Genesis 6:4 Meaning of They Were the Heroes of Old

Genesis 6:4
“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.”

Explanation and Commentary of Genesis 6:4

The Bible says very little about the Nephilim, but there are scholars who believe that the Nephilim were the progeny of demons and humans. Usually, they are connected to the stories of the giants that the Israelites had to deal with in the promised land, including Goliath, who was slain by David (1 Sam 17). Some say that they were the cause of the great flood, but it seems from this verse, and from biblical history that they continued to exist after the flood.

It also seems that the scouts who were unfaithful on their return from spying out Canaan (Nu 13) saw at least the giant descendants of the Nephilim. The Anakites were there and were believed to be descended from the Nephilim. These were eventually destroyed by Joshua: “21 At that time Joshua went and destroyed the Anakites from the hill country: from Hebron, Debir and Anab, from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua totally destroyed them and their towns. 22 No Anakites were left in Israelite territory; only in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod did any survive” (Josh 11:21-22).

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Genesis 6:4

#1 “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—“
The Nephilim were giants who were said to have been produced when “the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose” (Gen 6:2). It may or may not be true that the “sons of God” were fallen angels.

#2 “—and also afterward—”
This seems to imply that they either survived the flood, which does not seem plausible, or they continued to procreate afterward.

#3 “—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them.”
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The expression here either refers simply to human men, or it means there was a time long ago that God allowed angels, fallen or otherwise to take the form of human men to marry some of the women of earth. All we can really do is speculate.

#4 “They were the heroes of old, men of renown.”
Perhaps Nimrod was one (Gen 10:9). Again, it is purely speculation, but if it is true that angels mated with humans and created giants from the union, it is not hard to imagine how they could have held the status of something like a superhero.

Bible Study on Genesis 6:4

Expert Overview of Genesis Ch. 1-11

Biblical Translations of Genesis 6:4

NIV
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.

NLT
In those days, and for some time after, giant Nephilites lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes and famous warriors of ancient times.

ESV
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

KJV
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

NKJV
There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

Genesis 6:4 Meaning and Commentary

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.