Genesis 6 makes no mention of rock giants—or fallen angels—helping Noah build the ark. Where then did the rock giants in Noah the movie come from? Are they merely an invention by Hollywood scriptwriters?
The Hollywood blockbuster Noah has generated its fair share of controversy, with some saying the movie took too many liberties with the Biblical text. Certainly it is not a straightforward retelling of the flood story in Genesis 6, but as Ronald S. Hendel points out in his Biblical Views column “Noah, Enoch, and the Flood: The Bible Meets Hollywood,” which appears in the July/August 2014 issue of BAR, the flood story has been reimagined in Christian and Jewish texts, such as the apocryphal Book of Enoch, for millennia.
While rock giants are absent from the Book of Genesis, the Book of Enoch might shed light on their identity.
The Book of Enoch is a collection of texts, the earliest dating to the third century B.C.E., supposedly authored by the famous Enoch of the Bible, who lived “in the seventh generation from Adam” (Jude 14) and was taken by God: “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him” (Genesis 5:24). This apocryphal book reimagines the account of Genesis 5–6, adding details to the flood narrative and elaborating on what was revealed to Enoch in heaven.
Read Ronald S. Hendel’s article “The Search for Noah’s Flood” for free as it was originally published in the June 2003 issue of Bible Review.
In its expansion of the flood account we are introduced to the Watchers, fallen angels who mated with human women and produced offspring—the Nephilim, the “heroes that were of old, warriors of renown” of Genesis 6:4—or giants. The Book of Enoch states that the Watchers shared secret knowledge with their sons that led to the corruption of the world. The giants ravaged the earth, filling it with destruction and evil; they depleted the world of food and terrified humankind. These actions trigger the flood.
When Enoch confronts the Watchers about their impending doom, they implore him to intercede on their behalf. He agrees—but to no avail. The Watchers’ petition is not granted; they and their sons are not able to escape their punishment—the flood.
Returning to our earlier question: Who are the rock giants in Noah the movie? They’re called fallen angels and are based loosely on the Watchers we see in the Book of Enoch.
To find out more about the Genesis Flood and the Book of Enoch, read the full column “Noah, Enoch, and the Flood: The Bible Meets Hollywood” by Ronald S. Hendel in the July/August 2014 issue of BAR.
BAS Library Members: Read the full Biblical Views column “Noah, Enoch, and the Flood: The Bible Meets Hollywood” by Ronald S. Hendel in the July/August 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
Not a BAS Library member yet? Join the BAS Library today.
Learn more about Noah, Enoch and the Genesis Flood in the BAS Library:
Ronald S. Hendel, “The Search for Noah’s Flood,” Bible Review, June 2003.
Peter W. Flint, “That’s No Gospel, It’s Enoch!” Bible Review, April 2003.
Birger A. Pearson, “Parallel Paths to Heaven,” Bible Review, April 2003.
James C. VanderKam, “Enoch’s Vision of the Next World,” Bible Review, April 2003.
Victor Hurowitz, “The Genesis of Genesis,” Bible Review, Anniversary Issue.
Tikva Frymer-Kensky, “What the Babylonian Flood Stories Can and Cannot Teach Us About the Genesis Flood,” Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1978.
Joseph Blenkinsopp, “The Documentary Hypothesis in Trouble,” Bible Review, Winter 1985.
Matthew Black, “The Strange Visions of Enoch,” Bible Review, Summer 1987.