Biblical Israel - The Giants Born of Sin (Gen 6:1-4)
Updated: Mar 9
One of the most fascinating and controversial stories in Genesis – the Story of the Giants – belongs in style and approach to the Yahwist. This documents the reason for the upcoming Flood Story. If humans killing one another was not bad enough, the world became worse when God's divine beings violated the very limits set for humanity at Creation. These divine beings were considered lesser gods in early thought and became angels in later theology.
Originally the story explained why there had been giants in the old days - a widespread ancient belief as we can see from other references to giants in Deuteronomy 2:20 and 3:11. This is revisited later in the story of David and Goliath. The Yahwist viewed the existence of giants as a sign of the extreme abnormality caused by sin in the world. This fully merited the destruction and purification that the flood would bring.
A second interpretation of this section of the Book of Genesis is provided by Alfred Edersheim, from his work called Bible History of the Old Testament. He reveals a more logical approach to this story and demonstrates the conflict between the two groups of men inhabiting the earth at the time, those evil descendants of Cain, and the holy descendants of Seth.
“The corruption of mankind reached its highest point when even the difference
between the Sethites and the Cainites became obliterated by the intermarriages
between the two parties, and that from sensual motives.
We read that the 'sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they
took them wives of all which they chose... properly speaking, these Nephilim
(their offspring) were men of violence,' or tyrants... they began a period of intense
violence upon the earth and faith and worship in God disappeared.
With the corruption of both the Sethites and the Cainites, no further hope remained,
and these people were condemned to be swept away in judgment.” - Afred Edersheim
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