There were giants in the earth in those days
That is, in the days before the sons of God took the daughters of men for wives, in such a general manner as before declared, or before the declension and apostasy became so universal; even in the times of Jared, as the Arabic writers F14 understand it, who say that these giants were begotten on the daughters of Cain by the children of Seth, who went down from the mountain to them in the days of Jared, see ( Genesis 5:20 ) the word "Nephilim" comes from a word which signifies to fall; and these might be so called, either because they made their fear to fall upon men, or men, through fear, to fall before them, because of their height and strength; or rather because they fell and rushed on men with great violence, and oppressed them in a cruel and tyrannical manner; or, as some think, because they fell off and were apostates from the true religion, which is much better than to understand them of apostate angels, whom the Targum of Jonathan mentions by name, and calls them Schanchazai and Uziel, who fell from heaven, and were in the earth in those days: and also after that,
which shows that the preceding clause respects giants in former times, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men,
came into their houses and chambers, and lay with them: and they bare [children] unto them,
or giants unto them, as may be supplied from the former clause; for the sense is, as there were giants before this general defection, so there were at this time, when there was a mixture of the Cainites and Sethites; which were the offspring of the sons of God, or posterity of Seth, mixing with the daughters of men, or the posterity of Cain; for this is not to be understood after the flood, as Aben Ezra, Ben Melech; and so they are described in the following words, the same [became] mighty men;
for tallness and strength, for power and dominion, for tyranny and oppression: which [were] of old:
like those that were of old before; or who in after times were spoken of, as in the days of old: men of renown,
or "of name" F15; whose names were often made mention of, both for their size and for their wickedness; they were much talked of, and extolled for their exploits, and even wicked ones: they were famous men, or rather infamous; for some men get a name in the world, not for their goodness, but for their greatness, and sometimes for their great wickedness; which sense is countenanced by what follows: that there were giants in these early times is confirmed by the testimony of many Heathen writers; such were the Titans that made war against Saturn, begotten by Ouranus, who were not only of bulky bodies, but of invincible strength, as Apollodorus F16 relates, and Berosus F17 speaks of a city about Lebanon, called Enos, which was a city of giants, who were men of vast bodies, and of great strength, inventors of arms and music, were cannibals, and exceedingly debauched.