Thursday, October 18, 2012

Torah Portion Noach: Who are the Fallen Ones?

Genesis 6:9-11:32; Isaiah 66:1-27; Mattai 3-4

This Torah portion contains an abundance of material for commentary, but let’s venture into an area that has been and continues to be a controversy: the identity of the Nephilim.

There are two factors which made Noah’s generation especially flood-worthy. They are the sons of Cain and the sons of God.

The sons of Cain find their fulfillment in Lamech. He is the first man who took two wives violating the statement of Adam at the creation of Eve that a man and his wife are one flesh.

Genesis 2:23-24 YLT 23 and the man saith, `This is the proper step! bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh!' for this it is called Woman, for from a man hath this been taken; 24 therefore doth a man leave his father and his mother, and hath cleaved unto his wife, and they have become one flesh.

Lamech also started the system of violence and vengeance that permeated society at the time of the flood when he killed a man for wounding him and bragged that he would avenge himself seventy-seven fold.

Genesis 4:23-24 MKJV 23 And Lamech said to his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice, wives of Lamech, listen to my speech. For I have killed a man because of my wound, and a young man because of my hurt. 24 For Cain is avenged seven times, and Lamech seventy-seven times.

Genesis 6:11 MKJV 11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.

There are two possibilities for the identity of the nephilim and the sons of God mentioned in Genesis 6:4. The word nephilim as usually translated as giants.

Genesis 6:4 MKJV 4 There were giants in the earth in those days. And also after that, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore to them, they were mighty men who existed of old, men of renown.

#5303.    naphiyl,  nef-eel' or nphil {nef-eel'}; from 5307; properly, a feller, i.e. a bully or tyrant:--giant.

#5307.   naphal,  naw-fal' a primitive root; to fall, in a great variety of applications

The Jewish sage Rashi says they are giants because they fell and cause others to fall through their egregious sinfulness. Ibn Ezra said that people fell in amazement at their size.

So, who are these nephilim and the sons of God? One possible interpretation is that the sons of God are fallen angels who gave birth to the nephilim who are angel/human crossbreeds. Job makes many references to the “sons of God” and, in at least one verse, it is clear that angels are referred to as the “sons of God.”

Job 38:4-7 MKJV 4 Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell if you have understanding! 5 Who has set its measurements, for you know? Or who has stretched the line on it? 6 On what are its bases sunk, or who cast its cornerstone, 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

But we are also referred to as the sons of God.

Romans 8:14 MKJV 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Also, Yeshua tells us that angels don’t procreate!

Matthew 22:30 MKJV 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in Heaven.

A second interpretation, and the one that I happen to agree with, is that the sons of God are men of the line of Seth through whom we have the promise of a redeemer, and the daughters of men are from the sinful line of Cain. The result of their union was a godless and rebellious culture. Their offspring would be similar to those like Nimrod, who was after the flood, who were “men of renown.”

Genesis 10:8 MKJV 8 And Cush fathered Nimrod. He began to be a mighty one in the earth.

This interpretation is consistent with subsequent events in scripture.

In seeking a wife for Isaac, Abraham made his servant take a vow that he would not choose a wife from among the Canaanites of the Land.

Genesis 24:3-4 MKJV 3 And I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of Heaven and the God of the earth, that you shall not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell. 4 But you shall go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife to my son Isaac.

An incident just before Israel was to enter the Promised Land occurred with the Moabite women enticing the Israelites into sin. Balak, king of the Moabites was frightened of the Israelites as they sought to pass through his land. Balak enlisted the help of the prophet Balaam paying him to curse Israel. God would not allow Balaam to curse Israel and turned all his curses to blessings on Israel.

Numbers 23:20-21 MKJV 20 Behold, I have received word to bless. And He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it. 21 He has not seen iniquity in Jacob, neither has He seen perverseness in Israel. The LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king among them.

In verse 21, Balaam notes that there is no iniquity in Jacob; God is with them. Perhaps this prophecy inspired Balaam’s next actions. He counseled Balak to use their women to entice Israel into sin.

Micah 6:5 MKJV 5 O My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab planned, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim to Gilgal, so that you may know the righteousness acts of the LORD.

Revelation 2:14 MKJV 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the teachings of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication.

So, Balak sent the women in to seduce Israel.

Numbers 25:1-3 MKJV 1 And Israel lived in Shittim, and the people began to fornicate with the daughters of Moab. 2 And they called the people to the sacrifices of their gods. And the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 And Israel joined himself to Baal-peor. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.

Here, the daughters of Moab (Moab means from her father) seduced Israel whom God called His firstborn son. Literally, the daughters of men seduced the sons of God. This theme is repeated again in God’s instructions not to marry Canaanite women.

Deuteronomy 7:3-4 MKJV 3 Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to his son, nor shall you take his daughter to your son. 4 For they will turn away your son from following Me, so that they may serve other gods. So the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and will destroy you suddenly.

Solomon did not follow this instruction and took wives from among the surrounding nations. This led to his downfall and the wrenching away of most of the kingdom from his sons.

1 Kings 11:1-9 MKJV 1 And king Solomon loved many foreign women, even the daughter of Pharaoh, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, Hittites; 2 of the nations which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, You shall not go in to them, and they shall not go in to you; surely they will turn away your heart after their gods. Solomon clung to these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it happened when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods. And his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom, the abomination of the Ammonites; 6 and Solomon did evil in the sight of Jehovah, and did not go fully after the LORD like his father David. 7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill which is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the sons of Ammon. 8 And likewise he did for all his foreign wives, and burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. 9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.

Finally, in the Brit Hadashah, the New Testament, Paul tells believers not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.

2 Corinthians 6:14 MKJV 14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship does righteousness have with lawlessness? And what partnership does light have with darkness?

So who are the Nephilim?  Who are the mighty men of renown? Who are the giants?  We must always remember to study the scripture from an historic, cultural and linguistic point of view.  We have the unfortunate tendency to add our own interpretations to scripture based on our own cultural influences.   We have to constantly ask ourselves about the nature of symbolism in the scriptures.  What does a symbol or concept in the scriptures mean?  And we have to be aware of and take into account the idiomatic nature of the Hebrew language.  I think we should let the scriptures themselves answer that question.

יבורך שלום
Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

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