The Story Of The Flood You Did Not Know (iii)

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.[1]

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”.[2]  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”[3].

REMEZ (“hint”), we will recall, “is the meaning at which the texts hint, although it is not stated obviously”.[4] 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”.[5] 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.

 

 

[1] Num. 14:9

[2] Hidden Treasures, Joseph Shulam, Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry, 2008, p. 24

[3] The Unseen Realm, Michael Heiser, Lexham Press, 2015

[4] I Hidden Treasures, Joseph Shulam, Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry, 2008, p. 24

[5] Ibid., p.22

 

 

 

About the author

Julia BlumJulia is a teacher and an author of several books on biblical topics. She teaches two biblical courses at the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, “Discovering the Hebrew Bible” and “Jewish Background of the New Testament”, and writes Hebrew insights for these courses.

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  1. MG

    Thank you articles, still making my way through your articles on the Flood – but have a concern about the view involving the Nephilim not having the image of God within them. This view just doesn’t compute unless there’s some widespread belief human females lack the image of God.

    Logically, it makes far more sense God’s anger (which stems from the problem that “all flesh is corrupted” per scripture) which results in the Flood happens because His image was being corrupted.

    Mankind did not possess His image of their own doing, but by God’s doing – and none of the “lesser” creatures (who were without God’s image) ired God by their existence. For Nephilim to be 100% without God’s image would make them just another irrelevant creature, I think. But, Nephilim whose human-passed image of God is then corrupted – THAT makes perfect sense to be what angered God enough to send the Flood.

    Anyway, just my .02 on that blurb. I’ve been a long time student of the Nephilim mystery, so I greatly appreciate these articles.

  2. Angelika Walter

    Dear Julia,
    this is a very interesting and difficult theme, definitely not for those weak in faith. Oh yes, I can understand the Israelites in the wilderness, probably I would have been among the fearful. To be honest, at first I was very sceptic to understand these verses as literal giants literally without shadow, didn´t get into the
    theme, still it´s hard to imagine and deeply troubling. I thought about the danger of demonizing people or prejudices against people unusually tall or with 6 fingers, which must not be something demonic today. Do you think the woman recognized these men being non-human? Was it caused by occultism, conscious calling on spirits to gain supernatural strength? Of course the bible is full of the supernatural, Jesus did cast out demons throughout all his ministry and it´s good to be reminded that we have not to fight against people but principalities and powers trusting in God, that these have to flee in the name of Jesus! I see how much profound and important truth can be found in this story. Thank you for explaining the story
    with the different methods of interpretation. I always appreciate your writings.
    (I´m sorry that I didn´t comment for some time, my husband was in hospital and I was also struggling to find clarity in another important question for me, I even had some spiritual attacks, mainly caused by fear of men, but last week I experienced that God touched my heart, He lifted me up and gave me direction)

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you Angelica! So glad to hear your comment, so glad that you are back on these pages! Yes, I agree, “this is a very interesting and difficult theme”, and as I mentioned, I don’t expect anyone to accept my perspective. However, it is always good to be familiar with different opinions – and it’s what I try to do with my posts (and I hope that there will be things that will speak to somebody’s mind or heart on the way).

  3. Donald Vander Jagt

    It is so good to read the thoughts of believers who have come to know The Word as living waters, that are meant to be absorbed deep into the soul of a believer.
    I’m wondering have any of you folks noticed the parallel’s between the situations we read about in Numbers 14 and Genesis 6, and what is going on in today’s world?
    Although today it is the wicked one, the beast, and his servants confronting the congregation of Elohim.
    However once more, today many manifest fear of the serpent’s servants, and encourage others all they can not to confront the hordes of heathens of our day, even to the point that they lie about them, by saying there are many good ones among them.
    And looking back to the time of the flood, has any one noticed that by far the greatest share of those working for and demonstrating on behalf of todays canaan are the women folks, the very ones who will be hurt the most if these heathens (beast) take over the world.

  4. Hal Simeroth

    Having been a student of Genesis for over 50 years and a writer and lecturer in Science and the Bible, I have always been troubled about the Nephilim references in the post-flood timeframe. Clearly the Genesis flood wiped out the gene pool prior to the flood except for Noah and his family. We know for certain that they were not a part of the Nephilim, but instead were descendants of Seth … those who remained faithful to the Creator. So if the Nephilim were a particular genetic group, how did they arise again after the Flood, since all were destroyed? It could be possible that Nephilim and “giants” (large people) could have become somewhat synonomous after the Flood, such that references to large people would bring reminders of the Nephilim. This is just speculation, I don’t have a clear answer, but I do believe (unlike local flood theorists) that the flood did destroy humankind (2Peter 2.5) except for Noah and his family. It seems the only way for the Nephilim, as you have identified them, to return after the Flood is with further liason with female humans. That is rather difficult to believe considering God cleansed the earth of them in the Flood. Any thoughts on this?
    Hal Simeroth, Ph.D., Retired Theology Professor

    1. Julia Blum

      Hi Hal, thank you so much for your comment. Regarding Nephilim after the flood – I don’t have a clear answer either, but I think, there are different options, not necessarily the illicit unions with the “daughters of men”. Have you thought, for instance, about the possibility of Noah’s sons’ wives having corrupted bloodline? Probably, I will write more on this topic in my last post on the flood. Let’s get back to this discussion then. Thanks and blessings!

  5. Robert Tobin

    As I study Lamentations, I am learning that as we grow and seek to draw nearer to God our advesary (Satan) will do everything he can do to make us fall. I believe that is what happen to the people of Israel.
    My opinion is that if we looked back on the history of your people, we would be able to keep from making the same mistakes they did, but we could learn such a great deal on how we are suppose to live our lives.
    We have a tendency to follow history instead of learn from it.

  6. Julia Blum

    Thank you so much, Sharon! I started to respond to the comments yesterday night, and then decided to postpone it for the morning; this morning I found your comment – and these are exactly my thoughts, thank you so much for posting it! I wrote yesterday: regarding the “tzel”, I still believe that as Rick wrote here, “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 you 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.

  7. Sharon Stern

    Have missed the lively conversation for a few weeks, but here goes my crazy brain as I ponder this.

    Loving this dialogue. I have another spin on this concept of tzel – image, shadow. Another layer of the onion to peel off and consider.

    Clearly, HaShem created both humans and angels with a similar purpose in mind — to have fellowship with (tabernacle) and to be worshiped by both of these creations – one in a spiritual and heavenly abode; the other in an earthly abode. And both angels and humans share a similar and unique ability — free choice to live in covenant with or to reject covenant with their Creator. And there is always consequences for breaking covenant with the Almighty – push Him far enough away and He will “hide His presence” from us. Literally turning His back from us; stripping away the protection, the provision, and the power we enjoy when we are in His presence. When angels choose to rebel against His authority in their lives, is it any wonder they are exiled from their heavenly abode and should find shelter elsewhere – in our earthly realm? And on the flip side of the coin, aren’t human beings, who are spiritual beings on a physical journey; on those occasions of great spiritual awareness, able to touch the heavens? Judaism teaches that during sleep, the human soul leaves the body and returns when we awaken – very mystical and spiritual. But it links the two realms of our existence – spiritual and physical. That angels can be given human form is clear from scripture – and they are not all of the good kind (just like humans!)

    I believe that there is vertical access between both realms for angels and humans. And yet it is our individual responses to our relationship with our Creator that determines in which realm we can be at any point in time. HaShem seems to parse out a much more drastic punishment on angels who reject Him than humans. We both experience exile from His presence when we say , “No thank you” to Him. HaShem is a gentleman, in human parlance, He does not force our worship and obedience. It is voluntary!

    Struggling with why these ‘fallen angels’ weren’t destroyed in the flood, if my feeble thinking bears any rationale, doesn’t it seem correct that successive generations of both humans and angels each individually must make a decision ‘for’ or ‘against’ HaShem? While we may enjoy the protection, provision, power and blessings because of our parent’s faithfulness; each of us, whether human or angelic, must make a line in the ground and clearly state for whom we stand – are we for HaShem or for our own selfish purposes? Is it not plausible that post-flood, there were angelic offspring of subsequent generations of the angelic hosts who defied HaShem and are exiled to earth? So, the fact that there are powers and principalities that are dark in our midst shouldn’t surprise any of us. And as many have already stated, praised be to Messiah; they have no power over us.. they are defeated. Yes, they can mess with our heads and put doubts in our minds; but if we are grounded in TRUTH, HIS WORD, the enemy will not prevail.

    Now, bear with me. This might sound crazy, but —-In order for an object to cast a shadow, there must be significant substance to block the rays of light that are striking it – and while the physical stuff of our existence, our flesh and bones, would seem to be that which determines such a principal – on a much more nuanced spiritual level I see the following. These fallen angels appear as ‘human’, albeit they are ‘different’ – their excessive height and their apparent wickedness. Since they were created as spiritual beings, perhaps the bodies they inhabit in the earthly realm are counterfeit. They aren’t humans! There is no human substance to them, really – and lacking any true substance; they are really a mirage —- when sunlight strikes them; it passes straight through them as if they don’t exist. I realize they had physical bodies, how else could they consort with human women; but we are talking about spiritual matters here!

    Perhaps as Eric and Dorothy have posited, HaSatan had ‘covered’ these giants with an impenetrable field that to the naked eye who did not know TORAH and that HaSatan is defeated, to their eyes, these giants cast a shadow in the sunlight and appeared to be just really big, bad people!

    But, perhaps, 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! They aren’t human, they belong to HaSatan – the Father of lies – and they had enough faith in the WORD of HaShem to not fear them at all. And that is what separated them from the other 10 spies who were blinded to this truth and cost the children of Israel decades of further wandering in the wilderness to refine them and prepare the next generation – including Joshua and Caleb – to realize their inheritance finally.

  8. jane z mazzola

    POST & ALL discussion are immensely interesting & insightful. Thank you!
    Jane m.