the women (before and after), not the nephilim who were called their offspring (Gn.6:4).The Bible has nothing to say about a second invasion which would be VERY significant, considering the first one brought the judgment of the flood upon the world. If Noah, his sons or any of their wives had been Nephilim, the text would have certainly mentioned it. For it would not be considered a small matter.

This corruption from the sons of God, (the Bible identifies as fallen angels 2 Peter 2:4-6; Jude 6-7) many see as Satan's first attempt to prevent the coming of the ‘seed of the woman ‘foretold in Gen. 3:15. We later see him trying to kill the messiah at his birth or immediately after and through his ministry. But not on the cross at Passover for it fulfilled prophecy (any other time would have disqualified him from being the Passover Lamb of God).

Heiser has rebellious Nephilim of Genesis 6:1-4 (birthed by their fathers, the sons of God) repeating with women after the flood and thus continued to produce more Nephilim offspring.

They only sane argument is that the nephilim who were also human died in the flood along with all of humanity (the Bible says all that had breath died except the 8 on the ark) and the sons of God (whomever you want to call them, angels or a separate species as Heiser does).

What Heiser is doing is sloganeering on the term nephilim. To produce a totally new way to look at the Scriptures; don’t fall for it. Don’t draw from the Heiser’s think tank of liberal academics.

P.8d The giants in the land of Canaan-  Were they offspring of Nephilim, or were they human? did they survive the flood?


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