Genesis 6: The Sons of God

Sons-of-God-and-the-Nephilim-Giants-of-Genesis-6From the book “The First Satan; Understanding Satans, Devils and Demons”            by Dr. Al Garza. ISBN# 978-0692952177.

As we begin to look at Noah and the flood, we must understand the different views of what caused God’s judgment to bring the flood upon mankind. The first four verses of Genesis 6 has been debated by both Jews and Christians for the last 2000 years. Let’s look at them below.

“And it came to pass when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives, whomsoever they chose.  And the LORD said: ‘My spirit shall not abide in man forever, for that he also is flesh; therefore shall his days be a hundred and twenty years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also after that when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them; the same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.”, Genesis 6:1-4.

So what does this have to do with Satan and demons? Many modern Christian scholars have used these verses to try and demonstrate that fallen angels, sons of God,  came down to earth and took wives for themselves and had children with them. This unholy act caused a hybrid mix of half human and half divine being which somehow survived the flood and managed to keep reproducing to this day. The understanding is that the fallen angels are part of Satan’s army and a band of demons. The Christian and some Jewish scholars see “sons of God” as a title for divine angelic beings. Now let me say that not all Christians hold this view nor do all Jewish scholars. In fact, during the 2nd Temple era, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and in later Jewish literature, we will see later on, the view of sons of God being angels was in debate. Let us first look at the plain meaning of the text from the Hebrew and see if angels are a good interpretation of that explanation.

The events leading up to the flood are mentioned in Genesis 4 and 5. When Cain was sent into exile away from God, he settled in Nod, east of Eden, Genesis 4:16. From that point, we have the genealogy of Cain’s descendants ending with Lamech. Cain’s line does not seem to be righteous but wicked. Remember, Cain was no longer in the presence of God. In that line, we read about Lamech who says he killed a man for wounding him and a boy for striking him. From there we are told that Adam had another son named Seth. It is at this point where after Seth has a son that the passage says, “To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.”, Genesis 4:26, ESV.  The Hebrew does allow for another type of reading. “Then began men to call themselves,” or “to be called by the name of YHVH.”  This understanding of Seth and his son Enosh being called sons of God or by his name, YHVH, is not foreign to the Bible. In Deuteronomy 14:1 Moses tells the people, “You are the sons of YHVH your God.”  Even in the New Testament in the gospel of Luke, we read the genealogy of Joseph all the way back to Adam who is called the Son of God, Luke 3:38.  There seems to be a clear distinction between the genealogy lines of Cain and Seth. The genealogy of Seth ends with Noah and his three sons, Genesis 5:32. So if the line of Seth were called sons of God and then when we read Genesis 6:1-4, we can easily see the sons of God being men from the line Seth and not angels. In fact, the whole context of Genesis 6 is about the wickedness of man.  “YHVH saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”, Genesis 6:5. God destroys the earth by the flood because of the wickedness of man.  There is no hint or suggestion to suppose that the sons of God are anything more than men in the context. This is why you have a distinction in the verse of sons of God and daughters of men or sons of men. Cain and his descendants were exiled from God while Seth and his descendants were still with God and Adam.

According to other sources, immediately after the death of Adam, the family of Seth was separated from the family of Cain. Seth took his sons and their wives to a high mountain (Hermon), on the top of which Adam was buried, and Cain and all his sons lived in the valley beneath, where Abel was slain, and they on the mountain obtained a name for holiness and purity and were so near to divine beings that they could hear their voices and join their hymns with them and them, their wives and their children, went by the common name of the sons of God. Now, these were adjured, by Seth and by succeeding patriarchs by no means to go down from the mountain and join the Cainites but notwithstanding in the times of Jared some did go down and take wives to have children.  It is only in later Jewish tradition that we find views of angels and fallen watchers put back into the text. These are later interpretations that are picked up by the western churches and in Christianity.

This takes us to the word “Nephilim” in Genesis 6:4.  This word is predicated on the notion that sons of God are, once again, fallen angels or divine beings from heaven who came down and took wives for themselves. Genesis 6:4 reads, “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them; the same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.”  The Hebrew word Nephilim comes from the Hebrew word naphall which simply means to fall.  Another Hebrew word associated with Nephilim is nephil which refers to a tyrant or a giant. These fallen tyrants who were giants were just men, mighty men, and men of renown or of authority. The Hebrew allows for such understanding. From this point on Moses tell us of the wickedness of man that God saw and man’s intent in doing evil from his heart was continually going on in the earth.

I need to mention that the Hebrew word for intent is yatser, in Genesis 6:5, and refers to man’s own forming or framing of doing evil. It is man and man alone who intends to do evil and is forming the thoughts in his mind and heart. God did not create man to do evil and some to do good as some teachers suppose. The result of man’s evil intent comes from the tree of knowledge of good and evil with man’s freedom of choice as we have seen. In later 2nd Temple Jewish literature Jews who wrestled with this idea began to develop and create other answers such as demon influences that caused a man to do evil.  The intent or yatser is first mentioned here in Genesis 6:5 and second in Genesis 8:21 where we read again from God,  “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.”  The intention of man heart or mind is evil from his youth. This means that man will always continue to form and shape hurtful and chaotic things in life. Some worse than others.

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