Roger in Grand Junction, Colorado
After reading your chapter in Navigating Genesis about the Nephilim I still have some questions. Genesis 6:4 reads, “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.” If the flood of Noah wiped out all the Nephilim, then where did the Nephilim who show up after the flood come from? If the sons of God were fallen angels and if these misbehaving angels were locked up in the abyss, as Jude 6 declares, then how could they come back to visit the daughters of humans? If the sons of God were human men, then from whose gene pool did they come? Is it possible that some of the pre-flood Nephilim actually survived the flood catastrophe?
Second Peter 2:5 states that all of the ungodly were wiped out in Noah’s flood. Genesis 7 in multiple verses confirms that indeed all of humanity and all soulish creatures associated with humanity, except for those on board the ark, were killed. Thus, the Nephilim did not survive the flood catastrophe.
The explanation for the post-flood Nephilim is that sons of God, distinct from those who went to the daughters of humans before the flood, went to the daughters of humans born after the flood. If these sons of God were fallen angels, then these fallen angels are in addition to the ones who were locked up in the abyss as a result of their having sexual relations with human females before the flood. Thus, the abyss would contain two sets of fallen angels: those who had violated human women before the flood and those who had violated human women after the flood. If the sons of God were human males, this interpretation would imply that God had commanded the sons of Shem and/or Japheth not to have sexual relations with the daughters of Ham and/or Canaan. The violation of this command evidently would have produced a second generation of Nephilim.
As I explained in Navigating Genesis, the second appearance of the Nephilim seems much more limited than the first. Thanks to a small Hebrew nation, and especially to David and his mighty men, the few post-flood Nephilim were completely exterminated. In Navigating Genesis, appendix C, I include lists of all the Scripture passages mentioning “sons of God,” “sons of men,” “children of God,” and “children of men.” Those texts will help you see how the entire Bible treats this subject.