Sons of God and Daughters of Men
In Genesis 6:2-4 we read the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. (3) And the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." (4) There were giants 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.
There are some who suggest this passage describes inbreeding between angels and humans with the resulting progeny being giants or "super heros." However, such an interpretation does not do justice to the biblical witness.
The passage itself says God had determined not to endure humanity's sin any longer. The thrust of the story thus far has been the increasing sinfulness of mankind. There is no mention of angelic sin nor had there been any mention of angels earlier in the account.
Who then are these "sons of god" and "daughters of men?" An important clue to their identity is given in Genesis 4:26 where we read that after Seth's son Enos was born, "men began to call upon the name of the Lord." The passage literally says, "then begin call the name Yahweh" and may be translated as "at that time men began to be called by the name of Yahweh." In other words, at that time, the followers of God were labeled as "Yahwehites" or more simply, "Children (sons) of God."
The exact Hebrew phrase, "sons of God" (ben elohiym) occurs outside of Genesis only in the book of Job. There it twice refers unambiguously to the spiritual host - the satan included (Job 1:6, 2:1) with a third use found in a poetic section that presumably references just the "good angels" (Job 38:7). In each case it indicates beings who are in subjection to God and is not a reference to the corporeal character of the creature under consideration. Thus, similar language is often used to refer to human followers of God, corporate and individual. For instance, in Exodus 4:22 Moses is instructed to tell Pharaoh thus says Yahweh, Israel is my son, my firstborn. So I will say to you, let my son go (koh amar Yhwh, Yisrael ben - see also Deuteronomy 32:5, Hosea 1:10,Psalms 73:15, 80:17). In addition, God described Solomon as "my son" (2 Samuel 7:14, 1 Chronicles 17:13, 22:10, 28:6). The practice is repeated in the New Testament where Luke lists Adam as (the son) of God (Luke 3:38). It may be argued that this kind of language was not applied to the people of God during the antediluvian period. Yet, that argument is a presupposition disregarding the identification of the Sethian line as Yahwehites in Genesis 4:26.
A familial relationship is also ascribed to the followers of Jesus Christ in the New Covenant era. Romans 8:14-16 tells us, For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. ...(16) The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God (see also, John 1:12, 11:52, Romans 8:21, 9:8, 1 John 3:1-10, 5:2).
The original audience for the New Testament was far more familiar with the Hebrew Bible than modern Believers. They would have known what was normally meant by the phrase "sons of God" and similar expressions. Indeed, on the occasions it is used in the older Testament to signify angels, it is clearly defined by the context. Thus, the New Testament usage occurs without explanation. So, if the phrase "sons of God" (in the Hebrew Scriptures and common use) was normally understood as a reference to angels (without explanatory context), the New Testament would have included an explanation for the new utilization.
Finally, Jesus aids our understanding of the passage when he says angelic beings do not marry nor are they given in marriage (Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25). In other words, they are nonsexual; they do not cohabit or produce offspring. The example of creation also shows God does not allow different "kinds" to inbreed and produce young; there is no such thing as a snake-wolf hybrid for instance. Frankly, this comment from Jesus should alone be adequate for putting to rest the idea that angels had sexual intercourse and produced offspring with human women in the antediluvian world.
In short, the "sons of God" in Genesis chapter six are the members of the antediluvian "Church." As such, we can be confident they enjoyed the blessings of technological advancement, intellectual attainment, and political arrangement exceeding those of their ungodly counterparts (cf. Deuteronomy. 4:6, 8:18, 28:1-14, 1 Kings 4:1-34, Proverbs 10:22 and so on).
Meahwhile, the "daughters of men" in the passage are women from the ungodly line of Cain. The text says they were "good, pleasant and agreeable to the senses." It may be that the Cainite women dressed and behaved provocatively in order to arouse the sexual interest of the Sethites. Perhaps this was a settled strategy used to degrade the sons of God. A similar tactic was used by the Moabites against the children of Israel (Numbers 25:1, 31:15-16).
Moreover, the term translated as giant is "nephilim" which means "fallen" or "feller" (one who causes to fall). Indeed, the Hebrew may be understood in the active sense as "those who fell upon others" which is an accurate description of the violent oppressors of those days. The last portion of verse four indicates the meaning "warriors of infamy." In other words, the offspring of these sons of God and daughters of men were not superhuman crossbreeds but depraved men who were tyrants notorious for their brutality.
Therefore, the passage is telling us members of the primeval Church married apostate women and bore children who had the advantages of a godly heritage without the moral sense; children who "spoke the language of heathens" and cared not for the things of God (Nehemiah 13:24). These unholy offspring (known as The Fallen or The Fellers), utilized the superior accomplishments of their fathers to gain power and terrorize their fellows.
Next week: part 2, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
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