Genesis 6 refers to “sons of God” having relationships with the women of the earth: “When the human beings (האדם; ha’adam) began to increase on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God (בני אלהים; benei elohim) saw that the daughters of the humans (בנות האדם; benot ha’adam) were beautiful, and they took as their wives any they chose” (6:1-2). Though the identity of these “sons of God” is a matter of debate, it is most likely that they were lesser deities who rebelled against the authority of Israel’s God.

In understanding the “sons of God,” the Bible reader has multiple options. Since Scripture sometimes refers to the Davidic king as God’s “son” (בן; ben, e.g., 2 Sam 7:14; Ps 2:7), it’s possible that the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 were royal men who “took women for themselves” (יקחו להם נשׁים; yiqkhu lahem nashim) as an abuse of their power. Others have read these entities as fallen angels, noting the fact that their offspring are called the Nephilim (נפלים)–in Hebrew, “fallen ones.” However, since the “sons of God” are never called “angels” (מלאכים; malakhim), this interpretation goes beyond the textual data.

Based on other biblical appearances of the “sons of God,” it is more likely that these entities are lesser gods over whom the God of Israel has authority. The beginning of Job presents a heavenly court scene in which “the sons of God (בני אלהים; benei elohim) came to present themselves before the Lord” (1:6; cf. 2:1). When God speaks to Job toward the end of the narrative, the Lord refers to the heavenly “sons of God” existing prior to earthly creation. God asks Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth… when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God (בני אלהים; benei elohim) shouted for joy?” (38:7). Since in Job the “sons of God” are divine underlings in the Lord’s entourage, it is best to view the episode in Genesis 6 as an instance of the lesser gods leaving their heavenly realm and taking human women; the sons of God choose to abandon their posts under the Lord and enter the earthly realm. This rebellious divine behavior is met with the subsequent flood (cf. Gen 6:11-13) but, ultimately, the Lord exercises continued authority over such rebellion in the preservation of humanity through Noah.

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157 COMMENTS

  1. Why is your article seemingly contradicting this article by Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg??

    Neither good or evil angels, which are immaterial(fallen).
    • There is a link to Dr. Eli's article in the above article; his view is explicitly offered as a viable possibility at the beginning of the second paragraph.

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    • I, for one, am very appreciative of the presentation of different thoughtful viewpoints.

      FWIW, Lazzaro, here is Dr. Eli's comment on his article page a few months later:
      Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg April 3, 2018 at 1:17 pm
      I probably do :-). I’ve been actually rethinking my position on this one.
  2. Seems my last comment got cut off; neither good or evil angels, which are immaterial spirits, can produce physical spermatozoa. Neither can they create, only God/Jesus creates. Paul taught in 1Ti 4:7, 2Ti 4:4, and Ti 1:14 to not give heed/refuse ancient pagan fables like reading pagan fables into Genesis.
    • Is procreation possible only to the earthly creatures? If so, could angelic being procreate? Is such thing happen today? Should women lead a life fearing the abduction of angelic being?

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    • I strongly agree with one school of thought that holds that the sons of God in the Gen 6:1-3 was referring to the descendants of Seth( sons of God) and descendants of Cain (daughters of men) respectively. This is because angels/ spirits do not have body and cannot give birth.

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  3. Lastly what you claim in the last sentence of the 3rd paragraph, runs counter to what LORD makes clear as to why He brought the flood, for in Genesis 6:5-8 the LORD saw the great wickedness of mankind (not evil angels) with continual evil thoughts in his heart. (cont)
    • The second paragraph clarifies that the "sons of God" are not "angels," evil or otherwise. More, the article doesn't say that the Lord sent the flood *because of the sons of God* -- the article simply states that the behavior of the sons of God "is met with the subsequent flood" (that is, the flood comes after the sons of God episode).

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  4. I find it offensive we read angles look like young men in Scripture, with hands and feet, yet some figure they would still relieve themselves like females. Jacob couldn't have stumbled with an accidental low-blow? Would you leave heaven with this body?
  5. A very difficult situation, I want to believe that it was angels, because according to afrikaans translation it seems that GOD called them HIS sons also. But now, why did it not happen again after the flood?
    • The text doesn't say that it was "angels," even though both later Jewish and Christian tradition would associate the incident with "fallen angels." From a purely biblical perspective, there's no textual evidence that the "sons of God" are angels. As I note, based on the data in Scripture, these figures should be understood as lesser gods.

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  6. And to see that there was other gods is also very difficult to swallow, because I believe that there is only our GOD, no other gods, although some pray ti them, but they are handmade and dead. Only other god that can be proven, cannocally is us(Moses), god for Pharoa
    • Thanks for your comment, Pepler. I appreciate that the notion of many gods is difficult to swallow, but the multiplicity of gods is a fundamental assumption of the Bible. The God of Israel has supreme authority over these other gods, but the lesser deities exist nonetheless. For the God of Israel's address of these divine underlings, see Psalm 82.

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  7. Principalities and powers,apparently on earth and in heaven. The spirit of iniquity at work in the son's (generic) of disobedience?
  8. I think we have to accept that there is no scriptural evidence to suggest that the Sons of God are angels. secondly, scripture is always consistent. The scripture should be upon scripture not some speculations.
    • Thanks for your question, Michelle. This commandment actually shows that more than one deity exists: the God of Israel commands the people of Israel that they should worship no other god except the Lord.

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  9. I always thought there wan only ONE God, Jehovah. And the "gods" spoken of in the Bible were false deities. So I'm confused about the "lesser deities" and "other gods." Could you please explain?
    • That's a great question, Don -- but it's also too much to answer in a short comment. In brief, the existence of gods other than the God of Israel is a fundamental presupposition for the biblical authors. If you're interested in the topic, you might read Michael Heiser's book, "The Unseen Realm" -- we have an interview with Dr. Heiser on our website, which you can access fully when you become a student at IBC. Click here for a preview: https://israelbiblecenter.com/roundtable-talks/unseen-realm-bible/

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