Category Archives: Fallen angels

Is the Watcher/Fallen Angel Myth a reinterpretation of Mesopotamian inscriptions?

Jonathan Ben-Dov (University of Haifa) has developed a very interesting theory about the origin of the early Jewish tradition of the Fallen Angels and Giants. He presented it at Boston College on November 20, 2013, in a paper entitled “Iconography and Myth: From Nebuchadnezzar to the Fallen Angels”.

Ben-Dov’s theory is that the Watcher tradition derives, at least in part, from an attempt to interpret the gigantic iconography of great Mesopotamian kings on Assyrian, Babylonian, and Achaemenid monuments and reliefs. This was carried out in the third or second century BCE, long after the inscriptions were made, by which time they were not properly understood.

In his presentation, Ben-Dov examines many of the elements shared, on the one hand, by Mesopotamian inscriptions and monuments and, on the other hand, by Jewish literature such as 1 Enoch, the Book of Giants, Jubilees, etc.


In one part of his presentation, Ben-Dov discusses this interesting passage from Jubilees, which provides an example of a later generation (mis)interpreting an ancient inscription as referring to the Watchers:

And he [Kainam] found a writing which former (generations) had carved on the rock, and he read what was thereon, and he transcribed it and sinned owing to it; for it contained the teaching of the Watchers in accordance with which they used to observe the omens of the sun and moon and stars in all the signs of heaven. And he wrote it down and said nothing regarding it; for he was afraid to speak to Noah about it lest he should be angry with him on account of it. (Jubilees 8.3-4)

Ben-Dov also discusses inscriptions left by Nebuchadnezzar in Lebanon, studied recently by Rocío Da Riva.

Ben-Dov’s theory is well worth consideration, as identifying one of the concrete contributing causes of the Watcher tradition. I don’t know, due to the nature of the evidence, whether his theory could ever be conclusively established, but I do think it is at least plausible that the reliefs and inscriptions contributed to the construction of the Watcher myth. Have a watch of his lecture here.

Note also Brian Doak’s discussion of depictions of gigantic figures in ancient Near Eastern iconography in his The Last of the Rephaim, pp. 14-16.

Update (10 January 2016): Jim Davila notes that Ben-Dov’s theory was also set out in an article in Haaretz on October 18, 2013, “Turning to the Angels to Save Jewish Mythology” (subscription required).

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Filed under Biblical Giants, Biblical Giants' relatives, Fallen angels, Jubilees

Recent Giant Scholarship

Israeli Ministry of Tourism logoWhat are biblical scholars saying about the Giants in the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible? The latest word in biblical scholarship can be found here:

Galbraith, D. (2013). “Manufacturing Judean Myth: The Spy Narrative in Numbers 13–14 as Rewritten Tradition”(Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy)

Among the findings:

(1) the Hebronite traditions (concerning the Judahite leader Caleb, the city of Hebron, and ‘the sons of Anak’ who inhabit Hebron) are not vestiges of ancient legend which have been preserved in the text, but are all secondary to the spy-rebellion tradition derived from dtr Deut. 1;

(2) gigantic stature was first attributed to the sons of Anak and Nephilim in the composition of Num. 13–14, and to the Anakim and Rephaim of Deut. 1–3 in post-deuteronomistic Hexateuchal additions which harmonised the text with the expansionary Num. 13–14;

(3) the extension of the term ‘Rephaim’ to denote entire giant peoples throughout their associated territories also originates with the Hexateuchal harmonisations in Deut. 1–3;

And a detailed interview with the author can be found on Jim West’s blog, Zwinglius Redivivus:

“Scholars You Should Know: Deane Galbraith”

I know, I know – such gratuitous self-publicity…


Filed under Academic things, Anakim, Ancient Jewish texts, Biblical Giants, Books on Giants, Emim, Fallen angels, Goliath, Heroes / Gibborim, Horim, Ishbi-Benob, King Og, Nephilim, Numbers 13-14, Rephaim, sons of God, Zamzummim

Why didn’t the female angels have sex with man?

Today, this Google query ended up here. It’s an interesting question, given that the rich reception of Gen. 6.1-4 only depicts male angels having sex with human women.

But the answer is simple: there are no female angels. In early Jewish literature, all angels are male.

Update 1: This important issue seems to have provoked interest. Jack Collins (Worthless Mysteries) comments below that Na’amah, the subject of speculation since being listed as the one female Cainite in Gen. 4:22b (see the genealogy in Gen. 4:17-22), ends up as a fallen angel in the Zohar. As she has sex with Adam, this counts as a female angel having sex with a man. But we’re well into medieval Judaism here. The same would go for Lilith traditions, which SP discusses in the comments section.

Update 2: And the Greek goddesses become angels in late Christian tradition. Nike, already winged in Greek iconography, is easily angelified, given the conflation of angels with the winged creatures.

Update 3: Jim Davila (Paleojudaica) points out “the four Hayyot (“living creatures” or “beasts”) of Ezekiel chapter 1 are grammatically female”.  Grammatically, that is, but not in gender. Yet, what this means is a bit mysterious, as Jim points out, and they’re not precisely angels.

Update 4: Also in the comments section, SP points out that “in Targum Neofiti (on Gen. 6), the bene [ha]elohim take (אנשי(ן instead of women”. That is, the sons of the gods have sex with men rather than women. This might be a result of a problem in textual transmission, though, as the final nun is missing.

So it is still correct to say that, as far as the evidence of early Judaism goes, there are no female angels – and therefore no angels who have sex with men. Or have I missed some evidence of female angels in early Judaism….?


Filed under Fallen angels, Genesis 6.1-4, sons of God

Darren Aronofsky’s Noah Film to include Giant Angels called Watchers

Empire has the latest on Darren Aronofsky’s Noah Film, scheduled for release in 2014:

Written by John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator, Hugo and many more) and Aronofsky himself, it’s not a traditional retelling of the age-old bible story but a radical reimagining, complete with giant angels called ‘Watchers’.

Russell Crowe as Noah

Russell Crowe as Noah

Along with Russell Crowe as Noah, Jennifer Connelly will play Noah’s wife, Naameh, Douglas Booth and Logan Lerman play Noah’s sons, Shem and Ham (not sure what happened to Japeth), Emma Watson plays a close friend of Shem’s, Ila, Anthony Hopkins plays Noah’s grandfather Methuselah, and Ray Winstone plays “an as-yet unnamed character who acts as Noah’s enemy”.

“Watchers”, as fans of Remnant of Giants will well know, is the name given to the angels who descend from heaven to earth in 1 Enoch 6-16 (that is, in The Book of Watchers). 1 Enoch 6-16 is one of the earliest “retellings” of a curious episode which is narrated immediately before the story of the Flood in 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 Yahweh said, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days – and also afterward – 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.

According to 1 Enoch 6, the Watchers were originally angels (i.e., “sons of God”) in heaven with God. But they were enticed by the beauty of human women to come down to earth. Under their leader Shemihazah, they take some of the women as wives and have children by them. Their children are half-breed giants, whose wreck havoc on the earth. However, the bodies of the giants are  later destroyed by the Flood, and only their spirits remain: these evil spirits become what are known as “demons”.

Yet there are at least three other explanations of the origins of the Watchers in ancient Jewish texts. In the Azazel-stratum of The Book of Watchers, the angels provide illicit knowledge to humans, such as metal-working, magic, and astronomical secrets. This is their main crime, rather than their sex with human women. The Life of Adam and Eve provides a third account of the Watchers, explaining that some angels, while in heaven, made a direct challenge to the authority of God, in an attempt to usurp his heavenly throne. What provoked them was their envy of God’s creation of Adam. A fourth account of the Watchers occurs in The Animal Apocalypse, also within 1 Enoch. Here the rebellious angels are first sent to earth by God in order to rule over humankind, rather than rebelling against God. But later on they abuse their legitimate authority, by using excessive force, tyranny, and exercising injustice. Later Christian accounts of the fall of the Watchers tend to emphasise the leader of the Watchers – and this leader becomes known as Satan. Many of the stories of the Watchers declare that, at the end of time, the Watchers will be destroyed in Hell for their rebellion against God. But from the time of the Flood to the end of time, 1 Enoch states that the Watchers were bound in chains in Hades, awaiting their final punishment.

Aronofsky takes elements of each of these accounts of the origin of the Watchers, but creates his own distinct version of why the Watchers came down to earth.

According to the biblical chronology in the Hebrew Masoretic Text of the Bible, Methusaleh died in the year preceding the Flood, some 99 years after Yahweh told Noah to build an ark. The Masoretic Text dates Methusaleh’s death to 1656 Anno Mundi and the Flood to 1657 Anno Mundi. Things get more confusing in some Septuagint versions of the Bible, where  according to the chronology, Methusaleh survives some 17 years after the Flood.

The name of Noah’s wife doesn’t appear in the Bible, and neither do the names of the wives of Ham, Shem, and Japeth. But “Naamah”, identified as the daughter of Lamech and sister of Tubal-Cain, is the name given to the wife of Noah in Genesis Rabbah (בראשית רבה), traditionally dated to the third century AD. In the much earlier, 2nd century BC book of Jubilees (ספר היובלים), Noah’s wife is called “Emzara”, and she is identified as the daughter of Rake’el, son of Methusaleh (Jub. 4.33). The name “Emzara” also appears in a text from Qumran which retells the book of Genesis, 1QApGen (6.7).

See the trailer here:


Filed under 1 Enoch, Biblical Exegesis, Fallen angels, Film, Genesis 6.1-4

Children of Angels by Kathryn Dahlstrom – Harry Potter meets Frank Peretti, again

Kathryn Dahlstrom - Children of AngelsAnd another children’s fantasy book based on the Nephilim: Kathryn Dahlstrom, Children of Angels, Book One in the New Nephilim Series (WinePress Publishing, 2012) – an even more blatant Christianized rip-off of Harry Potter than Spirit Fighter by Jerel Law.

Jeremy Lapoint’s dad is in prison, and his mom struggles financially. When Jeremy discovers he can fly, pass through walls, and see spirits, his guardian angel, Asiel, explains that he is a Nephilim, a human-angel hybrid. Jeremy discovers other Nephilim young people. They’re enrolled in a school for teens with special powers and are told they’ve reached humanity’s next level. When Jeremy counters that they are half angel, he must battle human and superhuman forces who oppose the truth.

WinePress Publishing blurb

Dahlstrom describes Gen. 6.1-4 as “a fantasy up for grabs”:

“Jeremy drew back his sword like a batter waiting for the pitch. His attackers slammed their knobby shoulders together, their swords at the ready. Jeremy charged. The Lead Guard met his attack, his teeth bared in a snarl. Jeremy swung his sword. Clang!”

Children’s author Kathryn Dahlstrom offers plenty of action in “Children of Angels”, the first book in the New Nephilim series for 9-to-14-year-old readers. “I put as much fun as possible in this story,” she says. “Lots of humor, lots of exciting action.”

The fantasy series is based on the biblical mention of Nephilim in Genesis 6 and Numbers 13. When angels came to earth and took women as their wives, their children grew up to be Nephilim — “Heroes of old, men of renown.” Dahlstrom explains, “For me that was a fantasy up for grabs! I wondered what if the genes of the Nephilim resurfaced today in a kid? What if he could suddenly do everything an angel could do?”

– Winepress Publishing, “Author Offers Kids a Fresh, Action-Packed Take on Fantasy”, Standard Newswire, 29 February 2012


Filed under Children's lit, Fallen angels, Genesis 6.1-4, Nephilim

Spirit Fighter by Jerel Law – Harry Potter meets Frank Peretti

Due to be released in March 2012 is the first book in the new Son of Angels series, Spirit Fighter, by North Carolina pastor Jerel Law. Aiming at a readership similar to that of the Harry Potter series – the highest-selling fiction series ever (just pipping the Left Behind series which claims second place) – Spirit Fighter tells the story of seventh-grader Jonah Stone, who discovers that he is one-quarter angel:

When his children began reading books by J.K. Rowling and Percy Jackson, Law wondered why there was not a similar series with a Christian foundation. “I wanted to write something for my kids and connect them with the Bible in a relevant way for them,” he said. His hook became the “Nephilim,” a race of giants mentioned in Genesis 6:4 that were created when “sons of God joined with the daughters of mankind.”

– Marty Minchin, “Writing Mirrors Tragedy, Hope”, Charlotte Observer, 26 February 2012

Spirit Fighter fan
Molly Hodgin, editorial director at Thomas Nelson, says that the publishers have received a deluge of book submissions involving Nephilim:

“We’ve received many submissions about Nephilim, but Jerel’s stood out because it was adventurous, fresh, and fun,” Hodgin said. “I loved that his protagonists encountered creatures and characters from the Bible and brought them to life in a modern way that kids could really visualize.”

– Marty Minchin, “Writing Mirrors Tragedy, Hope”, Charlotte Observer, 26 February 2012

Spirit FighterHere’s part of the scene in which Jonah finds out why he has got special powers:

“I thought that angels and all of that stuff were just a story,” Jonah said. “You know, like a fairy tale. I believe in Elohim and in the Bible, but I thought that angels were something people made up. Floating around on clouds and playing harps and stuff. Do they do that?”

His mom and dad laughed. “Not exactly,” his father said. “Angels are some of the most powerful creatures in the universe. Elohim created them to be in the service of His kingdom. But some of them – the Bible says about one-third – decided they didn’t want to serve under Elohim’s reign anymore. One of them even thought he could be better than Elohim.”

Eleanor continued gravely, “A great battle took place. Michael, the leader of the angelic army, brought his forces to battle against the great deceiver, the angel who led the rebellion. He has been known by many names – Satan, Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness – but among angels he is known as Abaddon, the accuser. After a violent struggle, Michael threw Abaddon down to the earth, along with those Abaddon had convinced to fight with him. They are known as the Fallen, and they roam this earth, doing their master’s bidding, still waging war against Elohim and His forces.”

“Your father was a fallen angel,” Jonah repeated, still not sure that he could bring himself to believe what he was hearing.

“Yes,” Eleanor said, slowly tracing the rim of her coffee mug. “One who wanted a child.”

“What would one of the Fallen want with a kid?”

Benjamin began to turn the pages of his Bible. “You are a quarterling, Jonah. What do you think that makes your mother?”

“I guess that means she is half angel,” Jonah said. Then he looked thoughtfully at his father. “Dad, are you…?”

His dad laughed. “Oh, I can assure you, I am entirely human. Your mom can vouch for this too. But you are right: she is half angel.” He gazed at her. “Although she’ll always be one hundred percent angel to me.”

Spirit Fighter fans

The idea that one-third of the angels fell from heaven with Abaddon comes from the Revelation of John 12.3-4a (cf. 9.11):

Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.

Stars were understood to be angels in many ancient Jewish and Christian works (Daniel 12.2-3; LXX Job 38.7; Book of Dreams 86; Epistle of Enoch 104.2-6), including Revelation (19.17). The observation that some “wandering stars” (planets) went in their own direction – compared to the great majority of stars in the night sky – was sometimes interpreted as evidence that some of these angels had rebelled against divine law (Book of Watchers 18.13-16; Astronomical Book 80.6-7; Irenaeus, Proof 16; Against Heresies 4.40.3; 5.24.4; Tertullian, On Patience 5; Gregory of Nyssa, Catechetical Oration 6).


Filed under Books on Giants, Children's lit, Fallen angels, Genesis 6.1-4, Nephilim

More sex with fallen angels

Succubus HeatRemnant of Giant’s post on “How Do You Know When You’re Having Sex With a Fallen Angel?” continues to be popular amongst certain readers. The seven handy hints have probably saved many a person from that awkward moment when you realise that your soul has been lost forever, and the Fallen Angel who took it probably won’t even call you back tomorrow.

Over the last month, some readers have been kind enough to also share their own experiences of sexual encounters with members of the demonic realm. Here’s Jerry:

I already had an experienced having sex with a spirit. i was molested or raped while I was sleeping. It happened not in my physical body but outside in my astral body. The spirit I suspect comes from the tree located in front of my window where my footer of my bed is located. When I opened my eyes her skin is green. My d*ck has been kinda squeezed into a soft rubber tube and when I woke up my underwear is wet. It’s not a dream because I am well aware and awake. It was a succubus experience and I do not like it. It was againt my will. By the way I am a guy.

As experts in this kind of thing, we confirm that Jerry’s story certainly sounds legit. “Succubus” is not merely a cool name for an Incubus covers band. This is some serious demonic shit. Jerry can count himself very lucky that he escaped with only a sticky pair of underwear in the morning, d*ck still intact. Yet, Jerry is sure to be traumatised, as evident from the fact that, having shared in some lurid detail what that green-skinned astral chick did to his d*ck, he belatedly mentioned that he is a guy.

Then, along came Vanessa:

So many of you believe that falling angels (demons) as we know of them being called or that they will be giants . They’re here now in human form .I have met one and I have had sex with him and he’s beautiful and theres no feathers . I wonder where your getting your info from .I would like to ask a question to someone who can answer it with all seriousness. Can a Demon be risen ?
I know the end is near and we are in the last days . I know what Ive read about falling Angels coming down and having sexual relations with women but thatm was many many years ago and yes its said that the children came to be giants .. Ive also read that the flood to them out of existance and the angels left he human bodies to save there own asses …I know there have been demon posessed people who had to have exercisms performed on them to have the demon flee from that body ..But no where have I even found or read anything about them being born a human being. I asked a question to him as if did he posess this humon body while still in the womb or did he take over the body sfter its birth . He didnt give me the answer I wanted to hear and changed the story and went on to another convo .I asked again ad he replied ,” I was born the same way you were..Thats not what I had asked . i asked if he had posessed this human body in the womb. but i left it at what he had said last . I almost felt like is this guy for real which made the desire to get to know him better so I can determin if he;s lying or not . Now that I have slept with him even tho it was the best i have ever had as if he knew exactly what liked and it seemed as if he knew my body more then I know my ownself.. He warned me that he was a risen Demon when we met and aasked if I believed if a demon could be risen . I replyed anything is possible , that our Creater is of love and forgivness but what I have studied tell of satan and the demons will be done away with in the end .. but it dosnt say weither a Demon can be risen or not . so Im asking for someone who might have some knowledge on this matter . also I wonder if Im in trouble with our Faher our ceater and will I be forgiven fo having sexual relation with a demon . even tho at the time I was’t sure if he was or not for sure but I was warned and told he was and I took that chance knowing theres a chance that he is a Demon .. Im scared a little .but I made a choice and I will have to deal with it .!

“Damon”, Vanessa. You misheard. He said his name was “Damon”. You can relax now.


Filed under Ancient Jewish texts, Fallen angels