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Who Were The Nephilim: The Creepy, Fallen Giants Mentioned Throughout The Bible?

People have claimed to have found remains of the Nephilim, though of course, they are wrong.

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

James is a published author with four pop-history and science books to his name. He specializes in history, strange science, and anything out of the ordinary.

Senior Staff Writer

clockNov 21 2022, 17:10 UTC
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A creature that looks like a dark angel stares at the camera with red eyes.
The creatures are impossible. Image credit: JM-MEDIA/shutterstock.com

The Bible is filled with impossible events and characters, from leprosy being cured by touch rather than a course of antibiotics right back to a talking snake apple vendor pushing the forbidden fruit. One particularly odd tale, which people have claimed (wrongly, of course) to have backed up with archaeological evidence, is of the "Nephilim": a group of giants who are claimed to be the sons of angels or God according to the holy texts.

The Nephilim have been described in Genesis as "mighty men", but more explicitly in Numbers as making us regular humans look teeny tiny in comparison.

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"And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak)," the passage in numbers reads, "and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”

The Nephilim are described more extensively in the Book of Enoch, a text purported to be the work of Noah's grandfather. The book describes a group of fallen angels who decide to remain on Earth, before breeding with humans and creating the Nephilim.

"And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells [3,429 meters]" the text reads "Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another's flesh, and drink the blood."

People have interpreted the passages to mean several things, including that fallen angels mated with the "daughters of men", creating a supernatural being named the Nephilim. Others have claimed that the fallen angels merely possessed humans before having intercourse, creating the same group. Others believe it is a group of normal humans, or fallen men.

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Either way, the group does not have massive fans, being called "bullies and tyrants" who "filled the world with violence" by Jehovah's Witnesses, amongst others. Though some religious groups (who interpret the bible literally) think that the Nephilim were not wiped out by the great flood on account of being too tall, most think nothing survived Earth being engulfed in water but Noah's big boat. 

However, that doesn't stop people from believing they have found Nephilim remains. In 1577, a collection of bones found in Switzerland were thought to be those of a giant.

The skeleton, "according to the calculation of the learned physician Piater, did not exceed 19 feet [5.8 meters]," an account of the disappointingly short Nephilim reads. A few hundred years later, in 1786, German naturalist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach realized that the skeleton was actually that of a mammoth

"The Giants that once groaned under the waters,"  Massachusetts Puritan Cotton Mather wrote of fossils of one such species found in 1705 Albany, New York, "are now under the Earth, and their Dead Bones are lively Proofs of the Mosaic history."

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These bones turned out to be from a mastodon. Let's get to the point: Nephilim, as they are portrayed as giants, cannot exist in real life, before or after a flood.

How are we sure that the Nephilim did not exist, as they are portrayed as giants? Well, first up obviously the burden of proof is on anyone claiming they are real, or “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” as Carl Sagan put it. Skeletons that turn out to be mammoths do not qualify.

It's all because of the square-cube law, which states that as the size of any object grows (be it a cube or an accountant) its volume grows faster than its surface area. The area grows in proportion to the square of your size, whereas your volume scales up in proportion to the cube of your size.


So as you scale up humans, our volume dramatically increases in proportion to our size, while the cross-section of our muscles and bones are squared. Say you are 18 meters (60 feet) tall – 10 times the height of a 6-foot tall person – your body would have to support 100 times the volume. 

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A cubic inch of bone can support 8,600 kilograms (19,000 pounds), which is a lot, but at 180 meters (60 feet) tall it would need to support well over 250,047 kilograms (assuming we're scaling up a 63 kilogram or 10 stone person, the average weight for a human).


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