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Gen. 6:2-4: Who Are ‘The Sons of God’ and ‘The Nephilim’?

by Dr. D ~

Q: In Gen. 6:2-4: Who are the Sons of God and The Nephilim and were they allowed to impregnate women?

A: This has always been a fun passage! There are two major views and at different times I have gravitated between the two. First of all, ‘Nephilim’ -the Hebrew word means ‘fallen ones’. Next, ‘Sons of God’ – the Hebrew- ‘ben elohim’ is used many times in the O.T. In the following passages, ‘ben elohim’ refers to ‘righteous men’: Duet. 14:1, 32:5, Psalm 73:15, Hos. 1:10. There are also other references where ‘angels’ are called ‘ben elohim’: Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7; Psalm 29:1, 89:6.

The first view is supported by most Christian Bible scholars, and is really the simplest understanding or explanation: The ‘Sons of God’ are the ‘righteous’ believers of the godly line of Seth, who married ‘ungodly’ women (daughters of men) from the line of Cain. Their offspring were the ‘Nephilim’ (‘fallen ones’) who were mighty men, and some were physical giants, but they were spiritual failures. The mixed marriages resulted in the eventual loss of the righteous line entirely, except for Noah and his family.

The second view: Jewish rabbinic traditions hold that ‘fallen angels’ are the ‘Sons of God’ (ben elohim) who came down and impregnated human women, and their offspring became a race of ‘super’ humans called the ‘Nephilim’ (fallen ones). This was a distortion of creation, and led to God wiping them completely out through a universal flood, and starting over with just Noah and his family (Later, Goliath and his family of giants were referred to as ‘Nephilim’, because they reminded folk of this Hebrew tradition of ‘super’ human/godless men).

Some Christian Bible teachers also hold the second view, and cite 2 Peter 2:4 & Jude 6 in support of the ‘angel’ understanding. While I believe that this view has merit and good Biblical support, the major problem to the ‘angel’ view is provided by Mark 12:25, which indicates that angels do not marry. Some believe that this passage probably implies that angels have no gender or ability to propagate. Do angels have a specific gender?

There really are no Biblical references to answer this question. Those who support the ‘angel’ view, speculate that some ‘fallen angels’ may have rebelled against their original state and altered themselves. Jude 6 is the possible supporting text.


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1 Response to Gen. 6:2-4: Who Are ‘The Sons of God’ and ‘The Nephilim’?

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