More than 60 years ago, excavations at the Qumran Caves revealed almost one thousand ancient scrolls that offered important glimpses into humanity’s past. Archaeologists were stumped to find one unusual text among these, a scroll that offers clues regarding the demise of the Nephilim. It is called The Book of Giants.
The Bible makes several references to the Nephilim and most of them can be found in the book of Genesis. The bulk of information pertaining to these giants of old come from the apocryphal Book of Enoch. This ancient Jewish religious work is attributed to Noah’s great-grandfather, although some scholars date parts of it to around 300 BC.
Enoch is a puzzling character, to say the least. The book of Genesis tells us he lived on Earth for 365 years, before being taken by God; “he walked with God: and he was no more; for God took him.” During his time down here, our planet was also inhabited by ‘angels’ who interacted freely with humans, eventually interbreeding with the “daughters of man” and giving birth to a race of unnaturally strong and giant hybrids called the Nephilim.
The origin of the word Nephilim isn’t fully understood but scholars have proposed several etymologies: “the fallen”, “apostates”, or “those that cause others to fall down.” Regardless of their name, the Nephilim have always been a synonym for giants.
The Book of Giants found in the Qumran Caves offer a perspective that is different from that of the Book of Enoch. Although incomplete, the scroll fragments paint a grim picture: the Nephilim become aware that, as a result of their violent and deviant ways, they face imminent destruction—and that scares them enough to ask Enoch to speak on their behalf in front of God.
The text begins by detailing how the Nephilim plagued the Earth and all that lived on it. But once they all start receiving prophetic dreams of doom, fear seeps into their hearts. The first one to have these dreams was Mahway, the titan son of the angel Barakel. In his dream, he saw a tablet being submerged in water. When the tabled emerges, all but three names have been washed away. This symbolizes the Flood and subsequent destruction of all but Noah’s sons.
At the time, this fact had not become obvious to the Nephilim so they debated the meaning of Mahway’s dream, but were unsuccessful in interpreting the signs. Soon after, two more giants, Ohya and Hahya, the sons of the fallen angel Shemyaza begin having similar dreams; they dreamed of a tree being uprooted except for three of its roots.
Following this, the rest of the group of giants began having apocalyptic dreams:
- Thereupon two of them had dreams and the sleep of their eye fled from them, and they arose and came to […and told] their dreams, and said in the assembly of [their comrades] the monsters […In] my dream I was watching this very night [and there was a garden…] gardeners and they were watering […two hundred trees and] large shoots came out of their root […] all the water, and the fire burned all [the garden…] They found the giants to tell them the dream…”
The giants now realize the prophetic nature of their dreams and seek help from Enoch. Unfortunately, Enoch had already disappeared from the face of the Earth so the Nephilim elected one of their members to undertake a cosmic journey in order to find him.
- [Mahway] mounted up in the air like strong winds, and flew with his hands like eagles […he left behind] the inhabited world and passed over Desolation, the great desert […]and Enoch saw him and hailed him, and Mahway said to him […] hither and thither a second time to Mahway […]The giants await your words, and all the monsters of the earth. If […]has been carried […] from the days of […]their […] and they would be added […] we would know from you their meaning […] two hundred trees that from heaven came down…”
Unfortunately, parts of the scrolls were damaged beyond repair but the general direction of the text is obvious. One of the Nephilim traveled outside of Earth in search of Enoch and his vision-interpreting powers. The text becomes very interesting if we substitute a few terms and regard it not as an allegorical account, but the description of a real event whose meaning became muddled over time.
If we consider flying “with his hands like eagles” a metaphor, can we hypothesize that Mahway took off from Earth in a space ship? In this case, does “Desolation, the great desert” refer to interstellar space? It depends on how far we’re willing to interpret a fragmentary, 2,000 year-old scroll but ancient alien theorists do more than just take it at face value.
Enoch sends Mahway back where he came from, promising him he will speak to God on their behalf. Unfortunately for the Nephilim, the tablets Enoch sent them as a response did not bring good news:
- The scribe Enoch […] a copy of the second tablet that [Enoch] sent in the very hand of Enoch the noted scribe […In the name of God the great] and holy one, to Shemyaza and all [his companions…]Let it be known to you that not […] and the things you have done, and that your wives […] they and their sons and the wives of [their sons] by your licentiousness on the earth, and there has been upon you […and the land is crying out] and complaining about you and the deeds of your children […] the harm that you have done to it.
- […] Until Raphael arrives, behold, destruction [is coming, a great flood, and it will destroy all living things] and whatever is in the deserts and the seas. And the meaning of the matter […] upon you for evil. But now, loosen the bonds bi[nding you to evil…] and pray.”
Whether they prayed or not, the text cannot say. But they don’t appear to be here anymore, once again proving the effectiveness of a global flood.