My earlier study "Ancient Gods and Giants" traced the biblical references to
giant races and individuals in the Old Testament. This article endeavours to investigate
further information on the above by looking at the fragmentary remains of the script on the Giants
in the Aramaic (about 300 BC) and Manichean (about 250 AD) versions.
Aramaic is believed to be the language in general use in Israel at this time
and therefore thought to be the language spoken by Jesus Christ. The
fragmentary Aramaic version was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.
The Manichean (also fragmentary) is believed to be by Mani, (c. 215-276) ,
the founder of a heretical religious sect.
Although it is important to scrutinise the two versions mentioned above, a
more coherent story is to be obtained in the Book of Enoch, a version known as Enoch 1.
Especially, the Book of Watchers, part of the Book of Enoch. (chapters 1-36). Enoch is one of the
most intriguing characters in the Bible, as he was at the end, transported to heaven and did
not die in the normal sense.
Enoch lived before the Flood and was the great great grandfather of Noah. He
was clearly an object of fascination throughout the centuries and many stories and legends
accreted around him.
The Book of Giants enlarges on the mention in Genesis 6:4 of giants being
on the earth at this time.
The Book of Enoch is considered by some to be one of the pseudepigrapha
collection, so called because the reputed authors employed the name of a
notable figure from the past as the title head simply to impart a credence
to their story which it otherwise might not have.
Probably the most arresting facet of the Book of Enoch is the allusion to
the sexual intermingling of human females with (fallen) angels. The resultant offspring were the
giants who oppressed humanity and taught evil. Because of the wickedness which had come upon
mankind, God decided to bring about the great flood. We are told that Enoch tried to
intercede with heaven on behalf of the wicked angels but was unsuccessful. The Book of Giants expands
this story and recounts the exploits of the giants.
In the Book of Enoch, we read that the idea of mixing with human females was
discussed and permitted by Shemihaza, the leader of the wicked angels, some 200 in
total. The Book of Giants dilates this story, especially being concerned with the activities of
the two sons of Shemihaza, Ohya and Hahya. As stated above, we have only fragments of the
Book of Giants, part of which is concerned with the fateful dreams of the giants,
Enoch`s attempts to interpret them and his unsuccessful efforts to plead with God for the
(We have stated that the fragments need to be reconstructed in order to
achieve a more or less comprehensible narrative. The initial fragments tell of the descent from
heaven of the rebel or wicked angels, who brought knowledge to mankind, but also wreaked great
disruption and evil upon the earth. It is instructive to see parallel information in Genesis,
6:4. Square brackets indicate (my) presumed connecting material. Round/normal brackets indicate
(There are several versions supposedly accounting for the descent of some of
the angels to earth from heaven. Rebellion against the Godhead is a generic term. Details are
variously ascribed: Lucifer, onetime chief of the angels, was it seems, too proud to bow down
before humans, as God wished and furthermore became envious of his maker, and was for his
disobedience cast out of heaven. Other angels of like mind followed, and left heaven for earth.
Eventually they became known as Fallen Angels. It does however seem as if the main reason for the
descent was lust for the daughters of men, which led to sexual intercourse between the
(now) wicked angels and earthly women.
The principal transgressors were a body of angels known as
Watchers whose task was supposed to be to watch and guide the actions of humanity.
Clearly, they betrayed this trust and it appears were the instigators of sexual co-mingling. One of the
leaders (at this stage) of the proposed rebellion was one called Shemiraza, who was persuaded into
allowing himself and about two hundred angels to adopt human form and go on this venture. It
is clear from the above that pride and lust were the main driving forces of the defection.
Over-weaning ambition was another. God banned these disloyal angels from heaven and eventually
condemned them to an everlasting life of damnation. However, they in some measure retained
The result of their taking wives among human females was the birth of
monstrous beings and wicked giants usually known as Nephilim, In Genesis, 6.4 are the words:
There were giants on the earth in those days They brought with them certain arcane knowledge
but also created havoc among all earth dwellers. It is at this point that we begin with the
Dead Sea Scrolls version of the Book of Giants.
[These fallen angels] knew the secrets of [all things]. [At this time]
sin was great on the earth.
The wicked angels killed many people and begot giants [with mortal women].
The wicked (former) angels [consumed] everything that the earth produced. :
the great fish, the birds in the sky, all the fruit of the earth, all kinds of grain , [the
fruit] of the trees, [even beasts and reptiles they committed sin against] all the creeping things of the
earth: they [observed/watched all earthly things]. They performed every harsh deed with
harsh utterance upon male and female creation and upon/among humanity itself.
(Two hundred angels had been persuaded to leave heaven for the earth)
The two hundred angels seized 200 hundred donkeys, 200 asses, 200 hundred
sheep and rams of the flock, 200 goats, 200 beasts of the field from every animal and from
every bird, [for experiments in in-breeding with humans] and all types of miscegenation.
(As a result, monsters were created among all the perversion, due to
mingling animal seed with mortal women. Similar to Egyptian Gods, satyrs and possibly even dinosaurs.
The historian Josephus mentions that Enoch had business in Egypt, then called Siriad)
[The monsters sought out[ flesh [which would be destroyed or perverted.]
Monsters and giants would arise who were lacking in true knowledge because [they were
abominations]. Meantime the earth grew ever more corrupt and [the giants more] mighty. They
considered [trying to persuade other angels to come upon the earth otherwise their tyranny might
ultimately] perish and die. All the time they were causing great corruption in the earth. [If
this aim] did not suffice [to perpetuate them] , they would be [finally destroyed.] (they believed).
[The fallen ones] defiled all creation and begot giants and monstrous
creatures, and corrupted all the earth, [which was] defiled by blood shedding, at the hands of the
giants. But this did not suffice them and [they were seeking all the time] to devour/destroy
many/much more. The monsters attacked [all creation.]
(The giants are now troubled with portentous dreams, and Mahway reports his
dream to the rest of the giants. Apparently, he sees a tablet inscribed with several names
immersed in water, which only has three names remaining when it emerges. The usual interpretation
is that this symbolizes the death of all on earth except Noah and his sons. The story continues.)
[Mahway reported that men] drenched the tablet in water so that it was
covered. It was then lifted
out and all the inscriptions but three had vanished.
(Mahway goes to the others. They discuss the dream.)
This vision is cause for cursing and sorrow, said the group. I, said Mahway,
am the one [who will be blamed most of the whole group], of those cast down
out of heaven, and I shall have to go to hear the spirits of the slain
complaining about their killers and crying out that we shall all die
together and be made an end of, when I am sleeping [and dreaming] Bread and
dwelling [will be denied me ]. So, troubled with this vision, [the monsters]
entered into the gathering of the giants.
Then Ohya spoke without trembling to Mahway Who showed you all this vision,
my brother? Barakel, my father, was with me [as corroborator, and.it seemed
experienced the same vision] But before Mahway had finished telling what he had seen in his dream, Ohya
said to him, Now I have heard wonders! If a barren woman gives birth (parable) [that
would be an equal wonder!]
Thereupon Ohya said to Hahya, Are we to be destroyed upon this earth? When
they had finished discussing the dreams, both Ohya and Hahya wept before [the
assembled giants and monsters.]
Use your strength, [the group counseled]. Then Ohya said to Hayha, This
doom is not for us but for Azazel (one of the wicked angels) for he [showed most corruption] to
humanity). . . They (the good angels) surely will not let all their loved ones (i.e. the giants
and monsters) be neglected. We are not to be cast down .You [(addressing the crowd of giants,
angels (fallen) and monsters] have strength and [can resist] (The giants however, realize that fighting heaven is futile)
(Gilgamesh speaks) I am a giant, and by my mighty strength in my arm, I can vanquish anyone
mortal. I have made war with them (mortals) in the past but I am not now able to stand against
my opponents who reside in heaven, and dwell in holy places. And not only this, but they are
in fact stronger than I am. The day of the ravening wild beasts has come and that of the wild man
[as I am known].
Then Ohya said to him. I have been forced to have a dream... The sleep of
my eyes vanished so that I could see a vision. [Now I know that on the field of battle we cannot
win.] Gilgamish - note! (Ohya describes his vision.
I saw a tree uprooted except for three of its roots. While I was as it were
watching, [some beings (good angels?)] moved all the roots into this garden [but not the
three] 20 .(The interpretation of this dream is similar to that of the earlier one.)
This dream vision concerns the death of our souls, said Ohya, and those
of Gilgamesh and all his companions. However, Gilgamesh said to me that [all
the forebodings] concerned [only the rulers of earth, the temporal, powerful
ones, whom the leader of the good angels has cursed]. The giants were glad
at his words. Then [Ohya] turned and left the assembly. (There are more dreams, the import of which is hostile to the giants. The
dreamers report to the monsters and then to the giants.)
After this, two of them had visions; they were unable to sleep and they
came to their comrades and told their dreams, to the assembly, their comrades. The
monsters. They reported that in their dream they seemed to be observing a garden where
gardeners (angels?) were watering two hundred trees and large shoots came out of their roots .
[Suddenly the garden became ablaze] so that the garden was destroyed and all the water
evaporated. Then they went to the giants to tell them of their dreams. (The suggestion was made to seek out the scribe and prophet Enoch to
interpret the dreams.)
Let us seek out Enoch, the noted scribe, and he will interpret for us the
dream.. Thereupon Ohya declared to the giants I too this night had another
dream and behold the Ruler of Heaven came down to earth [and made an end of
us]. Such is the ending of my dream. Upon hearing this, all the monster and
giants grew afraid and called Mahway, (the Titan) He came to meet the giants
who pleaded with him and sent him to Enoch, the scribe. They (the giants)
said to him Go to Enoch so that he may speak to you and then return saying]
you have heard his voice. Ohya spoke to Mahway, and said to him, He
(Enoch) will listen and interpret the dreams and tell us how long we giants
have to live and rule on earth. (After a journey through the heavens Mahway sees Enoch and speaks to him of
Mahway mounted up in the air as if upon strong winds, using his hands like
eagle`s wings. . He left behind the inhabited world and passed over the great desert of
Desolation., Enoch saw him and hailed him [Mahway told Enoch of his mission and said to him that he
would speak with him.] Flying here and there Enoch came a second time to Mahway (after he,
Enoch, had warned Mahway about flying too near the sun) Mahway spoke to Enoch and said that
the giants and all the monsters of the earth await his words. [If the Fall of the giants/wicked
angels has been carried out (by divine Providence)] from their days of heavenly glory, can
you at least assure us that the number of our days spent doing harm will be added to our lives. We
wish to know the meaning of the two hundred trees that came down from heaven. (Enoch, having received Mahway`s request, tried to intercede with God but
Accordingly, he presented Mahway with a tablet which was full of foreboding
about the coming judgment, but which offered some hope for the future via repentance.)
The scribe, Enoch, gave Mahway a copy of another tablet (not the one doused
in water) that bore his (Enoch`s) own handwriting. The writing on the tablet said: in the name
of the great and holy God, this message is sent to, Shemihaza, and all his companions. Let it be
known to you (the giants and monsters) that you will not escape judgment for all the things
that you have done, and that your wives, their sons, and the wives of their sons [will not
escape,] and that by your licentiousness on the earth, there has been visited upon you a heavenly
judgment. The land is crying out and complaining about you and the deeds of your children and
about the harm you have done to it. Until the heavenly angel *Raphael, arrives, behold,
destruction is coming by a great flood which will destroy all living things, whatever is in the deserts
and the seas. The meaning of the [dreams/matter is by way of a judgment] for all your evil.
But if you now loosen the bonds binding you to evil and pray (for forgiveness). (You may be
Raphael: an angel sent by God to fight against evil and especially Azazel (Enoch it appears also saw a vision at some point. He said the following); A great fear seized me and I fell on my face. * I heard his voice. (whose/
the angel`s?) (The text continues): He (Enoch) dwelt among human beings but he did not learn
from or rely on them. It seems possible Enoch is talking about the occasion when an angel came
down to earth to summon him to heaven.
Here ends the fragmentary Book of Giants (Dead Sea Scrolls version).
It would be instructive here to look at relevant passages from The Book of
Enoch, 1, especially the section on The Watchers where we are told of the corrupting influence of
the Fallen Angels, giving humanity, (especially female) forbidden and arcane knowledge. Many of
the women were made pregnant by the (evidently polymorphous) angels The story of the
Giants is easier to follow in the Book of Enoch than in the very fragmented DSS version.
Obviously much is lost of the latter version, beginning and end as well as throughout the narrative.
According to the Book of Enoch, (in the Watchers section), Enoch explains
that the 200 trees represent the 200 hundred Watchers (the angels who betrayed their trust and
that the felling of their trunks signifies their coming destruction by fire and flood. In
another part of the Book we are told that Mahway in his flight, narrowly escaped being burnt by the sun,
by means of Enoch`s warning. The three names remaining (on the tablet in the first dream reported)
symbolize the destruction of all creatures except Noah and his two sons.
Largely similar to the DSS version (as to be expected) but with several
differing details. This Manichean version is even more fragmentary than the DSS text and the
fragments are in several languages, Middle Persian, Coptic being some of them. Below I give a summary/reconstruction of the fragments to try to form a coherent narrative.
The version begins with the descent of the wicked angels to earth, because
of their lust for mortal women. The angels taught forbidden secrets to the women (and men) which led
eventually to the spread of wickedness upon the earth. They subjugate and murder many people.
Shemihaza begets two giant sons, Ohya and Ahyah. Other giants are engendered by other
fallen angels/demons, who bring ruin to all things earthly. Humankind pleads for
help. The giants quarrel among themselves. Ohyah has a dream about a tablet thrown into
water, that when it emerged carried three signs indicating coming destruction. His brother
dreams of a garden containing some two hundred trees. Ahyah tells of a dream he had in which he
saw people lamenting . The giant Mahway flying along seeking Enoch, hears his voice
warning him not to fly too close to the sun. He is guided by Enoch, who interprets the dreams,
which suggest impending doom for the giants. Enoch`s reply (in his own hand) is brought to
the giants, which is a message of foreboding, seeming to predict a time of flood. Mahway goes
again to Enoch (living in a sort of earthly paradise) to tell him everything, and then Ohya
has a dream in which he ascends to heaven and sees the water of the earth consumed with fire.
Ohya, Shemihaza and Mahway have a conversation and seem to refer to weapons. Ohya and Mahway
fall out and fight.
The giants are glad to see Enoch, (either visually or by the tablet) and
promise to reform, asking for mercy. Enoch however, warns the giants/monsters they will face damnation
despite their belief they would never lose their power. The angels descend from heaven and
terrify the demons who take human form. The angels lead the children of the giants away
to nearby towns.
The two hundred demons fight an intense battle with the four angels. Ohyah
and Ahyah intend to keep their promise to do battle. The four archangels bind the watchers with
chains and destroy their children. It seems prisons had been prepared for them long ago. Ohyah,
the monster Leviathan, and the angel Raphael took part in a great battle. And then,
The DSS version of the Book of Giants, as we have just read, begins with the
story of the descent of the disloyal angels to earth, their illicit union with mortal women,
resulting in a giant and monstrous progeny. (We do not know how much is lost from the beginning; it
seems likely that the fragment/s we have are not the beginning but tell of events some way
into the account.) This much can be echoed in the O.T. Genesis, 4:6 ) Really the early story of the
first giants ends here, tantalizingly, and is not taken up until later Books of the OT where further
material is related concerning the various races of giants .
There are many references to giants
in subsequent Books, denoting abiding belief, by the writers, in their existence and power. The
DSS version goes on to relate the evil deeds of the giants and monsters, on earth and humanity,
leading to the wrath of God and his threatened vengeance by means of a flood. This much we also
learn in Genesis, leading on to the story of Noah and his Ark. The episode we encounter in the
Book of Giants, must date at about this time since we are told of the coming destruction
of the giants. Because of the evil that the giants had caused (the giants being part of humanity
albeit extraordinary) but maybe more so because the human race itself was given to evil and immorality
as a result of being corrupted by the descended (wicked) angels, the Lord we are told
decided to destroy all living things on earth. This we are also told in Genesis.
The same story is
told in the DSS version of the Book of Giants: there is an impending doom. It is at this point that
the two accounts, Genesis and the Book of Giants, separate. In the DSS story we learn of the
troublesome dreams of the giants, or some of them, that seem to show a baleful future for the
giants. (This aspect is not mentioned in Genesis.) As the narrative of the Book of Giants indicates,
Enoch is sought to interpret the dreams. Clearly there is much more detail about the giants in
the DSS account than in Genesis.
The first five Books of the OT Bible are often reputed to be by Moses,
This is not generally believed now (by other faiths). Genesis, in keeping
with the rest of the Bible, has no verifiable date with regard to its writing. It probably grew
over the centuries, from several sources, and by many hands. It may date from about
1000 years BC. In
its first form, whatever that may have been, but most of the first Bible was
lost in 6th century BC when the temple of Solomon was destroyed by King
Nebuchadnezzar II of the Chaldean Babylon in 587 BC. It is certainly well
written before the DSS version (of
about 300 BC) and of course before the Manichean version of about 250 AD, which itself differs
in several details from the DSS version. Large parts of the Bible were
rewritten during the 70 years of Exile of the strain of Judah in Babylon by
the Prophets Daniel and Ezekiel.
There is much evidence of one kind or another for the existence of giant
beings on the earth in earliest times. Whether one accepts this evidence or not is up to
the individual. The bible itself is a collation of stories to which credence may or may not be given.
Certainly much emphasis is placed on the existence of giants and the part they played in
the biblical world. How the giants came into existence in the first place we are told in Genesis and
the Book of Giants.
That they played a large part in the early days of man and his destruction
by flood is central to the allusions in the biblical/religious literature. Reading Genesis 6:4 and
the subsequent verses sets the scene; the story in the Book of Giants (DSS) follows on naturally
to give additional information. Unfortunately, as with the beginning of the text, the
concluding sections are missing.
The final message we are left with (in both accounts) is that the (wicked)
giants are vanquished, but the mystery remains: giants are mentioned AFTER the
One of the most important considerations to exercise modern scholarship is:
why were the books written in the first place? The following matter attempts some answers.
(Clearly ALL the biblical Books had some raison d`etre.!)
As we have learned, one of the accounts of giants is by Mani, brought up in
a Jewish/Christian sect. As the founder of a new (heretical) religion Mani wished to attract
attention by writing several scriptures, most now lost. The Book of Giants is/was probably his
most prominent work, composed in the dominant tongue of the area, Aramaic. He wrote hoping
that his doctrines would be preserved, and partly to this end, drew on other major faiths to
bolster credence in him and his teachings.
One of the main themes/subjects of ancient religious
thought and writings was that of the existence of giants and their battles. (Echoes of Greek
mythology). As we know, reference to giant beings is (first?) made in Genesis (depending on when
this was written) could be as we have remarked, about 1000 BC. Mani therefore wished among other
things, to establish himself as familiar with, if not an actual authority on, ancient biblical or
religious history and writings. His background -that of Jewish Christianity also motivated him to
pen (Christian source) literature and to see himself as giving a warning to others of the
perils of not leading a semi-Christian, moral, life.
Not only this, but Mani intended his Book to
illustrate ancient Iranian mythology (note Gilgamesh), since Iran was one of his main
proselytizing. The story of the giants was therefore adapted to suit his purpose. It is clear
that Mani based much of his material on the text we now have since the DSS discovery. Apparently,
there was also a very much earlier Aramaic Book of Giants, which Mani also laid under
contribution. Though these early stories of giants may be regarded as history , Mani`s intention was
to give his version a decidedly sectarian flavor. His main aim was therefore to impress and to
steer aright his contemporaries.
Whether Mani himself believed in the stories of giants and their
depredations is a moot point. Maybe he did, and this gives his account added moment. Fundamentally, Mani
wished to inspire, impress and evangelize. I see no reason to doubt that IN HIS TIME he was
The version of the Book of Giants found (in 1947) at Qumran in Israel, is of
earlier date than the Mani text, discussed above, and is generally thought to have been composed
about 300 BC.
Unlike Mani`s text, which is decidedly sectarian in tone , the fragments
from Qumran show no particular religious bias and appear to be (probably) a distillation
of giant stories that had been around (in oral form) for a long time . Genesis basically tells a
very similar story about fallen angels and the Watchers to that of the Qumran fragments. Clearly the
compiler (or compilers) of the story of the giants was intent on preserving this lore for
future generations. It is equally clear that legends of giants were taken seriously and their quondam
existence thoroughly believed in. The Qumran Book of Giants was on a par with all the other Books
discovered, and by no means to be construed as something mythological, but on the contrary
was regarded with true historicity. The language of the fragment is mainly Hebrew and Aramaic.
Both however, agree on what might be
regarded as the main feature: that some angels descended to earth who (and) were allured by
the beauty of mortal women by whom they produced beings that grew up as giants. This was
not the only aspect which angered the deity, but also the revealing of heavenly secrets
to humanity. This story would basically account for evil upon earth and the creation of demons out
of wicked angels, as a result partly of imparting arcane and forbidden knowledge (to humanity). It
is clear that one of the main aims of the writer or writers, of the Qumran text is to perpetuate
the account of the beginnings of earthly wickedness.
Some of the sources used, are derived from
Near Eastern myth, (as opposed to the Iranian of the Mani text) as witness the name
Gilgamesh, well known in Sumerian literature from the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, a very long time
before. The compiler was obviously well aware of these myths/stories, and thought them worth
being given a modern (for that time) setting.
The composition of the work rules out a Christian context (as it appears to
be a BC construct). It was probably produced by a Jewish scholar who believed the
story of the fate of the giants was perhaps a salutary one, defining or reinforcing the then
historical context. Perhaps in the concluding section we should attempt to put the Scrolls (or
at least the writing/copying of them) in perspective/context.
It is generally believed
that the Scrolls found at Qumran were the work of a Jewish sect called the Essenes who flourished c.
150 BC to 70 AD (when the Temple (of Herodes) at Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans). The dates are
approximate : the sect may very well have existed before the date of 150 BC.
(We still do not know much about them!) It was a time of Roman domination for the Jews and the Essenes may
have tried to escape the worst aspects of the Roman persecution by fleeing to the area of the
Dead Sea. Undoubtedly the underlying motive for the establishment of the sect in the desert hills
was that the followers of the sect wished to practice their own brand of the Jewish faith away from
the dictates of the priesthood in Jerusalem They wished to live by their own rules and
principles , believing that their way was the true one. They spent much of their time in
devotion and living according to the roles and rituals laid down in their own holy book. It
seems that much of their time also ,was spent in writing - or copying ancient manuscripts: for
example, all of the OT texts (except Esther). They clearly wished to preserve these and at the same
time to put their own gloss on the stories. A central tenet of their belief was Messianic:
belief in the coming of a righteous one.
Some of the scrolls (at Qumran) date from c. 400 BC (or earlier, if not
written by the sect itself). Modern research suggests that the Scrolls were not all written (or
copied) AT Qumran but that some were imported to place in safe hideaways , to keep them from
enemies , such as the Romans, - or main-line Jewish hierarchy who might not approve of Essene
interpretation. Apart from throwing light on Jewish affairs at this time , it is possible to
suggest the Scrolls reflect a type of nascent Christian thought. As with the NT the Scrolls indicate a
messianic expectation based on a dualistic concept of the Last Day, when Good and Evil will be
weighed in the balance.
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