DIG: Apart from the lack of details in these verses, what do you find most disturbing about this description of human corruption? Why? What would be disturbing to someone who believes human nature is essentially good? Why does God say: Do not be yoked together with unbelievers (Second Corinthians 2:14-18)?
REFLECT: When was the last time you were fooled into thinking someone was very different than they really were? What did you learn from that experience? Not to trust anyone or to test the spirits (First John 4:1-3)?
This chapter describes Satan’s attempt to make it impossible for mankind to be saved. When Satan saw an opportunity to destroy God’s prophecy that the Seed of the woman would crush his head, he took it. Moral and spiritual conditions at that time had deteriorated with passing years, not only among the descendants of Cain, but also among the descendants of Seth. The wickedness and sinfulness of mankind was so great, that Satan saw such an opportunity. His plan was pure evil.
The phrase, now it came to pass (NKJ), links Chapter 5, which focuses on the sons, with Chapter 6, which focuses on the daughters. Men began to increase in number on the earth when they had other sons and daughters. The Hebrew word for men is adam, which means man. The word is generic, meaning mankind in general, including male and female. This word cannot be limited to the son’s of Cain (as some would wrongly interpret this section as the intermarrying between the ungodly line of Cain and the godly line of Seth). Then the writer adds: and daughters were born to them. Once again, daughters is a general term, meaning both daughters from the line of Cain and daughters from the line of Seth, and all the other sons of Adam that had multiplied by this time.
The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful. The term the sons of God in Hebrew is bnei ha Elohim. This phrase in the Hebrew Bible is always used in reference to angels. It might be good angels, or it might be bad angels, but it refers to angels (Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7). The Septuagint uses the same term in Deuteronomy 32:8, and refers to angels. Another variation of this is bnei eilim, which means the sons of the mighty (Psalm 29:1, 89:6, 82:6). Another form of it is in Aramaic, bar Elohim, which means a son of the gods. Therefore, everywhere it is used, it is a reference to angels. They are sons in the sense that God directly created them (Psalm 148:2 and 5, Psalm 104:4; Colossians 1:16). The term includes both fallen angels and faithful angels. In the New Testament the term the sons of God is applied to others besides angels, but the common element of being directly created by God is still there. For example, Adam, in Luke 3:38 is called the son of God because he was created directly by God. Believers are called the sons of God in John 1:12 and Romans 8:14 (KJV) because they are a new creation (Second Corinthians 5:17), created by God. Therefore, there seems no reasonable doubt that, in so far as the language itself is concerned, the intent of the writer was to convey the thought of angels – fallen angels, or demons because they were acting in opposition to God’s will. This also was the meaning placed on the passage by Josephus, by the writer of the ancient apocryphal book of Enoch, and by all the other ancient Jewish interpreters and earliest Christian writers.98
In this verse there is also the phrase the daughters of men. This is a generic term for women or womankind. The sons of God, demons, saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Demons are spirits. How can demons marry human women? It is only possible if they possess human bodies. The fact that the men of that time were open to demons shows how evil they were. And the fact that those demons entered and controlled those men can be clearly seen from the children they produced. Though these children were human, they were demon-influenced.
Satan had not forgotten God’s prophecy that the promised Seed of the woman would one day destroy him. He had implanted his own spiritual seed in Cain and his descendants, but God had preserved the line of the Seed through Seth. When Noah was born and Lamech was led to prophesy that comfort concerning the curse would come through him in 5:29, Satan devised a plan to completely corrupt mankind, making it impossible for them to be saved. His demonic angels were not able to give birth to other angels as such, but they were able to produce something abnormal, neither fully human or fully angel. Because fallen angels have no possibility of being saved, neither did their offspring. As the population eventually grew, the entire human race would be contaminated by these demon-controlled offspring and Satan would have used the marvelous power of procreation, which God had given the human family, to corrupt the world.99
Then the Lord, Jehovah, the God of mercy, said: My Spirit will not contend with man forever. Here again we have the implication of a plurality in the Godhead. The pronoun My, refers to God, and the word Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit, who has already been introduced as early as 1:2. The word contend appears only here in the entire Bible and means restraining sin. The verse could be translated: My Spirit will not restrain man’s sin forever; there would be a limit. The restraining of sin was accomplished through the preaching of Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech and Noah. In contrast to the Holy Spirit, man is mortal and subject to death (6:13). Then the Lord added: His days will be a hundred and twenty years. Those were the years remaining before the Flood as Noah built the ark (First Peter 3:20). The only reason for this delay was the grace of God. Lastly, we see the result of the intermarriage between demonic fallen angels and human women.
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days. The Hebrew word for Nephilim means the fallen ones. Some translations read giants, but this is a bad translation based on the Septuagint, not the Hebrew Scriptures. Some use Numbers 13:33 to support the idea that the Nephilim were giants. But the ten spies who came back gave a false report. There were no giants or fallen ones because Joshua never encounters any of them as he conquered the land. These fallen ones were the result of the union, as is explained in the remainder of the verse. The rabbis teach that they were so named because they fell, and caused the whole world to fall. When the writer says they were on the earth in those days, he means in the days of Enoch and the children of Cain. The depravity of mankind had accelerated to such an alarming degree that the Lord made His decision right then and there that something drastic had to be done. And Enoch named his son when he dies, it shall be sent. As long as Methuselah was alive, 969 years, the earth would be spared from judgment. Therefore, the Nephilim existed in those days of Enoch when Methuselah was born and also afterward in the days when they failed to repent.
When the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them they became the Nephilim. They were powerful and also demon-influenced. Then the writer tells us that they were heroes of old, men of renown. These were men whose exploits of evil and violence had made them heroes in their time. This is true of our society today. Many times the more wicked and violent a person becomes, the more famous he becomes. The rabbis interpreted this to mean that they were men of renown who brought desolation upon the world because of the similarity in Hebrew between the word renown and the word desolation. When God was ready to judge the world, as He was about to do with the Flood, no one outside the ark would survive. There would be no glory in that, only death. In the eyes of the world the Nephilim were heroes, but in God’s eyes they were merely satanic counterfeits.