Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle
Many Waters is a strange book. I don’t know another way to describe it. The book is about Sandy and Dennys Murry, a pair of teenaged twins who are the only average people in an unusual family. (You can read more about the Murrys in A Wrinkle in Time, as well as several other books by Madeleine L’Engle.)
One afternoon, Sandy and Dennys make the mistake of messing with one of their father’s experiments-in-progress. Without realizing their stupidity, the twins type a message into the computer, which reads: “Take me someplace warm ... someplace warm and sparsely populated.” When the twins exit the lab, they find themselves in a burning hot desert, with high temperatures that burn their skin and give them sunstroke. Eventually, they are rescued by a very small man named Japheth, and his unusual pet. Through a short series of events, they find themselves separated, one in the tent of Japheth’s father, and the other in his grandfather’s tent (who happens to be feuding with his son.)
The divided family nurses the twins back to health, and they slowly become aware of their surroundings. (Especially Japheth’s sister, named Yalith, who they both fall in love with.)
Neither Sandy or Dennys know what planet they are on. In some ways, it resembles their own, but it is also very different. The people appear to be human, but they are very short, and almost midget-like. They seem to think that the twins are giants. The climate is much hotter than the twins are used to, and there are many strange animals, including oddly sized mammoths. Most remarkable of all, there are the majestic Seraphim, and the darker Nephilim who are exquisitely beautiful and deceptive.
As Grandfather Lamech tells them stories, the twins slowly recognize where they are. They begin to suspect things when they learn that Japheth’s father is named Noah. When Grandfather tells them about Enoch, who walked with El and was not, the twins begin to see the story emerging. But it is only when El tells Noah to build a large boat, that the twins know positively that they are living on a younger version of Earth, in the days before the Biblical flood.
The fact that Many Waters is based on a Bible story made the book even stranger. I recognized many of the names immediately... Shem, Japheth, Oholibamah, Lamech... When the Nephilim turned up, I was very curious, because I’ve often wondered who (or what) the Nephilim are. They show up in Genesis 6:4, which says that “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” They also show up in Numbers 13:33, when the spies reported that there were giants in the Promised Land. “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.”
Who are the Nephilim? They aren’t human. They are obviously gigantic. They were on the earth before and after the flood. Is Genesis 6:4 referring to them as “sons of God”? Are they angels? The Seraphim are angels, but Many Waters connected the two, not the Bible. It would appear that there were women who had Nephilim babies, which is part of the book (I am not getting my theology from the book, by the way), and seems implied in the Bible. Curiouser and curiouser.
Hm Hm. I think I will have to do some research on this, and pick some people’s brains. Then maybe I will write a post called “The Nephilim: Part 2" =)
Note: I wouldn’t really recommend this book for younger kids. There isn’t any language, or actual sex, but there are quite a few, um ... implications? They mainly have to do with the Nephilim, and the women I mentioned who were betrothed and wedded to Nephilim. I would probably put the age range at mid to late teens.