Dr. Eli Lizorkin-EyzenbergOne of the most enigmatic texts in the entire Bible has to do with sons of God taking wives from the daughters of men. It turns out that the wild idea of inter-celestial sexual relations, resulting in mass superhuman pregnancies, may not be our best interpretive option.

In this case, it is important to start from the end-result – where the Torah readers are told that God intended to destroy humanity and all creation on account of this situation (Gen.6:1-8).

“And the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the LORD said: ‘I will blot out man whom I have created  … but Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD”. (Gen.6:5-8)

Wouldn’t you agree with me that the punishment of humanity for the evil of celestial serial rapists (fallen angels in popular theories) makes no sense whatsoever? This idea (if true) would be equivalent to punishing the woman while justifying a rapist on the grounds that the woman was too attractive. In other words, God would be punishing the victim. This would be a great injustice indeed! In fact, the wording suggests the opposite. Whoever the perpetrators of these crimes were, they were human and not angelic beings.

Understanding the clear facts of the text (that humanity was utterly and thoroughly fallen and that God intended to destroy it) is crucial for answering our main question: Who were these “sons of God” that used the daughters of men in their predatory acts of sexual abuse at the very beginning of human history?

In most English translations we read that, “the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives…” (Gen.6:4).

    וַיִּרְאוּ בְנֵי-הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת-בְּנוֹת הָאָדָם, כִּי טֹבֹת הֵנָּה; וַיִּקְחוּ לָהֶם נָשִׁים

The original Hebrew shows that this text should be considered more carefully. For example, the singular Isha and plural nashim (נָשִׁים) in Hebrew does not have to mean “wife,” but can also be translated, “woman.” Therefore, we are justified in thinking that a culture of systematic rape and non-traditional marriages are being described here. The Hebrew word Elohim can be translated as “God” or as “gods”. The Hebrew word “ben” (as in plural form “b’nei haElohim” [בְנֵי-הָאֱלֹהִים]) does not have to be translated literally as “son” either. It can also be understood as, “a representative of a stratum of society or group”. Hebrew often does this with words like “ben” and “baal“. For example, baalei haim (singular baal haim), which literally means, “masters of life/lives,” actually can be translated as “animals.” The original Hebrew of Genesis 6:4 reads:

 הַנְּפִלִים הָיוּ בָאָרֶץ, בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם, וְגַם אַחֲרֵי-כֵן אֲשֶׁר יָבֹאוּ בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים אֶל-בְּנוֹת הָאָדָם, וְיָלְדוּ לָהֶם:  הֵמָּה הַגִּבֹּרִים אֲשֶׁר מֵעוֹלָם, אַנְשֵׁי הַשֵּׁם

“The Nephilim (הַנְּפִלִים) were in the earth in those days, and also after that when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them; the same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.”

The Hebrew Nephelim is usually (and incorrectly) translated as “giants.” Nephelim is Hebrew for “the fallen ones”. Note how the text describes them as ancient warriors (הַגִּבֹּרִים אֲשֶׁר מֵעוֹלָם), and famous people (אַנְשֵׁי הַשֵּׁם).

The phrase, “b’nei Elohim,” most probably referred to powerful and influential men who felt they were above the law and therefore not accountable to anyone for their predatory sexually pursuits (compare to Ps.8:5-7).

A contemporary analogy is Hollywood’s sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, who used his position of power to force young actresses into unwanted sexual encounters with him.  Refusal of his advances would result in the destruction of their careers in the American movie industry. Powerful men are prone to the abuse of weaker women. As King Solomon wrote, there is nothing new under the sun. The presence of this story in Genesis makes perfect sense when we remember that Genesis was written to Israelites who had only recently left their forced labor camps in Egypt, where they had been enslaved by members of powerful Egyptian families.

 

85 COMMENTS

      • It’s always interesting to read different thoughts on God’s word. I think what you are interpreting is very possible. But I wonder about the giants. Where did they come from if not the Nephelim as there are quite a few references to them.

        • Perhaps the word giants is being used in a more slangy context here, much as the phrase big cheese or big man on campus is used today. Just a thought.

        • The giants were the offspring of the Nephilim, which was the result of the unholy union between the fallen ones and humans (yes I take the view that these were fallen angels who left their estate (heavenly domain). Dr. Eli leaves out too many other scriptures, and ignores the myriad of evidence collected of giant bones (six fingers and toes, extra rows of teeth like the Biblical Goliath and his kin like Og).

          • @Dean In this case i’d rather agree with Dr. Eli since his explanation makes far more rational linguistic contextual sense than the view you promote Dean which has for some years now has spread in places like YouTube to the point of full blown 2Peter3:16.

          • @Dean Also, neither good or evil angels, which are IMMATERIAL spirits, can produce physical spermatozoa. Neither can they create, only God/Jesus creates. I am quite familiar with giant bones, go watch Kent Hovind’s Creation Series Seminar #2 to understand scientifically what caused the creatures to be so big.

          • @Dean Lastly, Paul taught in 1Ti 4:7, 2Ti 4:4, and Ti 1:14 to not give heed/refuse ancient pagan fables e.g. claiming spirit creatures can procreate w/ physical women for it’s reading pagan fables into Genesis which is a severe distortion that is becoming the norm of American YouTube “Bible Study”.

        • I agree. He does not see this word as simply meaning fallen ones. And who can explain Of of Bashan’s size? That’s not anywhere normal or fully human. And it WAS man who chose to be corrupted by what was taught by the Benefits haelohim. They could have rejected the evil that the bene ha’elohim brought to earth in what they were teaching. So the Earth was flooded because MAN had corrupted it by intertwining with the sons of God (bene ha’elohim).

        • @David Heiser? i’m familiar w/ his regular work for years (he’s not always right), but i’d rather side w/ Dr. Eli’s seasoned non-Western Scriptural knowledge + his ethnic and linguistic advantage of not being a native English speaker nor a Westerner, to correctly linguistically + contextually exegete Genesis 6.

        • Interpreting the “bene Elohim” as fallen angels implies a “dark inverted foreshadowing” of the Incarnation of the Word of God in the human nature of Jesus of Nazareth in the 1st century ?

      • Commentary on The Book of Enoch (John D Ladd) challenges your interpretation. Enoch 7:1 They each chose women and were defiled with them…7:2 The women became pregnant and bore large giants who were extremely tall. The angels begot giants; the giants begot Nephilim…7:3 “These devoured all that men could grow,… 7:4 The giants then began to devour men.” “Reversing HERMON” (Dr. Michael S Heiser) book supports Ladd’s study. Jude 1:6;14

    • This Old Testament scripture and biblical account under discussion has always puzzled me, however, I can go along with Dr. Eli’s interpretation…well done Professor…

  1. Thank you for the insight in this matter. I have wondered about it and came to a conclusion like the one You presented here. But I am wondering about David meeting Goliat. Wasn´t he a giant or was he only powerful and therefore described as a giant. And something about a people of giants – what hebrew word is used – is it the same or does it have another another meaning than this mentioned here above. Thank you in advance.

  2. These same giants were mentioned in the Book of Joshua. We can assume from the text that they were giants in the sight of the 12 spy’s. Amalak and the Amalakites as well as other towns in Canaan have many references to Nephilim. Much archaeology has uncovered burial mounds across the earth where 10 ft and larger skeletons were found. Also advanced technology is coming forth from these times that indicate that there was an advanced people responsible for this. Hence beings with angelic connections.

  3. This makes much more sense than fallen angels mating with humans. A lot of the belief that this happened comes from the pseudepigraphical book of Enoch which describes not only this act, but the Nephilim offspring as giants. However if we adjust our thinking of giants to just large, powerful men I think the term could apply. In warlike or anarchic societies these men tend to assume power, and many women are drawn to them. And elohim can mean one in authority, so it too could apply to these men. But I agree, men, not half demons.

  4. Thank you for this opportunity to make a comment. I found this article to be insightful! I am ministering to a lady and of all the questions she could ask me, she wants to know where the other children came from as Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain and Able, I know this is one of a God’s mysteries but would appreciate your insight! Thank you!

  5. ” influential men who felt they were above the law”, I do not think so. If so, then Washington, DC would be wiped out on a regular basis. Sorry, your conclusion does not make “perfect sense”.

  6. Dr. Eli; That’s a take that I’ve never seen before, and it is quite interesting. I’m curious, though; if Nephilim means “fallen ones,” and these same were mighty warriors, in what way were they fallen ? They still had power to rape and get away with it, and it seems to have been quite common for Moses to have mentioned it. Could you enlighten me on this ? Many thanks; Pete Reed

  7. I believe it meant giants. From my studying and research there were giants. Goliath is one example in the Bible. They have found numerous Giants buried in the ground in different parts of the world, their skeletons.

  8. So who are the “fallen ones:” the Harvey Weinstein’s of the ancient world, or the un-human offspring of angelic rape? I believe the latter based on the following: 1. The angels that “…abandoned their proper abode…went after strange flesh” in Jude 6- 7. 2. The source of demons, who attempt to enter a human- they are the souls of the “fallen ones” whose bodies died in the Flood and they seek bodies in inhabit. 3. The fallen ones who survived the Flood are the ancestors of the giants in the land, Amalek and Goliath.

    • I couldnt agree with you more Paul. In fact, the fallen angels leaving their first estate(spiritual bodies) and becoming flesh (Just as angels who appear human because we may entertain them unaware they are angels the Bible says) and having sex wuth the daughters of Eve to beget Giants is a more perfect explanation than what has been surmised in this article. If they were just men why wouldnt they be refered to in that passage as “sons of Adam”? That follow the term “Daughters of Eve”. Instead it says”Sons of God” or angels. In this case fallen ones.

  9. If g,d knows everything. Like he knew you before you were born surely he. Knew about the celestial creatures and wouldn’t have been dissapointed what do you think?

  10. I have always wrestled to make sense of these passages. Thank you so much for sharing your language expertise and historical insights.

  11. I guess I am confused. I thought that the verse was written about in Noah’s time before the Flood but not after the Flood in Joseph’s time with the Egyptians.

  12. The Hebrew definitions of grace, truth, and righteousness are important for this contemporary #metoo movement. Grace means the Stronger has something to give to the weaker who is in trouble (“to see, and by extension to understand, and obey)? There was a similar movement of coming forward in the 90s. The movement was fruitful, but not perfect. There were hard lessons (false memory syndrome, eyewitness misidentification). Our memories are not a perfect interpretation of truth, Jesus is Perfect Truth (state of not being hidden).

  13. I have often wondered if this refered to the rich or powerful. We often discribe today’s world the “giants of industry”. There were also ancient stories of men/creatures of great strength and power such as Gilgamesh and Enkidu. I’m sure that the lives of primative nomadic people were constantly disrupted by raids with the spoils of war being not only belongings but human property such as the women of the tribe or village. Giants could be metaphorical for unusually powerful and legendary men.

  14. So Goliath was not born from a bloodline of a fallen angel. He was just a very tall man. Thank you Dr. Eli, there are so many incorrect teachings in western Christianity.

  15. As it was in the beginning…I have enjoyed your book The Jewish Gospel Of John and just received yesterday Jewish Insights Into Scripture, I firmly believe full understanding can only come from the Hebrew. May the Most High Bless you and your works

  16. I appreciate everything that you have to say concerning ancient Israel, new and learning, I am enthralled with ancient biblical history. I have read some on Genesis 6:1-4 and have found many different thought and scenarios, so that would make an action packed movie. Sometimes it’s hard to get a good representation of the real picture. I always begin my study with prayer that God would lead me in the correct direction. Again thanks for always sharing.

  17. Sir, looking at the placement of the story, the incident happened before the enslavement of the Jews in Egypt. How do we explain that?

  18. Dear Sir. What is the literal meaning of the quoted section of the Bible now? Were angels involved or not? Does it means the write shy away from thevfacts or the translators? Who were the predators then and where were they from? Surely the incident had happened long time before the writer was born? Where precisely? Thanks for your incessant inspiring write ups

  19. Thank you for the understanding of this particular passage of scripture. I was taught that these men were big men etc. Wow. It had nothing to do with size.

  20. So, according to your logic a few powerful rapists helped to bring about the flood? Or do you have another explanation for that too?

  21. So in modern language, one could translate Nephilim in ‘big shots’ or ‘bullies’ without referring to a special species (either worldly or celestial). Would indeed fit personages as Weinstein and his likes. Funny and revealing. Thanks, solves a lot of problems

  22. Thank You Eli I have NEVER believed that the son’s of God were angelic for that would be giving satan the power to create life which only God has plus it says The Nephilim were on the earth in those days and after the flood also and what would keep them (if True) from doing it again,besides it seems Seth’s decedents had become corrupt except for Noah.This is truly an awesome study which others use to corrupt Gods Word David-from Puerto Rico

  23. This certainly clarifies a most puzzling section of scripture, and really brings home the verse “as it was in the days of Noah…”

  24. Thank you for your insights from the original language. You are the 2nd person I’ve read who has explained this text in light of proper interpretation with the rest of scripture. Sandra L. Richter in her book ” The Epic of Eden ” on pg 152 and 153 wrote concerning this essentially from the same perspective. She was the first author I have read with this view. Thanks Dr. Eli for your heart for truth and bringing clarity to the body of Christ!! Blessings!!

  25. You were getting political in your bible exegesis. You chose to name democratic predator Harvey Weinstein without mentioning republican predator Bill O’Reilly or proud admitted predator Donald Trump (the grabber)..

  26. Durante todos os fatos bíblicos percebi que a narrativa é deveras singular no que concerne a maldade dos poderosos, são centenas de anos, milênios de pecado e domínio do mais forte sobre o pobre e do oprimido, que na vdd, na verdade, é um pobre em uma fase mais aguda, difícil de sua trajetória nessa vida que em muitas vezes fico perplexo com o meu semelhante, a vaidade pode acabar com um reino e com o seu rei, duro negócio, ter que ser o narrador da própria opressão, pois narranos o que sentimos, sabendo por viver cada tragédia e angústia.

  27. It seems the Hebrew is tortured a bit to produce the outcome you want as stated :”In this case, it is important to start from the end-result”. Then where are we where the ‘sons of God’ met with God in Job or indeed where Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit . This could even lead us to deny the Virgin birth – and lead us to look for a Human (fallen) father of Jesus. As Adam originally was the son of God and died to that relationship the second Adam was God’s plan for our rebirth.

  28. Durante tds os fts bíblicos percebi q a narrativa é deveras singular no q concerne a maldade dos poderosos,são milênios de pecado,domínio do + forte sobre o pobre e oprimido,q na vdd,é 1 pobre em uma fase + aguda, difícil de sua trajetória nessa vd q em muitas x fico perplexo c/o meu próx.A vaidade pode acabar c/1 reino e seu rei,duro negócio ter q ser o narrador da própria opressão narrando o q sentimos sabendo por vv cd tragédia e angústia,vendo ainda hj os msm estupros em nossos dias e vidas q sofrem c/o msm espírito de outrora.

  29. Have you considered parallels in ANE writings such as Gilgamesh, which apparently portrays kings and heroes of the period crashing weddings and stealing brides?

  30. Dr Eli There has to be more to your interpretation of the Nephelem. The scripture clearly says “men of old” which suggests that they were giants and pre existing. This cannot just mean they were prominent in society and influence. If this was the case, God would have removed King David from his throne too because he committed adultery. Then King Solomon had so many women it’s hard to keep track of them. He was a very busy man it seems. I’m sorry but I fail to accept your explanation this time

  31. What do you make of ” and they bore giants onto them”? Unruly sex life doesn t make one bore 5 meter giants ? There must have had a mix somewhere.

  32. Nephilim comes from the word Naphal, Strong’s Hebrew: 5307. נָפַל (naphal) — to fall, lie Numbers 13-33 is a great example of the size of these beings, Genesis 1-27 tells us we were made in Gods image, Jesus being the only begotten son of the father, was NOT Naphal, and did not come nor do we from that linage, sorry you wont convince me, When Jesus was questioned about the end times, what was the very first thing he said. I fully get that there are interpretative issues Biblically, but I take the word very Literally sorry.

  33. Just wondering, you say ” The Hebrew Nephelim, is usually (and incorrectly) translated as “giants.” Nephelim is Hebrew for “the fallen ones”. Note how the text describes them as ancient warriors (הַגִּבֹּרִים אֲשֶׁר מֵעוֹלָם), and famous people (אַנְשֵׁי הַשֵּׁם). By fallen ones we assume that this refers to the fallen angels, who were always seen in a bad light, but the rest of this verse seems to put them in a good light. When we think of ancient warriors we think of them in a good sense, and famous people likewise (mostly) bit confusing really. How do you see it?

  34. I’m more inclined to accept the interpretation of Dr Michel Heiser. No offense intended, but your interpretation of the expression “sons of god” is weak in view of other Scriptures which appear to shed more light on the correct meaning. I don’t know it all and you are the teacher so I will say no more.

  35. Doesn’t it say in Hebrew that Noah was perfect in his generations? Usually translated righteous? Doesn’t this imply genetics of some sort?

  36. The phrase “Sons of God” is mentioned several times in Job (the oldest book in the Bible) and always refers to angels. In Genesis 6:1, fallen angels (aka demons) entered the bodies of human men (which I have personally witnessed) and they mated with human women and their spawn were giants. This is why God sent the flood. But they still lived after the flood. Goliath was one. Og (Deut 3:11) was another. They are mentioned in the Book of Enoch, a book that Jesus and Jude both make reference to.

  37. ONE NAGGING QUESTION I must say, I have swayed towards inter-celestial sexual relations been most likely, but there is one nagging question I have. Like the Holy Spirit and Mary, do the demons have the same ability to procreate ?

  38. Sons of God–Thus we can presume Jesus was one of many, as he was from the beginning.?? If so who came first father or son, if father then God must have created the sons as well as angels and Lucifer at the same time, but could not keep control because of the fallen angels.

  39. Dr. Eli, I have studied the bible for over 50 years and never have I heard of such a teaching as the one you presented here. I say, I do not agree with your view because there are too many instances in the bible that show there were giants in the land. The text in Genesis 6 says “there were giants/Nephilim in the land and after that.” And we read when the 12 spies went to spy out the land of Canaan they saw giants there, the sons of Anak.

  40. The question is if all the giants were destroyed through the flood then why comes we still had giants after the floor since Noah and his son where not giants

  41. Excellent article as usual Dr Eli.I feel from my life experience that ” fallen ones” implies weak men.In my experience bullies and abusive people are normally weak. God bless your work.Very informative and I agree with your thoughts Dr Eli.Fiona.

  42. You said that God would be ‘punishing the victim and not the perpetrator’. But that would be the same if Nephilim were not fallen angels but ‘mighty, powerful men’ taking advantage of ‘weaker women’. ???

  43. Dr. Eli: Creo que la cultura de “botin de guerra” es de hace mucho tiempo atras, como recompensa para el vencedor de la batalla . Significaba toda posesion del vencido, entre las que por supuesto, estaban las mujeres, que eran propiedad del hombre con quien estaban. Excepcion es Abraham y otros a quienes se les ordeno destruir todo. Ademas, nadie dijo que Noe fue alguien muy alto o de tamaño “normal”.Paz y bendiciones.

  44. Yeshua said that angels are spirits and they are not given in marriage (nor can they cohabit being spirits). In the case of giants. Since the sin of Adam, everything on earth has been corrupted especially humans, hence the occurence of gigantism. I subscribe to your interpretation. Thanks for the refreshing insight!

  45. Amazing to me how people so easily dismiss ideas which do not conform to their training/understanding. Your explanation, which depends upon a translation of Hebrew not usually recognized, makes more sense than the “horny angels” of tradition. Although not a Hebrew scholar, I have learned that Hebrew is a simple language that seems to link the pictographic with the abstract; thus, any group f its “alphabet” is likely to have several possible meanings. The challenge is to determine from contextual clues which is more likely to be correct in the moment.

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  49. . I do believe that evil angels did have sex with humans and perhaps animals. Due to all this God had no choice but to destroy all on the earth except what was on the ark. I also believe God selected the chosen life to be placed in the ark as He only know of the species that were not contaminated by the sin of these evil angels. We are told in scripture about the time Jesus will come back ( As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be when the end of the world.)

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