Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Intermarriage of the “sons of God” with the “daughters of men” (Gen. 6)

"The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose" (Genesis 6:2).

Genesis 6:1–4 is a rather enigmatic passage and a number of bizarre interpretations have been offered for it. The question concerns the intermarriage of the “sons of God” with the “daughters of men,” and its possible relation to the Nephilim, the “heroes of old.”

Some have suggested that because “sons of God” refers to angels in Job 1 and 2, this passage is speaking about fallen angels who intermarried with or raped human women and gave birth to giants. There are two basic problems with this. First, Jesus said that angels do not marry or give in marriage, certainly implying that they do not cohabit with human beings (Matthew 22:30). Second, this interpretation has nothing to do with the context of this event, which we shall discuss below.

Another interpretation modifies the first by saying that the “sons of God” were demon-possessed men. A third view takes notice that “sons of God” is sometimes used of human rulers, and says that in this passage we have powerful tyrants seizing helpless women and taking them into harems. Both of these interpretations also fail to take the context into account.

Genesis 4 and 5 are the context of Genesis 6. In Genesis 4 we have the genealogy of the ungodly line of Cain with murderous Lamech, while in Genesis 5 we have the genealogy of the godly line of Seth. Now we are about to see that the whole earth has become corrupt and God is going to wash it clean with a universal flood. The question we have to ask, then, is this: Whatever happened to the godly line of Seth?

The answer is in Genesis 6:1–4. These verses describe the fall of the Sethites into the grave sin of intermarriage. These “sons of God,” who had inherited all the privileges and ethical strengths of their righteous heritage, gave away that strength to the wicked by intermarrying with their daughters. As Eve saw that the fruit was fair and seized it unlawfully, so the Sethites took forbidden fruit on the basis of external beauty. Their children had the self-discipline of their righteous fathers, but the sinful orientation of their godless mothers and they plunged the world into moral chaos and destruction.

How serious is the sin of intermarriage? What stories in the Old Testament can you remember that show how dangerous it is? What were the consequences in each of these cases?