More Things 8......

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If it’s weird it’s important

Last week we saw that many of the common views of Gen 6:1-4 are seriously flawed. We need to remember that the proper context for reading any biblical text is the context in which it was written. The Biblical writers of the New Testament were influenced by works in their own culture. They knew nothing of the Sethite view or of any view that makes the “sons of God” in Gen 6: 1-4 humans. Our goal today is to revisit the passage and dig deeper. When we take it on its own terms, we can determine it’s character and meaning.
Genesis 6:1–4 ESV
When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

The Ancient Near Eastern Context

That the first 11 chapters of Genesis and Mesopotamian literature have many connections is obvious and ot really disputed by anyone credible. The story of creation, the genealogies before the flood, the flood itself, and the tower of Babel incident all have secure connections to the Mesopotamian literature. The issue is not the source, but the age of the extant material.
Gen 6: 1-4 has connections with Mesopotamian literature, and it is not commonly examined. Jewish materials like 1st Enoch that retold the story show a keen awareness of that. This awareness shows us that Jewish thinkers of the Second Temple period understood, correctly, that the story involved divine beings and giant offspring. That understanding is essential to grasping what the Biblical writers were trying to communicate.
Gen 6: 1-4 is a polemic; it is a literary and theological effort to undermine the credibility of the gods of Mesopotamia and the cultural worldview of the region. Biblical writers do this a lot - a lot. The strategy often involves borrowing lines and motifs from the literature of the target civilization to articulate correct theology about YHWH and show contempt for other gods. this text is a case study.
The ANE had several versions of the story of the Flood, complete with an ark that saves humans and animals. They include mention of a group of sages (apkallus) who were possessors of great knowledge in the period before the flood. These apkallus were divine beings. Many of them were considered evil. After the flood, offspring of the apkallus were said to be human in descent and 2/3 apkallus. in other words they were quasi-divine offspring.
The parallels are impossible to miss. Gilgamesh was one of these, and a giant who retained knowledge before the flood. In the ANE literature we now have and can interpret (remember only 9 documents of Tiberius) these beings are banished beneath the earth. 2 Peter and Jude retain this thought.

sons of God: Watchers, sons of heaven, Holy Ones

The divine transgression before the flood is retold in several Jewish texts from the intertestamental period. At least one has the divine offenders coming to earth to “fix” the mess that was humanity — to provide direction and leadership through their knowledge. They were trying to help, assumed flesh, and could not resist its urges. The more common version of events, one more sinister, is found in 1 Enoch 6-11. This is the reading that informed Peter and Jude. It reads like the central bible text to this study.
And when the sons of men had multiplied, in those days, beautiful and comely daughters were born to them. And the watchers, the sons of heaven, saw them and desired them. And they said to one another, “Come, let us choose for ourselves wives from the daughters of men, and let us beget for ourselves children
The account has the watchers descending to Mount Hermon, a site that will factor into the biblical epic in unexpected ways. Watcher is not new to us, it is in Dan. 4, one of the section written in Aramaic not Hebrew. This is the only place watchers, holy ones and the council are connected in the bible.
So in 1 Enoch the offspring of the watchers were giants. the ANE’s were known as watchers and their offspring were giants. clear and direct connection.

The Nephilim

what this word means is the subject of a lot of debate. Any discussion of it must account for, not ignore or violate, the context in which this was written.
Another issue is the Septuagint… translation of OT into greek. Nephilim is twice in the bible Gen6:4 and Numbers 13:33 … and the Septuagint translates as giants (giga).
At this point I should be able to stop and say … they are giants. But many commentators argue that it means “fallen ones” or “those who fall upon” (a battle expression). This comes from the idea that the word comes from n-p-l (naphal) which means to fall. But it also lets them avoid the quasi-divine nature and the giant part. Therefore sons of God are human.
But…in the context of when it was written, and translated to greek they are giants. even if this is the source it does not exclude the divine nature of the beings. Jewish writes think giants when they see this word. There must be a reason for that.
Okay … sorry spelling lesson (TCK)… Nephilim is spelled two ways in the Hebrew bible… nephilim and nephiylim.... the y in the second spelling. no vowels .. the y is a constanant.
Those who fall would have been spelled nophelim; if it meant fallen — nephulim ...
Numbers 13:33 ESV
And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”
here they are giants clearly … naphiyla — in aramiac means gaint … borrowed and in Gen and Numbers
assume giants …

The strategy of Gen 6

What does this all mean? Why is it in the Bible… it is a polemic as we have said …and direct contradiction of ANE theology … the offsping and being were in rebellion and not of the true God.. they transgressed.. they were demonic.. this is the conflict … evil vs God’s followers…
so the FALL 1st, Gen 6 SECOND, what is the third transgression?

From the Flood to Babel

Genesis 6:4 ESV
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
Men of renown mighty warriors — gibborim ....
Nimord is one (name means rebellion)

The Tower of Babel

This episode is not a bad construction project and language confusion only. It is at the heart of the OT worldview. At Babel they were make a name for themselves ---men of renown — glory to them not God
Genesis 11:1–9 ESV
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
Let “us” go down.... this is a plural announcement … then God dispersed them...
but another text connects
Deuteronomy 32:8–9 (ESV)
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God.
But the Lord’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage.
God disinherits those who build the tower… connects with Romans 1: 18-25
Romans 1:18–25 ESV
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
God chose and kept Jacob… he will begin anew with a people that did not exist yet
God apparently decided that most people who were in persistent rebellion would no longer be in relationship with Him, he began again
The implications of this decision and this passage are crucial to understanding much of what is happening in the Old Testament. And we know little about this episode.
Most English bibles do not read “sons of God” but rather “sons of Isreal” just think about this for a second....this is referring to Babel, before call of Abraham… nations divided before Isreal exists as a people, and they never rule the nations in the Table of Nations.

The Deuteronomy 32 World View

So what happened to the other nations? What does it mean that they were apportioned as an inheritance according to the number of the sons of God?
As odd as it sounds, the rest of the nations were placed under the authority of members of the divine council… assigned to lesser elohim as a judgment from the Most High
See Deut 4: 19-20
Deuteronomy 4:19–20 ESV
And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day.
this is the other side of the punitive coin.. God “don’t want me, I’ll give you to another being” here is some of the background to Psalm 82.... at the end of that Psalm it reads “rise up, O God, judge the earth, because you shall inherit the nations
The Tower might seem harsh … but God is not some glorified building inspector.
Remember divine beings live on Mountains.. the Tower of Babel was most likely a ziggurat. a divine abode, places where the culture of the ANE believed heaven and earth intersected. The purpose of the building was to bring the divine to earth.
The biblical author wastes no time in liking this passage to the Gen 6: 1-4 transgression. remember the “men of renown” who wanted to make a name for themselves… the tower meant they were making a name for themselves not for God.
God will have none of it. After the flood Gen 9:1
Genesis 9:1 ESV
And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
echoing the intention of Eden… and instead they gathered to build a tower. The theological messaging here is clear. Humanity shunned YHWH and his plan to restore Eden through them, so He would shun them and start over.
This seems harsh but remember they are not completely forsaken… in the very next chapter of Genesis, Abram is called out of Mesopotamia. God intentional takes a man from the heart of the rebellion and makes a new nation!
Genesis 12:1–3 ESV
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
God uses this new nation right on the heels of the rebellion and the nations punishment to serve as a conduit for the return of the true God. This is one of reasons Isreal is called a kingdom of priests… Isreal is to be a mediator between the true God and those in bondage.
From Babel onward in the OT this conflict is key…and behind all sorts of biblical scenes. After Thanksgiving we will see a glimpse..
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