While the early Sumerians were figuring out how to grow crops without rain, interesting things—historic things—were happening far to the northwest. The second peak in the chronological list of spiritually strategic holy mountains is Mount Hermon.
Hermon is the highest, most majestic peak in the Levant. At 9,200 feet above sea level, it dominates the Golan Heights on the border between Israel and Syria, anchoring the southern end of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains. It has been considered sacred for most of human history.
Mount Hermon was a holy site as far back as the old Babylonian period, nearly two millennia before Christ, and probably even earlier. In the Old Babylonian version of the Gilgamesh epic, which dates to the 18th century B.C. (roughly the time of Jacob), “Hermon and Lebanon” were called “the secret dwelling of the Anunnaki.” The Ninevite version of the poem, written about 600 years later, describes the monster slain by Gilgamesh, Humbaba (or Huwawa), as the guardian of “the abode of the gods.”[i]
The Anunnaki were the seven chief gods of the Sumerian pantheon: Anu, the sky god; Enlil, god of the air; Enki, god of the earth; Ninhursag, mother goddess of the mountains; Inanna (Babylonian Ishtar), goddess of sex and war; Sîn, the moon god; and Utu, the sun god. They are mentioned in texts found in what is today southeastern Iraq that date back to the 27th century B.C. So the more recent versions of the Gilgamesh story from Babylon and Nineveh may remember more ancient traditions.
The name Hermon appears to be based on a root word that means “taboo,” similar to the Hebrew word kherem, or “devoted to destruction.” The word is often translated into English as “under the ban.”
The first appearance of the word in the Bible is Exodus 22:20: “Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction (kherem).” But the ban wasn’t just invoked against disobedient Israelites. Some of the inhabitants of Canaan were also declared kherem by Yahweh—specifically those that were known to be giants, or at least descended from giants.
That begs the question: Where did the giants come from? A curious episode is recorded in the first four verses of Genesis chapter 6:
When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
Genesis 6:1-4 (ESV)
Scholars have debated the meaning of the term “Nephilim” for millennia. Most believe it comes from a Hebrew root, napal, meaning “to fall” or “cast down”—literally, “fallen ones.”
However, Bible and ancient language scholar Dr. Michael S. Heiser, author of the excellent book The Unseen Realm (highly recommended) and the new book Reversing Hermon (ditto), contends that this cannot be correct:
The form nephilim cannot mean “fallen ones” (the spelling would then be nephulim). Likewise nephilim does not mean “those who fall” or “those who fall away” (that would be nophelim). The only way in Hebrew to get nephilim from naphal by the rules of Hebrew morphology (word formation) would be to presume a noun spelled naphil and then pluralize it. I say “presume” since this noun does not exist in biblical Hebrew — unless one counts Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33, the two occurrences of nephilim — but that would then be assuming what one is trying to prove! However, in Aramaic the noun naphil(a) does exist. It means “giant,” making it easy to see why the Septuagint (the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) translated nephilim as gigantes (“giant”).[ii]
In short, the Jewish scholars who translated the Old Testament into Greek about two hundred years before the birth of Jesus clearly understood that the Nephilim were giants, not just men who “fell away” from God.
Likewise, the Hebrew words translated “sons of God” in the passage, bene elohim, refer to divine beings, not mortal men. Now, that hasn’t been the consensus among Christian scholars since about the 5th century, thanks to the great theologian Augustine. He popularized the “sons of Seth” theory to explain away the weird supernatural element of the passages above. In short, the Sethite view is that the sons of God were men from the godly, righteous line of Seth who began intermarrying with women from the corrupt, wicked line of Cain.
Frankly, this defies logic on several points:
- How likely is it that all the Sethite men were good while all the Cainite women were bad?
- We’re supposed to believe Cainite men never married Sethite women?
- Why would these unions produce Nephilim, understood to be giants by Jewish rabbis and early Christians alike?
- Why would these unions lead to wickedness so great that God had to wipe out everything that walked the earth except Noah, his family, and the creatures in the ark?
- Every other use of bene elohim in the Hebrew scriptures refers to divine beings.
Problems with the supernatural understanding of the text usually focus on whether angels and humans could successfully produce children. Proponents of the Sethite view often point to Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection of the dead:
For in the resurrection [people] neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
Matthew 22:30 (ESV)
The key words are “in the resurrection” and “in heaven.” Noah’s neighbors were flesh and blood, not resurrected, and the angels who “came in to the daughters of man” were most definitely not in heaven.
There are several examples in the Bible of divine beings interacting with humans in physical ways—eating, drinking, and even engaging in a dustup in front of the house of Lot (Genesis 19:5-11). Why couldn’t they procreate as well?
The final nails in the coffin of the Sethite view are the references to this event in the New Testament. Both Peter and Jude refer to the only example in scripture where angels transgressed:
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;
2 Peter 2:4 (ESV), emphasis added
And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
Jude 6-7 (ESV), emphasis added
If there was any doubt about what the angels did that deserved punishment, Peter and Jude clarified things by specifically identifying the sin of the angels as sexual by linking it to the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. Crossing the species barrier between angel and human is just as taboo as the barrier between human and animal.
It is significant that the phrase translated “cast them into hell” in 2 Peter 2:4 is the Greek word tartaroo, a verb meaning “thrust down to Tartarus.” This is the only time in the New Testament that the word is used, meaning it requires special attention. Tartarus was separate from Hades, a place of torture and torment even lower than Hades in Greek cosmology. It was believed to be as far below Hades as Earth is below Heaven. And Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, chose that word to describe the punishment reserved for the angels who had engaged in illicit sexual relations with human women. Stick a mental bookmark there because we’ll have to come back to this.
The extra-biblical books of Enoch and Jubilees expand on the story, adding detail and context that’s not in the Bible. Mount Hermon is where two hundred Watchers, a class of angelic being mentioned in chapter 4 of the book of Daniel, descended and began cavorting with human women. From these unions came the Nephilim, the giants of Genesis 6.
The Watchers, according to Enoch, were led by Semjâzâ, who was apparently worried that he’d take the fall for what they were about to do:
And Semjâzâ, who was their leader, said unto them: ‘I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.’ And they all answered him and said: ‘Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.’ Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended ⌈in the days⌉ of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon…
The Book of Enoch 6:3-6a (R.H. Charles translation)
The trade offered by the Watchers was knowledge, just as it was in Eden. In exchange for the pleasures of the flesh, Semjâzâ and his minions offered charms and enchantments, astrology, the art of making weapons, cosmetics, and writing, among other things—presumably arts humans would have developed or discovered over time rather than downloaded on society all at once.
However, the giant offspring of these unholy unions, the Nephilim, pillaged the Earth and endangered humanity. They consumed everything men had. When that wasn’t enough, they began eating people and even each other. Enoch describes the giants as creatures of insatiable desire who threatened to terminate the bloodline of the future Messiah by violence—and, apparently, by corrupting the human genome.
The Book of Jasher suggests that the transgression of the Watchers and the Nephilim went beyond corrupting humankind, including “the mixture of animals of one species with the other” (Jasher 4:18).
We can only speculate what that was about. Was this where the legends of chimeric beings like centaurs and satyrs began? Or were they legends at all? But we do know that Yahweh sent a flood that rid the earth of all flesh except for the eight people and the animals aboard the ark. The Watchers who started it all, according to Peter and Jude, are chained in Tartarus, and they’ll stay there until “the judgment of the great day.”
But Mount Hermon’s role in history didn’t end with the flood of Noah. Another group of fallen bene elohim set up shop on the mountain after the showdown at Babel.
According to Belgian scholar Edward Lipinski, Hermon was known to the ancient world not only as the secret dwelling place of the Anunnaki, it was the mountain of the divine assembly of the northwest Semitic god El, the creator god of their pantheon. [iii]Mount Hermon is where El held court with his consort Asherah and the “seventy sons of El.”
Remember that number. We will see it again.
El was a name that came to be used in Hebrew as a generic term for “god”—El, Elohim, El Elyon, etc. It’s possible that the epithet El Shaddai, possibly meaning “god of the mountain,” was applied first to El. Another Mesopotamian god, Amurru, was called “Bel Šade,” or “lord of the mountain.” (The š sounds like “sh.”) This was another PSYOP by the Fallen—appropriating a name by which Yahweh identified Himself to confuse things. In Exodus, Yahweh told Moses that it was by the name El Shaddai, usually rendered “God Almighty” in our English Bibles, that He introduced Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 6:3). That’s why Jacob became Isra-el, not Isra-yahu.
Of course, skeptics take this to mean that Jews and Christians are confused about who we worship. It’s actually El, they claim, and the followers of Yahweh are so dense we’ve gotten it wrong for the last 3,500 years. In point of fact, however, it’s the skeptics who have fallen for another PSYOP by the Enemy, who don’t care what we believe as long as it’s not the one thing that’s true.
But make no mistake: El of the Canaanites was not Yahweh of Israel, and Yahweh was not El. In the Canaanite pantheon, El was a figurehead. Real power was wielded by Ba`al, the king of the gods. In the Canaanite myths, there was a power struggle between the gods over who would hold that title, and El didn’t seem to have the power or the will to just pick a winner. Neither did he seem all that interested in ruling himself. If you had to pick a word to describe El, it would be “semi-retired.”
That is definitely not the God of the Bible.
One of the fascinating aspects of the story of Gilgamesh is that archaeologists generally consider him a real, historic character. In 2003, a team digging at the site of ancient Uruk believed they’d found the tomb of Gilgamesh beneath what was the former course of the Euphrates River—but their discovery came a month after the United States military invaded Iraq in 2003, which put a stop to the dig.
Scholars have known for years that there are parallels in Mesopotamian legend and the biblical accounts of the patriarchs. Enoch is similar to an antediluvian king named Enmeduranki, and Noah is variously called Utnapishtim (Babylon), Ziusudra (Sumer), and Atra-Hasis (Akkad), depending on which culture wrote the story. But even those accounts are part of a supernatural PSYOP. For example: The accounts from Mesopotamia portray Gilgamesh as a mighty warrior, a hero, two-thirds god and one-third man. He has adventures and slays monsters, notably Humbaba, or Huwawa, the defender of the faraway cedar forest who’d been assigned to terrorize humans by the god Enlil.
Scholars believe Humbaba might also have been pronounced “huwawa.” Dr. David Livingston, founder of Associates for Biblical Research, points out that Huwawa sounds a lot like Yahweh. If he’s right, then it’s possible we’ve discovered another Enemy PSYOP: The real mission of Gilgamesh, as the Fallen wanted Mesopotamians to understand it, was to kill the monstrous guardian of the secret home of the gods—Yahweh.
In our first article, we showed how the anointed guardian cherub of Eden, the nachash who lured Adam and Eve into sin, was cast down from God’s holy mountain to become lord of the dead. We will show in a future article in this series why Jesus chose Mount Hermon for several very specific incidents—strategic events aimed at the rebellious bene elohim. So to avoid repeating ourselves, we’ll hold some information back until later in this series. But we’ll share this: The people who lived in the Levant in the ancient world knew that Bashan, the kingdom of Og at the base of Mount Hermon, was known as the literal entrance of the netherworld.
Consider this: Is it possible that the foul reputation of Mount Hermon and the region of Bashan grew out of an historic event—the literal fall from Eden, God’s holy mountain, by the rebel who was cast down by God?
Many scholars have noted the similarities between Eden and the garden of the gods sought by Gilgamesh, the secret dwelling place of the Anunnaki. If Hermon was Eden, it could explain why the rebellious gods who want to establish their own mount of assembly have been drawn to it—to defile it—since the beginning of time.
[i] Lipinski, Edward. “El’s Abode: Mythological Traditions Related to Mount Hermon and to the Mountains of Armenia,” Orientalia Lovaniensa Periodica 2, 1971, p. 19.
[ii] Heiser, Dr. Michael S. “The Nephilim,” Sitchin is Wrong.com (http://www.sitchiniswrong.com/nephilim/nephilim.htm), retrieved 12/16/16.
[iii] Lipinski, op. cit., p. 69.
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NEXT TIME: Cain, Coneheads, and the Old Gods of Sumer