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Does the narrator of Numbers assert that the Anakim come from the Nephilim?

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The Nephilim are named only in two verses in the Bible, in Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33. Numbers 13:33 says that the Anakim come from the Nephilim, but different translations render this in a variety of ways, some making it seem like an integral part of what the spies are saying, some making it seem like an aside, possibly by the narrator or even a later editor.

Numbers 13:33 (ESV): 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 13:33 (NASB): There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.

Numbers 13:33 (CEV): In fact, we saw the Nephilim who are the ancestors of the Anakim. They were so big that we felt as small as grasshoppers.

Numbers 13:33 (JPS Tanakh): And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come of the Nephilim; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

With the diversity of renderings these translations give I assume the Hebrew of the verse is not the clearest. Still, based on what we know of Hebrew grammar, narratives, and dialogue, does the Hebrew text of this verse most likely mean that this phrase is something the narrator is asserting, or only a report of something the spies said?

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4 comments

I was invited to copy this over from the Christianity site. If there are other Jewish translations which also show this difference in interpretation, please feel free to replace the Christian translations. curiousdannii‭ 8 days ago

Verse 33 continues the narrative started in the middle of verse 32, introduced by the word "leimor" ("saying:"). The writer put down in words the event including what the 10 spies reported. rosends‭ 8 days ago

@rosends Does that preclude an narratorial insertion? curiousdannii‭ 8 days ago

@curiousdannii it makes such an insertion unnecessary. The section is introduced "the spies said:" and then recounts what they said (including their use of the first person). To assume that part is an insertion by another voice makes no sense unless you insist that they said something which they could not possibly have known so it HAS to be an outside voice. Is that the question? rosends‭ 7 days ago

1 answer

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For what it's worth, Frank Zimmerman ("The Perpetuation of Variants in the Masoretic Text," p. 468) cites this as an instance of two textual variants being preserved in the text.

Version 1:

וְשָׁם רָאִינוּ אֶת הַנְּפִילִים בְּנֵי עֲנָק

...and there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak...

Version 2:

וְשָׁם רָאִינוּ מִן הַנְּפִלִים בְּנֵי עֲנָק

...and there we saw some of the Nephilim, the sons of Anak...

The words בְּנֵי עֲנָק מִן הַנְּפִלִים are omitted in the Septuagint, which apparently shows that there existed a (slightly bigger) textual variant here in the version used by the translators.

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