This book surprised me. I wondered how sophisticated it would be. It impressed. I do feel like some arguments could have been expanded, but overall Gilbert made a reasonably strong case, one that I find convincing. Please check out his website here.
and here: http://www.derekpgilbert.com/the-great-inception/
The reader is encourage to consult Serro’s work as well.
The argument: Yahweh’s war against the Watchers takes place on a set of mountains, beginning in Eden.
Following Heiser he suggests that the serpent in Genesis 3 was actually a serpentine being (following the fluidity of nachash) rather than Sneaky Snake.
- He says Nachash can also mean “one who practices divination” (Gilbert 9). I don’t disagree, but he doesn’t cite any lexical sources.
- But if Lucifer is an angel, and angels do have a shining appearance, then it might work.
Who was “Satan?” He never appears by that name early on. But if we take Isaiah 14 and Ezek. 28 as referring to the garden, then we can infer:
- He was an anointed cherub
- He walked on stones of fire
It means giants (33). We need to get clear on something: the Nephilim are the descendants (or some of them, anyway) from the intermarriages. They are not the sires. Gilbert argues, and I think he is correct, that the Watchers, or other ביני ילוהימ, mated with humans and produced Nephilim.
- How likely is it that all the Sethite men were good and all the Cainanite women were bad?
- Does this mean that Caininite women never married Sethite men?
- Why would this union produce Nephilim, understood by Jews and Christians to be giants?
- Why would this union lead to wickedness so great that God destroys the planet?
- Every other use of bene elohim means divine beings (34).
Objection: But angels can’t reproduce!
But I answer: That was not the presumption of the men of Sodom. I suppose we can advance the argument. Who said the Watchers or the ביני ילוהימ were angels in the sense you are thinking of? I simply deny that premise.
Gilbert advances the argument that Babel wasn’t Babylon (as Babylon wouldn’t have existed then). Nor was God freaked out that somebody would have built a really big Ziggurat. What is neat is comparing this with other ANE legends (Satan’s psyops). Nimrod was lord of the abzu, the abyss. The tower of Bab-el would have been built on the abzu (59). And Bab-el meant gate of the god(s). So the gate of the gods would have been built on the abyss.
Gilbert asks the question that bourgeois commentators do not: could Nimrod have succeeded? It was serious enough that Yahweh personally intervened.
The gods of the nations
This is where it gets neat. We are familiar with the story that the people spread out. Part of the punishment was that the people (70 nations) were given to the lordship of the bene elohim-ביני ילוהימ (also 70).
God writes (Dt. 32),
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders[a] of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God (bene elohim; ביני ילוהימ).
It makes no sense whatsoever to say that God fixed the numbers according to the nation of Israel, which didn’t yet exist. Yet, if we read this as “sons of God,” assuming they are beings which have some kind of hypostatic existence, then other passages in Deuteronomy start to make sense:
And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. 20 But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace (Dt. 4)
Why would God alot other nations to do idolatry? It’s not so much that he wanted them to do that, but that he gave them over to the gods of those nations.
But would Yahweh allot nations to evil beings? Well, yes. Think of it as the Romans 1 moment of the Old Testament. And it is no more “mean” of God to do this than to give people up to sinful passions.
It is because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, 26 and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them (Dt 29).
In short, these are territorial spirits. And this makes sense of obscure passages in Daniel, where Daniel learns of the war between the princes of Persia, Greece, and Michael.
Who was Ba’al Zephon (Ex. 14:3)? Zaphon was the name of Ba’al’s mountain in Egypt.
At Mt. Sinai Yahweh demands that 70 elders approach with Moses and Aaron. Gilbert concludes, noting the parallels between the 70 elders and the 70 bene elohim, “A day is coming when my (Yahweh’s) people will again take their place in the divine council” (96).
The Typhon Connection
Set was often equated with Ba’al, but he was also identified with Typhon (99). And when you transpose this onto the Crowley-Lovecraft mythos, you see that the Great Old Ones are prominent, and they could be the bene elohim.
Tie-in with other gods
Gilbert connects the dots between pagan mythologies and biblical demonology, and the list is quite startling:
“Reseph” in the bible is mentioned as plague, and for the Amorites he was a god who spread both healing and disease with his arrows (115). In Babylon he was called Nergal, and by the time Greece emerged as a power, he was depicted as an archer and god of medicine and healing. His name, obviously, was Apollo. And he has a role to play in Eschatology (Rev. 9:1-11). He is Lord of the Abyss.
And when we tie all this together, we see Reseph (similar root structure to seraph, burning one) = Nergal, Lord of the Underworld = Apollo, demon of the Abyss.
Zeus = Ba’al (lightning, storm connection)
Venus = Aphrodite = Astarte = Ishtar
Who are the Rephaim (Dt. 2:2-5; 8b-12; 18-23).
They are connected with Og and Sihon, giants whom Moses deliberately targeted (they weren’t on the planned invasion route). Hesiod and Enoch (1 Enoch 15:8-12) connect the meropes anthropoi with the Nephilim, children of the Fallen Watchers (157). Upon their death they would have become spirits/demons, the Council of the Didanu.
Angels fought against Jabin (Judg. 5:19-22).
Onto Mt. Carmel:
If our earlier reading is correct, and Yahweh did indeed divide the people into 70 nations (with 70 gods; Dt 32:8-9, using the ESV). If this reading is wrong, then Paul was wrong to warn against elemental spirits, thrones, demons, principalities.
Amorite spiritual context: the Rephaim/Nephilim, children of Titans, represented forbidden knowledge (sorcery, necromancy, etc. 197).
Jesus’s transfiguration took place near Mt Hermon. There were other watchers besides the disciples. He was sending a message (208-209). This was the realm of Pan (Paneas = Caesarea Phillipi). Pan is a goat demon alluded to in the Old Testament (Lev. 17:1-7, which is the same word used in Isaiah 13:19-21). Azazel in Leviticus 16:6-12 is also connected with goats.
Pan is also related to Aegipan, sometimes connected with the Constellation Capricorn
In his response to the Pharisees Christ links Satan with Ba’al, the storm God. This means Satan is also linked with Zeus, Thor, and Perrun.
Satan = Ba’al = Zeus = Thor = Perrun.
I’m not quite ready to make that connection, but it is worth considering.
200 supernatural beings (Watchers, from the book of Enoch) established a rebellion on Mt Hermon. Their breeding with women in Genesis 6 produced the Nephilim. They also taught forbidden knowledge. In response God chained them in darkness (Jude, 2 Peter).
Gilbert brings home Dr Heiser’s arguments and they are strongly worth considering. If we don’t take the supernatural seriously, we have a flattened ontology and are incapable of dealing with both the bible and the hard facts of reality.
Annus, Amar. 1999. “Are there Greek Rephaim? On the Etymology of Greek Meropes and Titanes.” Ugarit-Forschungen 31:13-30.
–. 2010. “On the Origin of Watchers: A comparative study of the antediluvian wisdom in Mesopotamian and Jewish Traditions.” Journal for the Study of Pseudipigrapha 19 (4): 277-320.
Toon, K. van der. “Nimrod Before and After the bible.” Harvard Theological Review 83: 1-29.