Genesis 6:2 MEANING

Genesis 6:2
(2) The sons of God. . . . --The literal translation of this verse is, And the sons of the Elohim saw the daughters of the adam that they were good (beautiful); and they took to them wives whomsoever they chose. Of the sons of the Elohim there are three principal interpretations: the first, that of the Targums and the chief Jewish expositors, that they were the nobles, and men of high rank; the second, that they were angels. St. Jude, Jude 1:6, and St. Peter, 2 Ep., 2 Peter 2:4, seem to favour this interpretation, possibly as being the translation of the LXX. according to several MSS. But even if this be their meaning, which is very uncertain, they use it only as an illustration; and a higher authority says that the angels neither marry nor are given in marriage. The third, and most generally accepted interpretation in modern times, is that the sons of the Elohim were the Sethites, and that when they married for mere lust of beauty, universal corruption soon ensued. But no modern commentator has shown how such marriages could produce "mighty men . . . men of renown;" or how strong warriors could be the result of the intermarriage of pious men with women of an inferior race, such as the Cainites are assumed to have been.

The Jewish interpreters, who well understood the uses of their own language, are right in the main point that the phrase "sons of the Elohim" conveys no idea of moral goodness or piety. Elohim constantly means mighty ones (Exodus 15:11, marg.). (Comp. Exodus 12:12, marg., Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8-9, where it is translated judges; Exodus 22:28, 1 Samuel 2:25, where also it is translated judge.) In Job 1:6 the "sons of Elohim" are the nobles, the idea being that of a king who at his durbar gathers his princes round him; and, not unnecessarily to multiply examples, the "sons of the Elim," the other form of the plural, is rightly translated mighty ones in Psalm 29:1.

Who, then, are these "mighty ones?" Before answering this question, let me call attention to the plain teaching of the narrative as to what is meant by the "daughters of men." It says: "When the adam began to multiply, and daughters were born unto them, the sons of the Elohim saw the daughters of the adam . . . and took them wives," &c. But according to every right rule of interpretation, the "daughters of the adam" in Genesis 6:1 must be the same as the "daughters of the adam" in Genesis 6:2, whom the sons of the Elohim married. Now, it seems undeniable that the adam here spoken of were the Sethites. The phrase occurs in the history of Noah, just after giving his descent from Adam; Cain is absolutely passed over, even in the account of the birth of Seth, who is described as Adam's firstborn, such as legally he was. The corruption described is that of the Sethites; for the Cainites have already been depicted as violent and lustful, and their history has been brought to an end. Moreover, in Genesis 6:3, "the adam with whom God will not always strive" is certainly the family of Seth, who, though the chosen people and possessors of the birthright, are nevertheless described as falling into evil ways; and their utter corruption finally is the result of the depravation of their women by a race superior to themselves in muscular vigour and warlike prowess.

Where, then, shall we find these men? Certainly among the descendants of Cain. In Genesis 4:17-24, we find Cain described as the founder of civil institutions and social life: the name he gives to his son testifies to his determination that his race shall be trained men. They advance rapidly in the arts, become rich, refined, luxurious, but also martial and arrogant. The picture terminates in a boastful hero parading himself before his admiring wives, displaying to them his weapons, and vaunting himself in a poem of no mean merit as ten times superior to their forefather Cain. His namesake in the race of Seth also indites a poem; but it is a groan over their hard toil, and the difficulty with which, by incessant labour, they earned their daily bread. To the simple "daughters of the adam," these men, enriched by the possession of implements of metal, playing sweet music on harp and pipe, and rendered invincible by the deadly weapons they had forged, must have seemed indeed as very "sons of the Elohim." The Sethites could not have taken the Cainite women according to their fancy in the way described, protected as they were by armed men; but the whole phrase, "whomsoever they would," reeks of that arrogancy and wantonness of which the polygamist Lamech had set so notable an example. And so, not by the women corrupting nobler natures, but by these strong men acting according to their lust, the race with the birthright sank to the Cainite level, and God had no longer a people on earth worthy of His choice.

6:1-7 The most remarkable thing concerning the old world, is the destroying of it by the deluge, or flood. We are told of the abounding iniquity of that wicked world: God's just wrath, and his holy resolution to punish it. In all ages there has been a peculiar curse of God upon marriages between professors of true religion and its avowed enemies. The evil example of the ungodly party corrupts or greatly hurts the other. Family religion is put an end to, and the children are trained up according to the worldly maxims of that parent who is without the fear of God. If we profess to be the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty, we must not marry without his consent. He will never give his blessing, if we prefer beauty, wit, wealth, or worldly honours, to faith and holiness. The Spirit of God strove with men, by sending Enoch, Noah, and perhaps others, to preach to them; by waiting to be gracious, notwithstanding their rebellions; and by exciting alarm and convictions in their consciences. But the Lord declared that his Spirit should not thus strive with men always; he would leave them to be hardened in sin, and ripened for destruction. This he determined on, because man was flesh: not only frail and feeble, but carnal and depraved; having misused the noble powers of his soul to gratify his corrupt inclinations. God sees all the wickedness that is among the children of men; it cannot be hid from him now; and if it be not repented of, it shall be made known by him shortly. The wickedness of a people is great indeed, when noted sinners are men renowned among them. Very much sin was committed in all places, by all sorts of people. Any one might see that the wickedness of man was great: but God saw that every imagination, or purpose, of the thoughts of man's heart, was only evil continually. This was the bitter root, the corrupt spring. The heart was deceitful and desperately wicked; the principles were corrupt; the habits and dispositions evil. Their designs and devices were wicked. They did evil deliberately, contriving how to do mischief. There was no good among them. God saw man's wickedness as one injured and wronged by it. He saw it as a tender father sees the folly and stubbornness of a rebellious and disobedient child, which grieves him, and makes him wish he had been childless. The words here used are remarkable; they are used after the manner of men, and do not mean that God can change, or be unhappy. Does God thus hate our sin? And shall not we be grieved to the heart for it? Oh that we may look on Him whom we have grieved, and mourn! God repented that he had made man; but we never find him repent that he redeemed man. God resolves to destroy man: the original word is very striking, 'I will wipe off man from the earth,' as dirt or filth is wiped off from a place which should be clean, and is thrown to the dunghill, the proper place for it. God speaks of man as his own creature, when he resolves upon his punishment. Those forfeit their lives who do not answer the end of their living. God speaks of resolution concerning men, after his Spirit had been long striving with them in vain. None are punished by the justice of God, but those who hate to be reformed by the grace of God.That the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair,.... Or "good" (k), not in a moral but natural sense; goodly to look upon, of a beautiful aspect; and they looked upon, and only regarded their external beauty, and lusted after them: those "sons of God" were not angels either good or bad, as many have thought, since they are incorporeal beings, and cannot be affected with fleshly lusts, or marry and be given in marriage, or generate and be generated; nor the sons of judges, magistrates, and great personages, nor they themselves, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, and so Jarchi and Aben Ezra; but this could be no crime in them, to look upon and take in marriage such persons, though they were the daughters of the meaner sort; and supposing they acted a criminal part in looking at them, and lusting after them, and committing fornication with them, and even in marrying irreligious persons; yet this could only be a partial, not an universal corruption, as is after affirmed, though such examples must indeed have great influence upon the populace; but rather this is to be understood of the posterity of Seth, who from the times of Enos, when then began to be called by the name of the Lord, Genesis 4:25 had the title of the sons of God, in distinction from the children of men; these claimed the privilege of divine adoption, and professed to be born of God, and partakers of his grace, and pretended to worship him according to his will, so far as revealed to them, and to fear and serve and glorify him. According to the Arabic writers (l), immediately after the death of Adam the family of Seth was separated from the family of Cain; Seth took his sons and their wives to a high mountain (Hermon), on the top of which Adam was buried, and Cain and all his sons lived in the valley beneath, where Abel was slain; and they on the mountain obtained a name for holiness and purity, and were so near the angels that they could hear their voices and join their hymns with them; and they, their wives and their children, went by the common name of the sons of God: and now these were adjured, by Seth and by succeeding patriarchs, by no means to go down from the mountain and join the Cainites; but notwithstanding in the times of Jared some did go down, it seems; See Gill on Genesis 5:20 and after that others, and at this time it became general; and being taken with the beauty of the daughters of Cain and his posterity, they did as follows:

and they took them wives of all that they chose; not by force, as Aben Ezra and Ben Gersom interpret, for the Cainites being more numerous and powerful than they, it can hardly be thought that the one would attempt it, or the other suffer it; but they intermarried with them, which the Cainites might not be averse unto; they took to them wives as they fancied, which were pleasing to the flesh, without regard to their moral and civil character, and without the advice and consent of their parents, and without consulting God and his will in the matter; or they took women as they pleased, and were to their liking, and committed fornication, to which the Cainites were addicted; for they spent their time in singing and dancing, and in uncleanness, whereby the posterity of Seth or sons of God were allured to come down and join them, and commit fornication with them, as the Arabic writers (m) relate.

(k) Sept, "bonae" Cocceius. (l) Elmacinus, Patricides apud Hottinger. Smegma, l. 1. c. viii. p. 226, 227, 228. (m) Elmacinus, Patricides apud Hottinger. Smegma, l. 1. c. viii. p. 232, 235, 236, 242, 247.

Courtesy of Open Bible