figures who shape scripturesIn a recent piece, biblical gigantologist Matthew Goff provides a good discussion of the reference in Syncellus, based on 1 Enoch 7.2, to three successive races sired by the fallen Watchers. First, the Watchers sire great giants (gigantas megalous), second, the great giants sire Nephilim (Naphaleim), and third, the Nephilim sire the Elioud – a somewhat mysterious term.

Matthew Goff, “A New Suggestion Concerning the Enigmatic Elioud in the Book of Watchers”, in Figures who Shape Scriptures, Scriptures that Shape Figures: Essays in Honour of Benjamin G. Wright III, edited by Géza G. Xeravits and Greg Schmidt Goering (Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Studies 40; Berlin: De Gruyter, February 2018).

Syncellus differs from 1 Enoch 7.2 in the Ethiopic and Greek texts (and from Gen 6.1-4), where the Watchers/Sons of God sire the Nephilim, who are identified with the “giants” and “descendants” and the “heroes of old”. Instead, in Syncellus, we have three separate races resulting from the Watchers’ sex with human women, each arising in successive generations. Goff agrees with Matthew Black and Eibert Tigchelaar that the etymology of the third group, the Elioud, is somehow related to the term for “offspring” (y-l-d) in 1 Enoch 7/Gen 6, and Goff has a suggestion for the meaning of the term in the chapter.

Goff also compares Syncellus’s three generations to the threefold sequence of giants, Naphil, and Elyo found in Jubilees 7.22. Yet Goff notes that Jubilees does not explicitly involve a succession of generations (and, indeed, this would seem unlikely). Goff also compares the sequence in Syncellus to the elephant-camel-wild ass sequence in the Animal Apocalypse (1 Enoch 86.4; 88.2). Goff interprets this as referring to the Nephilim, the giants, and the Elioud – although, also not involving a succession of generations. The Animal Apocalypse also identifies the Elioud as an early Gentile people. Goff further compares references to three generations in rabbinic literature, including b. Niddah 61a’s listing of the Watcher Shamhazai, who sired the antedeluvian giant Ahijah (Ohyah), who sired the postdeluvian giants Sihon and Og.

Together with other connections between these giants and the early inhabitants of Canaan (eg. Sira 16.7), the tradition of a succession of three generations of giants, Goff suggests, was a way of harmonizing biblical references to antedeluvian giants killed by the flood with the references in Numbers and Deuteronomy to giant Rephaim/Anakim inhabiting the land at the time of the Israelite conquest.

It’s a very interesting exploration of some curious traditions that developed from the giants of 1 Enoch 7.