The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
That is all; the Bible says nothing more.
Who were the Sons of God?
Who were the sons of God meant to represent? Possibly they were thought to be the descendents of the pure line of Seth, and the daughters of men were descendents of Cain. Or the Sons of God were God-worshipers, while the daughters of men were not. A third option is that they were extraterrestrials.
Much later, the apocalyptic Book of Enoch gave names to the sons of God and elaborated on the story. Enoch understood them to be fallen angels who had sexual intercourse with human women. So God punished them, and their acts led directly to the flood of Noah. Therefore, the fall of the angels related to sexual sins rather than pride.
The Book of Enoch tells the story in chapters 6 and 7:
|And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.’And Semjaza, who was their leader, said unto them: ‘I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.’ And they all answered him and said: ‘Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.’Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it.And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And these are the names of their leaders: Samlazaz, their leader, Araklba, Rameel, Kokablel, Tamlel, Ramlel, Danel, Ezeqeel, Baraqijal, Asael, Armaros, Batarel, Ananel, Zaqiel, Samsapeel, Satarel, Turel, Jomjael, Sariel. These are their chiefs of tens.And all the others together with them took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants. And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells.|
Chapter 10 describes God’s response to the angels:
|And the Lord said unto Michael: ‘Go, bind Semjaza and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves with them in all their uncleanness.And when their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgement and of their consummation, till the judgement that is for ever and ever is consummated.In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire: and to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined for ever.’|
The Book of Enoch continues for several chapters describing the punishments of the fallen angels and their children. The Book of Enoch is not considered inspired by Jews or Christians and is not even in the Apocrypha.
Enoch in Peter and Jude
The New Testament passages that allude to fallen angels seem influenced by Enoch. Until now everything I have written in this series holds even if one understands the Bible to be inerrant. The next observation, however, disturbs inerrancy.
2 Peter chapter 2 refers to the Book of Enoch:
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah…
Jude actually quotes Enoch by name assuming him to be the Enoch of Genesis, which he was not:
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed.”
He also refers to the angels in Enoch:
The angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.
The origin of the Fall of Satan Myth
In my opinion, Genesis chapter 6 adds nothing to our knowledge of the origins and history of Satan; it is short and vague. The elaborations of the Book of Enoch certainly add nothing to our knowledge, and though a number of fallen angels are named none is equated with Satan, so our knowledge of the history of Satan remains nil.
In 1667 John Milton popularized the story of the fall of Satan in his quite imaginative Paradise Lost, which has impacted our imagery of the myth ever since. The myth of the fall of Satan is driven by these two works of fiction: the Book of Enoch and Paradise Lost. Neither is considered inspired by God.
Next time, we will discuss other mentions of Satan in the Old Testament.