XIII. "Giants in the Land"
Remarks on Humans and Neanderthals
One reason to extend the Creation Narrative to include Genesis 6 and the Flood is that this is the final step in the Bible's Creation Narrative to define the human race: all humans, according to this account, are descendents of Noah through his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth. It may reasonably be assumed that these men and their wives and families are all pure descendents of Adam through SethXIII.03, without any other blood lines entering into the genetic mix. The subject of this chapter seems to involve the introduction of a different blood line.XIII.04
Humans are classified in the genus Homo. Since about 125 Ka there were only two members of this genus: Homo sapiens (also called AMH = anatomically modern human), and Homo neanderthalensis. A lot of information about the culture and intellectual capacity of these two lines can be learned from various artifacts that are associated with these lines. The outstanding fact of interest to us is that somewhere around 50-40 Ka , Homo sapiens shows a dramatic change in cultural attainment (Homo sapiens sapiens?), reflected in excellent and subtle artwork such as the Chauvet cave paintings, 32 Ka (first discovered December, 1994), and in the Lascaux Cave paintings, 17.7 Ka (constellations and a sky chart, discovered in 1943). This indicates that the creation of Adam (the first of the AMH) may have been shortly before this time.
At times Neanderthals may have lived near to humans. For example, two archaeological sites in Southern France, Lascaux Cave (AMH) and le Moustier (Neanderthal) are in the same river valley and separated by about 20 miles.
le Moustier and Lascaux
from a map of Southern France Archaeological Sites.XIII.00
Since the record of Neanderthals ends around 25 Ka, this leads to the question of whether humans and Neanderthals may have intermixed. The next section discusses this question.
Could the nephilim be identified as Neanderthals? The issue is relevant because of the possibility that the geological record suggests that Neanderthals may have coexisted with Adam's descendents for a period of time until—according to the current evidence of paleoanthropology—Neanderthals disappear from the geological record about 25 KaXIII.05.
It is clear from the first verses of Genesis 6, that some sort of outside race, the "giants" or nephilim in vs. 4, intermarried with the Adamic line.XIII.06 Who were these nephilim? Nobody knows for sure, and speculations abound. I will contribute to this speculation and suggest that the nephilim are Neanderthals. This implies two things, which future archeoanthopology may confirm or refute: that Neanderthals and humans (AMH) mingled in some sense, and that "marriage" between these two races was both possible and resulted in fertile offspringXIII.07.
There are substantial differences between the Neanderthal and Human physical features. Perhaps the most evident is that the Neanderthals were stronger than humans -- the placement of the skeletal muscles was somewhat different and resulted in this greater strength.XIII.08 It would not be surprising that mixed marriages (if fertile) would result in "mighty men".
In addition, it seems pretty clear from the above map that neanderthals and humans may have mingled or at least co-habited the same regions and possibly overlapped in time. Lascaux Cave (definitely a human habitation and possibly dating from as early as 32 KaXIII.09), is about 10 miles from le Moustier, both sites overlooking the Vézère River in Southern France.
Adding to this, it has long been known that the words translated "sons of God" and "daughters of men" may have other meanings—in fact, almost the opposite! The "sons of God" are sons of elohim, a word that is sometimes used of judges, princes or (a race of?) mighty menXIII.10, and might (I suggest) refer to Neanderthals. The "daughters of men" is literally "daughters of adam" and may mean "daughters of Adam". This verse may thus describe the forcible abduction of human women by Neanderthal raiders, with offspring resulting.
Recent research has some remarkable and unexpected contributions to this question. In 1997, some actual mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was obtained from a 39 Ka Neanderthal shoulder bone, and subsequent analysis has concluded that Neanderthals are NOT ancestors to modern humansXIII.11. This was a conclusion hard-fought over the next decade, because many scientists assumed the opposite, namely, that humans must have either come from or intermixed with Neanderthals. The reason for the conclusion is that mtDNA is passed on by the mother, not the father, and the analysis of the Neanderthal DNA showed that it was about halfway between human and chimpanzee mtDNA, far too "distant" to be related to humans.
Genesis 6:4 (with the above understanding of "sons of God" and "daughters of men") states that human daughters mated with Neanderthal sons, resulting in "mighty men". Only the daughters pass on mitochondria through the egg, so the mating would only pass on the human (female) mitochondrial dna.
But if such a hybrid race did appear, it is then quite clear why God may have judged that a universal flood was needed to rid the human race of the Neanderthal contamination. By restricting the survivors of the flood to humans who had not had Neanderthal ancestors, the Adamic race would be preserved. This would also give a rational reason for the restriction in marriage to descendents of the Adamic line.XIII.13
In conclusion, I suggest that Genesis 6 records the unfortunate cross-mating of these two homo species, but that the line from Adam leading to Noah had remained uncontaminated by Neanderthal DNA. Only the un-mixed line from Adam survived the flood, and so no modern humans have Neanderthal ancestry.
The only mention of the nephilim after the flood is probably an exaggeration in the fear-filled report of the spies sent to explore Canaan during the Exodus.