Who, or what, are the Nephilim?
The word nephilim is from the Hebrew, meaning giants. It is used in some English versions of the Bible in only one verse, Genesis 6:1-4,
When men began to increase on earth and daughters were born to them, the divine beings saw how beautiful the daughters of men were and took wives from among those that pleased them. The LORD said, ‘My breath shall not abide in man forever, since he too is flesh; let the days allowed him be one hundred and twenty years.’ It was then, and later too, that the Nephilim appeared on earth – when the divine beings cohabited with the daughters of men, who bore them offspring. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-4)
The King James version uses the word giants instead of nephilim. It is interesting to note that the Septuagint, a 250 BC Greek translation from the Hebrew Old Testament, uses the term ”gigantes”, for the Hebrew nephilim, which is translated into English as giants.
My understanding is that the connotation of the nephilim in Hebrew implies not just a giant, but an evil giant. A supporting statement comes from Raymond E. Fowler, in The Watchers,
“The Hebrew word for giants (nephilim) literally means the fallen-down-ones because these tall celestial beings fell from the sky. Their half-breed progeny and their descendants are often mentioned in the early books of the Old Testament until the last of them were finally killed off. They were known as the Rephaim [Hebrew for ‘phantoms’], Emim, Anakim, Horim, Avim, and Zamzummim. Some scholars speculate that this tradition of giants born from the union of gods and humans formed the basis for the demigod of Greek mythology.”
Elder Mark E. Peterson had this to say concerning Niphilim,;
“A Bible dictionary says that the Nephilim referred to in this passage were giant demigods who lived in those days. (New Analytical Bible and Dictionary of the Bible.) Enoch spoke of them as a depraved lot who sought to murder him. But part divine and part human they were not, for God at no time consorted with the “daughters of men.” It is sacrilege even to mention such a thing.” (Mark E. Petersen, Noah and the Flood , p 27)