Sons of God and Daughters of Men

Listen to his class: 

Download the Notes: 11132013SonsOfGodAndDaughtersOfMenDonRuhl

Sons of God and Daughters of Men 

Who were the sons of God in Genesis 6?

Genesis 6.1–5

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • November 6, In the year of our Lord, 2013



  1. I was asked about the meaning of Genesis 6.1–5, regarding who the sons of God are in that text, and whether the offspring of the marriages of the sons of God to the daughters of men descended through Noah to produce the giants of the Philistines during David’s time.
    1. [Here is the question: Don; I think it was a study or research regarding the Son’s of God, and their offspring with the Daughter’s of Men before the Flood and the possibility of their DNA coming  down through Noah and his sons to affect the Philistines size during David’s time. This is how I remember it.”]
    2. Some people may also wonder whether this explains how giants could live in the Land of Canaan during the wilderness wanderings and Joshua’s generation.
      1. Remember the spies saw the Canaanites as giants.
      2. Before the Israelites entered the Land of Canaan, the Bible tells us of the bed of one of these men,

        11 “For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of the giants. Indeed his bedstead was an iron bedstead. (Is it not in Rabbah of the people of Ammon?) Nine cubits is its length and four cubits its width, according to the standard cubit” (Deu 3.11).

  2. Therefore, we want to find out what Genesis 6.1–5 means. 
    1. Who were the sons of God?
    2. Who were the daughters of men?
    3. Who were the giants before the Flood?
    4. Are the giants such as Og, Goliath, and his sons, descended from the pre-Flood giants?


  1. Genesis 6.1–5 – Sons of God and Daughters of Men

    1 Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, 2 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. 3 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.” 4 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. 5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Gen 6.1–5).

    1. What are some common ideas or interpretations of this text?
      1. Probably the most popular one is that the sons of God were angels.
        1. When these heavenly beings married human women,
          1. the combination resulted in giants,
          2. giants the size of Og, Goliath, and others.
        2. Without considering the context,
          1. this seems to be a valid interpretation for most people.
          2. They first turn to other passages,
            1. something the Israelites did not have in the wilderness, and
            2. see how other parts of the Bible uses, “sons of God.”
              1. Most people believe Job 1.6 and 2.1 refer to angels.
                1. However, I do not believe we can make that assumption.
              2. Job 38.7 does seem to refer to angels.
      2. However, if you start reading from Genesis 1.1 and continue to our text,
        1. what in the story would make you think it refers to angels?
          1. What would the Israelites have thought
          2. when Moses first delivered the Book of Genesis to them?
        2. What is the first and most important rule of interpretation?
          1. We must know the context.
          2. Therefore, when seeking to understand a difficult text,
            1. let not the first thing you do be to go to other texts.
            2. First, dig into
              1. the immediate context of that passage,
              2. the wider context of that Book, and
              3. the general context of the Bible.
                1. This opens the door for consulting other passages, but
                2. it seeks to listen to the writer himself first.
                  1. Disregard the chapter and verse divisions, and
                  2. that will make the job easier.
        3. If sons of God does refer to angels,
          1. why did Moses not say so?
          2. He could have simply said that angels married women.
        4. If we go back to the beginning of Genesis,
          1. we can figure out what Moses meant, and
          2. we can understand why he wrote it.
  2. The Story of Genesis from Adam to Noah 
    1. First, Moses showed us God created the heavens and the Earth (Gen 1).
    2. Second, Moses detailed the creation of man,
      1. which included what God wanted from man, and
      2. what God provided for man (Gen 2).
    3. Third, we learn
      1. that the first human pair introduced sin into the world, and
      2. that sin brought death into the world (Gen 3).
    4. Fourth, Moses showed how sin and death ruled the world (Gen 4.1–25).
      1. Within that first family, one brother killed another.
      2. Then Cain goes to live in another place, and his descendants multiply.
        1. The fifth descendant from Cain, Lamech, introduced polygamy.
        2. He also bragged of killing a young man (Gen 4.23–24).
          1. Virtually nothing good is said about Cain and his descendants,
          2. except that some of them started various trades (Gen 4.20–22).
    5. Fifth, Moses contrasted Cain with Seth (Gen 4.25–26).
      1. We saw what Cain and his descendants became, but
      2. what about Seth and his descendants?

        25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” 26 And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the LORD (Gen 4.25–26).

    6. Sixth, Moses makes clear at the beginning of chapter 5,
      1. that he would then reveal the genealogy of Adam.
      2. Moses then provided the godly seed line
        1. that would fulfill Genesis 3.15,
        2. when God revealed that a Seed of the woman would crush the serpent.
          1. As you read the biblical text,
          2. you have to remember what happened in the beginning, and
            1. how a text under question
            2. fits into the fulfillment of Genesis 3.15 and later Genesis 12.3.
      3. By the time we get to Noah,
        1. he and his family are the only godly people left on Earth.
          1. What happened?
          2. What diminished the godly line of Seth?
    7. That is the seventh thing that Moses did (Gen 6.1–5).
      1. That is where our text comes into play.
      2. See how it begins, “Now it came to pass…”
        1. Although Cain moved away,
        2. Moses said that men began to multiply on the face of the Earth.
          1. Therefore, in time the two families merged with one another.
          2. That naturally led to marriages between the two lines.
      3. Genesis 6.1–5 contrasts 4.25–26.
        1. Men started out well.
        2. Something distracted them from doing well.
        3. Remember also 4.7.
    8. Moses summarized the history of the world from Adam to Noah (Gen 5).
      1. In chapter 5,
        1. Moses gave us a quick run down of the generations from Adam to Noah.
        2. Moses focused on the births.
          1. We learn how old a man was when he begat his son.
          2. Then how much time the father lived after begetting his son.
      2. The beginning of chapter 6,
        1. lets us know that something happened during all those generations.
        2. The population of the world, even the godly population, became wicked.
          1. Moses explained briefly why God destroyed the Earth, and
          2. why He saved only Noah and his family.
            1. The whole Earth had become corrupt.
            2. Only Noah found grace in the eyes of God (Gen 6.6–8).
    9. Therefore, the Lord declared that His Spirit would not always strive with man.
      1. Man was flesh, and
      2. so his days were limited to 120 years.
        1. Was this a lifetime limitation?
        2. Was it a countdown to the destruction of the world?
    10. As Moses pictured for us how godly men corrupted themselves,
      1. he said that there were “nephilim” in the land, and
      2. that they were mighty men, men of renown.
        1. Do not assume this means they were giants, for
        2. as The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states,

          Actually, the translation “giants” is supported mainly by the lxx and may be quite misleading. The word may be of unknown origin and mean “heroes” or “fierce warriors” etc. The rsv and niv transliteration “Nephilim” is safer and may be correct in referring the noun to a race or nation (page 587).

          Heb. nephilim, meaning “violent” or “causing to fall” (Gen. 6:4). These were the violent tyrants of those days, those who fell upon others. The word may also be derived from a root signifying “wonder,” and hence “monsters” or “prodigies.” In Num. 13:33 this name is given to a Canaanitish tribe, a race of large stature, “the sons of Anak.” The Revised Version, in these passages, simply transliterates the original, and reads “Nephilim” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).

          1. There is no reason to believe that angels and women marrying
          2. produced giant offspring, because
            1. first, this text does not reference angels, but godly men, and
            2. second, the last sentence of verse 4 explains “Nephilim.”
    11. Then the Lord observed the great wickedness of men on the Earth.
    12. The first time that the Bible mentions angels explicitly is 16.7.
      1. That does not mean the reference here to the sons of God
        1. was not a reference to angels.
        2. However, it is a fact to consider.
      2. Moreover, what happened to the people, giants or not,
        1. whom the sons of God and daughters of men produced?
        2. What did Moses show next that explains
          1. what happened to the world?
          2. A world-wide flood destroyed them all!