Ancient Origins IRAQ Tour

Sculpted scene depicting Gilgamesh wrestling with animals. From the Shara temple at Tell Agrab, Diyala Region, Iraq. Early Dynastic period, 2600–2370 BC. On display at the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin/ CC BY-SA 4.0)

Mighty Gilgamesh: Archetype Of The Nephilim

Gilgamesh is one of the greatest heroes of the ancient Middle Eastern world. The epic named after him has become one of the greatest literary works of all ages. There is, however, one aspect of Gilgamesh that most people do not know about. Gilgamesh also happens to be the archetypal Nephilim giant.

Gilgamesh Statue Sydney University. ( CC BY SA 4.0 )

Gilgamesh Statue Sydney University. ( CC BY SA 4.0 )

One of the most well-known and intriguing stories from the Biblical tradition is the one about the Nephilim. There is a reference to them in the sixth chapter of the Biblical Book of Genesis where they are mentioned against the backdrop of the wickedness of the people in the time before the deluge. In this account, one reads that the so-called ‘sons of God’ fathered offspring with human women. This, according to the narrative, happened before and after the deluge. It reads: “[T]hat the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose… There were giants [Nephilim, fallen or mighty ones, heroes] on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”

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