In Genesis 6:1-4, the sons of God see that the daughters of men are beautiful. The sons of God then take wives from the daughters of men. V 4 states that, when this happened, there were Nephilim—-often translated as “giants.” These Nephilim were mighty and renowned.
Who were the sons of God in Genesis 6:1-4? Who were the daughters of
men? Some say that the sons of God were angels or deities, and that
the daughters of men were human females. Another view is that the sons
of God were descendants of Seth, a righteous son of Adam, whereas the
daughters of men were descendants of Cain, Adam’s wicked son.
The fifth-ninth century C.E. Christian document, “The Conflict of
Adam of Eve with Satan,” appears to go with the latter view: that
Genesis 6:1-4 is about the Sethites intermarrying with the Cainites.
In “Conflict,” the Sethites are on a mountain, whereas the Cainites
are on the low ground. The Sethites are not supposed to go down from
the mountain to be with the Cainites, lest the Cainites corrupt the
Sethites. Satan tries to get the Sethites to descend. He and his
angels appear as Adam and other past figures and lead the Sethites to
the low ground. There, the Sethites are tempted by the sights. Satan
instigates the Cainites to invent enticing music that inflames lust:
that reminds me of Rock and Roll, or what some fundamentalist pastors
have said about it!
“The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan” calls the Sethites children
of God (II.11. 4; 20.27). This is on account of their purity and their
worship of God. They are also called angels (II.20.15). This is
because, in worshiping God, they are replacements for the angels who
fell with Satan.
In II.20, the Sethites see that the daughters of Cain are beautiful
and descend the mountain, even though righteous Enoch warns them that,
in doing so, they will cease being children of God and will become
children of the devil.
“The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan” does not say that the
intermarriage results in giants. Still, it is most likely interpreting
Genesis 6:1-4, for it talks about children of God seeing beautiful women
and intermarrying with them. By saying that the Sethites were angels,
could “Conflict” be responding, in some manner, to the view that the
sons of God of Genesis 6:1-4 were angels? Its point, in that scenario,
would be that the sons of God were angels, but not in the sense that the
angelic interpretation assumed. The Sethites, because they worshiped
God, were functionally angels, even though they were human.
I am hesitant to refer to wikipedia, but its article on the Nephilim
contains leads on who interpreted the sons of God as Sethites within
Judaism and Christianity. Such an interpretation probably resonated
with the writer of “Conflict” because he was ascetic. Adam and Eve fast
for long periods of time, and sex is practically treated as a necessary
evil in “Conflict.” The writer of “Conflict” may have wanted his
Christian community to stay away from a world that he considered
corrupt, a world symbolized by the Cainites on the low ground.
God in “Conflict” is often merciful and patient with Adam, Eve, and
Cain, staying with them even though they make mistakes. The Sethites
are not to exercise that same patience towards the Cainites, however,
probably because the Cainites are believed to be too far gone. The
Cainites would corrupt the Sethites, rather than the Sethites having a
positive influence on the Cainites!
Deeper Waters Podcast 5/27/2017: Brian Godawa
56 minutes ago