Published on July 20, 2017 by Joshua R Monroe

Lexham Press, 2015 | 384 pages

A Brief Book Summary from Books at a Glance [Part 2 of 2]


About the Author

Michael S. Heiser is the academic editor for Logos Bible Software, Bible Study Magazine, and Faithlife Study Bible. He is the coeditor of Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology and Semitic Inscriptions: Analyzed Texts and English Translations; he is also the Hebrew instructor for Learn to Use Hebrew for Logos Bible Software. He earned his PhD in Hebrew Bible and Semitic languages and holds an MA in ancient history and Hebrew studies. In addition, he was named the 2007 Pacific Northwest Regional Scholar by the Society of Biblical Literature.



“The Unseen Realm presents the fruit of Dr. Heiser’s fifteen years of research into what the Bible really says about the unseen world of the supernatural. His goal is to help readers view the biblical text unfiltered by tradition or by theological presuppositions. In The Unseen Realm, Michael Heiser shines a light on the supernatural world—not a new light, but rather the same light the original, ancient readers—and writers—of Scripture would have seen it in, given their historical and cultural milieu. This light allows today’s pastors and scholars to understand the biblical authors’ supernatural worldview.”


Table of Contents

Part 1: First Things

1.Reading Your Bible Again—for the First Time
2. Rules of Engagement

Part 2: The Households of God

3. God’s Entourage
4. God Alone
5. As in Heaven, So on Earth
6. Gardens and Mountains
7. Eden—Like No Place on Earth
8. Only God Is Perfect
9. Peril and Providence

Part 3: Divine Transgressions

10. Trouble in Paradise
11. Like the Most High?
12. Divine Transgression
13. The Bad Seed
14. Divine Allotment
15. Cosmic Geography

Part 4: Yahweh and His Portion

16. Abraham’s Word
17. Yahweh Visible and Invisible
18. What’s in a Name?
19. Who Is Like Yahweh?
20. Retooling the Template
21. God’s Law, God’s Council
22. Realm Distinction

Part 5: Conquest and Failure

23. Giant Problems
24. The Place of the Serpent
25. Holy War

Part 6: Thus Says The Lord

26. Mountains and Valleys
27. Standing in the Council
28. Divine Misdirection
29. The Rider of the Clouds
30. Prepare to Die

Part 7: The Kingdom Already

31. Who Will Go for Us?
32. Preeminent Domain
33. A Beneficial Death
34. Infiltration
35. Son of God, Seed of Abraham
36. Lower Than the Elohim
37. This Means War
38. Choosing Sides

Part 8: The Kingdom Not Yet

39. Final Verdict
40. Foe from the North
41. The Mount of Assembly
42. Describing the Indescribable




[The summary below is part 2 of 2 of the book The Unseen Realm.]

Part 5: Conquest and Failure

23. Giant Problems
24. The Place of the Serpent
25. Holy War

Thus far we have explored what modern readers often miss: the unseen spiritual world inherent in the Old Testament Scriptures and worldview. In that vein, a major conflict animating the biblical storyline is that between Eve’s offspring and the offspring of the serpent, a divine being originally of the divine council (Genesis 3:15). Though we see divine figures cast in human form in Genesis 6:1-4, the divine rebel of Eden is not presented in that way. It should stand out, then, that “offspring” or “seed” is not literal in the text, and that for the original audience, Israel, the conflict conceived was played out in terms of land and nations, spiritual battle, and even the Nephilim (Numbers 13:32-33).

In our previous discussion of the Nephilim/Rephaim, however, we left some questions unanswered. Genesis 6:1-4 mentions that the giants were upon the earth at the time of the flood “and also afterward.” The major objection to our understanding of the Nephilim as creatures of the divine council who procreated with human women is that angels are asexual. Some read Matthew 22:23-33 in that way. But the point there is that God’s angels do not engage in sexual practices, not that they cannot. In fact, Israel understood there to be a spiritual dimension to their enemies in Canaan as evinced in Numbers 13 in just this way. “Either the giant clans are the result of literal cohabitation, or the sexual language is merely a vehicle to communicate the idea that, as Yahweh was responsible for the Israelites’ existence, so the giant clans existed because of some sort of supernatural intervention of rival gods.” Thus, fear of the Nephilim is a spiritual failure: God’s people brought out of Egypt did not trust that their God was up to the task of delivering them yet still in the conquest of Canaan. In the context of exile in Babylon, which itself had connections to the Nephilim, cowering in fear before the giants was all the more disgraceful.

The spiritual dimension of Israel’s worldview is crucial for understanding the warfare between God’s people and the nations which surround them. Israel’s enemies are under the dominion of foreign gods, and Israel’s failure so often revolves around its capitulation to those gods on some level. Israel’s route in the wilderness into the “Transjordan,” rather than entering Canaan directly from the south, is important here as well (Deuteronomy 2). The lands of Moab, Edom, etc. were to be left unmolested by Israel as they journeyed northward east of the Jordan since these areas had been given to Lot and Esau by God and, importantly, those ancestors and their clans had already removed the giant clans (verses 12, 21).

While “Amorite” and “Canaanite” become general bywords for enemies of Israel still remaining in the land, there are others which have a more specific focus. Og, “one of the remnant of the Rephaim,” reigns in and around Ashtaroth, Edrei, and Bashan which were even more theologically loaded with the freight of divine warrior kings (Deuteronomy 3). “Bashan” specifically shares a root with “serpent” and was considered the location of the “gates of hell,” that is, the entry to the dwelling place of expired demonic Nephilim.

Next we will consider the warfare under Joshua against these nations. The concept of “holy war,” or kherem (devoting something to total destruction in war), has troubled some Bible students and scholars over the years (Deuteronomy 3:6). However, it is against the backdrop of our discussion of divine conflict and demonic bloodlines that Israel’s holy conflict unfolds. The “Deuteronomy 32 worldview” has it that “Yahweh had disinherited the nations, assigning them to the rule of lesser gods.” In the holy wars of its history, the Israelites are out to erase the Nephilim line from the promised land. This comes to the fore in the route Israel takes through cities noted for the presence of giants. It is in these centers of Nephilim settlement where kharam warfare is specifically highlighted. Others were killed no doubt, but the rationale behind a total “setting apart to destruction” is the spiritual motivation of ridding God’s own land of the descendants of Nephilim under Joshua (Joshua 10:28-43, 11:21-23). And we should not consider these to be bizarre movie monsters; the only recorded height of a giant in Scripture, Goliath, puts him around 6 feet 6 inches, about one and a half feet taller than the average Near Eastern person at this time. And yet, as we will see, the descendants of the Nephilim were not entirely wiped out from the land.


Part 6: Thus Says The Lord

26. Mountains and Valleys
27. Standing in the Council
28. Divine Misdirection
29. The Rider of the Clouds
30. Prepare to Die

Of course, the conflicts under Joshua, including kharam warfare, did not solve everything–the cosmic geography discussed last time remained in place, from the spiritual enemies without to the pockets of resistance within the borders of Israel (Joshua 11:21-23). The reality of the heavenly realm as mirrored on earth is built into Israel’s system: the tabernacle itself, its furniture, and the temple all resemble “the plan” shown to Moses on the mountain (Exodus 26:30). These elements weren’t chosen merely for their design aesthetics; rather, they bore spiritual significance by which the Lord taught his people.

The tabernacle with its holy of holies inner sanctum within the holy place was moved inside the temple. Cherubim were added overshadowing the ark. The images of the Lord “living” in the ancient tent while sitting on his throne in the temple on Mount Zion were both preserved. Psalm 48, Zechariah 8:3, Isaiah 2:2, and Micah 4:1 all witness to this important conception.

At the other end of the spectrum were the dark places in Israel’s cosmic geography, the places of the Rephaim/Nephilim bloodlines. Goliath had come from. . .

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The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible

Lexham Press, 2015 | 384 pages

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