You don't get far into the first book of the Bible, Genesis, when you are confronted with a strange story of giants who roamed the earth in antiquity. Not only that but it is written that they mated with the daughters of humans and had children.
Here is the passage from Genesis chapter 6, verse 4 in the King James Version:
4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
and here is a translation from the New Century Version:
4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days and also later. That was when the sons of God had sexual relations with the daughters of human beings. These women gave birth to children, who became famous and were the mighty warriors of long ago.
The giants were called the Nephilim and they were mighty warriors of old. It is difficult to explain this in a literal sense without a serious leap of faith on the part of the reader though many have tried due to this desire to accept the Bible as a literal account of creation and history of the Jews. I think this story is explainable if we take it as myth and also accept the fact that these myths were borrowed and adapted from other cultures of the old world. Let's get a better handle on the topic before we start making some connections.
From Clarke's Commentary on the Bible we can can glean this information about the meaning of Nephilim and the meaning behind the terms mighty men or mighty warriors:
There were giants in the earth - נפלים nephilim, from נפל naphal, "he fell."
The same became mighty men - men of renown - גברים gibborim, which we render mighty men, signifies properly conquerors, heroes, from גבר gabar, "he prevailed, was victorious."
The non canonical pseudepigraphic text of the Old Testament called the Book of Enoch mentions the Nephilim and elaborates on the story a little more in detail. Their leader, Semjaza, leads the descent of the fallen angels to earth to consummate with the comely daughters of the earth.
Book of Enoch
1 And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto 2 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 3 and beget us children.' And Semjaza, who was their leader, said unto them: 'I fear ye will not 4 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 5 not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.' Then sware they all together and bound themselves 6 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 7 and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it
The punishment from the Lord for their great sin was to bind them to the valleys of the earth for seventy generations.
And the Lord said unto Michael: 'Go, bind Semjaza and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves 12 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 13 for ever and ever is consummated. In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire: and 14 to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined for ever. And whosoever shall be condemned and destroyed will from thenceforth be bound together with them to the end of all 15 generations.
Later on it is revealed that these fallen angels who lusted after the daughters of men were cast down into Tartarus.
1 And Uriel said to me: 'Here shall stand the angels who have connected themselves with women, and their spirits assuming many different forms are defiling mankind and shall lead them astray into sacrificing to demons as gods, (here shall they stand,) till the day of the great judgement in 2 which they shall be judged till they are made an end of. And the women also of the angels who 3 went astray shall become sirens.' And I, Enoch, alone saw the vision, the ends of all things: and no man shall see as I have seen.
1,2 And these are the names of the holy angels who watch. Uriel, one of the holy angels, who is 3 over the world and over Tartarus. Raphael, one of the holy angels, who is over the spirits of men. 4,5 Raguel, one of the holy angels who takes vengeance on the world of the luminaries. Michael, one 6 of the holy angels, to wit, he that is set over the best part of mankind and over chaos. Saraqael, 7 one of the holy angels, who is set over the spirits, who sin in the spirit. Gabriel, one of the holy 8 angels, who is over Paradise and the serpents and the Cherubim. Remiel, one of the holy angels, whom God set over those who rise.
1,2 And I proceeded to where things were chaotic. And I saw there something horrible: I saw neither 3 a heaven above nor a firmly founded earth, but a place chaotic and horrible. And there I saw 4 seven stars of the heaven bound together in it, like great mountains and burning with fire. Then 5 I said: 'For what sin are they bound, and on what account have they been cast in hither?' Then said Uriel, one of the holy angels, who was with me, and was chief over them, and said: 'Enoch, why 6 dost thou ask, and why art thou eager for the truth? These are of the number of the stars of heaven, which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and are bound here till ten thousand years, 7 the time entailed by their sins, are consummated.' And from thence I went to another place, which was still more horrible than the former, and I saw a horrible thing: a great fire there which burnt and blazed, and the place was cleft as far as the abyss, being full of great descending columns of 8 fire: neither its extent or magnitude could I see, nor could I conjecture. Then I said: 'How 9 fearful is the place and how terrible to look upon!' Then Uriel answered me, one of the holy angels who was with me, and said unto me: 'Enoch, why hast thou such fear and affright?' And 10 I answered: 'Because of this fearful place, and because of the spectacle of the pain.' And he said unto me: 'This place is the prison of the angels, and here they will be imprisoned for ever.'
If you remember my previous blog I told you to keep Tartarus in the back of your mind. Here's the link:
Cronus was eventually overthrown by his son Zeus and sent to Tartarus. A little side trip to Tartarus now. Tartarus is an abyss below the underworld where the sinners were sent. Keep this point in mind.
It is a fate that mirrors the episode from the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve eat from the tree of knowledge and now are cognizant of good and evil. Adam, because of eating the fruit of the forbidden, becomes the first of the fallen who will now die because of his transgressions. Having this knowledge is actually a good thing; not having this knowledge makes you an ignorant beast. It is as if God has this knowledge that he likes to not willingly share but will let you take it if you dare and then punish you for it. This concept is then mirrored again in Genesis 6:4 when the sons of God come to the earth and mate with the daughters of men. It is alluding again to this knowledge that is being acquired by the human race on earth that God gets all pissy about sharing.
In Peake's Commentary on the Bible, page 260, we get this regarding the Nephilim:
The name is of uncertain origin, but n'philia is the Aramaic name of Orion, the giant of the sky.
This would make the Nephilim properly the sons of the Nephilia, Nephilia being a name for Orion. Well you know I'm all over this.
Genesis 6:4 is making references to mighty giants that fell from the sky. Clarke's commentary on the Bible gave us the Hebrew word "gibborim" for mighty men. Now where have we heard that word before? You may recall I wrote a two part blog about the giant in the sky awhile back:
I'll clip out some relevant passages, though I really do recommend you read both articles:
The constellation Orion which dominates our winter sky is a giant. You can't miss it in its nightly voyage across the southern night sky as he rises in the east and eventually sets in the west. Many ancient cultures referred to Orion as a giant. To the Jews Orion was known as Gibbor, the giant who they considered Nimrod the great hunter, and this Nimrod was bound to the sky for rebellion against Yahweh. The Syrians referred to Orion as Gabbara the giant and the Arabians knew Orion as Al Jabbar the giant.
Algebra comes from the Arabic Al Jebr, refers to bone setting, and is etymologically correlative to Al Jabbar. Those familiar with the ancient Egyptian story of Osiris and Isis will remember Osiris being hacked to pieces by his brother Set and then re-assembled by the love of his wife Isis. How this all interestingly enough adds up is Osiris is equated many times in the Pyramid texts to Orion. For example text 820 states “Behold Osiris has come as Orion.”
The action of Al Jabbar refers to the setting of broken bones while the thing it refers to is a giant in the sky and that giant is Orion.
Osiris as Orion is a mighty giant who does fall from the sky in late May and is imprisoned in matter for seventy days until he rises again in the night sky.
The Book of Enoch 10:12 is alluding to just that when the punishment for these "fallen angels" is described as thus:
bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth...
Seven and seventy appear frequently in the Bible and antiquity to represent either latent creation, i.e. God creating the visible universe and then resting on the seventh day as described in the opening of Genesis or the binding and swearing of a sacred oath. An oath in the Old Testament is referred to as to "seven oneself" such as when Abraham's servant binds himself to Abraham in Genesis 24 before going off in search of a wife for Isaac. Since I'm on a roll right now I'd like to mention the Hebrew word for bind which is 'asir'. Of course Osiris' proper Egyptian name is 'asar', with the vowels in both languages just there to help us moderns with a guide to approximate pronunciation. I don't know or can't prove any connection here but I thought it was interesting to point it out since Osiris is bound into matter in a state of rest for this sacred amount of time before rising again as his mighty warrior son Horus.
Okay I just let the cat out of the bag - The mighty men being referred to are the son(s) of Osiris and Isis known as Horus. I wrote a blog about the connection of Orion to both Osiris and Horus which I knew at the time would spare me having to explain it now :) Here is the link which I trust you'll read because you have made it this far into my exposition:
The mighty warriors of old is referring to Horus the Striker, the son of Isis and Osiris.
Isis is the metaphorical womb in the material world that receives the seed of the great fallen giant angel Osiris allowing for the eventual birth of a man of renown if you can rouse this Osiris long enough to engender that new life.
In ancient Egyptian mythology Osiris becomes the lord of this underworld to judge the souls of the departed.
This underworld, or subconscious realm, is where our true self resides and is something you have to get in touch with in order to become your greater self. Mythology describes the Titan Cronus being sent to Tartarus and the Book of Enoch tells of the punishment of these fallen angels is a trip to this Tartarus as well. This the underworld realm of Osiris in which he presides over and judges your soul. I wrote a blog that showed the similarities between the biblical character of Abel and the ancient Egyptian figure of Osiris and how Abel became the judge of your soul in the pseudepigraphic text of the Old Testament called the Testament of Abraham. It's good stuff, you can read it here:
Okay now that you've read it you can now start tying all this mythology together in your head and realize it is not the domain of one religion but encompasses and is central to the myths of the civilizations of the old world. But what is the essence these stories are trying to convey? It is that the scattered soul of the great god that contains the knowledge of life, which the ancient Egyptians called Ba, comes to incarnate in matter and allows the creature called man to become greater than just simple carnal beasts. This Ba soul we need to awaken and tame the beast with so we can engender that new life within us that is full of goodness and wisdom but also is strong enough to keep that beast at bay with his mighty sword. The ancient Egyptians represented this great hero with a hawk, not a dove. Stay strong and fight your enemies!
In closing I'd just like to quickly tackle a name given for the leader of the fallen angels in the Book of Enoch. That name is Semjaza. It has been explained that the first part 'Sem' means name and 'azaz' means to rebel. Seems plausible. I'd like to throw out one more explanation that takes into account the jaza part without dropping the j or y (remembering that a 'j' in ancient lexicons is represented as a 'y'). The belt of Orion was known in Arabic as Al Jauzah and the sacred plateau of the three great pyramids in Egypt that represent Orion's belt is called today Al Jizah or what we English call Giza. It seems to me possible that the name Semjaza is alluding to the origination of the fallen angels being metaphorically from the constellation of Orion. I can't prove it but hey it seems as good an explanation as any I've heard. If you do investigate this further you'll find correlations between Semjaza and Azazel and the attempts to connect it to Satan. The conflating of Semjaza and Azazel as the same concept is misleading as they are two distinct entities. I'd be tempted to designate them as representatives of the Ba and Ka from ancient Egypt such as what I wrote in this blog entry that will give you a good idea of the relationship between the Ba and the Ka. At any rate this is getting beyond the scope of what I'm trying to tackle right now. If you do want to read more about these myths from a biblical perspective here is a website that retells some of them. Scroll down until you find "The Star Maiden".
I love how Istahar tricks Shemhazai into revealing God's hidden name. If you've read the ancient Egyptian story of Isis tricking Re into revealing his true secret name you'll get a chuckle out of this.
Alright, well this Sunday sermon is enough for you chew on for now. Be forewarned though as I'm about to rain on Abraham and Sarah's parade now that I've armed you with enough background into the myths of the ancient world.