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Who were the beneha’elohim ? Were they Fallen Angels ?

Written By: CK Quarterman - Jun• 06•12

Genesis 6:2-4

It surely appears bizarre to some people that the Bible contains a statement referring to fallen angels sexually interacting with human women and having children with them. This has led to many strained interpretations of Genesis the Sixth Chapter.

Let us look closely at the passage:

“….. the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose”. ….”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. (Gen 6:1-4 KJV)

Placement of this passage immediately before the Flood narrative signifies that such behavior set the tone for and contributed to human immorality.

beneha’elohim, bene ha’elohim, sons of god

The Hebrew phrase translated “sons of God” (בְנֵי־הָאֱלֹהִים, beneha’elohim) occurs only here in Gen_6:2; Gen_6:4 and in Job_1:6; Job_2:1; Job_38:7 where angels are clearly understood. In the Book of Job, the phrase clearly refers to angelic beings. Nowhere else is the phrase “sons of God” (בְנֵי־הָאֱלֹהִים, bene ha’elohim) used. Hence, the verse is better understood as, “the angels saw the daughters of.” The word bene, literally “sons of, when used in a term such as beneha’elohim, means members of the “category of elohim” (gods). An example of such usage can be seen in the term “sons of the prophets” as “bene hanebi’im”(1 Kgs. 20:35; 2 Kgs. 2, 3, 5, 7, 15).

A close reading of Genesis indicates that the term (בְנֵי־הָאֱלֹהִים, beneha’elohim) is not referring to human beings. The contrast is drawn between bene ha’elohim and benot ha’adam.

Some take “the daughters of man” to be the daughters of the Cainites only. However, it is sufficient to understand by this phrase, the daughters of man in general, without any distinction of a moral or spiritual kind, and therefore including both Cainite and Shethite females. “And they took them wives of all whom they chose. In the Hebrew this is written as, “the daughters of Adam” (aw-dawm’) or benot ha adam .

Hence,  we read the passage as, “the angels saw the daughters of Adam that they were fair”.

“The children of the supernatural beings who had married these women became famous heroes and warriors. They were called Nephilim and lived on the earth at that time and even later.” Gen 6:4 (Contemporary English Version).


“Now the giants (Nephilim) were upon the earth in those days; and after that when the sons of God were wont to go in to the daughters of men, they bore children to them, those were the giants of old, the men of renown”. (Gen 6:2-5 English Septuagint)

There are three possible understandings for the usage of the term sons of God or beney elohim as found in the ancient Hebrew Scriptures, but we shall see that only one understanding fits the text of the Hebrew Bible.

The sons of God or (בְנֵי־הָאֱלֹהִים, beneha’elohim) are thought by some to be only the sons of Seth, and the daughters of men the descendants of Cain. In this view, the crime was the marriage of the holy line of Seth to the unholy line of Cain.

The sons of Seth interpretation appeared about 400 AD and was the first dispute to the angel view that a majority of both Jews and Christians had held prior to that time. There are serious problems with this theory. First, the phrase the line of Seth is nowhere defined in the Hebrew Bible as a holy line of people. In addition, the theory fails to take into account that nowhere in history is it evidenced that intermarriage of any people or culture produces a giant, nor did the Lord destroy or threaten to destroy a race or culture because of intermarriages. In spite of modern day proponents of this theory, this argument is not convincing. It is pure eisegesis: reading into the text what is obviously not there in order to prove one’s own ideas.

The early church fathers, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Athenagoras, Tertullian, Lactantius, Eusebius, and Ambrose all accepted the angel view.

They said, The angels transgressed and were captivated by love of women and begat children who are called giants. This is recorded in vol. 8, pages 85 and 273 of The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Only after the fifth century do we find any interpretation other than angels for the sons of God or beney elohim.

The sons of God or beney elohim are thought by some to be merely rulers, and the daughters of men only the masses; the transgression in this view is polygamy. The evidence for this view is that rulers are often referred to as gods or the offspring of gods. This is an even weaker interpretation.

The problem with this theory is that royalty has not in any way now or in ancient times, or anywhere in the Hebrew Bible, been associated with deity.

The sons of God or (בְנֵי־הָאֱלֹהִים, beneha’elohim) are the fallen angels, and the daughters of men are earthly women. The transgression is marriage and the begetting of children by the fallen angels.

Jude gives the evidence for this view in the New Testament. According to Jude, these fallen angels, in like manner [gave] themselves over to fornication, and [went] after strange flesh.

These other-worldly beings could take upon themselves flesh. Abraham’s conversation with angels (on their way to destroy Sodom) who appeared to him as humans, and even ate the food Abraham prepared for them is proof of that.

Finally, it’s also the most natural reading of the verse in light of the offspring being giants (Nephilim).

In addition, further proof of angels as the correct rendering of “sons of god” (בְנֵי־הָאֱלֹהִים, beneha’elohim) in Gen. 6:2 is simply understanding that the Bible interprets the Bible. Should a group of words such as “sons of god” (בְנֵי־הָאֱלֹהִים, beneha’elohim) used in Job (Job_1:6; Job_2:1; Job_38:7), is used elsewhere it should be understood to keep the same meaning. Good Bible interpretation, or what is called exegesis requires the same understanding be given to the same group of words when it’s used in another place, otherwise we are not following sound Bible interpretation, but reading something into the verse which isn’t there.

Witness of the Septuagint
sons of god = Angels of God

In the Codex Alexandrinus, one of the earliest and most complete manuscripts of the Bible, written a little later than the Council of Nice (A.D. 325) the defention of the “sons of god” can be clearly determined. The term “sons of god” written in the KJV is written in the Codex Alexandrinusas as, “οἱ ἄγγελοι τοῦ θεοῦ” (the angels of God) and not as “οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ θεοῦ” (the sons of God).

And it came to pass, when men began to be numerous upon the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the angels of God (οἱ ἄγγελοι τοῦ θεοῦ) having seen the daughters of men that they were beautiful took to themselves wives of all whom they chose. And the Lord God said, My spirit shall certainly not remain among these men forever, because they are flesh, but their days shall be an hundred and twenty years. Now the giants (gigantes) were upon the earth in those days; and after that when the the angels of God (hoi huioi tou Theou) were wont to go in to the daughters of men, they bore children to them, those were the giants (gigantes) of old, the men of renown.” Codex Alexandrinus

Philo (1st c. A.D.) also has οἱ ἄγγελοι τοῦ θεοῦ (the angels of God).
Job 1:6: οἱ ἄγγελοι τοῦ θεοῦ (the angels of God)
Job 2:1: οἱ ἄγγελοι τοῦ θεοῦ (the angels of God




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