The Orthodox Pages
TALK ON “THE SONS OF GOD
THE DAUGHTERS OF MEN”
Many modern western scholars believe that Chapter six of Genesis refers to the fall of the angels and that they came down to earth and took for themselves wives from the daughters of men and as a result the offspring were giants that roamed the earth. The Biblical passage says “And it came to pass when men began to be many on 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 unto them wives of all which they chose… Now there were giants in the earth in those days; and after that when the sons of God went in unto the daughters of men, they bare children to them: those were the giants of old, the men of renown.” (Gen 6: 1-4) The sons of God they say refers to the fallen angels because elsewhere in the Old Testament angels are referred to as the sons of God for example it says in the Book of Job: “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)
The Orthodox Church uses the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which not only has more books than the Masoretic text of the Hebrew version, but also varies in certain passages from the books they both share. We have spoken of the Septuagint many times and today we do not have the time to discuss this other than to say that the many references to the Old Testament prophecies found in the New Testament are quoted from the Septuagint version, showing that Christ and the Apostles considered it as the most authoritative and authentic and that it is in fact older than the Masoretic text which was written by the Hebrew rabbis after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD because the original Hebrew version on which the Septuagint was also based had been lost.
In the Septuagint version the quote from Job does not read “the sons of God came to present themselves” but “the angels of God” The only other example of “sons of God” meaning angels is from Daniel where king Nebuchadnezzar looks into the fiery furnace and sees four men and says that “the appearance of the fourth is like the son of God.” Here indeed the son of God means an angel of God, but we cannot take this as proof that the “sons of God in Genesis also refers to angels. Nebuchadnezzar was a Babylonian king and we have already seen that in their mythology the Babylonians believed in many gods and sons of gods. Angels were also worshiped as the offspring of the gods so it was quite natural for Nebuchadnezzar to call an angel the son of god. But even if we accept the Masoretic text for Job where it has sons of God for angels of God, there are also other Old Testament quotes that call men the sons of God: “Ye are the sons of the living God.” (Hosea 1:10)
The Old Testament can only be interpreted in the light of the New Testament so let’s see who the New Testament calls the sons of God or children of God.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12); “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14); “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Romans 8:16); “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” and “Beloved, now are we the sons of God” 1 John 3: 1-2); “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”(Matt. 5:9); “Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:36); “And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” (John 11:52).
There are many more passages we can quote, but I think these more than show that scripture calls men the sons of God, but not all men in general; only those who believe in Jesus Christ and who have God as their Father have the right to be called the sons of God. The passage from Romans clearly defines who the sons of God are: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Thus both angels and men who are led by the spirit of God are children of God. The sons of God in chapter six of Genesis cannot therefore refer to fallen angels because fallen angels are no longer led by the Spirit of God and thus have lost every right to be called sons of God, certainly Moses or other writers of the Old Testament would not have referred to them as such. The passage from Job which is used to support this ridiculous theory clearly shows that Satan is no more included in the “sons of God” and has to give an account of how he came to be among the assembly of the angels. If Satan is not included as a son of God then neither are his followers. If his followers are not included in the statement “sons of God”, then the “sons of God” that came unto the daughters of men were not fallen angels.
We do not know when the angels were created although it is believed that they were created at the same time as heaven. Certainly it was before God created the stars because it says in the Book of Job: “When the stars were made, all Mine angels praised Me with a loud voice.” (Job 38:7) The fall of Lucifer and a great number of angels that followed him happened before the fall of man otherwise Satan would not have been in the Garden of Eden slandering God to tempt Eve to also rebel against God. Orthodox tradition says that when the angels fell the Archangel Michael gathered all the ranks of the angels and cried aloud: “Let us stand upright, let us stand with fear” and from that time the angels remained steadfast in their loyalty and obedience to the will of God and with a special grace of God have remained steadfast in holiness and goodness and can no more fall into sin. The fall of the angels happened before the fall of man: there was not a separate fall of Lucifer and then at a later stage, many years after the fall of man, another fall of the angels.
The belief in this ludicrous story is not something new; it has its roots in the Apocryphal Book of Enoch. In this book it says: “And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the 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.” The story continues with how two hundred fallen angels, lead by Semjâzâ, came down to earth on the summit of Mount Hermon “and took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them… And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells (450feet). These super creatures of half angel half man were the result of the mixing of the fallen angels’ DNA with the genes of human beings. These giants caused havoc on earth and began to devour mankind. The reason for the flood was according to the Book of Enoch to rid the earth of these fantastical gigantic creatures.
If angels are only spirit can they have a bodily DNA? We know from scripture that angels have appeared to men in bodily form but they cannot take on the form of man without permission from God. Angels have no bodies and so have no desire for sexual activities and cannot multiply. When we show those in favour of the fallen angel story that Christ said “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Matth. 22:29-30) they reply that Jesus compared men in heaven to angels in heaven. Neither men nor angels are said to be sexless in heaven but we are told that in heaven there will be no marriage. This does not rule out that on earth angels cannot engage in sexual activities just like men, in other words, if they are capable of performing human functions like eating, drinking, walking and talking then they are even capable of sexual activity and fathering children. To such stupidity we can only answer as Christ did “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” (Matt. 22: 29) Angels can appear as men and can appear to men to be able of human activities, but it doesn’t mean that they actually engage in them. In the Book of Tobit where the angel Raphael accompanied Tobit for many days it says: “All these days did I appear unto you; but I did neither eat nor drink, but ye did see a vision.” (Tobit 12:19) Raphael had no desire or need for food or drink because he did not have a true body to sustain. For the same reason angels do not have sexual desires because they were not created with bodily functions for this purpose: they were not created like men to be “fruitful and multiply.”
If as has been shown the “sons of God” in Genesis does not refer to fallen angels then to whom does it refer to? There are two answers to this question. The first is simply that the “sons of God and the daughters of men” are terms used in keeping with the Genesis account of the origin of men and women. The first is used of males because Adam originated from God breathing life into him and the latter is used of females because God created Eve from man. Those in favour of this explanation support it with a quote from St. Paul: “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.” (I Cor. 11:7) This simple explanation is feasible but it does not take into account that chapter 6 is not unconnected to the previous chapters: both chapters 4 and 5 prepare the ground for chapter 6.
The second explanation is supported by the previous chapters of Genesis. In chapter four we are told how Adam’s son Cain killed his brother Abel. As punishment he was cursed from the earth and banished from the presence of God and dwelt in the land of Nod. In other words Cain’s sin had lost him the right to be called a son of God and was no more “lead by the Spirit of God.” The Chapter then gives us Cain’s genealogy – the genealogy of the family line that were not “led by the Spirit of God and who where not recognized as children of God. Chapter five then gives us Adam’s genealogy through his son Seth until Noah and his sons. In comparison to the previous genealogy this is now the genealogy of the sons of God through whom would descent the Messiah.
Because Cain was cursed from the face of the earth and banished from the presence of God, it was forbidden to Seth and his family to have any contact with the family of Cain and any intermarrying of the two lines would be seen as a grave sin. Up until Noah’s time the races that descended from the Sons of Adam, Cain and Seth, lived separately. Those who descended from Righteous Seth were considered sons of God because they lived somewhat more piously and those from Cain who killed his own brother were called sons of men because they had totally abandon God. Seth’s descendants were by no means all righteous, but neither were they cursed. The Bible tells us that at some point during Noah’s time, there began to be a mixing of these two races, the good and the bad. “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.” (Gen. 6: 2-3)
As a first punishment 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.” (Gen. 6: 4) Here we see why there was a drastic reduction in man’s lifespan from the 1,000 years of Adam, which was in fact not to punish him but to make him aware that death will come and that he should repent and change his ways. By living a thousand years men probably thought that they were almost immortal, but now with only 100 or 120 years of life, death would approach must sooner forcing man to remember death and turn to God for salvation.
Now as a result of this mixing of the good and bad bloods, a deformity could have developed that would account for their children to become oversized but Genesis doesn’t actually say this. In fact it says that there were already giants on the earth before the mixing of the two lines, but by the mixing of the two races of Seth and Cain their numbers were increased: “Now there were giants in the earth in those days; and after that when the sons of God went in unto the daughters of men, they bare children to them: those were the giants of old, the men of renown.” (Gen. 6:4) This is not unfeasible if we consider that after the fall man is in a state of death and death acts on the human body by deteriorating human nature. This deterioration is expressed with various illnesses and diseases; they are the consequences of the fall and with sin upon sin the deterioration continues.
Giants certainly means people taller than the average but the 450 feet giants from the Book of Enoch is far fetched and pure fantasy. Goliath was considered a giant and he was according to the Septuagint version 4 cubits and a span, in other words 4˝ cubits, but according to the King James 6 ˝ cubits. The Hebrews had two cubit measurements, the common cubit which is 0.45m and the royal cubit which is 0.525m. If we assume that we are given the common cubit for Goliath’s height, he was 2.025m or 6ft 7˝ins according to the Septuagint and 2.92m or 9ft 7ins according to the King James. If we take the Septuagint measurement as correct then it’s not something that seems too incredible, there are many men today that are more than 6˝ ft and would seem like giants in comparison to Middle Eastern men. Even today there are giants which medical science recognizes as a rare disorder of the growth hormone and is called Gigantism.
Many modern scholars are only interested in making a name for themselves and are more than ready to sacrifice the traditional understanding of Holy Scripture with unfounded theories and interpretations believing that their modern ungodly idea of knowledge is superior to the God-inspired knowledge of the Sacred Writers and the Fathers of the Church who with spiritual enlightenment have given us the true interpretations of these writings. There is a trend in our modern world to believe anything that comes into conflict with tradition and because scandal is far more interesting than the simple truth people are more than willing to accept a ridiculous story like fallen angels having sexual relations with humans than to accept the simple truth that angels by their nature cannot behave as humans. In recent years we have seen such scandalous interpretations for Christ and his supposed relationship with Mary Magdalene and with the Apostles.
Many have tried to put their idea of knowledge above the knowledge of the Church which has been tested time and time again over many centuries by many who thought they knew better. The ridiculous interpretations of contemporary views are nothing more than Satan’s way of distorting the truth of Scripture. They are not even contemporary, but old arguments living a revival. The Church has battled with these heretical attacks for more than two thousands years and has always been victorious. We can be sure that in the future more and more ridiculous and blasphemous interpretations will be suggested by ungodly people trying to twist the truth of Holy Scripture and the Church, but we can also be sure that the Church, having the light of truth, will shine brightly, and as always, bring light to the darkness.