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Updated: 2013.09.16

Click to enlargeNeanderthal Wilma

A ? But, perplexingly, it was the European Neanderthals who were "stockier." It was the Homo sapiens human beings, out of Africa (see •dâm), who were taller. (Wilma design & photo National Geographic, 1996)

Originally (bᵊ-Reish•it 6.4), nëphil•im was an indistinct designation for the unknown, legendary, forbears, from distant and dim antiquity, perhaps to explain the presence of bigger peoples – – of their own day.

are related to "sons of ël•oh•im" – perceived by Medieval European Christians and rabbis (!) as "divine or angelic beings" (EJ, "Nephilim," 12.962) – in bᵊ-Reish•it 6.4; see also bᵊ-Mi•dᵊbar 13.33). The Tar•gum Onkelos translates both and with the same Aramaic term:

The association with is based on the (much later) only two other citations, both in bᵊ-Mi•dᵊbar 13.33, where the Israeli scouts gave their evil report. The evil – and exaggerated – report of by these scouts was denounced as false by Mosh•ëh. Ergo, accepting the connotation of "giant" is unjustified.

While are described as , the latter is also a description for the . As a result, the are sometimes associated with the .

Medieval European rabbis understood this to be "an ancient tradition … equating the Nephilim and the gibborim as offspring of the union of angels and mortals."

It was only "[i]n apocryphal writings of the Second Temple period this fragmentary narrative was elaborated as rebels against God: lured by the charms of women, they 'fell' (Heb. nfl ), defiled their heavenly purity, and introduced all manner of sinfulness to earth. Their giant offspring were wicked and violent…" (EJ, loc. cit.).

The Tal•mud [Ma•sëkët Yom•â 67b] states that the rite of Az•â•zeil on Yom ha-Ki•pur•im [wa-Yi•qᵊr•â 16] is so called 'because it obtains atonement for the affair of Uzza and Azael'."

In a note to the above, the Artscroll editors commented: "A most esoteric Mi•dᵊrâsh quoted by Tor•âh Shᵊleim•âh 6.16 from the introduction to Mi•dᵊrâsh A•gâd•at bᵊ-Reish•it elaborates upon the Tal•mudic allusion cited above:

" are the angels Uzza and Azael whose abode was in the heavens but descended to earth to prove themselves. … God said to them: 'If you lived on earth like these people and beheld the beauty of their women, the [Yeitzër hâ-Ra] would enter you, too, and cause you to sin!'" (Artscroll "Bereshis" I.181).

This "evil angel fallen on account of consorting with women" idolatry (based in Hellenist-Christian angelology tracing back through the Hellenist Greco-Roman pantheon to Egyptian theology; see also [sons of] Ël•oh•im) is evidently the origin of the Ultra-Orthodox Kha•reid•im obsession with perceiving women as the satanic influence (hence, apparently, calling them "sluts" for no reason other than not being covered up like a Muslim from the sight of "the godly Ultra-Orthodox") from which one must hide their face and flee (and if married to it, apparently, one must cover her up so she cannot to be a satanic influence to others).

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