Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy: “We support biblical families.”

Today’s Chick-fil-A Biblical Families of the Day: The Nephilim (Genesis 6:1-4).

When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals for ever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days — and also afterwards — when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.

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  • D9000

    I’ve never been clear as to who or what the ‘sons of God’ and the Nephilim were supposed to be, nor whether they were the same thing, or two different things.

  • Common thought as well as long held opinion has “Sons of God” being angels.  Nephilim were human angel hybrids.

    They were giants, they were not much loved by God, and at least one apocryphal work has the great flood exist to take them out.  But note the “And also afterwards”, you just can’t stop angels and humans from having sex with each other, that or some of the Nephilim built their own ark.

    The “heroes of old” line makes me wonder if this is showing a Greek influence.  The Greeks believed that their heroes of old were semi-divine and giant.

    In theory this could be used to fold in all of Greek mythology, while at the same time saying, “Sure, Herakles existed, but his father wasn’t a god, just an angel.”

  • rm

    I am quite sure that this passage of the Bible describes the Second and Third Ages that J.R.R. Tolkien chronicled in his non-fictional historical narratives.

    If it’s not that, I ain’t got a clue.

  • Could you expand on the ages thing that you’re talking about?

    I ask because I’m currently doing a project that incorporates a similarly named concept in Greek Mythology but since I’ve never heard about what you’re talking about I have no idea if there’s any connection.

    (Greek mythology places a flood at the end of the third age but, notably, the heroes of old are from the fourth age.)

  • xytl

    The Second Age lasted from the War of Wrath and the overthrow of Morgoth in Angband, until the Akallabeth and the downfall of Numenor in the West – well, technically it went on a little longer, until the Numenorean exiles in the Last Alliance with Gil-galad defeated Sauron Gorthaur and Isildur took the Ring.

    The Third Age was the period from then until the return of Sauron after the finding of the Ring; it ended when the Ring was destroyed and the Kingdom of Gondor restored.

    All this is based on Professor Tolkien’s translations from the ancient Red Book of Westmarch, which contains a body of ancient mythology translated in turn from still older materials, along with the written accounts of several of the people involved in the tumultuous events of the end of the Third Age.

  • And based on his aborted studies of classics and his desire to create a mythology with that work we can assume that he was familiar with both the Greek and Roman ages of man and may have incorporated that into them.


  • Michael Pullmann

    The front third or so of Genesis is *really* weird, but this bit takes the cake. On the other hand, as this thread has shown, it’s nice fodder for speculative fiction.

  • D9000

    OTOH, the Eldar didn’t go about helping themselves to human wives much … or at all, now I think of it; didn’t all the human/Eldar marriages involve female elves?

  • Isabel C.

    @ChrisTheCynic:disqus :  Yep. I use a version of that in pretty much all of my novels*: people with magical or psychic talents are Descended From Stuff. Stuff might be gods, angels, river spirits, dragons, whatever; the same being might indeed have been more than one thing, depending on where and when it showed up. 
    The Book of Enoch and the Nephilim in general are kind of awesome for SF writers, really. 
    *Well, not explicitly Hickey, and I’m not sure if that’s got the same metaphysic as the others. 

  • Carstonio

    The Bible Story series seemed to skip that section, and while I don’t remember reading it in the original, I probably assumed that the Nephilium were another tribe like the Canaanites. The name sounds vaguely Greek rather than Hebrew.

  • JLundell

    Fun fact, courtesy Wikipedia: “Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged is known in Modern Hebrew translation as Mered HaNephilim (מרד הנפילים, literally: the revolt/rebellion of the Nephilim)”

  • Yes, the only such pairings we know of from Tolkien’s works (which are, canonically, the only ones that ever happened) are Beren and Luthien (who was herself the daughter of an Elven king and one of the Maiar, the less angels of Valinor who served Valar), Tuor and Idril, Eärendil and Elwing, and Aragorn and Arwen. Túrin and Finduilas probably would have married as well, but she was murdered by orcs before that could happen.

    Technically, Eärendil and Elwing were both Half-elven, being the son of Tuor and Idril and granddaughter of Beren and Luthien, respectively, but Tolkien’s Half-elves could choose to which race they would be joined (which determined their lifespan and whether they could reach the shores of Valinor); Eärendil chose Men, Elwing the Elves.

  • ReverendRef

    And to make things even more fun, some people have picked up on the Nephilim thing as a reference to visitors from the stars (cf Erich von Daniken, Ancient Aliens and some of the religious uproar over Prometheus).

    So, yeah, if we’re talking biblical families on the order of the Nephilim, maybe there’s more truth than we realize in the headlines of the Weekly World News where they report such things as Bat Boy, Redneck Aliens Take Over Trailer Park, Jesus Action Figure Heals the Sick, and Aliens Settle In San Francisco (well, okay, maybe that last one is plausible).

  • And the children of Elwing and Earendil (can’t be @rsed to find out how to add the accent) were Elros and Elrond. Elros chose to be human and became the first King of Numenor and ultimate ancestor of Aragorn.

  • Deborah Moore

    True story:  On a bus one day I overheard a conversation between a representative of the local Christian homeless shelter and a homeless man he was witnessing to.   The homeless man said something about Sons of God, and the man from the shelter thought he was talking about Jesus.  But then it turned out the homeless man was citing this section of the Bible — about the sons of God mating with the daughters of man and their children being the Nephalim (Giants, he said).   He said the Nephalim were drowned in the flood but their spirits are still here and he was one of them.

    I couldn’t tell if the homeless man was slightly crazy or just messing with guy from the shelter, but he obviously knew his Bible.

  • AnonaMiss

    I disagree on Turin and Finduilas. I read that part of the story as being entirely about how Turin was too self-absorbed to care, or possibly even notice, that she had feelings for him. A parallel to Aragorn and Eowyn, in which Aragorn passes the test which Turin cannot: treating the woman he doesn’t love like she’s a goddamn person. (YMMV on whether Aragorn passes this test objectively, but he passes it by Tolkien’s standards.)

    And of course by “cannot”, I mean “because he’s a gigantic prick.” Though as usual with tragedies of hubris, it’s hard to say whether the curse was made because he would be a gigantic prick, or if he was a gigantic prick because of the curse.I really need to reread that cycle, what exists of it anyways. When I was a teenager it was my favorite part of the mythology, but I have a feeling that I wouldn’t like it as much now. 

  • Vermic

    Yeah, I never enjoyed the story of Turin.  Even allowing for the curse and the other harsh circumstances of his life, there is still to me a great deal of blame left over for the fact that he was a huge jerk.  Turin was star-crossed, but I still feel a better person could have done better.

    But as for the Nephilim, we know from the documentary Eegah! that their descendants resided in caves outside of Los Angeles, where they grew out their beards, drank sulfur water and looked like Richard Kiel.  Remembering the early days of Genesis, they knew well to watch out for snakes; but swimming pools, not so much.

  • I think if Túrin had succeeded in rescuing Finduilas during or after the fall of Nargothrond, they probably would have married; Glaurung screwed that up by first incapacitating Túrin during the attack, and then clouding his mind with a false vision that sent him looking for his mother and younger sister instead.  (Glaurung was effectively the physical embodiment of Morgoth’s curse on the line of Húrin — he was directly involved in most of the bad stuff that happened to them.)

    Incidentally, the German metal band Blind Guardian has written a bunch of Tolkien-inspired songs, arguably the best of which is “Harvest of Sorrow,” their take on Turin and Nienor.

  • ohiolibrarian

     It just had to be metal band, didn’t it.

  • aproustian

     My favorite of Blind Guardian’s will always be “And then there was silence,” which I had the fortune of seeing them play live once. For those who don’t know, it’s a 14 minute track about the Illiad.

  • Yeah, I never enjoyed the story of Turin.  Even allowing for the curse and the other harsh circumstances of his life, there is still to me a great deal of blame left over for the fact that he was a huge jerk. Turin was star-crossed, but I still feel a better person could have done better.

    Note that the Túrin story is in significant respects a retelling of the tale of Kullervo from Finnish mythology, and the original story has an explicit moral (regarding bringing up children) that isn’t really preserved in Tolkien’s version. (And while Túrin is somewhere down the darker end of the scale of anti-heroes, Kullervo is a full-on Villain Protagonist.)

  • Tsk, tsk. Everyone knows the third age began at the end of the Shadow War.

  • Amaryllis

      These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.

    The Chick-Fil-A Poem of the Day, a day late for Veterans’ Day:

    “Voices on Jukebox Wax”

    Pulling our Stetsons low, we whispered songs

    to sweethearts who clung so close we danced

    in slow motion, heartache of steel guitars,

    vows we swore with our bones. Their hair was the air

    for an hour. We breathed and held them close,

    ignoring the war for the night, voices

    on jukebox wax winding around like a rope.

    One week we kissed them hard and rode off,

    swearing we’d bring back silk and souvenirs.

    Long after a war no one we cared for

    survived without scars, Earl and I are here

    with wives as old as country songs and guitars,

    our children older than all of us that fall.

    Don’s a name on the wall in Washington.

    I hear his name sometimes in questions

    at class reunions. I haven’t heard from Carl. 

    – Walter McDonald

  • rm

    Great poem, Amaryllis.

    chris: Could you expand . . . ? Be careful what you wish for.

    Folks, I read The Silmarillion so many ages ago I can’t much remember it, so my memory of the story is all from the novel The Children of Hurin that Chris Tolkien compiled together from J.R.R.’s writings. I think it shows a powerful picture of depression and low self-esteem in a dysfunctional family. Hurin passes it on to Turin, and yes, Turin’s curse is self-fulfilling because he is a jerk, but he is a jerk because he is convinced in his bones that he can never do anything of value or be loved. If he didn’t have that burden he might not be a jerk, but every time he screws up he recognizes his own jerkitude and becomes a worse jerk. Morgoth is laughing all the way and Hurin is watching chained to the mountainside thinking it’s all his fault.

  • rm


    No, I got you. Smiling emoticon.

  • Deane Galbraith
  • Anton_Mates

    The “heroes of old” line makes me wonder if this is showing a Greek influence.  The Greeks believed that their heroes of old were semi-divine and giant.

    We probably don’t have to go as far afield as Greece, since that was a common belief across Mesopotamia as well (e.g., Gilgamesh was a demigod).  The Hebrews could have inherited it from their ancestors, or absorbed it from their neighbors.

    BTW, I think it remains unclear whether the Nephilim were originally thought of as literal giants (as opposed to just big and manly).  The word is translated that way by the Greek era, but its Hebrew etymology doesn’t seem to demand such a meaning.

  • Yes indeed, Gilgamesh was 2/3rds god.  Had a wonderful birthday conversation where my sister and I tried to work that one out.  There were diagrams and everything.

  • Anton_Mates

    If the culture believes in shared paternity, it could work…a god and a mortal man both banging the same goddess on the same night, say.  Not that that actually happened with Gilgamesh.  But it seems like his mom was a goddess and his dad was a demigod, and linkage disequilibrium could lead to his dad’s sperm varying a lot in how much of their DNA was divine in origin.  So if the lucky sperm was 1/3 godly genes and 2/3 mortal genes, it’d work out.

    I think it might also work out even under a random assortment model, provided time travel and self-ancestry’s involved.  Which, why not?

  • “But that’s three halves!”

    “Oh, my mother was a big woman.”

  • Well, the Greeks believed the mother didn’t acutally provide anything other than the raw material, so it’s not that different.

    Or perhaps god genes, like Big Boss’s redacted Soldier Genes, are extra-dominant.

  •  The Nephilim in the Bible have always fascinated me. In fact, it lead me to write a Christian book about it, titled ‘Nephilim the Remnants”. In it I agree that the Nephilim were in fact the offspring of a fallen angels and a human women. These Nephilim were of great size and strength. If interested check it out at