THE NEPHILIM: The Legend of Yahweh verses Zeus, Part II.

March 9, 2010

A Spiritual and Literary Comparison of Biblical and Classical Literature.

“In those days as well as later, when the sons of the gods had intercourse with the daughters of mortals and children were born to them, the Nephilim were on the earth; they were the heroes of old, people of renown.”  Genesis 6:4 (Revised English Bible)


The Hebrew authors of the Bible sought to establish their God’s greatness over the gods of the surrounding nations by emphasizing his good character traits and his mighty power. A comparison of Yahweh to the Greeks’ highest deity and god of heaven, almighty Zeus produces a similar result. In Homer’s The Iliad, Zeus boasts to the other gods, “I am mightiest of all…You could not drag down Zeus. But if I wished to drag you down, then I would” (Hamilton 25). Zeus may have been the most powerful, but he wasn’t all-powerful; he often depended on the other gods to get things done as they each had individual powers unique to themselves, and they each had authority over different areas of the world. As overseer of justice in heaven, Zeus was a hypocrite at best. He made sure the wealthy and powerful were hospitable to each other, but he was known to strike his thunderbolt of judgment irrationally and without cause. Of all the gods weakness for mortal women, his was the most famous as he constantly committed adultery against his wife Hera, who happened to be the goddess of marriage. Although Zeus had some insight into the destiny of the world, he had no control over it. He was subject to the will of the Fates just like everyone else. As the myths developed over the years, the Fates were eventually given three female personalities, but the earliest sources of Greek literature described the Fates as a mysterious force that decreed mankind’s destiny. The early Greek poets’ inspiration of the Fates was probably based on a distant memory of the legend of an all powerful creator that had been passed down to them. The specific details of this creator would have been forgotten after they turned to the worship of lesser gods. According to Genesis, Yahweh has to reintroduce himself to man through Abraham, the father of the Jewish people. The only limits that Abraham’s God has are what he has placed on himself by giving mankind freewill. He paradoxically controls the destiny of the universe, without controlling the actions of individual human beings. He is a God of compassion and love; he speaks to man in a whisper; he ensures justice to the weak and powerless. Because he demands all men to live righteous lives, he is often a God of wrath and judgment, but a repentant soul quickly finds forgiveness. He is a patient God as he works to develop the character of all who serve him as a father lovingly raises his child.

The authors of the Bible clearly see all other gods as enemies of their God, and Zeus bears a striking resemblance to Yahweh’s archenemy Satan. According to Hector Ignacio Avalos it is unsure whether the Satan of the Old Testament is only one character (678-679). Satan is actually the Hebrew title for Adversary. It not really important whether the Old Testament authors are only speaking of the fallen archangel, Lucifer, or of all his companions in rebellion when they mention the Adversary; Genesis 6 also mentions the plural “sons of God” and there are many gods mentioned in both the Bible and the Greek myths. In the New Testament, however, Jesus gives Satan the title “Beelzebub, the prince of demons” (Luke 11:14-20); in other words, the boss, and this Satan is recognized as one being. According to Christian legend derived from different sources within the Bible, Satan took one third of Yahweh’s angels and rebelled against him as he sought to take the throne in Heaven. According to Greek legend, Zeus led his brother-and-sister-gods in rebellion against their father Cronus, the Titan of Heaven, and against the other Titans. According to mythology, they won. Satan never overpowered Yahweh, but he did manage to gain authority over the earth when he deceived Adam and Eve in the beginning of our time. A Christian teacher, Steve Thompson, explains, “By obeying the word of the enemy, Adam…forfeit[ed]…his God-given authority over the earth, to Satan” (4). When Yahweh created Adam and Eve, he gave them the authority to rule over and subdue the earth; he gave them only one rule, one “don’t.” A snake appeared to Eve and talked her into doing the don’t, she talked Adam into doing it, and the snake got their authority (but it came with a curse). Adam submitted himself under Satan’s authority rather than Yahweh’s, which caused grave consequences for him and all his offspring. Man, and the earth he was in charge of, was now under the rule of the gods. Satan holds another close characteristic to Zeus in this legend. In Ovid’s Metamorphosis, he tells the tale of Arachne who spun a long tapestry depicting the many myths of Zeus disguising himself, sometimes as a cow, sometimes as a shower of gold, in order to deceive and rape beautiful mortal women (165-166). Certainly Satan would have no problem disguising himself as a snake to deceive the first woman in order to gain authority over mankind and the earth. He could not defeat Yahweh and knock him off his throne, but he could manipulate the beings Yahweh had created and loved and given freewill. In this sense, Satan could claim a victory over his father and ruler of heaven.

 Next week: “Part III, Jesus versus Hercules”

Peter L Richardson
Fall ’97

Avalos, Hector Ignacio. “Satan.” The Oxford Companion to the Bible. Ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. 678-679.

Esses, D.H.L., Michael. Jesus in Genesis. Plainfield: Logos International, 1974.

Graves, Robert and Raphael Patai. Hebrew Myths, The Book of Genesis. Garden City : Doubleday & Co. , 1964.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. Boston : Little, Brown and Co. , 1942.

Keck, Leander E. and Gene M. Tucker. “Literary Forms of the Bible.” The Oxford Study Bible. New York : Oxford University Press , 1992. 12-31.

Ovid. The Metamorphoses. Trans. Horace Gregory. New York: Mentor, 1960.

Sacks, Robert D. A Commentary on the Book of Genesis. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990.

“The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible.” New American Standard Bible. Ed. Spiros Zodhiates. Chattanooga: AMG Press, 1990.

“The Oxford Study Bible.” Revised English Bible with the Apocrypha. Ed. M. Jack Suggs, Katherine Doob Sakenfeld and James R. Mueller. New York : Oxford University Press , 1992.

Thompson, Steve. “The Astounding Authority of a Believer.” The Morning Star Journal 7.1, 1997.


9 Responses to “THE NEPHILIM: The Legend of Yahweh verses Zeus, Part II.”

  1. Ardis Earing Says:

    worthwhile. info and amzing design you got right here! I just wanted to thank you for sharing.

  2. Daniel Says:

    I have noticed these parallels, between Zeus and Satan, before and have tried to convince others that there is more to it

    Also significant, Zeus sent the flood in Greek mythology, however it is possible that YHWH sent the flood using one of his angels (since all other actions are performed in this manner)

    Thus, the Satan (adversary), as an ‘evil’ angel, may have been sent to destroy mankind, as many evil angels are sent by YHWH to do his dirty work.

    Interesting to look into the parallels anyway.

  3. I find this rather ignorant,one Yahweh isn’t a peace of cake himself lol.

    Yes Zeus raped indeed,but Yahweh killed Infants,and innocent.

    hmm,a Gods wrath is awkward,also Zeus has his reasons,as well as Yahweh.

    the poets,state some fact but also,the illad,isn’t really ment to be taken so seriously like the bible,one thing pagans do that most christians don’t,we adapt,>_> you should research & search hard,and ask pagans themself,i would suggest looking up Cindy Wilson,seeing as she knows alot about this,she is very wise

    Zeus wants us to be just & righteous,=l,point being weather its Odin Zeus or Yahweh,or allah,i think its wise to try and be Just & righteous,in all you do,do so with love grace,mercy,& be noble,and compassionat.

    I respect Yahweh Zeus & Odin,i think before you put something you should also study more,having experinece beats book smarts. a God is a God,you cannot fully know a God threw poetry,or books,of any sort,first you must gain there respect,no matter what God you serve.

    Anyway Many blessings ^^

  4. Victor Says:

    I noticed that while you where comparing the myth of Zeus (titanomachy) with that of Yahweh, you missed a “small detail”;
    You stated that Zeus led his brother-and-sister-gods in rebellion against their father Cronus, the “Titan of Heaven”, and against the other Titans in order to take their power (throne). Which is TRUE according to the myth.BUT do you remember why Zeus started that “rebellion”?He did so because, his father Cronus after taking violently the power by castrating his own father Uranus (and ruler of heaven, as his name indicates), he started swallowing his children and imprisoning his other brothers (HECATONCHEIRES) in orded to remain in power as the only “King of heaven”
    Therefore..Cronus let a rebellion against his father to take the power without being threatened by him (just to become the chief god), while Zeus rebelled against Cronus not only to save his brothers and sisters but also to save his own life/existance.
    Also, it’s worth to mention that when Cronus took the power from Uranus, he made himself King of the titans without giving any position/authority to his brothers.Zeus on the other hand,not only was supported by the other sons of Uranus-The first “legal” king of Heaven (who gave him his powerful weapons-the thunder) but when finally won, he shared the power with his brothers (who dubbed him Chief god, because of his savior-deeds).
    (Much) Later on, It was Zeus who punished the titan Prometheus for corrupting the human kind by giving them the fire (or the apple from the tree of life?)
    So it seems, that according to the original Hesiodic myth,Zeus probably played a good role rather than an evil one (like the devil, Satan, or whatever)

  5. Vorian Says:

    If you guys knew anything about norse mythology, you would know the Norse gods died in ragnorak; and that their surviving descendants acknowledged that god was the one true god.

  6. Nicolas Says:

    There where two trees: The tree of life, and The tree of knowledge of good and evil.
    It was the tree of knowledge of good and evil which Adam and Eve got tempted into eating, not the tree of life. God, or YHWH, then made the tree of life inaccessible.
    Knowledge of good and evil in man also symbolizes the loss of innocence, which makes us accountable for doing what we can even feel in our hearts is wrong.
    Concerning Zeus, he’s known to be the god of lightning, which falls under the element of fire. The Quran also confirms that Adam was created by God from clay, but Satan was created by God from fire….Another similarity.
    And if Zeus is indeed Satan, also god of lies, obviously he would lead man astray with false testament about his Superior, the God of gods and the King of kings, who stands for truth and all that’s good.
    I believe that God punished (before the Lamb got sent to us),
    the offspring of the wicked, because the curse of evil would most likely be passed to them, just like the blessings of the righteous would also be passed to theirs. When you invite the hold of evil into your home, it will linger.
    I’m eternally grateful to the blood of Christ, who brought the kingdom of heaven close, and made eternal life possible to believers, regardless of past transgressions.
    Praise him, amen.

  7. conor Says:

    IThis is a so one sided sight with incorrect information, Zeus is infact allpowerful he doesn’t need the other gods to do tasks for him he just wants them too. The gods have no particular aspect of the universe that each has control over, each and every single one of them has control over the entire cosmos. And who are you to judge the Gods blasphemer, with your finite human mind and understanding, your god yahweh actually is a hypocrite, he commands the Israelites not too kill people and steal from them, but then turns around and asks them to wipe out the people in the land of canaan, he is also not patient or loving if actually read the bible instead of cherry picking and reinterpreting it. Zes is actually far more loving and patient than yahweh could ever be, as well as yahweh isn’t allpowerful, he couldnt beat Jacob in a wrestling match genesis 32, he also couldn’t defeat iron chariots in judges 1, this by the way is right in context and says very clearly what it says in literal form. Also satan is not in genesis, it says it a snake craftier than all the creatures in the garden, satan was invented later on and then put in there by Christians to suit their mythology. Also last thing about your discussion on Zeus taking disguises yeah Gods can do that iey want even yahweh does that in the bible when he talks to abraham, moses, Joshua, Ezekiel, david, and you believe he came down as Jesus so your wrong about that, and the nephillum are debated amoung scholars of whether or not they’re angels or people and the giant thing there are giants all over the world and they all have their different origins, that means it doesn’t prove your bible or your Noah flood myth it just doesn’t sorry. Next time try putting out facts, not easily refutted claims that can be done by strong research .

  8. conor Says:

    Also you want proof that Zeus is allpowerful.
    “Zeus in his omnipotence sees to that.” Odyssey 4.238 this means he’s has infinite power and there fore can do whatever he wants without any problems, and when you read the passages that sound like the opposite those are metaphor not literal, in fact all the Olympian Gods are omnipotent and omniscient, even though there are passages that say something that sounds contrary those are poetic language that ancient writers used to make Gods a lot like us even though they’re not. It’s the same in the bible when your god is described with weaknesses that humans have like anger, jealousy, happiness this is a fact it says it clearly in the bible that yahweh is very human himself, so you’ve been refuted.

    • Colton Says:

      The only problem with all this is that while later philosphers applied high-browed, metaphorical interpretations of the myths, we have no evidence to suggest that these tales were originally (or always) written with such esoteric intentions. The myth of Persephone is surely an allegory for the mystical rites of Eleusis, yes; but many myths were also written to justify and explain customs and laws of the dominant group, or to codify astronomical happenings. This is no doubt why you find so many different versions of the same myth throughout different city-states and regions of ancient Greece (i.e., different groups using different versions to justify their own actions). To be clear, I’m not saying ancient polytheists believed these myths actually happened, as so many wrongly believe. However, I’m also skeptical of the desperate attempts by later philosphers (probably starting with Plato, but maybe as early as Pythagoras and Empedocles) to rescue the myths from their very folkish nature. You also talk about how Yahweh is defeated by Job in a wrestling match, but I seem to recall several of the Greek Gods getting their butts handed to them by human heroes during the Trojan War. As to the “omnipotence” of Zeus, this is also no doubt a later conception, as we know that in Mycenean times, Poseidon was in fact the most worshipped God; and he (Poseidon) was not worshipped as a God of the sky, law, and order, but as a river-god associated with the Underworld. It wasn’t until the formulation of this “Olympic” pantheon (probably somewhere around 1000 BCE, give or take a few centuries) that Zeus becomes the Pan-Hellenic, Supreme Lord of all Gods, the establisher and protector of kingly power (pretty convenient for the kings of the time, eh?), and begins to more closely approximate a practically monolatrous position in relation to the other Gods. So, if Zeus is really a universal Lord, as later Greeks tried to make him out to be, why is it that infanticide was OK in ancient Greece, but not in ancient Egypt? Why would this (supposedly) Universal, Sovereign God- who was supposedly Amun or “Ammon” to the Egyptians (which is probably false since Amun was originally more akin to the Greek concept of primordial Chaos)- give two peoples two different sets of what’s acceptable and what’s not? Does he like Egyptian babies more than Greek babies, or what? As a fellow polytheist, I would fully encourage seperating the “religious Gods” from their mythological counterparts, as the myths do not accurately portray how those Gods were viewed in the religions of the ancients; but the later philosophical interpretations (starting circa 600 BCE), I think, are just as unreliable as the myths about how the Gods were actually viewed religiously. Just my thoughts. Thanks for listening.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: