The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 03-02-2012, 07:28 AM
Cabbage Cabbage is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Nephilim and Nephele Etymology

I have a lot of ignorance with respect to mythology and etymology, but I do have at least a dilettante's interest in them.

Anyway, out of curiosity, I looked up nephilim in a dictionary; I was curious about the etymology. I know there's all kinds of speculation about who they were; I was just interested in the original roots of the word (on a tangent, looking in a dictionary, I get the impression our knowledge of etymology of many European languages kind of bottoms out with things like Greek and Latin. How much do we know about the linguistic ancestors of those languages (and Hebrew?))

Anyway, nephilim wasn't in the dictionary, but Nephele was. I wasn't familiar with that story, but the dictionary's description of her as a "counterfeit god" reminded me of what I've heard of the nephilim mythology

Is this a coincidence, or do they have a common mythology/etymology?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 03-02-2012, 07:47 AM
kanicbird kanicbird is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
The Nephimum is only mentioned once in the conventional bible in Gen 6:4 The Nephilim were 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.

But the term 'mighty men' has been used, for instance to describe some of King David's key warriors.

The term nephimun is also mentioned in some apocryphal books such as the Book of Enoch and others.

Besides that, though not called nephilum, you have the greek myths of the god/man hybrids which Alexander the Great claimed to be one.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 03-02-2012, 08:02 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabbage View Post
Anyway, out of curiosity, I looked up nephilim in a dictionary; I was curious about the etymology. I know there's all kinds of speculation about who they were; I was just interested in the original roots of the word (on a tangent, looking in a dictionary, I get the impression our knowledge of etymology of many European languages kind of bottoms out with things like Greek and Latin. How much do we know about the linguistic ancestors of those languages (and Hebrew?))
As your own link notes, the root for Nephilim is נפל (NFL), "to fall".
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 03-02-2012, 08:16 AM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Miskatonic University
Posts: 9,713
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
As your own link notes, the root for Nephilim is נפל (NFL), "to fall".
Which ties in with American Football season! It all becomes clearer now...
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 03-02-2012, 08:47 AM
Cabbage Cabbage is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
As your own link notes, the root for Nephilim is נפל (NFL), "to fall".
Thanks. I did notice that, but I'm primarily curious in whether there's any historical connection between the origins of the two words.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 03-02-2012, 09:43 AM
hogarth hogarth is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabbage View Post
Thanks. I did notice that, but I'm primarily curious in whether there's any historical connection between the origins of the two words.
Between the Hebrew word for "to fall" and the Greek word for "cloud"? Unlikely.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 03-02-2012, 03:56 PM
Steken Steken is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
The answer is no.

There is no connection between the two.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 03-02-2012, 07:19 PM
dzero dzero is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrFidelius View Post
Which ties in with American Football season! It all becomes clearer now...
I figured Satan his demons had to be backing the Giants.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03-06-2012, 07:32 AM
benbo1 benbo1 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2008
According to Biblical legend, they were a race of giants not completely wiped out by the Noah flood. 1 legend says that 1 of them clung on to the ark & simply walked off when it made landfall (altho who could he then reproduce with?), another one says Goliath was a descendant, and yet another was that Abraham took part in a battle of 4 kings vs. 5, of which 1 was a kingdom of giants (Genesis, dunno the numbers but the section is Lech Licha).
Interestingly, a very slight change in pronunciation of Nefilim is nefalim, which means 'failures' or 'losers' in Israeli slang singular nefel. In Hebrew, this minor variation usually implies a relationship between the 2 words, i.e. this race of 'giants' got wiped out, thus they're losers. Whom to believe?
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:32 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.