What really happened in chapter six of Genesis? Could it have been the way it sounds...with angels and humans?
There is a verse in Genesis Six that some prefer to ignore than try to explain. Even seminary training offers little help here. And the questions do come – from young and old alike – “What happened with the angels?Can angels and humans reproduce? Who were the sons of God?” Irritated with the subject, they reply, “Just stick with the New Testament.” Or, “It can’t be read the way it sounds.” Well, let’s take a closer look:
(Gen 6:4)There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
Let’s begin with the assumption that the Bible is God’s written word (through man) to man (2 Peter 1:21, 2 Timothy 3:16). Before I discovered this, I suffered from a faulty foundation – one that was always wobbling based upon the current views of human authorities – and with no real hope. It’s the only Book with all the answers we need.
In Genesis 6:4, it’s hard to hide the connection between the sons of God / daughters of men and the resulting giants (or Nephilim). The glue comes with the little words “when” and “same”, which connects the ones that were born with those “mighty men..of renown”. So, whatever was going on definitely ties in with the birth of the giants. However, those who choose not to believe the incredible, generally pick on something else – the meaning of “the sons of God”.
The argument is that this term refers to the godly lineage of Seth that married into the ungodly lineage of Cain. But the term is not “daughters of Cain”- as if the union between a believer and non-believer produces giants. And when the original language is examined for the phrase, “sons of God” (bene elohim), quite disturbingly to some it is also found in Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7, and Daniel 3:25 as an unquestionable reference to “angels”. See also Psalm 29:1 and 89:7. But let’s not try to pretend to know the original Hebrew writing. Let’s look to those who did – the Jews. After all, in Romans 3:2 we are told “…unto them were committed the oracles of God.” Within The Torah, by The Jewish Publication Society of America, we find their translation of Genesis 6:4:
It was then, and later too, that the Nephilim appeared on earth – when the divine beings cohabited with the daughters of men, who bore them offspring. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown. (The official interpretation of bene elohim has been underlined for emphasis. Interesting how Jewish scholars see it.)
Let’s go back to those who prefer to stay in The New Testament. Here we are confronted with at least two references to a serious angelic God-problem:
(2Pe 2:4)For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
(Jud 1:6)And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
At first glance it may be thought that this angelic sin was simply leaving heaven for planet earth – following Lucifer in his rebellion. But when the context of Jude 1:6-7 is examined, something far more is found:
(Jud 1:7)Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
First notice the connecting words, “even as”, which links the angelic sin with what follows. Then notice the description of Sodom and Gomorrha’s sin – the words, “strange flesh” are underlined for emphasis. Isn’t it awesome how the Bible itself explains stuff that few people teach? Are we getting closer to seeing what really happened?
Now it’s time to hear from an ancient man who walked with God…and one day “was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24) His name was Enoch and some of his writings are found in The New Testament. This particular quote is not part of our Bible, so some may choose to ignore it – but there are some branches of Christianity that do recognize and include all the writings of Enoch as authoritative. Personally, I have read them and found them to be very edifying and helpful in understanding more of God’s Word (without conflict). As an antediluvian on-scene reporter, Enoch should be able to give us the scoop:
And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.' And Semjaza, who was their leader, said unto them: 'I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.' And they all answered him and said: 'Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.' Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. (Enoch 6:1-7)
Another ancient historical record is the Book of Jubilees, included in some Bibles:
And it came to pass when the children of men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born unto them, that the angels of God saw them on a certain year of this jubilee, that they were beautiful to look upon; and they took themselves wives of all whom they chose, and they bare unto them sons and they were giants. (Jubilees 5:1)
As you can see, the Biblical and early historical records are quite persuasive. It seems that some angels and some human women found a way to make giants. As for the reference in the Bible to angels in heaven not marrying, that apparently means in heaven. Hopefully, it won’t happen again on earth (though some say it will – a good subject for a later article).