A friend of mine saw my blogs on Bible Q’s recently and wondered about this passage in Genesis about sons of God marrying daughters of humans. I honestly never even thought twice about it before so I was glad she pointed it out and hopefully we can learn more about this curious section in the Bible.
Genesis 6: 1-4:
“When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days-and also afterward- when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were heroes of old, men of renown.”
From here, God talks about his regret for making humans because of their wickedness and then the story of Noah and the flood begins.
David Guzik offers incredibly interesting commentary on The Blue Letter Bible…it is a little long, but totally worth the read 😉
“A. The wickedness of man in the days of Noah.
1. (1-2) Intermarriage between the sons of God and the daughters of men.
Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
a. When men began to multiply on the face of the earth: During these days of rapid population expansion (especially because of long life spans in the pre-flood world), there was a problem with ungodly intermarriage between the sons of God and the daughters of men.
b. The sons of God saw the daughters of men: Many have believed the sons of God were those from the line of Seth, and the daughters of men were from the line of Cain, and this describes an intermarriage between the godly and the ungodly, something God specifically prohibits (Deuteronomy 7:1-4,2 Corinthians 6:14).
i. But this approach leaves many unanswered questions: Why did this make God angry enough to wipe out almost all the earth’s population? Why was there something “unnatural” about the offspring of these unions? The text in no way offers answers to these important questions.
c. The sons of God saw the daughters of men: It is more accurate to see thesons of God as either demons (angels in rebellion against God) or uniquely demon-possessed men, and the daughters of men as human women.
i. The phrase “sons of God” clearly refers to angelic creatures when it is used the three other times in the Old Testament (Job 1:6, 2:1, and 38:7). The translators of the Septuagint translated sons of God as “angels.” They clearly thought it referred to angelic beings, not people descended from Seth.
ii. Jude 6 tells us of the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation. Jude goes on (Jude 7) to tell us they sinned in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh. Here in Genesis 6, as in Sodom and Gomorrah, there was an unnatural sexual union.
iii. It is useless to speculate on the nature of this union. Whether it was brought about by something like demon possession, or whether angels have power permanently to assume the form of men is not revealed. But we should understand the occult is filled with sexual associations with the demonic, and there are those today who actively pursue such associations.
iv. Jude 6 also makes it clear what God did with these wicked angels. They are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness from the judgment of the great day. By not keeping their proper place, they are now kept in chains. Their sinful pursuit of freedom has put them in bondage.
v. 1 Peter 3:19-20 tells us Jesus went to these disobedient spirits in their prison and proclaimed His victory on the cross over them.
vi. An objection offered to this understanding is found in Matthew 22:30, where Jesus said angels neither marry nor are given in marriage; but Jesus never said angels were sexless, and He was also speaking about faithful angels (angels of God in heaven), not rebellious ones.
vii. From the book of 1 Enoch, which is not inspired scripture, but may still contain some accurate accounts: “And it came to pass that the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children … [They] took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments … And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants … And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways.”
d. And they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose: We can deduce why Satan sent his angels to intermarry (either directly or indirectly) with human women. Satan tried to pollute the genetic “pool” of mankind with a satanic corruption, to put a genetic “virus” to make the human race unfit for bringing forth the Seed of the woman – the Messiah – promised in Genesis 3:15.
i. “The Savior could not be born of a demon-possessed mother. So if Satan could succeed in infecting the entire race, the deliverer could not come.” (Boice)
ii. And Satan almost succeeded. The race was so polluted that God found it necessary to start again with Noah and his sons, and to imprison the demons that did this so they could never do this again.
2. (3-4) God’s response to this great wickedness.
And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
a. My Spirit shall not strive with man forever: God did not allow the human race to stay in this rebellious place forever. This means there is a “point of no return” in our rejection of God. God will not woo us forever; there is a point where He will say “no more.”
i. All the more reason for us to say today is the day we will respond to Jesus instead of waiting for another day. We have no promise God will draw us some other day.
b. Yet his days will be one hundred and twenty years: This is not the outside life span of man but the time left until the judgment of the flood. The flood happened 120 years after this announcement.
c. Giants on the earth in those days: This refers to the unnatural offspring of the union between the sons of God and the daughters of men, though there were people of unusual size on the earth both before and after the flood (and also afterward). These ones before the flood were unique because of the demonic element of their parentage. They were the mighty men of old, men of renown.”