Gibborim plur. of ' גּבּוֹר, Gibbor', a warior (Isa 3:2; Eze 39:20); especially spoken of David's noted braves or "mighty men" (2Sa 23:8; 1Ki 1:8; 1Ch 11:26; 1Ch 29:24). SEE CHAMPION. The sons of the marriages mentioned in Ge 6:1-4, are called Gibborinz' (גּבּרִים, from גָּב - ר, to be strong), a general name meaning powerful (ύβρισταὶ καὶ πάντος ὑπεροπταί καλοῦ, Josephus, Ant. 1:3, 1; γῆς παῖδες τὸν νοῦν ἐκβίβάσαντες τοῦ λογίξεσθαι κ. τ. λ., Philo, De Gigant, page 270; comp. Isa 49:24; Eze 32:21). They were not necessarily giants in our sense of the word (Theodoret, Quaest. 48). Yet, as was natural, these powerful chiefs were almost universally represented as men of extraordinary stature. The Sept. renders the word
γίγαντες, and call Nimrod ,a γίγας κυνηγός (1Ch 1:10); Augustine calls them Staturosi (De Civ. Dei. 15:4); Chrysostom ἤρωες εὐμήκεις, Theodoret παμμεγέθεις (comp. Bar. 3:26, εὐμεγέθεις, ἐπιστάμενοι πόλεμον).
These beings are chiefly interesting as connected with the question, Who were their parents, "the sons of God" (בּנֵי הָאלֵוֹהִים)? The opinions respecting the import of this latter title are various: (1.) Men of power (νἱοὶ δυναστενόντων, Symm., Jerome, Quest. Heb. ad loc.; בּנֵיִ רִברב - יָּא, Onk.; בני שלטניה, Samar.; so too Selden, Vorst, etc.), (compare Ps 2:7; Ps 82:6; Ps 89:27; Mic 5:5, etc.). The expression will then exactly resemble Homer's Διογενεῖς Βασιλῆες, and the Chinese Tian-tseu, "son of heaven," as a title of the emperor (Gesenius, s.v. בֵּן). But why should the union of the high-born and the low-born produce offspring unusual for their size and strength? (2.) Men with great gifts, "in the image of God" (Ritter, Schumann); (3.) Cainites arrogantly assuming the title (Paulus); or (4.) the pious Sethites (comp. Ge 4:26; Maisnon. Mor. Neboch. 1:14; Suidas, s.v. Σήθ and μιαιγαμίας; Cedren. Hist. Comp. page 10 ; Augustine, De Civ. Dci. 15:23; Chrysost. Hon. 22, in Gen.; Theod. in Genesis Quaest. 47; Cyril, c. Jul. 9, etc.). A host of modern commentators catch at this explanation, but Ge 4:26 has probably no connection with the subject. Other texts quoted in favor of the view are De 14:1-2; Ps 73:15; Pr 14:26; Ho 1:10; Ro 8:14, etc. Still the mere antithesis in the verse, as well as other considerations, tend strongly against this gloss, which indeed is built on a foregone conclusion. Compare, however, the Indian notion of the two races of men Suras and Asuras (children of the sun and of the moon, Nork, Bramm. und Rabb. p. 204 sq.), and the Persian belief in the marriage of Jemshid with a sister of a der, whence sprang black and impious men (Kalisch, Genesis p. 175). 5. Worshippers of false gods (παῖδες τῶν θεῶν, Aqu.) making בּנֵי = "servants" (comp. De 14:1; Pr 14:26; Ex 32:1; De 4:28, etc.). This view is ably supported by Poole in Genesis of Earth and Man, page 39 sq. (6.) Devils, such as the Incubi and Succubi. Such was the belief of the Cabbalists (Valesius, De S. Philosoph. cap. 8). That these beings can have intercourse with women St. Augustine declares it would be folly to doubt, and it was the universal belief in the East. Mohammed makes one of the ancestors of Balkis, queen of Sheba, a daemon, and Damir says he had heard a Mohammedan doctor openly boast of having married in succession four daemon wives (Bochart, Hieroz. 1, page 747). Indeed, the belief still exists (Lane's Mod. Eg. 1, chapter 10, ad 3). (7.) Closely allied to this is the oldest opinion, that they were angels (Sept. ἄγγελοι τοῦ Θεοῦ, for such was the old reading, not υιοι, August. De Civ. Dei. 15:23; so too Josephus, Ant. 1:3, 1; Philo, De Gig. 2:358; Clem. Alex. Strom. 3:7, 69; Sulp. Sever. Hist. Script. in Orthod. 1:1, etc.; compare Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Ps 29:1; Job 4:18). The rare expression "sons of God" certainly means angels in Job 38:7; Job 1:6; Job 2:1; and that such is the meaning in Ge 6:4 also, was the most prevalent opinion both in the Jewish and early Christian Church. It seems, however, to the directly negatived by Mt 22:30. SEE SONS OF GOD.
It was probably this very ancient view which gave rise to the spurious book of Enoch, and the notion quoted from it by Jude (Jude 1:6), and alluded to by Peter (2Pe 2:4; compare 1Co 11:10; Tertul. De Virg. Vel. 7). According to this book, certain angels, sent by God to guard the earth (Ε᾿γρήγοροι, φύλακες), were perverted by the beauty of women, "went after strange flesh," taught sorcery, finery (lumina lapillorum, circulos ex aure, Tertullian, etc.), and, being banished from heaven, had sons 3000 cubits high, thus originating a celestial and terrestrial race of daemons — "Unde modo vagi subvertunt corpora multa" (Commodiani Instruct. III, Cultus Daemonum), i.e., they are still the source of epilepsy, etc. Various names were given at a later time to these monsters. Their chief was Leuixas, and of their number were Machsael, Aza, Shemchozai, and (the wickedest of them) a goat-like daemon Azael (compare Azazel, Le 16:8; and for the very curious questions connected with this name, see Bochart, Hieroz. 1:652 sq.; Rab. Eliezer, cap. 23, Bereshith Rabo ad Ge 6:2; Sennert, De Gigantibus, 3). SEE ASMODAEUS.
Against this notion (which Havernick calls "the silliest whim of the Alexandrian Gnostics and Cabbalistic Rabbis," Introd. to Pentateuch, page 345) Heidegger (Hist. Patri lefc.) quotes Mt 22:30; Lu 24:39, and similar testimonies. Philastrius (Adv. Haeres. cap. 108) characterizes it as a heresy, and Chrysostom (Hom. 22) even calls it τὸ βλάσφημα ἐκεῖνο. Yet Jude (verses 6, 7) is explicit, and the question is not so much what can be, as what was believed. The fathers almost unanimously accepted these fables, and Tertullian argues warmly (partly on expedient grounds!) for the genuineness of the book of Enoch. The angels were called Ε᾿γρήγοροι, watchers, a word used by Aquil. and Synem. to render the Chaldee יּר (Da 4:13 sq.; Vulg. Vigil; Sept. εἴρ; Lex Cyrilli, ἄγγελοι ἤ ἄγρυπνοι; Fabric. Cod. Pseudepigr. V.T. page 180), and therefore used, as in the Zend-Avesta, of good guardian angels, and applied especially to archangels in the Syriac liturgies (compare שׁמֵר, Isa 21:11), but more often of evil angels (Castelli Lex. Syr. page 649; Scaliger, ad Euseb. Chron. page 403; Gesenius, Thes. s.v. יר). The story of the Egregori is given at length in Tertsil. De Cult. Fem. 1:2; 2:10; Commodianus, Instrsct. 3; Lactant. Div. Inst. 2:14; Testam. Patriarc. c.v., etc. Everyone will remember the allusions to the same interpretation in Milton, Par. Rea. 2:179:
"Before time Flood, thou with thy lusty crew, False-titled sons of God, roaming the earth, Cast wanton eyes on the daughters of men, And coupled with them, and begat a race."
The use made of the legend in some modern poems deserves to be severely reprobated. SEE ANGEL.
We need hardly say how closely allied this is to the Greek legends which connected the ἄγρια φῦλα γιγάντων with the gods (Homer, Od. 7:205; Pausan. 8:29), and made δαίμονες sons of the gods (Plato, Apolog. ἡμίθεοι; Cratylus, § 32). Indeed, the whole heathen tradition resembles the one before us (Cumberland's Sanchoniatho, page 24; Homer, Od. 11:306 sq.; Hesiod, Theog. 185, Opp. et D. 144; Plato, Rep. 2, §.17, 604 E. De Legg. 3, § 16, 805 A.; Ovid, Metam. 1:151; Lucan, 4:293; Lucians, De Dea Syr., etc.; compare Grotius De Ver. 1:6); and the Greek translators of the Bible make the resemblance still mnore close by introducing a such emords as θεόμαχοι, γηγενεῖς, and even Τιτᾶνες, to which last Josephus (1.c.) expressly compares the giants of Genesis (Sept. at Prom. 2:18; Pinsa. 48:2; 1Sa 5:12; Judith 16:5). The fate, too, of these daemon-chiefs is identical with that of heathen story (Job 26:5; Sir. 16:7; Bar. 3:26-28; Wisd. 14:6; 3 Macc. 2:4; 1Pe 3:19). SEE DAEMON.
These legends may therefore be regarded as distortions of the Biblical narrative, handed dowan by tradition, and embellished by the fancy and imagination of Eastern nations (Thomson, Land and Book, 2:395 sq.). The belief of the Jews in later times is remarkably illustrated by the story of Asmodaeus in the book of Tobit. It is deeply instructive to observe how wide ands marked a contrast there is between the incidental allusion of the sacred narrative (Ge 6:4), and the minute frivolities or prurient follies which degrade the heathean mythology, and repeatedly appear in the groundless imaginings of the Rabbinic interpreters. If there were fallen angels whose lawless desires gave birth to a monstrous progeny, both they and their intolerable offspring were destroyed by the deluge, which was the retribution on their wickedness, and they have no existence in the baptized and renovated earth. SEE GIANT.