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

March 16, 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)

III.     JESUS VERSUS HERCULES

Genesis 6:4 also states, “In those days  as well as later…the Nephilim were on the earth; they were the heroes of old, people of renown.” This states that the children of supernatural and natural parents continued to exist after the flood, and the Israelites continued to do battle with these giants, men of exceedingly great strength, bulk and height, throughout the Old Testament. In the book of Joshua, the first book that follows the Torah, the Five Books of Moses, Yahweh again places judgment over a people corrupted by an excess of wickedness. The land of Canaan, the Promised Land for the Israelites, was reported to be inhabited by giants, and Yahweh commands the army of Israel to totally destroy the people, their possessions, and ultimately their wicked culture. However, these giants continued to exist among the Philistines, a people along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, bordering the southwest of the land of Israel. Many scholars believe that “the Philistines…come from over the western sea” (Sacks 85, 14.5n). Homer’s knowledge of the Mediterranean Sea and its borders was rather extensive for his time, and the worship of the pantheon of gods that he writes about was considerably popular among the peoples along the coasts of the Great Sea. The Philistines were more than likely descendants of Japheth and they traveled across the Mediterranean to settle on the coast of Israel. They would certainly have brought their own legends with them. In the popular story of David and Goliath, Yahweh uses a boy to defeat the Philistine giant and he demonstrates his authority to use his power through the humble and faithful to strike down the proud and “heroic” (I Samuel 17).

Most of the heroes of the ancient Greeks were the offspring of a god or goddess who were exulted for valiant deeds and demonstrating their strength in battle. However, their motivation to fight was usually for fame rather than any desire to help anyone, and their personal honor was always more important than justice. They weren’t necessarily giants, but they were definitely more beautiful, had a greater physical build, superior skills and abilities, and were more courageous than the rest of their mortal counterparts. They knew they were better, and they were not shy about it. They were boastful and self-exultant, but they would not have been able to succeed in many of their “heroic” deeds if their supernatural parents had not intervened in the troubles they caused time after time. Most of them showed about as much good character and dignity as their god-parents did. They were almost the opposite of what the Hebrew Scriptures consider to valuable in a man. Robert Sacks comments on Genesis 6:14: “Rather than simply denying [the heroes] existence, the Biblical author tries to show us what he was really like. His days were not the glorious days the poets sing of but the days of corruption which led to the flood” (52).

While the pantheon of Greek gods sired many children with mortals, according to Christian teaching, Jesus Christ is Yahweh’s “only begotten Son” (John 3:16, New American Standard Bible). It is worthwhile to make a comparison of these godly offspring, but since there are so many children of the gods to choose from it is sufficient to narrow it down to their greatest hero, Hercules. Hamilton, who has compiled the stories of Hercules into a comprehensive but compact summary (224-243), explains, “The greatest hero of Greece was Hercules…Hercules embodied what the rest of Greece [besides Athens] most valued. His qualities were those the Greeks in general honored and admired” (224-225). The New Testament Gospels were written to introduce us to Christ, and the New Testament letters all teach us to follow him in deed and action. Christians are exhorted to live their lives like Jesus. Just as he was morally perfect, Christians are taught to seek to have a moral and loving character strengthened by the power and authority over evil that Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection is believed to bring. In fact, the word “Christian” means “little Christ.” The comparison of Hercules and Jesus begins with conception.

Zeus disguised himself as the husband of Hercules’s mother, had his pleasure with her and left. He probably would have preferred that no one find out he was the father. Hercules really had no specific purpose from his father-god; although his mother thought she was making love to her husband, he was an illegitimate child of a rape victim. Other than the villages and provinces he saved from supernatural monsters, the world wouldn’t have changed much without him. In contrast, there are hundreds of prophecies in the Old Testament that are contributed to a Messiah, or Christ, who will one day come and bring reconciliation and salvation for mankind. The New Testament authors make a pretty clear case that Jesus fulfills those prophecies and that the Messiah was meant to be the Son of God. It is clear that Yahweh had Jesus in mind from the beginning, and there is evidence of God as the Trinity in many books of the Old Testament. When Yahweh created natural beings with free will, he knew their potential to rebel, and he was already prepared to one day come in the form of a human to take the sacrifice of death that mankind’s rebellion required. When the time came, Yahweh announced in advance to Mary, the mother of Jesus, what he planned to do (Luke 1), and he revealed to her betrothed (her fiancée) that Mary was, in fact, still a virgin (Matthew 1). This means that there was not any form of intercourse between Yahweh and Mary. Yahweh, being the creator, had mastery over the natural world and was more than able to create a conceived egg inside Mary’s womb to make her pregnant. Yahweh was a gentleman with his plan in every way, and Jesus remained untainted from Mary’s sin-nature.

Because he was the child of a god, Hercules possessed superhuman strength and he was an unconquerable foe to his enemies. According to legend, he had a good heart with good intentions. He often used his power for good as he fought off and defeated evil monsters plaguing many provinces of Greece. However, he had almost no self-control, and he often killed innocent people in his fits of rage, or just by plain accident. He possessed all of the common characteristics of a god-child already mentioned, but he didn’t seem to have any more of a relationship with his father than any other mortal on earth had with Zeus. He stumbled through life from one battle to the next, seeking atonement for his incredible blunders. Jesus had no obvious superhuman strength, but like his Father, he did have power over the natural world, and was able to manipulate nature to perform miracles. Because he was directly descended from Yahweh he was able to remain morally perfect in a mortal body. He demonstrated in his life the love, good character and self-control his Father desires for all man. He waited patiently for the right time for his ministry to start, and it wasn’t until he received baptism at the age of thirty that the Holy Spirit descended upon him and gave him authority to cast out demons, heal sickness, raise the dead, and know men’s thoughts. He was in constant prayer and communication with Yahweh, his Father, and he often declared, “I only do what I see the Father doing.” Chapters 14-16 in the Gospel of John reveal the incredible intimacy between Jesus and his Father, God. He died at the age of 33, but he spent the last three years of his life moving throughout Judea and Galilee displaying his power, releasing it to his followers, and proclaiming that the Kingdom of God was finally among them. He sought after those who would repent and join him to seek after more who would repent and escape the wrath and judgment that Yahweh is bringing upon the wickedness of the world. His goal was to be crucified and become a righteously pure sacrifice for the sins of the world. Jesus, who was without sin, took atonement for a wicked world upon himself. Three days later, he rose from his grave and defeated death, part of the curse placed on man for Adam’s first disobedience to God and submitting himself under Satan’s authority.

Yahweh gave authority of his natural creation to man, Satan stole it from man, and Jesus was Yahweh’s instrument to get it back and gather a people who would learn to serve him and become worthy to regain authority over the earth. The apostle Paul said: “For he has forgiven us all our sins; he has cancelled the bond which was outstanding against us with its legal demands; he has set it aside nailing it to the cross. There he disarmed the cosmic powers and authorities and made a public spectacle of them, leading them as captives in his triumphal procession” (Colossians 2:13-15). Likewise, before his ascension up to heaven, Jesus himself declared: “Full authority in heaven and earth has been committed to me. Go therefore to all nations and make them my disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. I will be with you always, to the end of time” (Matthew 28:18-20). The Book of the Acts of the Apostles begins the story of those who have committed their lives to Christ. They waited patiently for the time of their ministry to begin. When the Holy Spirit descended upon them, they went to the world and displayed the power and authority of Jesus they received to proclaim the Kingdom of God. They seek after those who would repent, join Christ, and escape the wrath and judgment of Yahweh on the wickedness of the world.

In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, the author writes that a day will come when Jesus will return to the earth with an army of angels and all those who have served Yahweh throughout the ages to war against Satan and his army of demons and the kings of the earth who have rejected Yahweh’s authority. Satan’s army will be defeated and they will be cast into hell, a place of chaos and separation from Yahweh and all his goodness (Revelation Chapters 19-20). The restoration of authority over a new earth will be accomplished through God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and be given back to man who will be free from sin and death, and trained to humbly serve God in power. After Hercules’s death, he was taken up to Mt. Olympus where he was given the honor of being transformed into a god and becoming immortal; he was spared the bleak existence of Hades, where according to Greek myth, all other mortals dwell in the afterlife. We have no legends that sing of his deeds after he became immortal (Hamilton 243).

 Next week, the conclusion: “Part IV, Christianity versus Paganism”

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.

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

  1. Lecia Prahm Says:

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  3. alex figueroa Says:

    Hi;

    Thank you for this wonderful blog of comparison, the way I see it Jesus died on the cross and removed the power of the supernatural parents of the nephilim. They still stayed in earth after the flood though, their offspring was destroyed by joshua the parents still stayed living and interacting with humans.
    Based on you research is my conclusion near to fact?

    • peterrock12 Says:

      Hello Alex,

      Of course, only God knows the facts, but I completely agree with you. I think that most, if not all, of the ancient gods were fallen angels of some kind. I also agree that one of the reasons God commanded Joshua and the Israelites to “utterly destroy” the Canaanites was because of a mix between them and the Nephilim. Regardless of what actually happened in those days, we know that all authority has been placed under the feet of Jesus, and we can put our confidence and faith him!

      Thanks for subscribing,

      Pete


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