Chapter 6 of the book of Genesis is a very intriguing one. It speaks about special beings that had lived on Earth in ancient times. Who were those beingsis the subjectfor many debates and very few opinions are able to shed some light on the issue.
“When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, ‘My spirit shall not abide* in mortals for ever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’ 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterwards -when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.” (Genesis 6; 1-4 NRSV)
Who were “the sons of God”, “the daughters of man”, and the “Nephilin” in Genesis chapter 6, verses 1-4? There are three major interpretations of this expression circulating among the commentators and to which I want to add a fourth one which is probably the most convincing.
The combination between the ungodly Cainite with the godly Sethites.
The ‘sons of God’ are generally thought to be the godly men of the Sethite line. The ‘daughters of men’ are thought to be the daughters of the ungodly Cainite. The Nephilim are the ungodly men who are the product of this undesirable union. Chapter 4 from the book of Genesis describes the ungodly generation of Cain, while in chapter 5 we see the godly Sethite line. The premise of this line of argument is that Cain’s line of descendants and Seth’s line of descendants had to be separated because Cain was a criminal and Seth replaced Abel, the victim of Cain’s crime. No connections would have been adequate between the families of the criminal and of the victim.
This version of interpretation is open to much possible criticism. In point of fact, humanity is seen by the Bible as a unity and not having two branches. God would have seen all humankind, not only Cain’s offspring, as having bad thoughts and as being unholy. Human beings were in unity and all were relatives amongst themselves.
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Godly and ungodly are two notions applicable to certain individuals and not to whole families. Not all of Seth’s line would have been godly and not all of Caine’s line would have been ungodly. According to chapter 6 from the book of Genesis, few were godly in those days. Only Noah and his family could have been called righteous at the time of the Flood.
If other people would have been righteous, they also probably would have been saved from the Flood, but only Noah and his family were deemed to be just by God.
Also, the “daughters of men” cannot be restricted to only the daughters of the Cainites. The “daughters of man” were not forced into this union with the sons of God. They would have been seen by the “sons of God” as suitable partners for them, they became their wives and they gave birth to children for them. The word “wife” is the key for this idea and this was a dignity attributed to the “daughters of man” by the “sons of God”.
If the sons of Seth’s line of inheritance had been married to Cain’s granddaughters, they all were relatives between them and they all started from the same set of DNA. Why would the product of such families have been giants? There isn’t any genetic explanation for such a phenomenon. Having the same DNA, all mankind had to be formed only from giants, but it wasn’t the case. Incest brings degeneration and not an increase in strength or other qualities. Nephilims were strong and courageous people, proving military prowess – they were not degenerates. A new set of genes had to be added to those of Adam and Eve’s in order to produce Nephilims.
The Despot Interpretation
In another interpretation, the sons of God are the sons of powerful rulers, identified by the languages of the Near East with “sons of God”. For example, in Egypt the Pharaoh was identified with the “son” of the Egyptian deity Re. The Hebrew word used in the O.T. for God, Elohim, was also used for men who exercised authority. In this view, “sons of God” should be understood to mean powerful nobles and kings.
“1 God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgement:” (Psalm 82; 1 NRSV)
Some of the commentators who maintain The Despot Interpretation are also of the opinion that the main sin of those despots was polygamy. I don’t think that polygamy would have really been a problem as far as Abraham or David had polygamous relations and that didn’t produce a strong reaction from God, as a matter of fact, no critical reaction was recorded by the book of Genesis about polygamy.
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