|Ruins from Bashan|
Before we left Jude behind, I wanted to pause and address the two passages that are cited to refute the idea that Jude is quoting from the Book of Enoch. As I studied these passages, I quickly realized that the information presented ties the passage in Jude to the Nephilim as firmly as any Enochian quote. The link is not as straightforward, but just as real. Furthermore, as these are canonical they do carry more weight.
So let’s jump in. The first passage is:
He said, “The LORD came from Sinai and dawned from Seir upon us; he shone forth from Mount Paran; he came from the ten thousands of holy ones, with flaming fire at his right hand. Deuteronomy 33:2
This chapter is Moses’ blessing upon the Hebrew people prior to their entrance into Canaan, the Promised Land. He is giving his final words before he retreats to Mount Nebo and dies. He would have chosen his words carefully. Dying men who are still in possession of all their faculties do not speak lightly or without purpose. And as readers, we need to ask why did Moses reference these two locations, Seir and Paran?
To answer that we have to back up to Genesis 14:1-16, sometimes referred to as the War of Four Against Five Kings. I want to direct you attention specifically to verses 4-6:
Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness.
Notice who was defeated: the Rephaim, Zuzim, Emim, and the Horites. Why is this important? Who are these people? According to Josephus, ancient Hebrew historian, they are “offspring of giants”, (The Antiquities of the Jew 1.9. 174), and his conclusion is supported by Deuteronomy 2:17-25:
The LORD said to me, ‘Today you are to cross the border of Moab at Ar. And when you approach the territory of the people of Ammon, do not harass them or contend with them, for I will not give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot for a possession.’ (It is also counted as a land of Rephaim. Rephaim formerly lived there—but the Ammonites call them Zamzummim—a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim; but the LORD destroyed them before the Ammonites, and they dispossessed them and settled in their place, as he did for the people of Esau, who live in Seir, when he destroyed the Horites before them and they dispossessed them and settled in their place even to this day. As for the Avvim, who lived in villages as far as Gaza, the Caphtorim, who came from Caphtor, destroyed them and settled in their place.) ‘Rise up, set out on your journey and go over the Valley of the Arnon. Behold, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land. Begin to take possession, and contend with him in battle. This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you on the peoples who are under the whole heaven, who shall hear the report of you and shall tremble and be in anguish because of you.’
Now think about this with me for a moment, when the original twelve spies were sent into Canaan they came back with a report:
So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” Numbers 13:32-33
Moses had already watched the first generation to escape Egypt miss entering the Promise Land because they feared the giants. He understood that this time they could not afford to let fear rule. They needed to rise up and face this enemy confident in God’s power to defend and advance their cause in the fulfillment of the promise God had made to Abraham so many years ago. So when Moses speaks in Deuteronomy 33, he reminds the people that these sons of giants, the children of Anak, who come the Nephilim, were not invincible. They could be defeated. It had happened before, and it would happen again.
In Deuteronomy 33, we find a connection between the “ten thousand holy ones” and the land where the Nephilim lived. Not only that, we see that the holy ones are coming to defeat the Nephilim with God fighting at their side.
This brings us to the second passage using the phrase “ten thousand holy ones”, Psalms 68:17:
The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary.
If you take the time to read the entire chapter one thing becomes clear, the central theme of this Psalm is God’s victory over his enemies. Within it we find direct references to the Exodus, the wilderness wanderings, and the conquest of Canaan, tying it back to the same events presented in Deuteronomy. However, there is an additional curiosity – the mention of Bashan in verses 15 and 16.
In Deuteronomy 3, we find the battle between the Hebrew people and Bashan, a land ruled by King Og. Verse 11, provides some interesting information about him.
For only Og the king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bed was a bed of iron. Is it not in Rabbah of the Ammonites? Nine cubits was its length, and four cubits its breadth, according to the common cubit.
The thing I almost missed was where King Og lived, you know the precise street address. Thankfully, Joshua thought to write it down.
…and Og king of Bashan, one of the remnant of the Rephaim, who lived at Ashtaroth and at Edrei… Joshua 12:4
If the city of Ashtaroth sounds familiar, it should. Look back to Genesis 14:5, Ashteroth-karnaim was city in Bashan, east of the Jordan River. The same place where the original war against the offspring of the giants went down. And what is David hoping to accomplish with his Psalm? The same thing Moses was doing in Deuteronomy 33, he was reminding the people that God is victorious no matter what enemy tries to stand before him.
No matter how we slice it, Jude is referencing the Nephilim. Whether we base his quotes on the Book of Enoch or those from the Bible. He wants his readers to make the connection between the unholy ones of Genesis 6 and the judgement that will be executed by the ten thousand holy ones. Now who exactly are these ten thousand holy ones? We will look into that next time.
Part 6 of our series: http://misdirectedmusings.blogspot.com/2016/09/who-were-nephilim-part-6-who-are-holy.html