The Passage opens with a reference to the sons of God and the daughters of Men.
Who are the Sons of God? There is no problem with what daughters of men means traditionally.
Are they Sethites from chapter 5?
Evidence against this view:
a. Unlike the Cainites the Sethites are Godly, calling on the name of God.
b. They are the image of God, however this would indicate both sexes, not a division between the Sons and Daughters.
Are they Fallen Angels (demons etc) (Sons of God: Ps 89:7; Job 1:6)
a. Why is it fallen angels if it is the humans who are punished? The human women are taken seemingly against their wills. They didnt do anything. It is therefore unlikely to be fallen angels, as humanity could not be punished for the acts of non-human beings.
Are they Despotic Rulers?
This stems from the lecacy of Cain, who formed a city, and who's line went to Lamech, who took two wives, and killed someone for bruising him.
a. Kings/ rulers setting up harems, 'taking women' is like indiscriminate rape.
1. Problem is this language is only used of rulers in a court/class structure. Westermann argues that this only becomes clear in Gen 11, so this is the only term that fits them, as they act and think of themselves as divine.
b. Gilgamesh, a Sumerian King who was probably a real ruler, who has been mythologized over time. (read the sumarian legend 'the epic of gilgamesh' which was at time of writing available at www.theologywebsite.com)
1. He was seen as 2/3 god 1/3 man., the height of arrogance.
2. Unbridled power, unstoppable as a god.
3. Turned up at weddings and took the bride on the marriage bed.
4. Appeared to be divine, to all intents and purposes, and was called a son of god.
c. Continuity with Lamech
1. Progression from Cain, to Lamech, Cain killed his brother, but Lamech killed someone for bruising him. He also had 2 wives (perhaps the beginning of what turned into 'taking wives...').
2. Not a physical descent from Cain so much as a Spiritual one.
3. Nephilim and Gibborim; mighty men and mighty warriors, warriors of 'reknown'. Reknown is making a name for ones self. These men did not take God's name, like the Sethites, but tried to make a name of their own. See Gen 11 where this theme is continued.
4. The taking of wives is an ongoing imperfect tense, that is, it had been, and was going to continue.
5. Breaking the bounds: Lamech was unjust in his retribution, now his physical and spiritual offspring are taking the liberty of unreasonable power and control over people. Only God can rule over those who represent him, or those who are like God - this power/rule is unlike God, it is more of a satanic attack.
6. Making name: It is God who gives name to people (Gen 22:30; 2 Sam 7:23). These warriors of name have made a name for themselves, rejecting Gods name. The people of the tower of babel want to make a name for themselves also (Gen 11:4), and they get one, confusion (Gen 11:9).
God now limits the lifespan to 120
years. It is possibly a reduction in lifespan or the number of years to the
flood. For the lifespan argument, 120 years doesnt have symbolic value
to a grace period, it is also probably Moses lifespan. However, there are those
who live more than 120 years after the flood.
In the Atra Hasis (Sumerian flood story) there are 1200 years between catastrophes that culminate in the flood. Perhaps this is the tie in. However there really is not enough information to be conclusive.
Again, the Nephilim appear in Num 13:33; Deut 2:20-21; 1 Chr 20:4-9. Gibbor is the general term for power, and they are warriors, its a complementary term for Nephilim. The Nephilim are of gigantic structure, possibly referring to large dynasties of these despotic rulers, Gibborim, who establish their names in their offspring. The Sumerian Scroll of Kings complements this.
This is a carefully crafted piece of literature. This structure is chiastic. Chi is the Greek letter X, and the structure is much like one side of the letter, like this >.
Lets look a bit more closely
1.Transitional Intro (6:5-10)
2.Violence in creation (6:11-12)
3.First Divine Speech: resolution to destroy (6:13-22) (all flesh as opposed to man in v 5-8)
4.Second divine speech: command to enter ark (7:1-10)
5.Beginning of flood (7:11-16)
6.The rising flood waters (7:17-24)
God Remembered NOAH (8:1)
receding flood waters (8:1-5)
9.The drying of the earth (8:6-14)
10.Third divine address: command to leave ark (8:15-19)
11.Gods resolve to preserve order (8:20-22)
12.Fourth divine address: Covenant blessing and peace (9:1-17)
13. Transitional Conclusion (9:18-19) (taking up especially 6:9-10 Shem, Ham and Japheth)
The Key to this passage is God remembering Noah. It is the idea of Grace.
In the first part (1-7)
there is a movement towards chaos (Noah and sons survivors)
In the second part (9-13) there is a movement towards recreation (Noah and sons representing a new humanity)
There is therefore a series of episodes each having a definite place in the overall structure. Noah becomes the idea of Grace.
Another structure found within this structure follows the same lines (7:4 - 8:12) is:
1.7 days till the flood (7:4) - 7
Days later it arrives (7:10)
2. 40 Days waters increase (7:24)
3. 150 Waters dominate (8:3)
4. 150 Days waters recede (8:6)
5. 40 Days waters recede (8:10)
6.7 Days waiting (8:12)
Perhaps now we can see how carefully this was contructed. The intention is to make clear one certain thing, God's grace in saving Noah inspite of all the Evil that human beings are guilty of. God establishes his covenant with Noah (v13); the structure of the story is carefully constructed to reveal just how God lives up to His covenant with Noah.
In the Ancient Near East, there are many flood stories, such as the Atra Hasis. The reason for the flood is put down to there is too many humans or the gods felt like it, or just plain because of the noise (of the humans). Genesis 6 offers something new to those people, moral failure. Some scholars claim, rightly, that Genesis is written in order to preserve the 'culture' of the Jews. That is, it is written in order that the truth of creation, the fall, and the moral decline of humanity would be recorded. It is then passed on from generation to generation, and also used, perhaps, as a tool of 'evangelism'.
The two Keys are Judgment and Grace. This is a distinct setting also, in which it involves all of creation, not just Israel, or any specific persons. The whole range of persons, and obviously Gods laws apply to everyone at this point. We have talked about the previous passage which this flood is linked to, and how it flows from the first sin, to Cain, and to Lamech, and now to everyone. Now mutual strife (gen 3:15-17) has lead to murder, unjust retribution, and despotic megalomania. Its all to do with how people treat each other.
a. All the earth is hamas (Gen 6:11) or filled with violence, a technical term meaning the strong oppressing the weak. The corruption of the whole earth is complete and it works its way out through people in relationship.
b. God has laid down a social order, as representatives of himself, love should be the key, harmony between humanity and creation, but this is now defunct. All flesh is corrupt (v7 includes animals also)
The punishment fits the Crime (v13 And God said to Noah, I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth.) Destroy is really corrupt - God is going to corrupt the corrupted by uncreating it - everything is obliterated in the opposite order to that which was in Genesis 1.
V 5-8: 5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created-people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them. 8 But Noah found favour in the sight of the Lord.
c. Heart is the whole person; every inclination of the whole person is continually on evil. Inclination is 'yesher' (Heb), the rabbi's call this 'the evil impulse'. It is the desires and drives, that is, all that makes a person a person. It also has the implication of 'double mindedness'.
d. The Lord was sorry; it has the sense of purposelessness. Gods work has not produced what it was intended, its painful labour, because it doesnt bear fruit. In Gen 3, we are told that the woman would bring forth children into 'purposelessness' (pains and pangs), and that the mans work is toil (same word as pains and pangs... implying purposelessness). Some have said that Ecclesiastes is a commentary on Gen 1-4, with its cry 'all is vanity (purposelessness). Here we find that same idea.
e. Noah means rest. He finds favour in the eyes of the Lord; he is different. Important to note that Noah is not Jewish. He is the one from whom all humanity is descended, and He is righteous (saddiq the opposite of guilty - a legal/law term) and blameless (tam - with no blemish, like a sacrifice). Generation dor may be more likely to mean a group of people. Noahs walking with God reflects his uprightness and perhaps aligns him with Enoch.
After the flood, Noah offers a sacrifice; it is an offering from the heart, of total submission and dedication, to which God responds with a covenant. He will curse the earth no more. Thats not a removal of the original curse, but that He will not add to the current curse.
Just as human beings are unchangeably sinful, God is unchangeably gracious. We have the idea that even though there must be justice from God, there also must be mercy, because that is His nature. The seasonal changes are unchanging and assured because God declares them to be so. God blesses the earth. However there are changes:
Gen 9:2; fear and dread - military sense, a war between the creatures and the one who is supposed to have dominion over them.
9:4; No eating of blood, or rather life. Probably an indication of the respect for life, and the taking of life that human beings are supposed to have, but do not.
9:5; Even the animals will have to account for any human blood split. God is sovereign over all things and the respect one has for life of animals carries over to the life of humans. Even the animals are expected to have the proper respect for life; this prevents their suffering and ours also.
9:6; Human beings still have the image, tselem, and are supposed to represent God (even though we do not), because of that we are infinitely valuable. God himself requires the justice, as with Abel, the blood cried out from the ground (a cry of injustice). This is possibly a statement of the human condition, we are going to kill each other, the story up to now has revealed this, however we must be reminded of how things are supposed to be, and how God views it. Jesus said he who lives by the sword, dies by the Sword - not because another human will take their lives, but because God demands justice. God may use other humans to carry out this justice also, however they too must be careful to have the proper respect for life.
God restates the blessing once again, which completes the passage, and also reminds us that if we remain within the rules He sets for us, we will be blessed and not punished. Its not legalism, but the way things are supposed to be.
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