MORE ABOUT THE SHADOW
We had a very lively and active discussion after my last post, and I am grateful to everyone who contributed and took time to write their comments. Before we move on, I would like to sum up this discussion and to address the most important points that have been brought up.
Once again, I would turn to my favorite technique, PARDES, in order to examine the meaning of the verse from the book of Numbers:
Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence (origin. shadow) is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.
PESHAT: According to the Jewish tradition, the Peshat is the keystone to understanding scripture: If we discard the Peshat “the text loses its historical significance and meaning and becomes an empty cup to be filled with whatever the teacher/interpreter wants”. It is also true that within the Peshat, a passage can be figurative. However, there are certain rules to determine if a verse should be understood literally or figuratively. For example, when the expression cannot be understood literally – i.e. when an inanimate object describes a living thing or, vice versa, life and action are attributed to an inanimate object – then the statement is obviously figurative (for example, in our verse, the expression “they are bread for us” should be understood figuratively). The opposite is also true: when a verse can be understood literally, it should be understood that way, and our verse can definitely be understood literally. As weird, uncomfortable and inconvenient as it may sound, the plain, simple meaning of these words refers to the Nephilim’s shadow: “their shadow is gone!”. As Dr. Michael Heiser writes, “if it’s weird, it’s important”.
REMEZ (“hint”), we will recall, “is the meaning at which the texts hint, although it is not stated obviously”. Most translations render the word “shadow” here as “protection”, or “defence” thus ascribing the implied meaning of protection. However, we can also read this text differently at Remez level – not as “protection”, but as an “image” (tzelem) of God (thank you to Robert Tobin and Dorothy Healy for pointing this out). Since the Hebrew words צלם tzelem (image) and צל tzel (shadow) are connected, it might refer to the idea that, unlike men, the Nephilim don’t have the image (shadow) of God within them: the image (shadow) of God is gone! Interestingly, this reading is also supported by the fact, that in these words: סָ֣ר צִלָּ֧ם מֵעֲלֵיהֶ֛ם, the wordצלם , “their shadow” (tzel with plural suffix) – is spelled exactly the same as the word “image” in Gen 1:26-27.
I also believe that there is an actual connection between these two levels: between the implied profound thought that the image of God is gone from the Nephilim, and a traditional belief held by many cultures that creatures that don’t cast shadow are not human.
The DERASH method, may I remind you, “examines not only the main text that is being studied or expounded but also any other sacred texts that are associated with the main text”. In fact, we arrived at our current text from Numbers, because we used DERASH while studying the verses from Genesis 6. If we compare these two scriptures (Genesis 6 and Numbers 13-14), we discover that they actually support one another – the verses from Numbers validate non-human heritage. I absolutely admire the faith of Joshua and Caleb, but I can also understand my people there in the wilderness – not only were the people of the Land giants, but if they didn’t cast a shadow, great courage and a very strong faith would have been required to fight these people!
MEN OF RENOWN?
The next step in our research will be connected to the word “ish” (איש)– “man”. Genesis 6:4 tells us that Nephilim were “men of the name”, or “men of renown”. The Hebrew word “anashim” here is a plural form of the word “ish”. The meaning of this word is: “man”, “person”, “husband”. An objection can be raised, therefore, based on the meaning of this word: if they are called “anashim” – men – doesn’t that mean that they were regular humans?
Once again, we will use Derash here. Of course, we have many places in Torah where the word “ish” is applied to a regular man – starting from Genesis 2:23 where this word occurs for the first time. Yet, surprisingly, we also find this word used in some special cases, referring to angels or some kind of divine beings. Let us look at examples:
Gen 18:22 – the men (anashim) …went toward Sodom.
Gen 32:24 – a man (ish ) wrestled with Jacob.
Gen 37:15 – a man (ish) found Joseph wandering in the field.
We know that in all these cases the persons that the word anashim/ish refers to were not just men – they were divine beings. Therefore, we can conclude that in our case the word anashim doesn’t necessarily define them as humans either.
THE FALLEN ONES
By now, we know that the Nephilim were giants and not humans. But these giants were also evil. How do we know that? Let us use some Hebrew again. The word Nephilim comes from the word נפל, fall; a suffix ‘im’ simply adds plurality, hence they were “fallen ones”. Having been born of corrupted, fallen, satanic angels, Nephilim went on to fill the Earth with violence and wickedness and also to reproduce ‘after their own kind’.
I love the books of C.S. Lewis. For a while the only book I read, besides the Bible, were the Chronicles of Narnia. I find it absolutely incredible how Lewis was able to reveal profound spiritual truth in these children’s fairytales. However, there was one thing I couldn’t understand at that point: why would he use all these “mythological” elements in his stories – for example, why make the White Witch very tall and explain it by her non-human origin? I didn’t understand it then, but I can see now, that even in this small detail, Lewis was still reflecting spiritual truths.
Next time, we are going to talk about the Story of the Flood: why God had to go to such extreme measures as a global flood to solve the problem. However, there is something I want to say before we delve further into this story. I have shown you the use of Peshat, and Remez and Derash, and all these levels are wonderful and very helpful, but it’s only when we move to the Sod – Secret/Mystery – that we will really have all the answers and be able to fully comprehend this story. I know this from firsthand experience: I had been led to write my last book (Abraham had two sons) according to the Pardes levels – and it was only when I got to the last chapter—Sod—that He revealed His final message to me. Those who have read this book will know that the Sod part is the shortest portion of the book, but it is there that the final answers are given (if you haven’t read the book yet, click here to get it: http://readjuliablum.com). The same is true about our story, so let us trust Him to reveal His secrets in the due time.
 Num. 14:9
 Hidden Treasures, Joseph Shulam, Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry, 2008, p. 24
 The Unseen Realm, Michael Heiser, Lexham Press, 2015
 I Hidden Treasures, Joseph Shulam, Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry, 2008, p. 24
 Ibid., p.22