There are two main interpretations of the sons of God and the daughters of man in Genesis 6:2. The first is that the sons of God were angels who copulated with the daughters of men, human women.
The second is that the sons of God are the descendant of Seth. They married the daughters of man, the descendant of Cain. Their marriage resulted in the apostasy of the sons of Seth and eventually led to God’s judgment in the flood. A fuller explanation can be found in the last post, but suffice it to say I find this view most compelling.
There are at least 9 reasons I find this interpretation most compelling:
1) Matthew 22:30 and Mark 12:25 say that angels do not marry.
2) Scripture uses the phrase “son(s) of God” to describe the people of God. King David is a son of God (2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 2:7), and so are the people of Israel (Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 14:1; 32:5; Hosea 1:10). Thrice in the books of Moses are the people of God called the son(s) of God. Given that Genesis is a book of Moses, this is a strong argument in favour of the second position.
3) The judgment pronounced in Genesis 6:3 is on men, not on angels.
4) The judgment of the flood is the result of human sin, not angelic sin.
5) Genesis 6:4 twice says that the Nephilim are men. The Nephilim surface again in Numbers 13:33. They appear to be a giant Goliath-like warrior class of men, not some angelic-human hybrid. The flood shows that God is bigger than the biggest and scariest man. This should have encouraged the spies in Numbers 13 who saw the Nephilim in the Promised Land.
6) The act of seeing presents a major problem to people, not angels, in Genesis. Eve saw the fruit before she ate it (Genesis 3:6). Ham saw Noah’s nakedness before he took his father’s dignity, while Shem and Japheth went to great lengths to ensure they did not see Noah’s nakedness (Genesis 9:22-23). Lot saw the lushness of Sodom before he moved his family away from the Promised Land of Canaan (13:10). The sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive before they took them as wives (Genesis 6:2). Seeing connotes gazing and beholding. John calls it the lust of the eyes (1 John 2:16). Each of these people was charmed by seeing before taking something forbidden. Each stands as a warning to walk by faith in the invisible God, not by sight.
7) Genesis 4 portrays the women of Cain’s line as attractive which is the one descriptor of the daughters of man in Genesis 6:2. The name, Adah, infers physical beauty (Genesis 4:19). Zillah can be a reference to the sweetness of a female voice (Genesis 4:19). Naamah can mean pleasant (Genesis 4:22).
8) Moses wrote Genesis to the Israelites who were on the brink of entering Canaan. Over and over, God warned them not to marry Canaanite women (Exodus 34:11-16; Deuteronomy 7:3-4). Marrying foreign wives was a serious problem for Israel in the Old Testament (Malachi 2:10-15; Ezra 9:1-4; Nehemiah 10:30). As an instruction to God’s people, Genesis 6:2 is a warning to future Israel by showing that God’s predeluvian people were destroyed by taking foreign wives. The people of God are to be holy and separate from the world.
9) Read within the context of Genesis 3-5, this makes most sense. See this post for a fuller explanation of the context.
The view that sees the sons of God as angels depends on the pseudepigraphal Book of Enoch. The Book of Enoch, written a few thousand years after Genesis, explains that angels married human women at the time of Noah. The scholars who hold to this view read the Book of Enoch into 1 Peter 3:19, 2 Peter 2:4-5, and Jude v. 6. They conclude that Peter and Jude validate at least that aspect of the Book of Enoch. It is a bit of a stretch, to say the least. Commenting on Genesis 6:2, Calvin says it well: “The ancient figment, concerning the intercourse of angels with women, is abundantly refuted by it own absurdity; and it is surprising that learned men should formerly have been fascinated by ravings so gross and prodigious.”
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