Genesis 6.1-3 has been a passage that has fascinated me for some time. It provokes the reader to a variety of questions:
- Who are the sons of god (בני־האלהים)?
- Why are they juxtaposed with the daughters of men/humans (בנות האדם)?
- When the sons of god see the daughters of men what does it mean that the sons saw the daughters as “good?” Some translations render טבת as “beautiful,” but should we ask whether or not implies functionality rather than aesthetic attractiveness, ala Genesis 1?
- If these women were functionally appealing, this would make sense of their being taken as wives (to bear children), but what is going on here? Did these sons take these daughters and live with them, have families, and so forth according to the narrative?
- When YHWH says that his spirit will no longer reside or dwell “with/in men/humans” what does this mean? Should לא־ידון רוחי באדם be read as a Shekinah-like presence? Should it be read as a sustaining life force like the breath of the Creator into Adam in Genesis 2?
- What does it mean that the “days” of humanity will be one hundred and twenty years? Does this have to do with life span? Or does it mean that the flood that follows in the narrative structure is about a century away?
Let’s discuss these oddities!