Who are the Nephilim in Genesis 6?
Genesis 6:4 reads: “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.”
This is an incredibly confusing passage. We know almost nothing about the Nephilim. Who were these people, and why are they important to the surrounding narrative in Genesis?
Before we attempt to answer that, let’s take a look at the broader context. Genesis 6:1–4 reads:
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be…