Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 6:4
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AC 580. Verse 4. There were Nephilim in the earth in those days; and especially after the sons of God went in unto the daughters of man, and they bare to them, the same became mighty men, who were of old, men of renown. By "Nephilim" are signified those who through a persuasion of their own loftiness and pre-eminence made light of all things holy and true; "and especially after the sons of God went in unto the daughters of man, and they bare to them," signifies that this occurred when they immersed the doctrinals of faith in their cupidities, and formed persuasions of what is false; they are called "mighty men" from their love of self; "of old, men of renown," signifies that there had been such before.

AC 581. That by the "Nephilim" are signified those who through a persuasion of their own loftiness and pre-eminence made light of all things holy and true, appears from what precedes and what follows, namely, that they immersed the doctrinals of faith in their cupidities, signified by the "sons of God going in unto the daughters of man, and their bearing unto them." Persuasion concerning self and its phantasies increases also according to the multitude of things that enter into it, till at length it becomes indelible; and when the doctrinals of faith are added thereto, then from principles of the strongest persuasion they make light of all things holy and true, and become "Nephilim." That race, which lived before the flood, is such that they so kill and suffocate all spirits by their most direful phantasies (which are poured forth by them as a poisonous and suffocating sphere) that the spirits are entirely deprived of the power of thinking, and feel half dead; and unless the Lord by His coming into the world had freed the world of spirits from that poisonous race, no one could have existed there, and consequently the human race, who are ruled by the Lord through spirits, would have perished. They are therefore now kept in a hell under as it were a misty and dense rock, under the heel of the left foot, nor do they make the slightest attempt to rise out of it. Thus is the world of spirits free from this most dangerous crew, concerning which and its most poisonous sphere of persuasions, of the Lord‘s Divine mercy hereafter. These are they who are called "Nephilim," and who make light of all things holy and true. Further mention is made of them in the Word, but their descendants were called "Anakim" and "Rephaim." That they were called "Anakim" is evident from Moses:--

There we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, of the Nephilim, and we were in our own eyes as grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes (Num. 13:33).

That they were called "Rephaim" appears also from Moses:--

The Emim dwelt before in the land of Moab, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakim, who also were accounted Rephaim, as the Anakim, and the Moabites call them Emim (Deut. 2:10, 11).

The Nephilim are not mentioned any more, but the Rephaim are, who are described by the prophets to be such as are above stated; as in Isaiah:--

Hell low down has been in commotion for thee, to meet thee in coming, it hath stirred up the Rephaim for thee (Isaiah 14:9),

speaking of the hell which is the abode of such spirits. In the same:--

Thy dead shall not live, the Rephaim shall not arise, because thou hast visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish (Isaiah 26:14),

where also their hell is referred to, from which they shall no more rise again. In the same:--

Thy dead shall live, my corpse, they shall rise again; awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust, for the dew of herbs is thy dew; but thou shalt cast out the land of the Rephaim (Isaiah 26:19);

"the land of the Rephaim" is the hell above spoken of. In David:--

Wilt Thou show a wonder to the dead? Shall the Rephaim arise, shall they confess to Thee? (Ps. 88:10),

speaking in like manner concerning the hell of the Rephaim, and that they cannot rise up and infest the sphere of the world of spirits with the very direful poison of their persuasions. But it has been provided by the Lord that mankind should no longer become imbued with such dreadful phantasies and persuasions. Those who lived before the flood were of such a nature and genius that they could be imbued, for a reason as yet unknown, concerning which, of the Lord’s Divine mercy hereafter.

AC 582. After that the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare to them. That this signifies that they became Nephilim when they had immersed the doctrinals of faith in their cupidities, is evident from what was said and shown above in (verse 2), namely, that the "sons of God" signify the doctrinal things of faith, and that "daughters" signify cupidities. The birth thereby produced must needs make light of and profane the holy things of faith, for the cupidities of man, being those of the love of self and of the world, are altogether contrary to what is holy and true. Now in man cupidities prevail, so that when what is holy and true, and is acknowledged to be such, is immersed in cupidities, it is all over with the man, for the cupidities cannot be rooted out and separated; they cling to every idea, and in the other life it is ideas that are communicated from one to another, so that as soon as any idea of what is holy and true is brought forth, what is profane and false is joined to it, which is instantly perceived. Therefore such persons have to be separated and thrust down into hell.

AC 583. That the Nephilim are called "mighty men" from the love of self, is evident from various passages of the Word, where such are called "mighty; " as in Jeremiah:--

The mighty ones of Babel have ceased to fight, they sit in their holds, their might faileth, they are become as women (Jeremiah 51:30),

where the "mighty ones of Babel" denote those who are eaten up with the love of self. In the same:--

A sword is against the liars, and they shall be insane, a sword is against her mighty ones, and they shall be dismayed (Jeremiah 50:36).


I saw them dismayed, and turning away back, their mighty ones were broken in pieces, and have been put to flight, and looked not back, fear was round about, the swift shall not flee away, nor the mighty one escape; come up, ye horses, and rage, ye chariots, and let the mighty ones go forth, Cush, Put, the Lydians (Jeremiah 46:5, 6, 9),

speaking of persuasion from reasonings. Again:--

How say ye, We are mighty, and men of strength for war? Moab is laid waste (Jeremiah 48:14, 15).


The city is taken, and the strongholds, it has been seized, and the heart of the mighty men of Mob in that day is become as the heart of a woman in her pangs (Jeremiah 48:41).

In like manner it is said:--

The heart of the mighty ones of Edom (Jeremiah 49:22).


Jehovah hath redeemed Jacob, and hath avenged him from the hand of him that was mightier than he (Jeremiah 31:11),

where "mighty" is expressed by another term. That the Anakim, who were of the Nephilim, were called "mighty ones," is evident from Moses:--

Thou passest over Jordan to-day, to go in to possess nations greater and more numerous than thyself, cities great and fortified to heaven, a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard; who shall stand before the sons of Anak? (Deut. 9:1, 2).

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Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info