Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sons of God Marrying Daughters of Men?

Who were the "sons of God" that married the "daughters of men"?

The phrase "sons of God" in Genesis 6:2 has been interpreted to refer either to angels or to human beings. In such places as Job 1:6 and 2:1 it refers to angels, and perhaps also in Psalm 29:1 (where it is translated "mighty ones"). Some interpreters also appeal to Jude 1:6-7 (as well as to Jewish literature) in referring the phrase here to angels.

Others, however, maintain that intermarriage and cohabitation between angels and human beings, though commonly mentioned in ancient mythologies, are surely excluded by the very nature of the created order (Genesis 1; Mark 12:25). Elsewhere, expressions equivalent to "sons of God often refer to human beings, though in contexts quite different from Genesis 6:2 (see Deuteronomy 14:1; 32:5; Psalm 73:15; Isaiah 43:6; Hosea 1:10; 11:1; Luke 3:38; 1 John 3:1-2, 10). "Sons of God" (Genesis 6:2, 4) possible refers to godly men, and "daughters of men" to sinful women (significantly, they are not called "daughters of God"), probably from the wicked line of Cain. If so, the context suggests that Genesis 6:1-2 describe the intermarriage of the Sethites ("sons of God") of Genesis 5 with the Cainites ("daughters of men") of Genesis 4, indicating a breakdown in the separation of the two people groups.

Another plausible suggestion is that the "sons of God" refers to royal figures (kings who were closely associated with gods in the ancient Near East) who proudly perpetuated and aggravated the corrupt lifestyle of Lamech son of Cain (virtually a royal figure) and established for themselves royal harems.
-The NIV Study Bible

Where Did Cain Find His Wife?

Where did Cain find his wife (Genesis 4:17)?

Adam had “sons and daughters” (verse 5:4), so Cain’s wife was probably a sister (though some think God may have created other human beings besides Adam and Eve). Marriages between close relatives were at first unavoidable if the whole human race came from a single pair. Only later was marriage between siblings prohibited (Leviticus 18:6-18).
–The Quest Study Bible

The Equality of Men and Women

If God created man and woman equal at the beginning, at what point in time did this change to make “women lower than men”? And, why did God do this?

First, a comment about the unique creation of woman. Prior to the fall, God himself concluded it was not good for the male to be alone. While the animals and other creatures had been created in pairs, the Lord allowed Adam to come to the self-realization that he needed fellowship, friendship, and intimacy from a creature corresponding to himself. Thus God made him a helper. This does not mean that women are inferior to men or that they are designed merely to be assistants to men. The word helper may more accurately mean a strength or a power, and thus women are comparable to men. Often God himself is designated by the term helper or strength (see, for example, Psalm 33:20). God, therefore, made woman for the man as his equal and his match as a partner in life. She was taken from one of the man’s ribs, probably to show an interdependence. She was dependent on the man; men are dependent upon a woman to give birth to them. Some observe that the earliest language of Mesopotamia, Sumerian, has a word for rib that also means life.

The first question with regard to the consequence of the woman’s choice to sin is, “What do labor pains have to do with sin (Genesis 3:16)?” Perhaps nothing. The conception and birth of children would remain a blessing from God (Genesis 1:28). The emphasis here may be on the sorrow of raising children in a sin-tainted world, rather than on the pain of childbearing itself. However, some believe the consequences of sin ruined creation not only by introducing pain into childbirth but by opening the world to all sorrow, pain and illness.

The second question with regard to Genesis 3:16 is, “What is meant by, ‘Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you’?” Some see this as a warning that women will turn (from God) to their husbands, who, in turn, will rule over them. Others see desire as a source of conflict between husbands and wives, just as sin desires to dominate and control (Genesis 4:7). Finally, others argue that the woman’s sexual attraction for the man, and his headship rule over her, will become intimate aspects of her life in which she experiences trouble and anguish rather than unalloyed joy and blessing.
–NIV Study Bible and The Quest Study Bible

Is God One or Many?

Why did God say, “Let us make man in our image” (1:26)?

Many attempts have been made to explain the plural forms: “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness” : e.g., (1) the plural is a reference to the Trinity; (2) the plural is a reference to God and his heavenly court of angels; (3) the plural is an attempt to avoid the idea of an immediate resemblance of humans to God; (4) the plural is an expression of deliberation on God’s part as he sets out to create the human race. The singulars in v. 27 (“in his own image” and “in the image of God”; cf. 5:1) rule out explanation 2, since in the immediate context the creation of man and woman is said to be “in his image,” with no mention of them in the image of the angels. Explanations 3 and 4 are both possible, but neither explanation is specifically supported by the context. Verse 27 states twice that “man” was created in God’s image and a third time that man was created “male and female.” The same pattern is found in Genesis 5:1-2. The singular “man” is created as a plurality, “male and female.” In a similar way the one God (“And God said”) created humankind through an expression of his plurality (“Let us make man in our image”). Following this clue the divine plurality expressed in v. 26 is seen as an anticipation of the human plurality of the man and woman, thus casting the human relationship between man and woman as a reflection of God’s own personal relationship with himself.
–NIV Bible Commentary

Made in God's Image?

What does it mean that we are created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27)?

People are God’s image bearers on earth. This doesn’t mean the invisible God, who is spirit, has a body from which he made copies. But God designed the whole of a person (body and soul) to reflect what he is like in many ways: intelligence, capacity to rule and live in relationship to him and fellow human beings. Being made in the image of God means every human being has inherent value and worth. God’s image is neither to be murdered (Genesis 9:6) nor cured (James 3:9-10). The Bible later speaks of other aspects of one’s image that originate with God such as righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24) and knowledge (Colossians 3:10). So, God’s image does not refer to anything physical but rather to something spiritual. Most point to the human spirit by which individuals can communicate with God and have a relationship with their Maker. Some expressions of the human spirit may be the conscience, personality and will – aspects also seen in God’s character.
–The Quest Study Bible

Mysterious Human Author

Who was the author of the first five books of the Old testament?

Genesis opens with God creating the universe. But no one was around when this happened. So, who was the mysterious human author of this portion of the Bible? Historically, Jews and Christians alike have held that Moses was the primary author/compiler of the first five books of the Old Testament. These first five books are often called the Pentateuch. The word "Pentateuch" is from two words--penta--like in pentagon. Penta means five, and teuch means scroll. It means the five scrolls, because these are the first five books of the Old Testament. The Jews called it the Torah, and in the New Testament it’s called the Law.

In the New Testament when you read a phrase, “The Law and the Prophets,” it’s referring to these first five books. They’re essentially the work of Moses. Now, he didn’t write every word in the Pentateuch. We know that, for instance, because Deuteronomy records the death of Moses. Obviously he did not write about that.

Numbers 12:3 has this statement, “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” There is obviously an editor-type involved at this point because certainly Moses would not write of himself, “I was a very humble man, more humble than anyone.”

So the authorship of the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) are basically associated with Moses. As you read through these books think of them as essentially one book with five divisions.

Noah Exposed!

Genesis 9:20-27 (NIV)
20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father's nakedness.

24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,
"Cursed be Canaan!
The lowest of slaves
will he be to his brothers."

26 He also said,
"Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem!
May Canaan be the slave of Shem.

27 May God extend the territory of Japheth ;
may Japheth live in the tents of Shem,
and may Canaan be his slave."

What was the big deal about one of Noah's sons seeing him naked in Genesis 9:22?
The reason Noah cursed his son Ham was that he had derided and dishonored his father after he found him naked, sleeping off a drunken stupor. Ham should have treated him respectfully, even though his father (who had apparently never tasted liquor before) had made a fool of himself.

It should be noted that it was Noah, and not God, who cursed his son and his grandson. Also, some scholars believe the act of Ham could have been a repudiation of his father’s religion, marked by his joy and satisfaction at finding his “righteous” father naked in a drunken state. Thus, he reveled in his father’s sin! By contrast, Ham’s brothers grieved for their father and did what they could to remove the indignity.
–Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties

Biblical Creation & Modern Science

How do we reconcile the creation account of Genesis 1–2 with modern science?
No one can read these early chapters of Genesis and miss the fact that modern cosmology and evolutionary biology make strikingly different claims about how the universe came into being. Here are two considerations to keep in mind as you explore this issue further. First, up until recent times heated scientific debates raged around the question of whether the universe was eternal and infinite (never had a beginning and went on forever) or whether it had a beginning and was finite. Philosophically, those are the only two options. Many scientists were reluctant to acknowledge a beginning to the cosmos because of the theological implications: if there was a start to the universe, no explanation exists for why it started, and what brought it into being. Yet in the last century, the scientific community has come to accept the fact the universe did have a beginning and is not eternal. This of course was never an issue for those who read in the Genesis 1:1 that “In the beginning, God created” space and time. Second, in the field of biology the Intelligent Design movement is pointing out the deficiencies in the prevailing evolutionary explanations for life. Within all life forms are biochemical as well as mechanical features that are “irreducibly complex”–that is to say, they cannot be simplified any further and still function. Therefore because no mechanism exists to explain how they arouse from a more simplified form–but here they are anyway–they must have had this complexity from their inception. The hard facts point to design by intelligence and irreducibly complex systems that no known natural process can account for. Again, for those who read in Genesis that there is a Being who has the power to simply declare things into existence (“Let there be … and it was so”) this scientific discovery comes as no surprise.

The Bible does not discuss the subject of evolution. Rather, its worldview assumes God created the world. The biblical view of creation is not in conflict with science; rather, it is in conflict with any worldview that starts without a creator.

The most important aspect of the continuing discussion is not the process of creation, but the origin of creation. The world is not a product of blind chance and probability; God created it.

The Bible not only tells us that the world was created by God; more important, it tells us who this God is. It reveals God’s personality, his character, and his plan for his creation. It also reveals God’s deepest desire: to relate to and fellowship with the people he created. God took the ultimate step toward fellowship with us through his historic visit to this planet in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. We can know in a very personal way this God who created the universe.
–Judson Poling & The Life Application Bible

The Two Creation Accounts in Genesis

Are the two accounts of creation in Genesis in conflict with one another?

Genesis 2 does not present a creation account at all but presupposes the completion of God’s work of creation as set forth in chapter 1. The first three verses of Genesis 2 simply carry the narrative of chapter 1 to its final and logical conclusion, using the same vocabulary and style as employed in the previous chapter. It sets forth the completion of the whole primal work of creation and the special sanctity conferred on the seventh day as a symbol and memorial of God’s creative work. Verse 4 then sums up the whole sequence that has just been surveyed by saying, “These are the generations of heaven and earth when they were created, in the day that Yahweh God made heaven and earth.” Having finished the overall survey of the subject, the author then develops in detail one important feature that has already been mentioned: the creation of man. As we examine the remainder of Genesis 2, we find that it concerns itself with a description of the ideal setting that God prepared for Adam and Eve to begin their life in, walking in loving fellowship with Him as responsive and obedient children. From the survey of the first fifteen verses of chapter 2, it becomes quite apparent that this was never intended to be a general creation narrative. Genesis 1 is the only creation account to be found in the Hebrew Scripture and it is presupposed as the background of Genesis 2. . . . Quite clearly, then, chapter 2 is built on the foundation of chapter 1 and represents no different tradition than the first chapter or discrepant account of the order of creation.
–Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties