Genesis 6:4 says, "The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also
afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they
gave birth to children by them. These were heroes of old, the men of renown."
Nephilim is the "translation" or rather transliteration (bringing over the letters
of one language to another ; in this instance from Hebrew in to English) that we
find in the ASV, RSV, NIV, TANAKH, NRSV, NET, ESV, and TNIV. The
reason they transliterate is, there is some uncertainty as to the meaning of the
Hebrew word. Efforts to interpret the Hebrew word Ne'pilim go back at least
as far as the Septuagint (LXX). The LXX translator(s) uses the Greek words
hoi gigantes twice in the text. According to the Greek-English Lexicon Of
The Septuagint, Revised Edition, complied by J. Lust, E. Eynikel, and K.
Hauspie, page 120, gigantes means "giant, mighty one."
The likely reason that both the LXX and the KJV translate Ne' pelim as
"giants" is the fact that Num. 13:33 indicates the Ne'pelim , associated with
the sons of Anak were men of imposing stature. The context makes that clear.
The spies said, "...all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And
there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim),
and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them."
There is no certainty that the description of the Ne'pilim in Num. 13:33 applies
to Gen. 6:4.
Actually, there is a growing scholarly consensus that Ne'pelim means "fallen
ones." The Dictionary Of Classical Hebrew, edited by David J.A. Clines,
published by Sheffield Academic Press, volume 5, page 723, "giant" is given as
a meaning, but he adds, "perhaps fallen ones, i.e. dead." Some have assumed
they were fallen angels who cohabited with women and produced sort of a
superhuman race. The evidence for this view is as strong as the evidence that
there are snowflakes on the sun. First, the expression "sons of God" probably
refers to the righteous people who "walked with God" (Gen. 4:26; 5:22,24; 6:9)
The "daughters of men" seem to have been worldly, ungodly women driven by
materialism, lust, and greed. (Isa. 3:16-4:1) Based on the context, since Gen. 6:1-4
immediately follows the genealogical lists of Cain and Seth, it is most likely
that "the sons of God" are the righteous descendants of Seth (Gen. 4:25-5:32),
and "the daughters of men" are the descendants of Cain. (Gen. 4:17-24) Second,
we can be sure that Gen. 6 is not describing sexual relations between fallen angels
and humans because Jesus taught that angels have no such inclination or capability.
(Matt. 22:30) Furthermore, the descendants of the union of the "sons of God" and
"the daughters of men" are called "men of renown" ('anse hassem). They were
human beings, mortals, not part angel and part human. They were mere men.
It seems therefore, that the Nephilim were men who had fallen into moral
corruption. They were notorious for their wickedness. They were oppressors and
as the result of their incorrigibly wicked state, Yahweh would bring catastrophic
global destruction upon the human race, except for righteous Noah and his family.