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
Join the conversation (26 comments)
I believe that the faith of Israel as a people was very strong. It took a lot of faith to leave Egypt after 210 years. And to follow God into the wilderness with limited provisions takes a great deal of faith. You talked about the faith in Joshua and Caleb but I want to go a little deeper. I believe that Joshua and Caleb had emunah. They had a firmness and steadfastness in their walk. When God told them to go into the land, Caleb and Joshua knew that God would go before them and they would be able to defeat the people in the land and come away victorious.
Thank you, Robert, that’s a great comment. People often judge Israel saying they didn’t have faith, but every single step of that journey required a lot of faith (starting from leaving Egypt, as you wrote) – and I am always happy to find those who recognize that. Of course, there is no doubt that Joshua’ and Caleb’s faith was stronger and greater; I believe, however, that all the people of Israel in the wilderness had faith – unfortunately, they didn’t have enough faith to fight those non-human, shadowless giants!
Thanks for opening this up Julia. I received more revelation on how we are to view the enemy. Instead of reacting in fear, I can let the light of God’s Word expose the deceptions (shadows) and know that I serve a God heavy with substance! Only that which has substance can cast a shadow in the light. They which have no substance (heaviness, glory) are nothing more than mirages. The light exposes what they truly are, nothing! 2 Peter 2:17-18, 1 Corinthians 2:6. Joshua and Caleb saw this. David when facing the giant Goliath saw this. That which casts a shadow has substance. The shadow of Peter brought healing to the sick in Acts 5:15.
Thank you so much, Rick! I also believe that as you wrote, “only that which has substance can cast a shadow in the light”. The things that satan is frightening us with, might be extremely scary, – but in a sense, they are not real, they don’t have substance. It’s exactly as Sharon wrote: ” when Caleb and Joshua saw that phenomenon (lack of a shadow) ; they realized – okay, I acknowledge that these dudes look real, they’re big, they’re scary — but, hey —– they don’t cast a shadow!” . I know that in math, there are imaginary numbers as opposed to real numbers – they don’t have real essence, real substance; the same is true about “these dudes”: there was no human substance to them, they were really a mirage . It was a very scary mirage and it did require great faith – and as we know, only Joshua and Caleb were able to see it with the eyes of faith – but mirage nevertheless. It doesn’t mean, by the way, that the Israelites would not have to fight them if they go then to the Land ; but it does mean that they would definitely overcome these giants, because God of Israel is the God of reality and substance.
Yes i was aware of the flood materials as Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum ties the fallen angels story from old testament to the book of 2 Ptr. where the flood is mentioned. He notes the flood occurred to destroy the fallen angels that had sex with earth women and 1 of the 3 places in Hell are specifically reserved for that particular group of fallen dark angels.
Hugs Julia MM thanks for your detailed Hebrew insight on language.
Excelente estudio. Fascinante uso de las metodologías de estudio. Muchas gracias, espero con gran interés cada nueva revelación. Shalom
Excellent studio. Fascinating use of study methodologies. Thank you very much, I look forward to every new revelation. Shalom
Thank you so much, Julia. What astounds me is how great our God is. By believing in Him, Joshua and Caleb were ready to invade the land God had promised to His people, because in faith they could see the victory that would be theirs it is as we read in Hebrews 11:1 – “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Glory to the almighty One, our Father in Jesus Christ.
Great. I am wondering though the Pardes interpretation is it not similar to exegesis and keeping to the context of what the scripture is saying.
Thank you for this, God’s Word is truly remarkable! I love the Hebrew language. I have much to say, but don’t have the right words. Let it just be, thank you for serving our Father, and using your gifts to honor Jesus. I love Him so much. And He loves YOU so much!!!
Thank you so much, Shelley, I am really touched by your words!
Thanks for your many important insights! I always get much from your posts and look forward to reading your books.
The story of the nephilim is particularly interesting to me since, I believe, the war between the sons of God and the sons of the evil one (the nephilim) is actually one of the major subtexts of scripture, beginning in Genesis 3:15 and ending in Revelation 19:20. The sons of God are and always have been engaged in a wrestle against principalities and powers and the world forces of this darkness (Eph. 6:12), and ultimately God will be pleased to bruise Satan under the feet of His saints. He was defeated by Jesus on the cross but it is the prerogative and privilege of His sons to do the stomping!
The idea of a satanic spawn, as exemplified in the nephilim, helps to explain the level of evil prior to the flood and the need for a deluge to cleanse the earth from the satanic influence. This also explains the command to Joshua to exterminate everything that breathed and application of the ban (cherem) when waging war against certain nations within Canaan (in other cases the accepted rules of war applied in which booty was taken). The defilement from the nephilim was so great that even their animals could had to be destroyed. It appears that the flood was not sufficient to cleanse the earth of the nephilim spawn. It is possible that this spirit actually came through the ark in the person of Ham, father of Canaan?
With regard to the interpretation of the word “tsel” as used Numbers 14:9, it seems to me that the word “shadow” makes sense if we think of it in terms of an emanation or spiritual covering from satan that provided protection for the nephilim. Caleb and Joshua were prophets and they perceived that God has already defeated Satan and stripped away any protection that he was affording his sons. So they noted that satanic covering had been removed. Note that the word tsel is derived from tsalal meaning ” to be” or “to become dark,” possibly pointing to the darkness of evil. Instead of the bright emanation that surrounds God and his offspring, the nephilim were covered with a darkness or “shadow” emanating from their father, the prince of darkness.
Does this make sense?
My thoughts exactly Eric, so thank you for posting this.(I posted a similar comment at the end of the last post).
The fact that mankind was created ‘in the image/tzelem of God leads us to see that the Nephilim also bore the ‘image/shadow’ of Satan – they had heritage from evil supernatural (spiritual) beings who reproduced in their own image and likeness.
It makes sense of Numbers 14:9 to understand ‘tzel’ in this way because Joshua and Caleb are declaring there that there is no need to fear them BECAUSE their ‘shadow/defence’ has departed from them – ‘We can eat them up BECAUSE our God goes before us.’ If we read this as a literal ‘shadow’, or indeed the ‘image of God’, then there seems to be no connection to NOT needing to fear them.
I imagine the spirits that inhabited/protected the Nephilim would have KNOWN they were no match for God Himself, and when they saw the power of faith in Joshua & Caleb, they may well have fled, knowing they had no right to be there, thus leaving them merely weak and helpless men before God Almighty. Conversely, approaching them without faith would lead to certain defeat.
It’s a great faith lesson for all of us actually.
Totally agree. Love your comments about the faith of Caleb and Joshua causing the demonic forces to flee. May there be men and women of God with the same faith in our day, with the same result !
Thank you Dorothy and Eric, for your profound comments! Eric, I think the link between the nephilim and the command to Joshua to exterminate everything that breathed , is very profound and also very helpful, it explains a lot! Dorothy, I fully agree with your approach: we have to read the whole verse and to seek to understand how this “lack of shadow ” explains the fact that there is no need to fear them. I still don’t know what to make of it; let’s keep thinking about it together!
I found this very interresting
You Hebrews are so amazing, truly The Almighty God of Israel is The True God.