Who are the Sons of God in Genesis 6?

By on August 28, 2017

Who are the Sons of God in Genesis 6 – Bible Research Tools 
This is the Word of God from Genesis 6 in the King James translation (KJV) of the Masoretic Hebrew text:

“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And God 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.” — Gen 6:1-5 KJV


Sons of God

The first course of investigation might be to examine the other Hebrew verses that contain the phrase “sons of God”:

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.” — Job 1:6 KJV

“Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord.” — Job 2:1 KJV

“When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” — Job 38:7 KJV

That’s it! No other verses contains that phrase. The popular NASB, NKJV, HCSB and YLT translations also contain the phrase sons of God in only those five verses.

 

The ESV adds one additional verse since it follows the Dead Sea Scroll [DSS] text on Deuteronomy 32:8, rather than the Masoretic [MT]:

“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.” — Deu 32:8 ESV [DSS]

“When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.” — Deu 32:8 KJV [MT]

There was no Israel in those days, so the older DSS text is more likely the correct one. In any case, the phrase sons of God is not common.

 

Heavenly Beings?

The book of Job verses indicated the sons of God are heavenly beings. The first two are self-explanatory. The last one, Job 38:7, reveals, in context, that the Lord is referring to the time when he created the earth:

“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” — Job 38:4-7 KJV

I am pretty sure there were no men hanging around at that time, so the sons of God in Job 38:7 are most likely heavenly beings.

 

Does that make sense?

Does it make sense, from a biblical perspective, that there are heavenly beings?

Of course! Heavenly angels are mentioned many times, in both testaments. There are also indications that angels were already present when the Lord created the earth. We have Job 38:4-7 as one witness, and this possibly as another:

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: ” — Gen 1:26 KJV

Is there anyone else called a son of God in the Old Testament? Yes, this fellow:

“I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” — Dan 3:25 KJV

 

So, son/sons of God is not a common phrase in the Old Testament; and in every case, except Genesis, it unambiguously refers to heavenly beings. Further, there is no evidence whatsoever to support the notion that the sons of God were “righteous descendants of Seth”, as has been dogmatically claimed since the days of Augustine.

 

How about in the New Testament?

The best example in the New Testament may be this one, where those chosen to be sons of God become as the angels of God in heaven:

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” — Mat 22:29-30 KJV

One argument against the Genesis 6 “sons of God = angels” theory is that Jesus implies these (new) angels do not marry. But neither did those in Genesis 6 while they were in heaven.

 

Now, recall that Peter wrote:

“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;” — 2Pet 2:4-5 KJV

Quoting the administrator in the forum thread of this namesake:

“Peter certainly makes it appear there was something more sinful going on in the days of Noah than something as innocent sounding as Seth’s male descendants marrying the daughters of Cain’s descendants.”

Pay careful attention to the sentence structure of Peter’s statement:

  1. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell,
  2. and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
  3. And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person . . .

It certainly appears the sins of the angels were a major reason the Lord destroyed the old world.

 

Jude made a similar, but less detailed statement about the destiny of certain angels:

“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” — Jude 1:6 KJV

If an angel’s habitation was in heaven, as we would assume, where did he go when he left it? The earth, maybe?

 

LXX

[Note: much of this article was originally a reply to a topic of the same name at:
http://forum.bibleresearchtools.com/index.php?topic=7.0].