One 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.



    • + More answers (17)
    • 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...
    • SYLVIA O'NEILL Sorry Dr Eli but I disagree with your reasoning on this subject, I totally agree with the comments that have been left saying these ones were fallen angels and also the cross bred nephalim.
      I disagree with your reasoning on the sons of God, I totally believe that they were indeed fallen angels and their offspring were the Nephalim.

      + More answers (5)
  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.
    • Thanks, Tara. I think that Giants were really there and there is no reason to argue with it. I just don't think that Nephelim in Gen. 4 were Giants as Septuagint and later popular theories would have it.

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  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
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