Demonically Driven Despots: the “Sons of God” in Genesis 6
The sixth chapter of Genesis introduces us to “the sons of God” who take for themselves wives from among “the daughters of men.” The offspring they sire become “warriors,” also known as “men of renown from ancient times.” Together with the Nephilim these warrior offspring become the perpetrators of widespread corruption and violence that fills the earth (6:1-7, 11-13). This data raises the obvious question of the identity of “the sons of God” and the nature of their sin.
Some Preliminary Observations
Before surveying the more common answers to the question raised, a few preliminary observations are necessary to place the passage in its larger “primeval” context. While it may not be as obvious to English readers, the narrator (Moses) employs vocabulary and highlights themes introduced earlier in primeval history.
Another “Fall” Story
Just as Eve (and Adam) “saw” (ראה) that the fruit was “good” (טוב) and so “took” (לקח) “from” (מן) what her heart desired, likewise the sons of God “saw” (ראה) that the daughters of men were “attractive” (טוב) and so “took” (לקח) “from” (םן) among them any they chose.1 Thus, the rebellion hatched in the Garden continues.
Echoes of Primeval Violence
Sin matures rapidly from our first parent’s taking of forbidden fruit (Gen 3:6) to their son Cain’s taking the innocent life of his brother Abel (Gen 4:8). Cain’s defiance and violence spreads to his offspring. Lamech, the seventh from Cain, kills a young man without warrant and arrogantly boasts, “If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold” (see Gen 4:19, 23-24). It would seem, then, that the proliferation of violence associated with the sons of God and their notorious warrior offspring (Gen 6:2, 11, 13) finds its roots in earlier primeval history.
Two Popular Interpretations
Who then are “the sons of God” and what is the precise nature of their sin? Fallen angels and godly Sethites are among the two most common readings.
Some early rabbis, church fathers, and modern interpreters view the “sons of Elohim” (בני אלהים; bene-elohim) as a reference to supernatural beings (angels or demigods), who took human wives, produced semi-divine offspring and thereby fell from their first estate and precipitated God’s judgment on the earth.2 Thus, the resultant sin has both a human and an angelic dimension—a mingling the Bible forbids (Lev 19:19; 20:16; Deut 7:3; 22:9–11). More precisely, the sin involves angels and men transgressing divinely imposed limits, with the latter attempting to attain immortality.3 A few proponents of this view, sensing the apparent incongruity between a rebellion initiated by angelic beings and a retribution aimed primarily at humans either attempt to lay the blame chiefly on “the daughters of men” (or their fathers)4 or suggest a case of demon possession whereby fallen angels took possession of evil men.5
Interpreting “the sons of God” as fallen angels has occasioned the following objections:
(1) Since the Genesis narrative is primarily focusing on the origin, spread, and consequences of human sin, it seems unlikely that Moses would introduce fallen angels into the picture. True, in Genesis 3 the Serpent (an angelic being) tempts mankind to sin, and Adam and Eve acquiesce. As a result, both the Serpent and the humans are cursed and judged. However, here there is only judgment pronounced on man (6:3) as well as animal life under his dominion (6:7).
(2) Scripture elsewhere implies that angels are not given in marriage, do not procreate, and are, therefore, not inclined towards the practice of sexual intercourse (Matt 22:30; Mark 12:25; Luke 20:34–36).
(3) The boundaries of multiplying according to one’s “kind” established at creation would also seem to discount this view (compare Gen 1:11, 12, 21, 25; 2:19–20).
These objections to the fallen angel interpretation have led some scholars to posit another reading of “the sons of God” and their sin.
A second view, advanced among some of the church fathers6 and popularized by some of the Reformers,7 holds that the “sons of God” represent the godly line of Seth and the “daughters of men” (בנות האדם; benot-ha’adam) represent the sinful line of Cain or the ungodly in general. Hence, the precise sin in view is that of intermarriage between the righteous and the wicked, resulting in a breakdown of religious beliefs and values, which in turn served to advance the proliferation of evil in the world.8
Despite the current popularity of this view, it too, like the fallen angel interpretation, raises certain objections:
(1) Some advocates of this view identify “the sons of God” as regenerate Sethites and “the daughters of men” as unregenerate Cainites. But this is problematic. The phrase “daughers of men” has already been used to refer to human females born to humankind (6:1) without any ethnic or spiritual discrimination. Hence, the context, therefore, suggests that we treat the phrase in verse 2 as it’s used in verse 1.
(2) Other advocates of the Sethite view concede that “the daughters of men” is a generic reference to women offspring in general irrespective of clan or spiritual condition. They argue, however, that the sin envisioned is that of the godly (Sethites) choosing a wife from among the daughters of men based on beauty rather than spirituality (6:2). While it’s possible to interpret the phrase “they took as their wives any they chose” (נשים מכל אשר בחרו; nshym mkl ‘shr bhru) as a reference to choosing one woman from among many, the syntax and larger context suggest the idea of “they too as wives all the women they desired” (see my arguments below). Hence, the sin isn’t intermarriage but polygamy.
(3) Just as it’s untenable to identify “the daughters of men” as the unregenerate, the validity of identifying “the sons of God” as the regenerate is questionable. First, Moses has earlier linked the theological concept of “son of God” to royal status and regal function, not necessarily to spirituality. Second, early references to the regenerate include “offspring of the woman” (3:15) or men who “called on the name of Yahweh” (4:26) but not “sons of God.” Third, and more importantly, the identification of Israel as God’s son in the Mosaic corpora (Exod 4:22-23; Deut 14:1; 32:5-6) is not ethical or spiritual but functional. Israel, like Adam, is to be Yahweh’s royal-priest or priestly king (Exod 19:6). So it’s possible that “son of God” or “sons of God” may have connoted the idea of being in covenant relation with God. But being “in covenant” with God does not necessarily denote at this stage in redemptive history a regenerate heart. The terminology is not used to distinguish the regenerate from the unregenerate until later revelation (Pss 73:15; Isa 43:6; John 1:12-13).
(4) Moses identifies the fruit of the union of “the sons of God” and “the daughters of men” as “mighty men” of “renown [fame]” (6:4). These infamous warrior-like offspring no doubt contributed to the worldwide violence or tyranny referenced in the subsequent context (6:11, 13). Worldwide tyranny and oppression are not normally the most prominent sin that characterizes the fruit of the intermarriage of believers with unbelievers. Granted, it might be one of the fruits. But the fact that Moses highlights widespread societal violence leads me to believe its source was largely totalitarian-like rulers, as we’ll argue below.
Another Plausible Interpretation
A less-known interpretation, interprets the “sons of God” as human rulers who, under demonic influence, arrogantly assume divine prerogatives. More precisely, these are ancient suzerains who engage in unrestrained polygamy (or even rape!?, 6:2b), build royal harems, and exercise despotic tyranny. Their offspring, “the warriors” (הגברים; hagibborim) together with the mercenary Nephilim (הנפלים) perpetuate the evil and oppression, filling the earth with corruption and violence (6:11, 13), and thus earn for themselves the epithet, “men of fame [infamy!] from ancient times” (מעולם אנשי השם; me’olam ‘neshe hashem) (6:4).9
Below are the arguments that incline me to interpret the “sons of God” as a reference to tyrannical human despots who are under demonic influence.
(1) Genesis identifies man as God’s “image” and “likeness” (1:26-27) and connects these theological concepts to sonship (5:1-3). Not surprisingly, the Scriptures identify Adam, God’s primal image, as “the son of God” (Luke 3:38) and Jesus, the Second Adam, as God’s “Son” and “exact representation of His being” (Heb 1:3). C. F. Keil, a proponent of the Sethite view, notes this connection, and concludes that the expression “son of God” has “its roots in the divine image.”10
(2) The theological concepts of “God’s image” and “God’s son” are not simply ontological or ethical designations. They are functional titles or nomens officii (titles of office). Accordingly, the reference to man’s function as God’s vice-regent over creation (1:26b) is not coincidental to his identity as the imago Dei and “son of God” but intrinsic. Interpreting the waw-jussive following the cohorative (“Let us make”) as introducing a purpose clause brings this out more clearly: “so they may rule” (Gen 1:26, NET).11 The 18th century commentator John Gill saw a clear connection between man’s identity as God’s “image” and his royal status and function: “[God’s image] consisted … in his dominion, power, and authority over the creatures, in which he was as God’s viceregent, and resembled him.”12 This connection between man’s royal identity and regal function is further elaborated in Psalm 8 and highlighted in NT texts like 1 Cor 4:8; 6:3; Rev 5:10; 20:6: 22:5).
(3) The connection between divine sonship and rulership is affirmed in subsequent revelation as well. The king whom Yahweh sets on his holy mountain is none other than his “Son” (Psalm 2:6-7; cf. 2 Sam 7:13-16; Ps. 89:27). In Psalm 82:6, God addresses human rulers as “gods” (אלהים; elohim), that is, “sons of the Most High” (בני עליון). In this text, the second designation (“sons of the Most High”) stands in apposition to the first (“gods”) thereby qualifying and explaining it. These human rulers are not equal to God but are his deputies or viceroys. Moses himself employs the term elohim for human rulers (Exod 21:6; 22:8, 9, 27 [Heb 7, 8, 28]).
(4) It just so happens that “image” and “son” of deity signified royal status and regal function in the ancient Near Eastern cultural milieu of Moses and his original Israelite readers. I cite several examples in another post entitled “Man’s Royal Status as God’s Image and God’s Son.” Perhaps the most notable is an Egyptian text in which Amon-Re is represented as saying to Amenophis III (1390-1352 B.C.): “You are my beloved son, who came forth from my members, my image, whom I have put on earth, I have given to you to rule the earth in peace” (emphasis mine). Meredith Kline also cites a Ugaritic text (the Keret Epic) in which the Ugarit human ruler is called “the Son of El.”13 So kingship ideology in Moses’ day drew a connection between divine image and divine son and represented that nomenclature as designating regal function.14
Interestingly, some opponents to the human ruler view point out that Kline’s example (and many other ANE examples) employ the singular “son” rather than the plural “sons.” This, they think, discounts the idea that “the sons of God” in Genesis 6:1-4 refers to human rulers since Moses uses the plural15 But this kind of argument is gratuitous. After all, would someone reasons similarly that if the Bible uses the phrase “sons of the prophet” one time and the phrase “son of the prophet” several times, the two phrases must denote entirely different ideas? I think not.
(5) Does this mean that Moses simply borrowed ideas from his pagan neighbors and incorporated them into his doctrine of humanity? By no means! Rather, many pagan institutions, ideologies, and myths derive in part from truth imprinted on the conscience of every man and/or from revelation imparted in primeval history. This in-created truth and primeval revelation is distorted over time and incorporated into false worldviews. Accordingly, God’s revelation of man’s royal status as his “image-son” in Genesis serves a polemic that “sets the record straight,” ascribing royal status not merely to kings and emperors but to every human being.16
Thus far I’ve argued that “son of God” like “image of God” signifies royal status and function. This connection was first drawn in primeval revelation. That biblical tradition was both preserved and corrupted through human tradition passed down from Adam to Noah and through Noah’s offspring to the nations. This leads to the next step in my argumentation.
(6) In the immediate context of Genesis 6, the evil perpetrated by “the sons of God” and their offspring consisted not merely in general ethical corruption but, more specifically, of unbridled polygamy (6:2) and unrestrained violence (6:11). To begin with, the Hebrew phrase translated, “And they took as their wives any they chose” (Gen 6:2, ESV) might refer to the indiscriminate (and undiscerning) selection of a single wife of their choosing. On the other hand, the plural “wives” (נשים; nshym) followed by the phrase “any they chose” (מכל אשר בחרו; mkl ‘shr bhru) more likely suggests that they chose each and every bride they wanted. In favor of the latter, the reader should note the close parallel in Ecclesiastes 6:2, where Qoheleth describes a wealthy man who “lacks nothing of all that he desires” (ואיננו חסר לנפשו מכל אשר יתאוה; w’ynnu hsr lnpshu mkl ‘shr-yt’uh). It’s not simply that the wealthy man obtains the one thing he desires but that he obtains each and every thing he desires. The text in Ecclesiastes employs the verb אוה (‘wh; “desire”), whereas the text in Genesis 6:2 uses בחר (bhr; “choose”). The two verbs, however, appear as synonyms in Psalm 132:13. For this reason, I’m inclined to read the sin alluded to in 6:2 not as the intermarriage of believing males with unbelieving females but as an unbridled indulgence in polygamy. Joseph Blenkinsopp agrees and concludes that the narrator is describing “titan promiscuity.”17
(7) The reference to the earth being “filled with violence” makes better sense if we understand the perpetrators of such oppressive tyranny not simply as the fruit of intermarriages between believers and unbelievers. Scripture and extra-biblical history indicate that wide-scale tyranny and oppression are often the fruits of unscrupulous despots who inordinately covet God-like status and prerogative.
(8) The preceding and subsequent context lends weight to this view. The earlier reference to Lamech, the bigamist tyrant, provides the prototype of this multiplication of Lamech-like rulers who transgress the bounds of monogamous marriage and promote oppression and violence in the earth. Nimrod’s empire-building and heaven-assaulting Babel enterprises (10:8–12) also echo the despot-like depiction of “the sons of God” and their offspring, “the mighty warriors.” Moreover, the descriptions of the Pharaoh of Genesis 12 and the Abimelechs of Genesis 20 and 26 depict them as human rulers that were known for their attraction to beautiful women and their habit of harem building. Indeed, we find the verbs “to see” (ראה; r’h) and “to take” (לקח; lqh) in Genesis 12:12, 15, which are also used in Genesis 6:2 for the action of “the sons of God.”
(9) What is more, the concern for an enduring “name” (6:4) is tied to Cain (4:17) and to the Tower builders (11:4) who were empire-builders (compare 10:8–12).
(10) Finally, it’s worth noting that the ancient Targums (Aramaic paraphrases of the Tanach composed by the Rabbis) favored the human ruler view. For example, Targum Onkelos substitutes “the sons of the great ones [i.e., nobles]” (בני רברביא) and Targum Neofiti “the sons of the judges” (בני דייניא) for “the sons of God”18
In my mind, these reasons provide support for viewing “the sons of God” as despotic rulers who engage in unbridled polygamy and who perpetrated unrestrained tyranny. I believe my hermeneutic is in keeping with the grammatical-historical method advocated by the Reformers and Puritans. I’m seeking to interpret biblical terms and concepts in light of their grammatical and historical usage. Both biblical and extra-biblical evidence supports the understanding of divine sonship as intrinsically related to the function of ruling as the deity’s vice-regent. Moreover, I’m taking into account various contextual motifs that precede and follow the text in question.
There remains one more piece of biblical datum to incorporate into our interpretation. It’s actually cited as an objection to the position above and an argument for the fallen angel interpretation.
Jude’s Allusion to the Book of Enoch
The NT writer Jude speaks of fallen angels and compares their sin to that of Sodom and Gomorrah:
And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day– just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire (Jude 6-7, ESV).
While commentators agree that the sin of the angels and that of the Sodomites have in common an anti-authoritarian refusal to remain within divinely determined bounds, there is some debate as to whether the Greek syntax requires the reader to interpret the rebellion of angels in precisely the same way as the rebellion of the Sodomites, i.e., as involving acts of sexual immorality and perversion.19
On the other hand, most agree that Jude in this Epistle is alluding to the pseudepigraphal Book of Enoch, which scholars believe was composed sometime shortly before the NT.20 The language of Jude 14-15 closely parallels that in the Book of Enoch 1:9. More important for our discussion is the fact that verses 6-7, cited above, may allude to Enoch 6:1-3, which reads,
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.”
Is Jude endorsing the “fallen angel” view presented in the Book of Enoch? It’s possible. Even if Jude isn’t drawing directly from Enoch, he may be drawing from the same oral or written tradition reflected in Enoch. If he were endorsing the author of Enoch’s reading, it would probably constitute the strongest argument for the fallen angel interpretation.
Spiritual Forces Behind the Scenes
This is, however, another possibility. Perhaps Jude is endorsing the fallen angel view in part but not in toto.
The Scriptures not only portray good angels as working behind the scenes to advance God’s kingdom and to help God’s people (Gen 18:1-22; 19:1-22; Matt 4:11; Heb 1:14; 13:2). They also suggest that fallen angels, otherwise known as “demons,” are working behind the scenes to oppose God’s plan and to harm His people. The apostle Paul reminds believers of this reality in his letter to Ephesians:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12 ESV).
This reality of demonic forces working behind the scenes is also found in earlier revelation. In the opening chapters of Job, we learn that God grants Satan permission to afflict Job (see 1:6-12; 2:1-7), which Satan accomplishes in part through the instrumentality of evil men (Job 1:14-15, 17).
Demons Animating Rulers
Perhaps even more relevant for our study is the scenario described in Daniel 10:10-14. There we learn that angelic beings like Michael the archangel are at war with fallen angelic beings who are at work behind the oppressive regimes of human despots.
In light of these considerations and in concession of the arguments for identifying “sons of God” with tyrannical human despots, some modern proponents of the “fallen angel” view have modified their interpretation. For instance, Bruce Waltke concludes,
The best solution is to combine the “angelic” interpretation with the “divine king” view. The tyrants were demon possessed.21
However, the notion of “demon possession” is, in my view, too strong. In such cases, the spiritual entity to some extent overrides the consciousness of the victim and to some degree mitigates the human’s moral responsibility (Matt 9:32-33; 15:22-28; 17:15-18; Mark 7:26-30; Luke 4:33-35; 8:29-35; 9:38-42; 11:14). The demonic activity alluded to in Daniel 10 and Ephesians 6 is more subtle. It’s an exertion of influence that leaves the consciousness and moral responsibility of the human person intact.
If Jude 6-7 has any bearing on our interpretation of Genesis 6, I propose we understand it in this way: the “sons of God” are demonically driven human despots who are characterized by an unbridled lust for women and for power. They thus pervert God’s creation blessings of marriage and dominion (Gen 1:26-30) under the instigation of Satanic forces much like Adam and Eve rebelled under the incitement of the primeval Serpent (Gen 3:1-7). This would explain why God brought judgment upon the human race (Gen 6:7ff.) and would account for Jude’s allusion to God’s judgment on fallen angels.22
- L. Eslinger has also noted some of these parallels in “A Contextual Identification of the bene ha´elohim and benot ha´adam,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 13 (1979): 65–73. [↩]
- See The Book of Enoch, trans. Robert H. Charles (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1912), 13–26; Jubilees, 43; Philo, Philo, trans. F. H. Colson, 10 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966), 2:449–55; Josephus, Antiquities, 1.3.1, The Complete Works of Josephus, trans. William Whiston (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1981), 28; Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator, 3.2.14, and Ambrose, On Noah 4.8, in vol. 1 of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, ed. Andrew Louth (Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 2001-2002), 1:124, 126; Walter Brueggemann, Genesis (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982), 70–73; Umberto Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis I: from Adam to Noah, trans. Israel Abrahams (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1961), 291–94; Delitzsch, A New Commentary on Genesis, trans. Sophia Taylor, 2 vols. (New York: Scribner & Welford, 1889), 1:222–26; Terence Fretheim, Creation, Fall and Flood (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1969), 105; Eugene Merrill, Everlasting Dominion: A Theology of the Old Testament (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2006), 144–45; Gerhard von Rad, Genesis: A Commentary, 2nd ed, trans. John H. Marks (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1972), 114; Nahum Sarna, Genesis (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 5; Gordon Wenham, Genesis 1–15, vol. 1 of The Word Commentary, ed. David Hubbard (Nashville: Nelson, 1987), 140–41; Claus Westermann, Genesis 1–11: A Continental Commentary, trans. John J. Scullion (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994), 372. For a thorough defense of this view, see Willem VanGemeren, “The Sons of God in Genesis 6:1–4 (An Example of Evangelical Demythologization?),” Westminster Theological Journal (1981): 320–48. [↩]
- Fretheim remarks, “The strict separation between God’s world and man’s world had been broken down; the orders of creation had become confused. Evil is not confined to men; it is cosmic in scope.” Creation, Fall, and Flood, 105. VanGemeren suggests, “Being under God’s judgment since the Fall, man made an attempt to circumvent God’s plan (Grenzüberschreitung) by being enticed to the Satanic scheme of intermarriage with demonic beings with the hope of ultimate prolongation of life.” “The Sons of God in Genesis 6:1–4 (An Example of Evangelical Demythologization?),” 347. [↩]
- So Wenham writes, “Here the fault of the daughters of men lies presumably in their consenting to intercourse with ‘the sons of the gods.’ It ought also to be borne in mind that the girls’ fathers would also have been implicated, since, if there was no rape or seduction, their approval to these matches would have been required. The obvious avoidance of any terms suggesting lack of consent makes the girls and their parents culpable, the more so when the previous chapter has demonstrated that mankind was breeding successfully on its own.” Genesis, 1–15, 141. [↩]
- See Delitzsch, A New Commentary on Genesis, 226; VanGemeren, “The Sons of God in Genesis 6:1–4 (An Example of Evangelical Demythologization?),” 348; Bruce Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 117. [↩]
- Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Genesis 6.3.1., ACCS, 1:124; Augustine, City of God, trans. Marcus Dods (New York: Random, 1950), 510–14. [↩]
- Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, vols 1–8 in The Works of Martin Luther, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan (St. Louis: Concordia, 1958-1966), 2:7–13; John Calvin, Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, 2 vols.. trans. John King (1845; repr., Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003), 1:237–40. [↩]
- Modern proponents of this view include George Bush, Notes on Genesis, 2 vols. (1860; repr., Minneapolis: James Family Christian Publishers, 1979), 1:116; John Currid, A Study Commentary on Genesis, 2 vols. (Webster, NY: Evangelical Press, 2003), 1:173–75; Victor Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, NICOT, ed. Robert L. Hubbard (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 264–65; John E. Hartley, Genesis, NIBC, ed. Robert L. Hubbard Jr. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2000), 95–96; Keil and Delitzsch, The Penteteuch, trans. James Martin (1866; repr., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 1:127–34; H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis, 2 vols. (1942; repr., Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), 1:249–54; Kenneth Mathews, Genesis 1-11:26, NAC (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1996), 329–32; John Murray, Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957), 243–49; J. B. Payne, The Theology of the Older Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1962), 205–7; O. Palmer Robertson, The Genesis of Sex (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2002), 35–43; Harold Stigers, A Commentary on Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), 97–98; Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology (1948; repr., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 46–49. [↩]
- It is not clear whether the “Nephilim” identified in 6:4a were merely contemporary with “the warriors” or whether they were among the offspring of “the sons of God” and, therefore, numbered with “the warriors.” Elsewhere in the OT, the same expression is used to describe men of gigantic stature (Num 13:33). It may be that Moses is using the term here to refer to the presence of such “giants” (see the LXX rendering γιγαντες) who lived both before and after the Flood, and who were also often employed in the service of those military powers that opposed the people of God (Num 13:33; Deut 1:28; 2:10; 3:11; 9:2; 1 Sam 17:4–7, 47; 2 Sam 21:20–22; 1 Chron 11:23). In this reading, the narrator introduces them here not as the offspring of “the sons of God” but as the mercenaries of “the renown warriors from ancient times.” [↩]
- The Pentateuch, 129. [↩]
- See also Gen 19:20; 34:23; 2 Sam 3:21; as well as Gesenius’s Hebrew Grammar, § 165. [↩]
- An Exposition of the Old Testament (London: William Hill Collingridge, 1852), 8-9. [↩]
- “Divine Kingship and Genesis 6:1–4,” Westminster Theological Journal 24 (1965): 191-92. [↩]
- Note especially Kline, “Divine Kingship and Genesis 6:1–4,” 187–204. See also Alan Millard, “A New Babylonian ‘Genesis Story,’” Tyndale Bulletin 18 (1967): 12; David J. A. Clines, “The Significance of the ‘Sons of God’ Episode (Genesis 6:1–14) in the Context of the ‘Primeval History’ (Genesis 1–11),” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 13 (1979): 34; John Walton, “Are the Sons of God in Genesis 6 Angels? No,” The Genesis Debate, ed. Ronald Youngblood (Nashville: Nelson, 1986), 184–209; Henri Blocher, In the Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis (Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1984), 200–203; Waltke, Genesis, 115–17; Roland Ward, Foundations in Genesis (Wantirna, Australia: New Melbourne, 1998), 141–45. [↩]
- See Clines, “The Significance of the ‘Sons of God,’” 33; Hamilton, The Book of Genesis 1-17, 264; Mathews, Genesis 1-11:26, 329. [↩]
- Gregory Beale argues in a similar fashion contra Peter Enns in his book The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism: Responding to New Challenges to Biblical Authority (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008), 175. [↩]
- The Pentateuch: An Introduction to the First Five Books of the Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 40. See also Kline, “Divine Kingship,” 195-96; Emil Kraeling, “The Significance and Origins of Gen. 6:1-4,” Journal of Near East Studies 6:4 (1947): 197; and Westermann, Genesis 1-11, 366-68. [↩]
- Targum Onkelos to Genesis, trans. Moses Aberback and Bernard Grossfeld (Denver: Ktav, 1982), 50–51; Targum Neofiti I: Genesis, trans. Martin McNamara, vol 1 of The Aramaic Bible, ed. Kevin Cathcart, Michael Maher, and Martin McNamara (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1992), 71. [↩]
- For arguments in favor of viewing the syntax as requiring the angels to have sinned sexually, see D. Edmond Hiebert, Second Peter and Jude: An Expositional Commentary (Greenville, SC: Unusual Publications, 1989), 232-40. For arguments against, see R. C. H. Lenski, Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude (Colombus: The Wartburg Press, 1945), 618-25. [↩]
- Dates given range from 300 B.C. to near the end of the first century B.C. Some of the difference of opinion depends on whether one views the book as the work of one author or a compilation of several smaller works edited over time and finally combined into a single work. [↩]
- Genesis, 117. [↩]
- For a similar reading, see Allen P. Ross, Creation & Blessing: A Guide to the Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 181-83. [↩]