Genesis 6 Conundrum


#1

I’m hoping someone can shed some light on Genesis 6:1-4 for me. I’m trying to lessen my Old Testament phobia by working through it, but these passages from Genesis have me befuddled:

When men began to multiply on earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of heaven saw how beautiful the daughters of man were, and so they took for their wives as many of them as they chose. Then the LORD said: “My spirit shall not remain in man forever, since he is but flesh. His days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years.” At that time the Nephilim appeared on earth (as well as later), after the sons of heaven had intercourse with the daughters of man, who bore them sons. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown.

It talks about the “sons of heaven” and the “daughters of man”. Wasn’t everyone descendents of Adam and Eve? Also, who were the Nephilim? And who were “the heroes of old, the men of renown”?

This passage is just a total mystery to me. If anyone can explain it in a way my old mind can grasp, I would appreciate it.


#2

From EWTN Forum


#3

**Angels

**It should moreover be noted that the Hebrew word nephilim rendered gigantes, in 6:4, may mean “fallen ones”. The Fathers generally refer it to the sons of Seth, the chosen stock. In I K., xix, 9, an evil spirit is said to possess Saul, though this is probably a metaphorical expression; more explicit is III B., xxii, 19-23, where a spirit is depicted as appearing in the midst of the heavenly army and offering, at the Lord’s invitation, to be a lying spirit in the mouth of Achab’s false prophets. We might, with Scholastics, explain this is malum poenae, which is actually caused by God owing to man’s fault. A truer exegesis would, however, dwell on the purely imaginative tone of the whole episode; it is not so much the mould in which the message is cast as the actual tenor of that message which is meant to occupy our attention.


#4

[quote=OhioBob]I’m hoping someone can shed some light on Genesis 6:1-4 for me. I’m trying to lessen my Old Testament phobia by working through it, but these passages from Genesis have me befuddled:

When men began to multiply on earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of heaven saw how beautiful the daughters of man were, and so they took for their wives as many of them as they chose. Then the LORD said: “My spirit shall not remain in man forever, since he is but flesh. His days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years.” At that time the Nephilim appeared on earth (as well as later), after the sons of heaven had intercourse with the daughters of man, who bore them sons. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown.

It talks about the “sons of heaven” and the “daughters of man”. Wasn’t everyone descendents of Adam and Eve? Also, who were the Nephilim? And who were “the heroes of old, the men of renown”?

This passage is just a total mystery to me. If anyone can explain it in a way my old mind can grasp, I would appreciate it.
[/quote]

A ‘son of heaven’ could be an angel or lesser spirit. Some of them at least never have been and never will be human, therefore never a descendant of Adam and Eve.

Most likely, though, ‘sons of heaven’ simply means human men. Adam is described as being the ‘son of God’ (in one of the Gospels I think), so ‘sons of heaven’ could mean his male descendants. This is more likely - I doubt angels or spirits would be romantically interested in, or able to have children with, human women.

The passage doesn’t say that the Nephilim weren’t human, simply that they were ‘heroes’. I recently saw a documentary suggesting that the Nephilim were a race of giants (like Goliath) - tall people, but still fully human.

As for the bit about ‘heroes of old, the men of renown’ - mankind was around for a long time before any of the books of the Bible was written down. The traditional method of passing on stories and history before the invention of writing was oral - through storytelling. Of course these stories would centre around heroes and great men, but not all of the stories would have survived to be written down.


#5

**Biblical Geography -

**Palestine seems to have been inhabited about the fourth millennium B. C. by a population which may be called, without insisting upon the meaning of the word, aboriginal. This population is designated in the Bible by the general name of Nephilim, a word which, for the Hebrews, conveyed the idea of dreadful, monstrous giants (Numbers 13:33, 34). We hear occasionally of them also as Rephaim, Enacim, Emim, Zuzim, Zamzommim, and Horites, these last, whose name means “cave-dwellers”, being confined to the deserts of Idumæa. But what were the ethnological relations of these various peoples, we are not able to state. At any rate, the land must have been thinly inhabited in those early times, for about 3000 B. C. it was styled by the Egyptians “an empty land”. Towards the third millennium B. C., a first Semitic Canaanite element invaded Palestine, followed, about the twenty-fifth century, by a great Semitic migration of peoples coming from the marshes of the Persian Gulf, and which were to constitute the bulk of the population of Canaan before the occupation of the land by the Hebrews.


#6

There’s a ton of threads on this already. Do a search on “Nephilim” and you’ll be rewarded!


#7

[quote=Fidelis]There’s a ton of threads on this already. Do a search on “Nephilim” and you’ll be rewarded!
[/quote]

Sorry. Laziness triumphed.

Thanks to all for the info.


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