Noah, Nephilim, and Fallen Angels

Early version of Aronofsky's Watchers/Rock Giants from the Noah movie.

Early version of Aronofsky’s Watchers/Rock Giants from the Noah movie.

A great deal of confusion exists concerning the subject of fallen angels and the Nephilim. With the release of the new Noah movie on DVD and Blu-Ray coming up, that confusion will likely increase. I’ve already seen and heard many Christians misrepresent the subject in their reviews of the picture. Aside from the film’s blasphemous portrayal of God and Noah as cruel and wicked, director Darren Aranofsky turned fallen angels into the heroes of the film who end up getting saved. [Note: For the sake of simplicity, in this post I will often refer to various classes of heavenly beings as angels, although this generalization may not be technically accurate in every case.]

Watchers

According to ancient Jewish works like the Book of Enoch, the Watchers were certain angels who decided to rebel against God by leaving heaven and marrying women. These ideas are expansions of the first four verses of Genesis 6, which speak of heavenly beings who rebelled against God in the same manner, although in this passage, they are called bene ha ’elohim (sons of God). The term “Watcher” is used in Scripture for heavenly beings in Daniel 4:13, 17. So it’s possible that the Watchers were also bene ha ’elohim, although that connection is not specifically made in the Bible. There are many different classes of angelic beings in Scripture (both good and bad), and the bene ha ’elohim are probably at or very near the top rung since they are a part of the divine council. (For articles on why the “sons of God” were not humans, see my critiques of the Sethite and Royalty views.)

The Divine Council

The divine council is the term used to describe an assembly that God held with certain heavenly beings. Glimpses of these meetings can be seen in Job 1:6 and Job 2:1 where Satan twice comes before God along with the sons of God (bene ha ’elohim). The council is also pictured 1 Kings 22:19–23 and 2 Chronicles 18:18–22 when the prophet Micaiah explains to King Ahab a vision of a discussion in God’s throne room. The Lord asked these heavenly beings who would persuade Ahab to go up to Ramoth Gilead so that he could fall in battle. After some discussion, a spirit said that he would go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of the false prophets. The “divine council” title is drawn from Psalm 82. Verse 1 in the ESV states, “God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment.” There is so much more to this subject, but I need to save it for another time. Let’s return to the angels and the Nephilim.

Were Fallen Angels Good or Bad?

The film portrayed the angels who left heaven as being good guys who left because they felt bad for mankind after the Creator harshly judged them for eating the fruit. The Bible does not describe the angels mentioned in Genesis 6 in that light. Instead, the Bible explains that these spirits sinned (2 Peter 2:4), were disobedient (1 Peter 3:20), that they “left their proper abode” (Jude 1:6), and are being held in “chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). Genesis 6:2 describes some of their activity. These “sons of God” (bene ha ’elohim) saw women and decided to marry them. They were not well-intentioned beings who wanted to help mankind. Instead, these once-holy creatures decided to leave heaven and rebel against their Creator and corrupt His creation, primarily mankind.

My Th.M. thesis on the sons of God and the Nephilim is available in print or for Kindle.

My Th.M. thesis, The Sons of God and the Nephilim is available in print or for Kindle.

Confusion about Nephilim

There is also a great deal of confusion about the “Nephilim” or “giants” depending on translation (Genesis 6:4). Many people think that the “sons of God” are the same beings as the Nephilim, but this is not what the Bible teaches. The Nephilim are the offspring of the “sons of God” and women. Look at this verse in two different translations:

There were giants (Heb. Nephilim) 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. (Genesis 6:4, NKJV)

In those days, and for some time after, giant Nephilites lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes and famous warriors of ancient times. (Genesis 6:4, NLT)

The NLT does a better job at explaining some of the nuances in the text. It rightly translates the Hebrew word ‘asher as “whenever” instead of “when.” This may seem like a minor distinction, but the word implies actions that were repeated in the past and continued to occur at occasional or fixed interval (See Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, Section 107.e.b). “When” can convey this meaning but often gives the impression that something happened one time. That is not what Genesis 6:4 states. It tells us that the Nephilim (giants) were on the earth “whenever” the sons of God (bene ha ’elohim) mated with human women. It also answers the question as to how the Nephilim were on the earth both before (Genesis 6:4) and after the Flood (Numbers 13:33).

The film shows the rebellious angels become rock giants when they hit the earth. So in the film, the fallen angels are giants. On the contrary, while the Bible says nothing about rock giants, it does explain that the fallen heavenly beings fathered the giants.

What Does “Nephilim” Mean?

I think one of the major reasons for the confusion on this subject is that so many people have promoted the view that the word Nephilim comes from the Hebrew verb naphal (“to fall”). Hence, they argue that the term means “fallen ones.” But this common argument is false. If one wanted to use naphal as a participle (i.e. “fallen ones”), the word would become nephulim or nophelim—NOT Nephilim. The word Nephilim actually comes from the Aramaic noun Naphil. When this word is made plural, it becomes Nephilin, and when brought into Hebrew, it becomes Nephilim.

What does the Aramaic word Naphil mean? It is the word for “giant.” So Nephilim really does mean “giants,” which is exactly how the KJV and NKJV have translated it. It’s also exactly how the Nephilim are described in the only other passage that mentions their name. When the spies searched out the land we are told in Numbers 13:22 that they saw the descendants of Anak in Hebron (Ahiman, Sheshai, Talmai). When they reported back and tried to persuade the people not to enter the land, the spies said that the people there were of great stature and that they saw the Nephilim there. A parenthetical note in v. 33 explains that the Anakim are from the Nephilim. These giants may have also engaged in eating humans. No wonder the spies were so scared—though they should have trusted that God could do to the land’s inhabitants what He did to the Egyptians.

Inevitably someone will claim that Nephilim means “fallen ones.” After all, a ton of web articles and many popular level books teach this. Yes, they do, but they are wrong. I used to believe it meant this (and wanted it to), but in doing the research on my thesis, I found only one commentary out of more than 20 that proposed this definition, but even that one mentioned the problems with such a claim. Every lexicon I checked defines Nephilim as “giants” (HALOT, BDB, Davidson, NIDOTTE, Jastrow). So before commenting on this article and leaving that response, please be sure you can back it up with support from a lexicon or academic commentary.

Conclusion

So to summarize these points:

1) The “sons of God”  (bene ha ’elohim) are heavenly beings and were very likely members of the divine council.

2) The “sons of God”  (bene ha ’elohim) are not the same as the Nephilim.

3) The Nephilim are the offspring of the “sons of God” and women.

4) The word Nephilim means “giants.”

Perhaps the more important point to close out this article is that Aranofsky’s movie is a blasphemous film. Noah and God are portrayed as evil and vengeful. Noah is willing to kill people to protect a dog-like creature that is already dying. He wants to murder his own grandchildren. Meanwhile, the fallen angels are the good guys who help Noah build the Ark and then end up going to heaven in the end when they die while fighting against people who want to get on the Ark. Aranofsky didn’t just miss by a little bit with this film, he intentionally contradicted Scripture at nearly every point. For a full review of this film, see my critique (https://answersingenesis.org/noahs-ark/noah-movie-detailed-review/).

About Tim Chaffey

I am the founder of Midwest Apologetics and work as the Content Manager with the Attractions Division of Answers in Genesis. I have written (or co-authored) several books, including In Defense of Easter, God and Cancer, The Sons of God and the Nephilim, and The Truth Chronicles Series (see the publications page for more details). Please note: the opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of Answers in Genesis.

Comments

Noah, Nephilim, and Fallen Angels — 28 Comments

  1. Tim, Who would be some key advocates for this view and what are some good books to consider in reading more about this? Also, I know of the two alternative views, same ? goes for those advocates and books. TY

    • Hi Nathan,

      I just published my book on the topic last month. Here’s a link to more details about it (http://midwestapologetics.org/blog/?p=1863).
      The book covers each of the three major positions in detail. You can find plenty of documentation directing you to sources for each position. I’m not aware of any books devoted to defending the Sethite view or the Royalty view. There are plenty of books on the Fallen Angel view. Unfortunately, most of them are filled with sensational claims and often peddle conspiracy theories rather than just sticking with a careful study of what Scripture teaches. Mine is one of a small handful I’m aware of that provide a careful biblical study of the topic, and it is the most detailed one that I’ve seen — it’s nearly 500 pages. Hope this helps.
      P.S. You can also find some more details in other blog posts that I’ve done. Just search for “Nephilim” in the search box on my page or click on that word in the “Tags” section on the right sidebar.

  2. You say the Semites may not come from Shem, what is the other explanation. Darwinists think Canaan is Greek for purple, is Semite like that. Pete

    • No, I didn’t say that Semites may not come from Shem. I believe they do. I said that many scholars deny that ancestry, but that’s because these scholars view Genesis 1–11 as myth. I don’t. I said that we need to be careful about trying to identify which group went where in Genesis 10 because it doesn’t give us all the details. Plus, in the past 4000 years, there has been an incredible amount of mixing of the various people groups that scattered from Babel.
      I think the Phoenicians were called “purple” by the Greeks, but I’m not sure what that has to do with anything.

  3. Why are we not taught this ?
    The Semites come from Noahs son Shem.
    The Europeans come from Noahs son Japheth, Japheths son was Gomer who is said to be the first king of the Celts.
    Shems son was Elam who is said to be the Father of the Persians.
    Noahs son Ham had Cush and today many Africans call them selves Cushites.
    Millions upon millions of people today claim direct ancestry to Noah, but modern day science says Noah is a load of rubbish. What is going on ?

    • Peter,
      You have to be careful when stating which people group went where. Genesis 10 (the Table of Nations) gives us some details, but beyond what is recorded there, many of the details are speculation, so we should be tentative in our conclusions.
      I think most scholars recognize that Semite refers to someone who is thought to have descended from Shem. Many scholars may deny such an ancestry, but they don’t mind using that identification. This is particularly true in language studies, where so many of the Middle Eastern languages are called Semitic languages.
      Many modern scholars will automatically discount what the Bible teaches. They have been trained in institutions that have been steeped in anti-biblical philosophies. In the 1800s there was a concerted effort to undermine the Bible’s credibility in many disciplines, from biology to archaeology. Yet, time and time again, we see that new discoveries are perfectly consistent with the biblical accounts and yet these scholars refuse to acknowledge the facts because they have been taught to see them through a different lens.

    • Hi Peter,
      The Bible doesn’t speak about jinn at all. The jinn are an Islamic idea, but if you are using that term to refer to spiritual beings (i.e. angels), then yes, they would predate man by a few days. The Bible doesn’t say what day angels were made on, but since they were there to see the foundations of the Earth being established (Job 38:7) then they were probably made on the first day.
      Cain moved with his wife to the land of Nod and he built the city of Enoch, but the Bible doesn’t tell us anything about jinn being there.
      We don’t have any idea what Seth was like, so there is no way to know if he were a hermit living on Mount Hermon. The Mount Hermon mentioned in the Bible didn’t exist during Seth’s time since it was a result of the Flood. Of course, there may have been a Mount Hermon prior to the Flood. The Book of Enoch (different Enoch than Cain’s son) talks about Mount Hermon being the place where the Watchers came to Earth, but Enoch was written in the intertestamental period (2000+ years after the Flood) and is not part of the Canon. Other than the small section quoted by Jude, there’s no way to know how (in)accurate it might be.

      • Hi Tim, I would like to follow up on your statement where you wrote to Peter about this: “The Bible doesn’t say what day angels were made on, but since they were there to see the foundations of the Earth being established (Job 38:7)”
        Can you tell me on what day was the earth created? I know I am linking the word created to established, however to my knowledge Genesis does not say the earth was created on any day. The earth already existed and was void, possibly filled with ice or flat surface. Kinda like an association one could make to the end of days written in Revelation where it says the earth will be pounded by stars, and earth quakes, which would in theory leave the earth flatten and barren, “void like”. ?

        • Hi John,
          The earth was created on the first day: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). According to verse 2, the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the waters, so it seems like earth was basically just water at the time or at least just covered with water. The dry ground did not appear (or was not created) until the third day.
          Angels were created before God laid the foundations of the earth. Does that refer to the creation of the planet or the creation/appearance of the dry ground (the word for earth can refer to the whole world or the land). If it refers to the creation of the planet, then it seems that angels were probably created right at the beginning when God made the “heavens” (Exodus 20:11 states that God made the heavens, earth, sea, and all that is in them in six days). If it refers to the creation/appearance of the ground on day three, then the angels could have been made on either of the first two days. I favor the first view…that they were made right at the very beginning.
          When Genesis 1 speaks of the earth being without form and void, it is simply referring to the fact that God wasn’t finished with creation yet. He made some of the raw material, if you will, but he hadn’t fashioned it into what it would be.
          Hope this helps.

  4. Just finished your book, “The Sons of God and the Nephilim.” Comparing the research to the book, “Nephilim Skeletons Found, by Fred Harding, I found both to be supportive. Now a few questions:

    1) Is it possible that the fallen angels created, via genetic engineering, corporeal bodies by which they inhabited them so as to experience all the physical senses? Otherwise, they would have had to shape-shift, so to speak, complete with sperm to impregnate the human women.

    2) Might the genetic engineering explain the UFO abduction phenomenon throughout human history?

    3) Might not the adversary use a similar clone-body strategy in the end days to make him look like a messiah?

    By the way, excellent read!!

    • Hi Frank,
      Thanks for the kind words about my book. Your questions take us into a realm in which we can only speculate. As you probably recognized, my book was my ThM thesis, so it avoided this type of speculation. It’s not that I haven’t given it any thought, it’s just that those types of things cannot be included in an academic work.
      Regarding your questions, I don’t think we need to appeal to the genetic engineering of physical bodies by the angels that left their proper abode (Jude 6). We know that some angels can appear physically (Genesis 18–19), and I see no reason to think that the sons of God could not have done this. I wouldn’t rule it out, but I don’t think we need to go there to explain what was being described in Genesis 6. I think those angels that sinned in Noah’s day were far more powerful than most people want to think, and I believe they were capable of manifesting as humans and performing regular human functions (eating, drinking, and yes, even procreation).
      The UFO abduction phenomena is actually more of a recent development. It really picked up in the late 1940s, at about the same time as Israel became a nation again, and in the very early days of the space race. As humanity became more focused on outer space, the UFOs and alien abduction phenomena picked up. Without going into too much detail, I believe these things (not the hoaxes) are demonic. In the medieval period, people claimed to be assaulted by demons known as the incubus and succubus. Prior to that they were known as sylvans and fauns. It could be that these activities are simply a way to distract people from the truth of Scripture (getting them to believe in ghosts, aliens, etc. rather than trusting in God), or it could be an attempt by less powerful demons to duplicate what was taking place in Genesis 6. Again, we simply don’t know what sorts of technology and abilities are available to angelic beings. I think far too often we place limits on them that Scripture never sets.
      All that to say, we’re just speculating here about how they could have done what they did and how that might be used in the future. What we do know is that the angels who sinned in Noah’s day are being held in chains of darkness until the day of judgment, so they aren’t doing this anymore (1 Peter 3:18–20; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).

  5. i have studied this a good bit Arnold Fruchtenbaum has good information on this also. one area i have come to believe, is that from this event in Genesis 6 the offspring of the relationships between fallen angels and women created the half angel half man(The Nephilim) the relationship produced no half angel half woman. why i believe this was to try and stop God from bringing in the promised Messiah through a virgin birth if left to run its course eventually there would be no women left on earth.

    Also another point i have come to believe in, is that the demons that were possessing people in the New Testament at the time Jesus and even after during the apostles time. were the Nephilim and not fallen angels so demons are the spiritual body of the Nephilim who drowned in the flood. and that the anti-christ will be the off spring between satan and a women resulting in the birth again of a Nephilim the anit-christ who will have satan as his father.

    • The idea that demons were the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim was certainly popular in ancient Judaism and early Christianity. Many of the church fathers promoted the view. I’m open to it, but I don’t know that anyone could build a watertight case for it. My friend Doug Van Dorn built a pretty compelling case for the idea in his book, Giants: Sons of the Gods, which I would recommend for anyone interested in the topic.
      I think there is another possibility. The Bible calls the Nephilim “mighty men who were of old, men of renown” (Genesis 6:4). And even though the Bible is clear that they were the product of heavenly beings and women, it doesn’t really treat them as some sort of half-man/half-angel hybrid. It just calls them men—giant men, but still men. So it could also be that they were still fully human (though giant), in a somewhat similar manner to how Jesus was fully man (in addition to being fully God) yet He did not have an earthly biological father. Perhaps the Nephilim were also considered to be fully man, having only an earthly mother and no earthly father (though conceived in a sinful manner unlike the miraculous and entirely sinless conception of Jesus).
      As for the end times and anti-Christ, I’m not sure we can be certain that he will fall into this category, although I guess I wouldn’t be too surprised if that’s how it came to pass.

      • Matthwe 12:43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.

        Mark 5:13 And at once Jesus[c] gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.

        these two verse connect demons and water knowing that water was used by God to destroy the life on earth the seems to be area that demons hate, dislike, fear water. that could link these together. that demon and nephilim are one and the same

        • These are a couple of the verses that Van Dorn used to build an interesting case for that position. He used several more passages too. I agree that there’s a potential link here, but I wouldn’t say that this is a watertight case.

      • Hello refer to Isaiah 28:9,10. first.( The Son’s of God who are Very Wise: heard God tell Noah Life was in the Blood see Genesis 9:4. All Was destroyed on the the earth . But ,the Sea was Full. Now Look At Isaiah KJV 14:8-30 Close note To (29 -30)..The Devil made his Throne Above the Stars.Vs 9.. hell awaits him at his coming vs 10.. Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?…vs 31 Prepare slaughter for HIS children…vs32…the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew…in vs 29 cockatrice: serpent that is hatched by a reptile from a cock’s egg and that has a deadly glance. 30.. And the firstborn of the poor shall feed, GEN 9:4 (DNA) ..Now While the Bible Say’s: vs 28 In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden. :As it Continues today ..Remember Isaiah 28:10. Genesis 3:1 Now the (serpent) was more (subtil ) than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. (We know the Angels that left their place along with The Devil were spirit creatures son’s Of God..But we See In Gen. Serpent .. which brings us to Isaiah 14:29. .. We know Gen 3:1 Is in reference to the Devil when speaking Of Serpent. Since the Angels Are Spirit Creatures and Proof they can take on A Form..Or in dwell in a human according to The Scriptures … But..What I see Is The Devils Own Seed his Own Procreation through time Perfecting His Procreation to image of humans. Isaiah 14. life in the Blood Wisdom by DNA Gen :3:1 Very Subtil…when the bible speaks of the devils Seed it is not ‘talking about Sin…But the heathens the strangers. The Devils Seed his Son’s and Nephews Does any of that make sense ?

        • Hi Pamela,
          Actually, that was very hard to follow. I think your overall point was that the seed of the serpent mentioned in Genesis 3 has to do with actual offspring of fallen angels and women. I’m not really opposed to that idea, but I don’t agree with the roundabout way in which you tried to get there. I don’t believe that Isaiah 14 is about Satan, so I wouldn’t use that in support, particularly in the way you have. Verse 29 seems to be about the death of the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III, and the people of Philistia are warned not to rejoice over that, because his successors will be even harsher toward them.

  6. By the way, I’m not really sure that there really is ANY spiritual realm that overlaps earth, in the way that the magical realm in the Harry Potter books occupy the same space as the world of unmagical Muggles, or the world of the Ringwraiths in the Lord of the Rings books, that Frodo can see when he puts on the ring. If angels and demons are invisible, that is only because they are invisible (like H.G. Wells Invisible Man) not because they are going about their business in a spiritual place that exists alongside of or woven into our physical plane, like layers of worlds in a video game. Heaven is Heaven and earth is earth, and angels on earth are no longer in Heaven just as crew members on the Starship Enterprise are no longer on their orbiting ship when they have beamed down to the planet’s surface. Angels are here in disguise, incognito, having taken on human or some other form, or perhaps they are wearing some sort of cloaking device so we see right through them. But that doesn’t mean they are concurrently living in a spiritual world with its own spiritual landscapes and scenery (that is invisible to all us Muggles)at the same time they are walking around on earth. Think of Cupid’s castle in C.S. Lewis’ Til We Have Faces. Do we imagine there are places like that now here on earth that the angels live in while they interact with people. Maybe, but I doubt it. I believe Heaven is a giant Dyson Sphere, and all our universe exists within a a small transparent globe that God uses as His footstool before His Heavenly Throne. In order to come to earth, select angels must approach God’s throne and get His permission before entering that crystal ball. Once inside, they will take on the earthly form God grants them permission to wear. I know I know I know. Absurd, huh? But that’s what I believe.

    • I haven’t read many of the books you just referenced so I’m not sure I can adequately respond. I will say that no one can accuse you of not having an imagination. 🙂 That wasn’t meant to be condescending or negative in any way. I would agree that angels on earth are not concurrently in heaven. They are not omnipresent, but for some time the ones that fell did have the ability to go back and forth between the two realms. I’m not sure if they needed to formally request permission from God to do this, but they certainly could not have left unnoticed or without Him allowing it.
      Thanks for your thoughts.

      • Hello Tim,

        I have been following your blog for a while and if you don’t mind can I help the Bene ha ‘elohim comment.

        The thing most people forget when confronted on this by sethites or non spiritualists is the pentatauch is Jewish text. So we should see what they have written about this. What we find is that the bene elohim are an order of angels.

        Maimonides, in his “Yad ha-?aza?ah, Yesode ha-Torah,” ii., counts ten ranks of angels, beginning from the highest:

        (1) ?ayyot; (2) ofanim; (3) arelim [ from , Isa. xxxiii. 7]; (4) ?ashmallim [Ezek. i. 4], explained in ?ag. 13b as ?ayyot, who are sometimes silent [?ash], and who sometimes speak [mallel]—they are silent when the word emanates from the Holy One, blessed be He! they speak when he has ceased speaking; (5) seraphim; (6) malakim, “angels”; (7) elohim or godly beings; (8) bene Elohim, “sons of God”; (9) cherubim, “like blooming youth,” ?arabia [?ag. 13b]; (10) ishim, “manlike beings” [Dan. x. 5]. See Rapoport on Maimonides’ “Maämar ha-Yi?ud,” ed. Steinschneider, p. 10; Jellinek, “Beiträge zur Kabbala,” p. 61, note; Bacher, “Bibelexegese Moses Maimuni’s,” p. 69.

        I know it is not scripture saying this. But this was the Jewish view on these things.

        I really think Augustine and even Calvin after paved the way to make all supernatural history myth and remove the biblical explanation for many of the artifacts we find by making the first hardline that these were not angels.

        Simon

        • Simon, thanks for sharing these points. I would agree with you about Augustine and Calvin. In particular, Augustine’s popularization of an allegorical hermeneutic allows one to spiritualize any passage that doesn’t fit within their own system or that they don’t like rather than adjusting one’s system to fit the text, allowing Scripture to be the authority. Interestingly enough, Augustine did not convert to Christianity until after hearing Ambrose explain that one can spiritualize or allegorize the text. Even more interesting is the origin of the allegorical hermeneutic. We know it was popular in Alexandria, but the reason for this is that it has its origins in Greek philosophy. Some of the ancient Greek philosophers centuries before the New Testament began to allegorize the ancient Grecian works like Homer because they were embarrassed by what it said about the gods and goddesses. So the allegorical hermeneutic was developed in Greece, in part to explain away the affairs between the gods and women. Sound familiar?

      • Tim, you never read “Til We have Faces” by C.S. Lewis?? You MUST read it when you get a chance. BEST Lewis novel ever!!

  7. Hi Tim. I tend to disagree with BOTH views of why the beings of Genesis 6:2 were called bene ha ’elohim. This is just my personal opinion, of course, but I doubt creatures are called “sons of God” just because they were created by God or just because they lived in a spiritual realm. You said, ’Elohim is a term that refers to beings whose plane of existence is primarily the spiritual realm (God, angels, demons, “sons of God,” and the spirit of Samuel in 1 Sam. 28). So certain angels are called bene ha ’elohim because they are inhabitants of the spiritual realm.” You just said demons live in the spiritual realm. Doesn’t that then make demons “sons of God” if “son’s of God” is, by definition, inhabitants of the spiritual realm?

    I believe there are many different kinds of heavenly beings. There are not only cherubim and seraphim and at least one archangel, but there are also the beasts with all the eyes of Rev 4:6 (though these may be four distinct kinds of cherubim), and the “lying spirit” of 1 Kings 22:22 as well as giant angels (like the one in Rev 10:5 who had one foot on dry land and one foot in the sea)and destroying angels like the destroyer of Exodus 12:23. The Watchers may have been a different kind of angel and the bene ha ’elohim may have been something altogether different, perhaps being certain members of the divine council. All humans are descended from Adam, but there could be as many different kinds of angels as there are different kinds of animals. Look how many different kinds of animals we have on this tiny little blue marble. Perhaps in the much larger third Heaven there are countless varieties of angels. It may be that most angels in Heaven haven’t been down on earth, and they aren’t kept in the loop about earthly activities and God’s relationship with man. See 1 Peter 1:12. It may turn out that the forms of the angels is the prototype for the forms of most animals God created during creation week. Indeed, I would not be surprised if many animals BEGAN their existence as angels, and then were transformed into their animal counterparts because of some offense. As you know, I believe Satan was once a serpentine-faced seraph (NOT the covering cherub of Ezekiel 28)that God turned into a belly crawling reptile after he tempted Eve. When that reptilian physical exterior died a physical death, Satan’s spirit returned to Heaven and took on the external form of a dragon and became the accuser of the brethren before God’s throne. It may be that the birds in your trees are descendants of real angels that were changed because of some crime they committed. It may even turn out that our pets are former angels that God forced to take on that form, and when we get to Heaven we will finally see what they really are. Makes you want to be nicer to them, doesn’t it? See Hebrews 13:2. These are just my own speculations, of course. Nobody is teaching such ideas as doctrine.

    • Hi Tom, I agree that there are likely a large array of spiritual beings, although I don’t really think they have anything to with our pets or animals.
      Regarding the reason for them being called bene ha ’elohim, I should clarify a bit more. I don’t necessarily think that they are necessarily called bene ha ’elohim because they are from the spiritual realm, but that they can rightly be identified as ’elohim because they are from there. I think they are called bene ha ’elohim because in some way they have (or had in the case of those that fell) a close relationship with God. If this is accurate, then it may shed light on why Jesus is called the “only begotten” Son (John 3:16). He is unique. Abraham had several sons (Ishmael, Isaac, and six more with Keturah), yet Isaac is called his “only begotten” son (Hebrews 11:17). I’m not in any way saying that the bene ha ’elohim are of the same nature or essence as Jesus, but that they also enjoyed a special relationship with the Father.
      Also, if demons are a separate class of heavenly beings (or if the church fathers were right about them being the spirits of dead Nephilim) then they are not technically bene ha ’elohim. However, the Bible does call demons ’elohim in Deuteronomy 32:17, NET. The NKJV makes a strange formatting error in this verse. It italicizes the words “to gods” in the second line indicating that these words are not in the original, but they clearly are in the original. It’s the third line of the verse that is lacking the words in the original.

  8. Not sure if cut and past is accepted here, but I found this informative and also in line with what you write.
    [Admin Note: I’ll keep the first few paragraphs and the link so people can read the rest on the other site.]

    The Genesis 6 account was perhaps the most heinous effort they made related to the God-ordained provision of marriage (v. 1). The demons mounted an attack on marriage and procreation that wickedly influenced subsequent generations.
    “The sons of God” are juxtaposed against “the daughters of men.” The contrast is between supernatural beings and women. “Sons of God” cannot be men, or they would be called “sons of men.” Neither can they be righteous men of a righteous line of people, or Sethites (as some suggest), because that does not contrast with “daughters of men,” as if all women were unrighteous or all righteous “sons of God” were men only.
    The oldest interpretation, the traditional Jewish view of ancient rabbis and modern Jewish commentators, as well as of the church fathers, is that “the sons of God” were demons, or fallen angels. The context of judgment in the Flood precludes holy angels from being in view (see Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary [Waco, Tex.: Word, 1987), 1:139).
    The phrase “sons of God” (Heb., bene haelohim) always refers to angels in its other Old Testament uses (cf. Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Pss. 29:1; 89:6). The term is always used of those brought directly into being by God—not those who are procreated through human birth, such as Sethites, nobles, kings, or aristocracy. Heavenly spirits are being contrasted with earthly women. These, then, are fallen angels who acted perversely, overstepping the boundaries of their realm. They defied God by leaving their spirit world to enter the human realm (as Satan had entered the animal world in Eden). This is the first biblical record of demon-possession, demons indwelling people.
    Those wicked spirits were drawn to females, whom they saw as “beautiful” in some perverse and lascivious way. They are “the daughters” mentioned in 6:1 (not a special class of women), whom the demons took for wives. The Hebrew is Laqach, which describes marriage transactions (Gen. 4:19; 11:29; 12:19; 20:2–3; 25:1), not rape or fornication….
    http://www.gty.org/resources/bible-qna/BQ080612/between-death-and-the-resurrection

    • There is much to agree with in MacArthur’s comments here, particularly his critique of the Sethite view, although there are some errors in his other claims. First, he seems to think that the term “sons of God” is used of angels because they are directly brought into being by God. At one point, I thought this was accurate as well, but there is a better reason they are called bene ha ’elohim. ’Elohim is a term that refers to beings whose plane of existence is primarily the spiritual realm (God, angels, demons, “sons of God,” and the spirit of Samuel in 1 Sam. 28). So certain angels are called bene ha ’elohim because they are inhabitants of the spiritual realm. Jesus indicates this usage in Luke 20:36 where he says that one day believers will be equal to angels and will be “sons of God” when we become “sons of the resurrection.” In other words, when we receive our transformed, spiritual bodies in the resurrection, then we will be “sons of God” and equal to angels. I’ll examine this passage in more detail in an upcoming blog post.
      Second, MacArthur’s claim that the only way spiritual beings could marry and impregnate women was to possess men goes beyond the text and makes the error I cautioned about in my post. That is, angelic beings are not all the same. Just because the demons in the New Testament seemed to require a body to possess does not mean that the bene ha ’elohim needed to possess a human to perform these functions. These beings are of a special class of angels that God appointed to oversee the affairs of the people who split up from Babel (Deut. 32:8, ESV). They failed and their judgment is described in Psalm 82, and they are now being held in chains of darkness. They were not the same as the demons in the NT who were apparently free to roam. Incidentally, the view of the ancient Jews and the early church fathers was that the demons in the NT were the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim who were killed. I don’t necessarily hold this view, but it shows that they also made a distinction between the “sons of God” and the demons. Also, why would a demon-possessed man and a woman produce giant offspring?
      If it can be demonstrated that the bene ha ’elohim could not physically perform these activities, then I would adopt the view MacArthur holds (since the views which state that the “sons of God” were men do not come close to handling Genesis 6:1–4 properly). However, the text simply states that these heavenly beings did these things and makes no mention that they possessed men to accomplish them. So I would prefer not to place limits where the Bible does not place them.
      Thanks for reading.

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