What Was the Sin of Genesis 6?

06 Nov

In Genesis 6:1 we find that the men began to multiply on the face of the earth and that “daughters” were born unto them. One might ask why this is significant. How could men multiply at all without “daughters” of other men being born, so men could marry them and produce families? This is the manner in which men multiply. So, why would Genesis 6:1 make this point?

The second verse is equally ambivalent. It says the sons of God saw the “daughters” of men and took of them all they wanted for their wives. And this seems to have angered God to the point of deciding to destroy all mankind from the face of the earth (Genesis 6:3, 5-7). What could be wrong with what is said in Genesis 6:1-2 that brought the judgment of God upon that civilization? Was it polygamy? Although it could be argued that this isn’t the ideal for a good family, I don’t believe God was so angry with men over it that he destroyed the earth to stop its occurrence. After all, it did continue after the flood, and even Jacob had four wives and God blessed him? Didn’t God bless all of his children, making them one nation? How could polygamy be the sin that brought universal judgment upon mankind? What is going on in Genesis 6:1-2 that we aren’t seeing?

Does Genesis 6:4 shed any light upon what made God angry with mankind? Here we find that giants roamed the earth in these days and that the sons of God bore mighty men to the “daughters” of men, and these offspring were famous—men of renown. Is there anything specifically sinful in what we read here? As it is, I don’t see anything sinful in itself. Men were commanded to multiply and this verse seems to be in compliance with that command. I understand that there is some thought that the giants were really fallen angels, but the word of God is specific on two points that would deny such a proposition. First, Jesus implies that angels cannot procreate (Matthew 22:30; Mark 12:25). Secondly, man was created a little lower than angels (Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7), meaning we are a different species, and Genesis 1 is very specific that kind produces after kind (Genesis 1:11-12, 20, 24-25). Therefore, the giants are human, and if they are the sons of God referred to in Genesis 6:4, then nothing seems to be awry as the verse is translated. God commanded men to multiply and that seems to be what is going on, So, why is God angry?

The problem, as I see it, is that the translators of Genesis 6:1-7 assumed an idea was true and translated the Scripture according to that idea. Perhaps they assumed polygamy was what angered God or that the giants were evil angels and so translated the account to reflect what they thought. The point is the Hebrew can be and is translated differently elsewhere in the Bible. For example, the Hebrew word for “daughters” in Genesis 6:1-2 is translated into “towns” and “villages” in Joshua 15:45, 47; 17:11, 16; and Nehemiah 11:25, 27-28, 30-31 and elsewhere in the Bible.[1]

To be sure, “daughter” means “daughter” more than it means “town” or “village”, but the point is the Hebrew can legitimately be translated to indicate towns or villages. Moreover, this seems to make more sense in Genesis 6:1-2. “As men began to multiply upon the face of the earth and “towns” or “villages” rose up (were born) unto them…” It seems to clarify the problem with “daughters” being born only after men began to multiply.

Genesis 6:2 becomes clearer, as well, once we understand that “towns” or “villages” are meant rather than women. The context seems to be warfare was breaking out while men began to “take” villages—all they wanted and made them their own “wives”. We get a picture of this in Lamentations where Jerusalem is become a widow, bereft of her children (princes), because they, with their father (the king) were killed (or made eunuchs) in Babylon (Lamentations 1:1-2, 5-6).

Genesis 6:4 also becomes clear, once the Hebrew for “daughters” is understood as “towns” or “villages”. If the giants are the sons of the gods, i.e. the sons of the patriarchs (see Psalm 82 for the term god being used for men or leaders), then the “mighty men” or “men of renown” were the offspring of the giants, i.e. the sons of the patriarchs. These men chose women in the villages they conquered to be their wives, and in doing so the same would have been the rulers of the various villages/towns—the Hebrew word for “mighty men” is tyrant. It was a clannish type rulership that warred against other clans, similar to the famed Hatfield’s and McCoy’s of America.

Arising from this warfare came all kinds of evil, according to Genesis 6:5, and this grieved God in his heart (verse-6) and he decided to destroy mankind, whom he created (verse-7). Moreover, this idea reflects the evidence of archeological finds as expressed in my previous blog post that violence was so great that peace was a rarity and children were ignored by their parents who engaged themselves wholly in warfare.[2]


[1] In the Septuagint the translators use the Greek word for daughters in the New Testament: thugater (G2364) at Joshua 17:11 and Nehemiah 11:25, 27-28, 30-31 and at Judges 1:27 to translate the Hebrew word for daughters (bath – H1323), which the English translators make daughter-towns at those particular Scriptures.

[2] See David Leeming and Jake Page; The Mythology of Native North America, (Pomo Indian);  University of Oklahoma Press:1998; page 113; and J.F. Bieflein: Parallel Myths, (Egypt) Ballantine, 1994; page 134-5.

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Posted by on November 6, 2013 in Genesis Flood, Noahic Flood


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