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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112 COMMENTS

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

    Neither good or evil angels, which are immaterial(fallen).

  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.

  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)

  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?

  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.

  7. Principalities and powers,apparently on earth and in heaven. The spirit of iniquity at work in the son’s (generic) of disobedience?

    • That’s right, Glenn. When the Pauline literature refers to “principalities and powers,” it generally means entities such as disobedient lesser gods.

  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.

      • Paul declares by the Spirit of God/Jesus;

        Gal 4:8 In the past, when you did not know God, you served as slaves beings which in reality are non-gods.

        I trust the bonafide austere 1st century Jesus + Paul His Apostle. I’m non-native English speaker and 2 year Bible Greek learned.

  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?

  10. Dr. Michael Heiser has written several books on this topic. His conclusions seem very similar to yours. Fascinating topic.

    • Great question, Jeannine. By the time the Jude was written (1st century), “angels” was sometimes used as a generic term for “heavenly beings” of different kinds. Jude uses this blanket term, but Genesis 6 doesn’t mention “angels.”

  11. I refer those interested in learning more about this topic to a book by Dr. Michael Heiser entitled “The Unseen Realm”.

    • I’m not an erudite nor do I pretend, for a few years now I came to the verses in The gospel attributed to the Apostol!???where Jesus said ” I said you were God , so I traveled to Ps82, amazing my search started upon the suject so far thedris correct

  12. Luke 3:38 says that Adam was a “ son of God “. Therefore all the sons of Adam could be called sons of God. Cain rejected God and fathered a lineage of evil men whose daughters became attractive to the “sons of men(Adam)”. No demigods needed.

  13. Yes, they are God’s underlings, but they are not divine nor self-existent. There is nothing in the scriptures to say that God couldn’t have created other beings and worlds before earth. They remained loyal to God and did not disobey him. We also know that Satan was cast to earth.

  14. Do we have any scriptural support that lesser gods can procreate? Is the sons of God not referring to the descendants of Enock while the daughters of men refers to the descendants of Cain who were separated after cain was banished from God’s presence?

  15. Isa 14:12 “Lucifer””morning star” NIV and verse 13 “stars of God”. Rev 1:20 “stars” are angels. Eze 28:16 covering or guardian cherub. The ark had a cherub at each end- this is a picture of the true mercy seat John 20:12 with 2- angels. Angels= lesser gods, principalities and powers.

    • Laurence Bosma , keep in mind that both Hebrew “malak” and Greek “angelos” are generic terms meaning “messenger” or “representative”, and are used through out the Bible for various heavenly and earthly beings alike.

      • @Neville Newman As one learned in Biblical Hebrew & Greek in varying strengths not born speaking English but a tongue closest to Latin and am learned in a few other indo-European languages in varying strengths, “malak” and “angelos” means more so the good celestial angels more than than mankind messengers.

    • The best resource to date I’ve read that draws on the biblical text starting with OT terms as well as other writings such as Second Temple literature which includes that from 5th century BC through 1st century AD., is actually Dr. Michael Heiser’s ‘Angels What The Bible Really Says About God’s Heavenly Host’. This volume deals with what he calls the ‘good guys’ and has another book coming out dealing with bad actors soon. There are distinctions in how terminology differs among Hebrew, Greek and context so a volume like this gives a much finer detail and helps one make better sense of how we in modern times misinterpret our Bibles.

  16. Jude 1:6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling. 2Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell. These are your lesser gods= angels that sinned by having sex with the daughters men

  17. Since “elohim” can mean any one/thing having authority it would be difficult pinning the title on “lesser gods.” It could mean angels in authority over other angels in the heavenly hierarchy. Other places it could mean powerful men. Biblically “gods” are idols. God shares glory with no one (Is 42:8).

  18. I find nothing in Scripture about “Fallen angels”, only about the Red Dragon and his angels defeated in heaven and cast down to Earth!

    • @Jessop Sutton Exactly Jessop, you won’t find ‘fallen angels’ (that term) anywhere in the Scriptures. But there is a reference to evil angels in Psalm 78:49.

  19. If the “Son of GOD” are spiritually made wouldn’t they be immortal? How would that mix with the mortal to make a human? Some how the genetics would be different, which could mean giants might be the results.

    • A good question, Lawrence, but the biblical authors aren’t concerned with the question of genetics — you’re right that the offspring of this heavenly-earthly union — the “Nephilim” — are larger than human beings (cf. Num 13:33).

  20. If these “sons of god” were anything other than human men, we would have a serious problem with God creating “kinds to reproduce after his own kind.” A deity or fallen angel is a different kind. God denies other gods in Isaiah also. This post lacks theological soundness.

  21. I believe the confusion is in terminology . Maybe it’s better to call them embodied spiritual entities instead of lesser god’s ? Also terminology changes through time . The Old Testament angel is an adjective not a noun .

  22. Many of the commentators who say this is not Biblical… need to read Dr. Michael Heiser’s book “Unseen Realm” to see that this is all over scripture… this is not a heretical view…

  23. My understanding does not follow this logic progression. The sons of god are merely men who followed Gods will. The women had relations with them refer to the children from Cain. Thus, the continued downfall of man because they were not staying faithful to God our heavenly father.

    • That’s a possible reading, Ben. Though, since the other instances of “sons of God” in the Bible refer to heavenly beings, for this reading to be plausible, we would need to account for why Genesis 6 diverges from the meaning elsewhere in Scripture.

      • Please provide Scripture(s), when “rightly divided”, that fully support your assertion that “‘sons of God’ in the Bible refer to heavenly beings”. Also please explain, Aside from GOD (THE FATHER, JESUS CHRIST, THE HOLY GHOST/SPIRIT) and Angels, what other “heavenly beings” exist(ed)?

        • Nehemiah, re your first request, please see the above article: the “sons of God” in Job have to be heavenly beings because they exist with God prior to earthly creation. Other heavenly beings include the cherubim, seraphim, spirits, principalities and powers, and the aforementioned “sons of God” (lesser deities). For some explicit references to other gods in the Bible, see e.g., Exod 12:12; Lev 20:1-5; Deut 32:8; 1 Sam 5:1-7; 2 Kgs 1:1-4; Ps 82.

  24. never thought of it in this way, after being raised with very different explanations. Thank you for this very interesting article.

  25. When sons of God married to those who had no spirits, their children would have no spirits. Therefore God didn’t want sons of God married to daughters of men as they would have children without spirits (Nephilim) God wanted to seek godly seed (Malachi 2:15). There was nothing to do

  26. Thank you for your answer Dr. The possibility of the passage referring to lesser gods is hard to accept because the question is who are these lesser gods. There can only be one God (trinity) and the angels or heavenly hosts. No scripture reference to others lesser gods

    • Thanks, Vusi. There are reference to gods other than the God of Israel all over the Bible. Here are just a few examples: Exodus 12:12; Lev 20:1-5; Deut 32:8; 1 Sam 5:1-7; 2 Kings 1:1-4; Psalm 82.

  27. Isa 43:10

    10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
    How do we reconcile Isa with this?

  28. Solomon in 2 Chronicles 2:5 states that “the house (temple) I am going to build will be great, for our God is greater than all the gods.” The ancient Israelites acknowledged the existence of lesser gods, but is it still apart of modern Jewish beliefs?

    • Great citation, Ashley. The majority of modern Jewish thought would identify with monotheism — the notion that only one God exists in the universe (the same can be said for the vast majority of Christian denominations). Thank you for your comment and question!

  29. Though not definitive, Peter’s words in 2Pet2 regarding the flood could be pointing to the Sons of God of Gen6. This is a mystery which won’t be clarified either until the Lord gives a concrete answer in thisxrealm, or reveals the truth of this in the next.

  30. The Nephilim were also found in Canaan during the Exodus and under Joshua and David (Deut. 2:10-21; Deut. 3:11-13; Deut. 9:1-4; Joshua 13:12; Joshua 14: 12-15; 1 Samuel 17:4-7; 2 Samuel 21:15-22). Does not Jude 5-6 and 2 Pet 4 refer to these “angels?”

    • By the time the New Testament was written, it was common for Jews to use “angels” as a generic term for different kinds of divine beings. More, the rebellious lesser gods were often called “demons” (e.g., 1 Cor 10:20-21) — but the Genesis narrative itself doesn’t refer to “angels,” because it wants to distinguish between God’s heavenly messengers (angels) and the deities known as the “sons of God” (as in Job).

  31. Dr. Schaser, if Satan wasn’t kicked/thrown out of Heaven, please explain Isaiah 14:12ff, as well as JESUS’ assertion, “And HE said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. (Luke 10:18)”. As for “Job 1:7”, careful with these new age translations; they leave out lots of TRUTH!

    • The Hebrew of Job 1:7 states (unambiguously) that Satan had been on earth before he comes to meet God. Isaiah 14 refers to the king of Babylon (14:4), not Satan. In Luke 10:18, the disciples have just been out expelling demons from people (10:17); in response to these works of exorcism, Jesus says that he “saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Jesus’ statement isn’t a reference to pre-creation, but rather a response to the anti-demon work the disciples are doing in the present.

  32. Yahweh declared ‘in His own words” that Jacob/Israel is His “first born son”, which is ignored and contradicted by the Christian dogma proclaiming that their Jesus was Yahweh’s “only begotten” (only born). Yahweh ‘never’ made or confirmed this claim, in His own words. (Exodus 4:22-23 – Hosea 11:1)

    • Johann, I think that Israel as a nation is a metaphorical son, not monogenes, genetic offspring whereas Jesus is referred to as begotten/ monogenes, entirely unique ( John 3:16) Israel is a son in that this nation was created / taken out of the nations to be set apart and to represent God among the nations. Jesus is the ultimate representation of Israel as well as being uniquely begotten when He emptied Himself of His glory to be born into humanity. His divinity is such a humble contrast to the hubris of the sons of God who took daughters of men. I believe Jesus was uncreated but BECAME part of creation, indeed firstborn in the sense of being preeminent when He voluntarily emptied Himself of divine glory so as to fully identify with His own creation. Thus, He can understand us and love us from the inside as it were. He represents the true nature of GOD to all the nations which is so different than the predatory nature of those sons of God referred to in Genesis 6:4 and the Enochian writings.

  33. Hmmm, I never knew Babylon had a king named, “Lucifer, son of the morning (Isaiah 14:12)”l; and if by “pre-creation” you’re implying that Lucifer/Satan was booted out of heaven prior to THE creation, then please explain how a created being, such Lucifer, could physically exist before GOD created him???

  34. I have to say after looking at all the comments, that the concept that took Dr. Heiser about fifteen years to research ending up in his book Unseen Realm the bibliography of which is massively larger than the book so as to be posted online by itself, I’m not surprised at the push back. It’s difficult especially for those of us who are not scholars, but are coming from modern traditions to grasp the concept at first glance because we do not understand biblical languages, are not familiar with textual criticism, etc.. I would urge everyone who truly wants to understand what the biblical text actually says, to resist the temptation to look at it through only a modern perspective. Unseen Realm is a more scholarly book but definitely worth the effort. Thank you for posting on the subject.

  35. My thought in response to Nehemiah above is that the king of Babylon was in harmony with the spirit of Lucifer and that is why he is addressed this way. Isn’t that a valid reading ?

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