The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
("Fallen Ones" or "Marvelous Ones") are referred to exactly twice in The Bible
, the quote above just after an incident with a fruit tree, and once in the Book of Numbers, where Israel's terrified scouts compare the Canaanites to them. In addition, there are a few other places that may be indirect references to them. What
exactly they were has been a matter of some discussion through the ages, since Biblical canon has so little detail. However, various non-canonical texts such as the Epistle of Jude and Book of Enoch flesh them out more. The specifics vary depending on which scroll you're reading, but the general outline runs thusly:
After chasing Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, God set the Grigori
(Watchers) to keep tabs on mankind. But apparently, Horny Devils
is an equal opportunity trope, because these angels quickly decided it was more fun watching woman
kind. Finally, a faction said "Screw This, I'm Outta Here!
", headed down to earth, and made with the baby-making, producing powerful half-angels (they also began teaching humans the arts and sciences, in violation of God's decrees.)
Although the above is the more common version of their origins, some texts refer to them as the descendants of Seth, Adam and Eve's third child. There are many other variations, too, such as them being Lucifer's rebellious angels. Like with trolls
, these guys are hard to pin down.
At any rate, they were huge and powerful, and quickly began dominating the earth, becoming rulers and unstoppable warriors. Unfortunately, they generally tended toward evil. According to the Book of Genesis, and reinforced in the Book of Jubilees, one of the purposes of The Great Flood
was to wipe them out.
Like many things in The Bible
and other Judeo-Christian literature, the Nephilim are handy when you're plundering for symbolism. The lack of concrete detail lends them a certain mystique, and allows the name to be attached to almost anything, although they're commonly some sort of supernatural hybrid — often a mixture of angel and either human or demon. Sometimes they are also giants, sometimes not.
and Our Genies Are Different
for other creatures in Abrahamic religions. See also Our Angels Are Different
and Our Demons Are Different
for their possible "parents".
Not to Be Confused with
the tabletop game Nephilim
, though said game does indeed involve Nephilim and is listed in the examples below.
- One of these is imprisoned within a giant mound in Simon R. Green's Drinking Midnight Wine, something that proves pretty crucial to The Dragon of the Big Bad.
- Georgina Kincaid has Nephilim as major characters. This version follows mostly the origin from the Bible, though they are portrayed as human-looking and not particularly tall. They are powerful, but weaker than both demons and angels, and while some of them are evil, the large majority just want to be left alone.
- In Many Waters, a time-travel novel which mostly takes place in the times leading up to Noah's flood, the Nephilim appear as Fallen Angels who each have a counterpart in the Seraphim who also walk the earth at the time.
- The Mortal Instruments, while keeping the angelic origin, has the Nephilim as essentially enhanced humans who slay demons.
- Supernatural: One of these beings shows up in "Clip Show". Jane, the last known Nephilim to exist on Earth, looks no different that any other human, but does have great strength and endurance that she demonstrates by being able to easily hold her own against two angels. She can also make her eyes glow similarly to angels, although her glow is a more dim and grayish color as opposed to the bright white or bluish-white glow of regular angels.
- One episode of The X-Files featured the Nephilim in the form of several grotesquely deformed young women.
- In Demon The Fallen, the Nephilim were offspring of humans and fallen angels who combined traits of both races and were seen as abominations for this. More importantly, they were born near the close of the "Time of Babel", when the Ten Watchers (wisest among the fallen) forcefully advanced humanity's scientific progress at Lucifer's command. While some Nephilim were good-natured, most desired power and thus killed the Watchers and usurped their place. Lucifer had the Nephilim slaughtered but humanity's chance at divinity was already ruined and the fallen were ultimately defeated by Archangel Michael's Host. Thus the Nephilim were directly responsible for both the fall of the proverbial "Tower of Babel" and for the imprisonment of the fallen in hell.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- In the 3rd-party sourcebook Anger of Angels, Nephilim are presented as a monster. They are the evil offspring of the Grigori (a type of angel) and mortals.
- In the 3rd-party sourcebook Aasimar & Tiefing: A Guidebook to the Planetouched, half-celestials and half-fiends are given the names Nephilim and Cambion, respectively.
- There are two kinds of Nephilim in Halt Evil Doer, because there are two kinds of Grigori.
- One set of Grigori are the classic Earth-based angels, and the Nephilim are their halfbreed children who have superpowers of different kinds, plus the ability to detect angels. The twist is that the Grigori were banished from Heaven, and the Nephilim are bred as footsoldiers in their war against their former comrades. (To avoid confusion, these Grigori were later renamed the Watchers.)
- The other Grigori are the Captain Ersatz Guardians of the Universe, and their Nephilim are a "failed genetic experiment"; basically a non-robotic Captain Ersatz of the Manhunters.
- In In Nomine the Grigori were the angels closest to humanity, so close that they could interbreed with mortals. All of their children have greater capacity for magic than normal humans, but some, called Nephilim, are monstrously deformed in body and/or mind. For the creation of the Nephilim, the Grigori were banished from Heaven.
- In Magic: The Gathering, Nephilim are a creature type in the Guildpact set, huge Eldritch Abominations created by the gods basically just to make mortals crap their pants. Due to the extreme resource requirements to play them, they don't see much use.
- In Nephilim, a player character is one of the eponymous spirits that keeps reincarnating through countless lives. They aren't hybrids of human and angel, but the inspiration for supernatural creatures and the gods of mythology. They named themselves Nephilim because one of its meanings is "fallen ones" and this refers to their fall from a higher state of spiritual being in the distant past.
- Nephilim in Anima: Beyond Fantasy are humans whose souls actually belong to a member of another race who died in the past and reincarnated as humans, sharing some of the traits of their former selves and even remembering more or less of their former lives.
- The Assassin's Creed games use the term to refer to the Precursors a few times.
- In Darksiders and its sequel, the race Four Horsemen come from is called the Nephilim. They are beings that are half-angel and half-demon.
- In Diablo III, "Nephalem" are the powerful descendants of angels and demons, with humans being their Nerfed descendants after a Power Limiter was put in place. The destruction of same at the end of the second game allowed new Nephalem to be born, of which your character is one.
- In DmC: Devil May Cry, Nephilim refers to demon-angel hybrids who can harness both infernal and celestial power, sometimes also called "the third race". They aren't giants, but they are very powerful. Basically the opposite of Hybrid Overkill Avoidance. Dante and Vergil, twin brothers, are the only two alive because the demon king wiped them out, fearing they'd overthrow him.
- In Elsword, the Dark Nephilim is a monstrous figure worshipped by the Dark Elves. Their leader, Chloe, summons it on your party to ambush you. Advancing Boss of Doom ensues.
- In Exile and its Updated Re-release Avernum, the Nephilim are Cat Folk.