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Chapter VII. The Aborigines of the Land.

63. The Nephilim. "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 unto them; the same became mighty men, which were of old, men of renown." (Gen. 6:4).

Both in the letter of the Word and in the Writings of the New Church we are taught that the Garden of Eden was in the land of Canaan. Here, therefore, was the cradle of mankind, and here, in the unnumbered days of the Golden Age, lived the celestial men of the Most Ancient Church. Here, also, took place the fall of mankind, and the degeneration and perversion of the celestial race which culminated in the profane conjunctions of the "sons of God" with "the daughters of men," that is, the intermingling of the holy truths of the Church with the persuasive lusts of the flesh. The truths of the Church were so twisted and perverted as to excuse and confirm the evils of the will, and when this practice had become general in the Church, the fallen celestial race became a race of monstrous profaners, giants in their own conceit and in the fearful power of their persuasive reasonings and lust of dominating over all others. These, in the Authorized Version, are described by the "giants" which were in the land in those days of old, but the term used in the original Hebrew is "Nephilim."

The meaning of this name is somewhat uncertain. Some derive it from a root, Palah or Pala, "to be marvellous," but most probably it is a form of the verb, naphal, "to fall," meaning either fallen ones, or those who fall upon others, or "abortions," untimely and monstrous births. In either case, the etymology of the name is in correspondence with the spiritual and natural characteristics of the man of this race, "the wickedness of whom was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of whose heart was only evil continually." (Gen. 6:5.)

This people, it should be remembered, were of the race of celestial men, with whom the will and the understanding acted as one,—men who, the instant they recognized a truth, immediately assented to it in their heart and acted upon it in their life. Consequently, when perverted, their understanding recognized nothing but falsity, and their evil will immediately assented to this falsity and carried it out in life, nor were they able to control themselves or compel themselves to shun what was evil. They were hopelessly fallen, and were in such evil and falsity as "had never been before nor ever shall be again."(AC 7686.)

The Nephilim signify those who through a persuasion of their own loftiness and pre-eminence made light of all things holy and true. ... That race, which lived before the flood, is such that they so kill and suffocate all spirits by their most direful phantasies, (which are poured forth by them as a poisonous and suffocating sphere), that the spirits are entirely deprived of the power of thinking, and feel half dead; and unless the Lord by His Coming into the world had freed the world of spirits from that poisonous race, no one could have existed there, and consequently the human race, (which is ruled by the Lord through the spirits), would have perished. They are, therefore, now kept in a hell, as it were under a misty and dense rock; under the heel of the left foot. (AC 581, 607, 805, 1120.)

This direful race at last perished from the earth in the universal deluge of evils and falsities which overtook the fallen Church in the time of Noah. Filled with an insane love of dominating over others, they waged internecine warfare in the land of Canaan, tribe against tribe, family against family, and brother against brother. The decimated people finally choked to death, as in the waters of a flood,—their evil lusts and practices clogging and stopping up the channels of their internal respiration. "With some, however, external respiration then began."(AC 1120.)

As a nation the antediluvian Nephilim perished, but a remnant escaped extinction,—or, rather, we should say, two distinct sets of remnants. Of these there was one generation, signified by Noah, which had preserved remains of uprightness and rationality, and which therefore could serve as the nucleus of a new Church or dispensation. These, having received a new revelation or doctrine from the Lord, not only separated themselves from their evil associates as to doctrine and life, but also, probably, after bitter persecutions, fled from the land, perhaps to Ararat among the mountains of Armenia, where they could in security develop the doctrine, worship, and life of their new Church, the Church of the Silver Age, and also spread its light among the neighboring gentile nations who are represented by the sons of Noah and their descendants. The other remnant, continuing in the evil ways of their forefathers, remained in the land of Canaan, and became the progenitors of the seven profane tribes which are known as the Avim, the Anakim, the Horim, the Emim, the Zuzim, the Zamzummim, and the Rephaim.

These seven tribes or nations, which in the Word are still included under the general designation of Nephilim, are all described as men of gigantic stature and fearsome habits, a savage and vicious race of robbers and murderers, living in the caves of the mountains like wild beasts, yet preserving some sort of tribal organization, by which, for a time, they could resist the successive invasions of Hittites, Canaanites, and Hebrews.

We touch here upon a chapter in the history of the Ancient Church in the land of Canaan, which, as yet, is involved in great obscurity. The ethnology of Canaan is much like one of the ancient cities in that land, in which modern excavations have brought to light layer upon layer of cities,—cities beneath cities. Beneath a modern Arabic village we find the ruins of a town of the Saracens; beneath this a Greek or Roman city; beneath this a fastness of Jewish origin; beneath this a town of Canaanitish, Phoenician or Philistine character; beneath this, perhaps, a Hittite city, and' beneath this, finally, the caves and dwelling places of the aboriginal, troglodyte Nephilim.

From the records of the Old Empire in Egypt, especially from the monuments of the conquering heroes of the twelfth dynasty, we find that Canaan, at that time, was inhabited by a race known as the "Sati," who seem to correspond to the aboriginal Nephilim. From the names recorded, both in the Egyptian monuments and in the Word, these appear to have spoken a language cognate to the Hebrew, but they certainly were neither Semites nor Canaanites, but of a far more ancient stock, cordially hated and abhorred by Hittites, Canaanites, and Hebrews alike. At one time they undoubtedly possessed the whole of the land, since they left their names to places in the interior of Canaan, (as, for instance, the Valley of Rephaim, near Jerusalem, and the town of Avim, in the district of Benjamin). It is also certain that they were driven away from the interior by the invasion of the Hittites, who, according to the Writings of the New Church, were a gentle and upright nation of the Ancient Church, directly descended from the good remnant of the Most Ancient Church. Who could these original Hittites have been but the descendants of the Church of Noah, having returned from their exile among the Armenian mountains in order to take possession of the land of their fathers? This, we think, will be proved in our chapter on the Hittite nation, but for the present we suggest it only as a working hypothesis. At any rate, in the time of Ramses II., we find the interior of Canaan in the possession of the Hittites, (by the Egyptians known as the Cliatti or Cheta), while the remnants of the Nephilim are found on the southern and eastern borders of the land. It is here, also, that we find them when Chedorlaomer, the Elamite conqueror of Chaldea, made the victorious expedition against them which is recorded in the fourteenth chapter of Genesis. "And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim, and the Horim in their Mount Seir, unto El-Paran, which is by the wilderness." (Gen. 14:5,6.) Only four of the seven tribes are here mentioned, but we will now consider each of them according to their position in the land of Canaan as recorded in the Word.

69. The Avim, ("dwellers among ruins," or "ruined ones," from Avvcih, "destruction, ruin"). Concerning this tribe we read in Deuteronomy, chapter 2, verse 23: "And the Avim which dwelt, in Hazerim, even unto Azzah, the Caphtorim, which came forth out of Caphtor, destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead." This people undoubtedly belonged to the remnant of the Nephilim, as they are mentioned in connection with the Emim, the Horim, and the Zamzumim who are spoken of in the same chapter. They are, moreover, reckoned as among the aborigines of Palestine by all commentators of the Bible. They are said to have dwelt in Hazerim, even to "Azzah," which means that they occupied the most southern portion of the coastland which afterwards was occupied by the Philistines. "Azzah," in the Hebrew, is the same as Gaza, the most southern city of the Philistines. The Caphtorim is only the most ancient name of the Philistines. The Avim are afterwards, (in Joshua 13:3), mentioned among the various tribes of the Philistines, from which it would appear that while the majority of the tribe was destroyed, a portion was adopted and incorporated in the Philistine confederation. The character of this people may be inferred from the meaning of their name as being either "ruined ones" or "dwellers among ruins,"—probably both!

70. The Anakim ("long-necked ones," from Anaq, "to be long, stretched out, and over-towering"). This tribe is first mentioned in the book of Numbers, (13:22, 32, 33), in the report which the spies brought to Moses: "And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron, where were Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt)." And the spies added: "The land through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, [Nephilim], the sons of Anak, of the giants, [Nephilim] ; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight." And in Deuteronomy 9:2, they are further described as "a people great and tall, the children of the Anakim, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard (the saying) 'Who can stand before the children of Anak?' "

Commentators have supposed that this Anak was an individual, the son of a certain Arba who built Hebron seven years before Zoan in Egypt, but the whole context shows that a race of people is referred to, rather than any individual person. The ancient name of Hebron Was Kiriath Arba, a name which means "the city of four," or "the city which lieth four-square,"—like the New Jerusalem. Now, such a city signifies "a church in which there is justice,... because to look equally to the four quarters is to regard all things from what is just." (AR 905.) Hence we have the common expression "a square man," and "a square deal," meaning a just man and a just transaction. This, therefore, was an eminently proper name for the city which was the capital of Canaan in the time of the Ancient Church, before Jerusalem became the capital and the special representative of the Church.  (AC 29092.) But "that every Church in process of time decreases until it has nothing of faith and charity left, and that it is then destroyed, was represented by Kiriath Arba, which is Hebron, being possessed by the Anakim, by whom are represented direful persuasions of falsity." (AC 29093.)

It is to be noted that Kiriath Arba or Hebron in the time of Abraham was in the possession of the Hittites, a gentle, courteous and generous race, and not a word is said in the book of Genesis as to the presence of any Anakim there, while in the time of Moses and Joshua the city was occupied by the Anakim, and nothing is said about the former Hittite inhabitants. We judge from this that the original possessors had been driven out by an invasion of the Anakim, who may have been a remnant of refugees from the Horim who had been smitten by Chedorlaomer in Mount Seir. At any rate, they were like the Horim a gigantic race of fear-inspiring aspect and habits of life, who, in the time of Joshua, possessed not only Hebron, but also a number of other towns among the southern mountains of Palestine, divided into three tribes named after the three sons of Anak: Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai. At the time of the Israelitish invasion Joshua came "and cut off the Anakim from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel; Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities. There were none of the Anakim left in the land of the children of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod there was a remnant." (Josh. 9:21, 22.)

In these cities of the Philistines some families of the gigantic Anakim remained for hundreds of years, even until the time of David, for of this monstrous stock came the giant Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and one span, (about ten feet and a half). The stripling David slew the boasting monster, but many years afterwards the aged king was met in battle by four other giants of the same accursed race: Ishbi-benob, "who was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass," and Saph, who was also of the sons of the giant, and Lakmi, the brother of Goliath, "whose spear was like a weaver's beam," and an unnamed monster, "a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant. These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants." (2 Sam. 21:10-22; 1. Chron. 20:4.). And that is the last that we hear of the descendants of the Anakim in the land of Canaan.

71. The Horim ("troglodytes, or cave-dwellers" from Hor, "a cave"). Of this aboriginal race in Canaan we read first that Chedorlaomer smote "the Horites in their Mount Seir, unto El- Paran, which is by the wilderness," (Gen. 14:6), and later on that "the Horim also dwelt in Mount Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead," (Deut. 2:12), from which we learn that these cave-dwellers were not utterly destroyed by Chedorlaomer, but remained in their mountain-fastnesses between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea until they were finally exterminated by the Edomites, the Hebrew descendants of Esau.

Lenormant, in his Ancient History of the East, states that in northern Arabia, bordering on the Chaldean desert, there is found on the best maps a mountainous district called Thamud. "It is in this region thai, a tradition, even now believed among the Arabs, places the ancient nation of the Thamud, who made their dwellings in caves of the.rocks. They were, it is said, an impious nation, and they were destroyed by a certain 'Codar-el-Ahmar.' It is almost impossible to avoid recognizing in them the Horites or Troglodytes of the book of Genesis" (p. 146). In the neighborhood of Beit Djibrin, the Eleutheropolis of the Romans, and especially at Petra, their rock-hewn dwellings and excavated caves are still found by the hundreds in the sandstone cliffs and mountains of that wild and deserted region.

By the Horim, we are informed, in general, "are signified the persuasions of falsity which are from the love of self, such as are most foul," (more foul than the persuasions from the love of the world), "for they are opposite to the celestial things of love, involving the desire to command over others," (AC 1675),—all of which is in keeping with the character of this people as descendants of the antediluvian Nephilim.

72. The Emim ("terrible ones," from 'Aim, "to terrorize"). Of this people, with such an ominous name, we know nothing except the fact that Chedorlaomer smote them in Shaveh Kiriathaim, which was in the land afterwards occupied by the Moabites, the Hebrew descendants of the elder son of Lot. In that land, we are further told, "the Emim dwelt in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakim, which were also accounted giants, as the Anakim, but the Moabites called them Emim." (Deut. 2:11.) The word here rendered "tall," may also be translated "haughty," or great in their own estimation. The passage is suggestive of the awe-inspiring character of these Nephilim, who, although they were dispossessed and probably exterminated by the more numerous descendants of Moab, yet produced such an impression upon the conquerors that they could record them by no other names than "the terrible ones." Concerning them we are told in the Writings that they "were of a similar kind to the Nephilim," and "signified persuasions of what is false, or the hells of such, which the Lord conquered." (AC 1673.)

73. The Zuzim, an aboriginal people which is mentioned but once in the Word, viz., in Genesis xiv, where it is said that Chedorlaomer "smote the Zuzim in Ham." From the context it appears that these Zuzim lived somewhere to the east of the Jordan, anywhere between the rivers Jabbok and Arnon, thus in the country afterwards occupied by the Hebrew tribe of Ammonites Some have identified their stronghold, "Ham," with the ancient Rabbah, now called Amman. Others have suggested the modern Humeimath, one mile above Rabbah, the ancient Ar-moab, on the Roman road.

74. The Zamzummim, a people described in Deuteronomy 2:20,21, where we are told that the land of Ammon "was also accounted a land of giants; giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites called them Zamzummim; a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakim, but the Lord destroyed them." It is quite possible that these Zamzummim were the same people as the Zuzim of Genesis 14; at any rate they must have been closely related to each other, as both lived in the land of Amnion. The names of both seem to suggest that they spoke in a language not understood by the surrounding Canaanites and Hebrews, to whom their speech sounded like a buzzing or humming noise. The roots, Zamzam, signify to murmur, to hum; also to meditate and to plan evil. The Zuzim, we are taught in the Writings, "were similar to the Nephilim," (AC 1673), but signify in particular "a kind of persuasion of falsity." (AC 1654.) Hence it was from correspondence that their territory was afterwards occupied by the Ammonites, by whom is signified the adulteration of truth. (SS 18.)

75. The Rephaim (of uncertain etymology ; some derive it from rapha', "to heal," but cannot establish any connection of ideas; others from raphah, "to throw down, to sink down, to be unstrung with fear").

The word "Rephaim," in a wide sense, seems to be a general term for all the remnants of the Nephilim in the land of Canaan, and is, like the word "Nephilim," very often translated by "giants" in the Authorized Version; but in a distinctive sense it is the name of a gigantic race of troglodytes living in Bashan and the northern region of the land of Gilead. Here we first hear of them in the record of the invasion of Chedorlaomer, who "smote the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim" (Gen. 14:5). In Deuteronomy the Emim and the Zamzummim are included under the title of Rephaim, (Deut. 2:11,20), but Bashan in particular is described as "the land of the Rephaim," (Deut. 3:13), where, in the time of Abraham, they possessed sixty strong cities or towns. After their defeat by Chedorlaomer the tribe rapidly declined and were supplanted by the Ammonites; and in the time of Moses "only Og, king of Bashan, remained of the remnant of the Rephaim; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Amraon? Nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man." (Deut. 3:11.) It was this gigantic king who, with all his people, came out to give battle to the invading Israelites at the city of Edrei, and here the sons of Israel "smote him until there was none left to him remaining." (Deut. 3:1-3.)

Before occupying the land of Bashan it seems that the Rephaim had dwelt in the interior of Canaan, as they left their name to "the Valley of Rephaim,"—a valley to the southwest of Jerusalem, on the right hand of the road which leads from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. It is a continuation of the ill-famed "Valley of the son of Hinnom," which in later times became known as "Gehenna," and like the latter it is full of caves, the prehistoric dwellings of the troglodyte Rephaim.

Herodotus, Strabo, and Aristotle have given accounts of various troglodyte tribes in Africa, who may have been related to the Horim, Emim, Rephaim, etc. "The best known of these African cave-dwellers were the inhabitants of the 'Troglodyte country,' on the coast of the Red Sea, who reached as far north as the Greek port of Berenice, and of whose strange and savage customs an interesting account has been preserved by Diodorus and Photius from Agatherchides. They were a pastoral people, living entirely on the flesh of their herds, or, in the season of fresh pasture, on mingled milk and blood. But they killed only old or sick cattle, (as, indeed, they killed old men who could no longer follow the flock), and the butchers were called 'unclean;' nay, they gave the name of parent to no man, but only to the cattle of which they had their subsistence. They went almost naked; the women wore necklaces of shells as amulets. Marriage was unknown except among the chiefs. They practiced circumcision, or a mutilation of a more serious kind. The whole account, much of which must be here passed by, is one of the most curious pictures of savage life in ancient times. The Biblical Horim, who inhabited Mount Seir before the Edomites, bore a name which means 'cave-dwellers,' and may probably have been a kindred people to the Troglodytes on the other side of the Red Sea." (Encyc. Brit., vol. 23, p. 583.)

Concerning the appearance of the Nephilim, who were the ancestors of the seven tribes described above, the Writings of the New Church state that "they could no longer express visibly any idea of thought, but what was most deformed." (AC 607) "With their married partners they lived in a certain delight, yet their marriages were merely a kind of adultery and lasciviousness." (S. D. 4076.) "The men, as they grew up, became deformed, shaggy, and hairy, the hair hanging loose about their face.... They prided themselves on a multitude of children, whom they had with them wherever they went, walking before them in a curved line." Their love of offspring was, however, only another form of their self-love and love of domineering. (AC 1272; SD 3589.)

The houses erected by the giant Rephaim in the volcanic districts of Bashan are still the wonder of the traveler. The walls are formed of large blocks of basalt, very hard and difficult to work, yet carefully dressed and fitted together without cement. Roofs, doors, stairs, and windows, are all of stone. "This, of course, imparts to the buildings great massiveness of appearance and great solidity, and in multitudes of cases the houses, though 'without inhabitant,' are as perfect as when first reared. Since buildings so strong are apparently capable of enduring for any length of time, and since some of these are known, from the inscriptions upon them, to date from before the commencement of the Christian era, it is not unnatural to regard them as, in fact, the work of the earliest known inhabitants of the land, the Amorites or the Rephaim;... some of these inscriptions are in an unknown character, resembling the Himyaritic." (Encyc. Brit., vol. 3, p. 41 x.)

It is, perhaps, from the profane and horrible character of the Rephaim, and from the recollection of the direful struggles between them and the first Canaanitish invaders who dispossessed them, that the Phoenicians always used the term "Rephaim" as an expression of horror and execration, the term being used in the sense of "manes" or haunting ghosts of infernal spirits. In the Old Testament the name Rephaim is often synonymous with "the dead," and is most often so translated in the Authorized Version, as in the following passages:

"Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead (Rephaim) are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell." (Prov. 9:18.)

"Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? Shall the dead (Rephaim) arise and praise Thee?" (Ps. 88:10.)

"Hell from beneath is moved for Thee to meet at Thy Coming; it stirreth up the dead (Rephaim), for Thee; even all the chief ones of the earth." (Is. 14:9.)

"The dead shall not live; the deceased (Rephaim), shall not arise; because Thou hast visited and destroyed them, and hast made all their memory to perish." (Is. 26:14.) By this is signified the combats of the Lord in His Human against the hells of the Antediluvians, and His victories over them. (AC 581.)

Previous: Chapter VI. The Rivers of Canaan. Up: Canaan Next: Chapter VIII. The Hittites and the Hivites.

Crown of Revelations
Rebirth, Reincarnation
The Holy Center
Salvation in the Gospels
Psychology of Marriage
Precious Stones
The Human Mind
The Moral Life
Saul, David & Solomon
Bible Lost & Found
The Human Soul
Genesis and Exodus
City of God
Swedenborg Cosmology
Ultimate Reality
The Pattern of Time
Means of Salvation
NC: Sex and Marriage
Book with Seven Seals
My Lord and My God
Philosopher, Metaphysician
Inspiration of Genesis
Words In Swedenborg
Book Expo
Missionary Talks
Tabernacle of Israel
A Brief View of the Heavenly Doctrines
Ancient Mythology
Odhner: Creation
Ten Commandments
Christ and The Trinity
Discrete Degrees
Body Correspondences
Language of Parable
The Ten Blessings
Creation in Genesis
The Third Source
Noble's "Appeal"
Life After Death


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Aborigines of the Land.

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