Genesis 6:14, Noah’s Giant Basket

Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. (Genesis 6:14, KJV)

The Hebrew gopher is a word of unclear origins, but that doesn’t stop the speculation surrounding its intended meaning. As the Christian apologetic ministry GotQuestions.org identifies, besides the majority opinion of “cypress” – as some Bible versions translate gopher as such – other options “include cedar, pine, ebony, fir, wicker, juniper, acacia, bulrushes, and boxwood.” It has also been suggested that the word describes a pitching or preparation process common to ship-building. If that theory is true, gopher would form a type of parallelism with the other words for pitch in this verse, the verb kaphar and noun kopher.

To their credit, GotQuestions cautions against correlating the word to either a known tree species and/or modern ship-building processes of today for several reasons, not the least of which is that the pre-Flood world was more than likely much different than today. Comparisons between the two worlds would and should be considered fallacious. Nevertheless, when we do look at verses in the Pre-flood world, the descriptions of that time do not match modern interpretations.

Let’s not forget what Lamech said of his son Noach (Noah): “This one will comfort us in our work and in the toil of our hands, caused by the ground which the LORD has cursed.” (Genesis 5:29). The pre-flood’s world was cursed. An assumption of that ground being able to bear mighty cypress or cedar trees large enough for ship-building is probably ill-advised.

That’s why I like the explanation which was offered (though not proven by any means) by Emil G. Hirsch and Henry Hyvernat in the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906). The gist of the article is a strong case that gopher resembles the Assyrian giparu (“reeds”), as proposed by the late linguist Fritz Hommel, or the Arabic kufa boats which are made entirely like a basket and float when covered with pitch.

Thus, I believe the “reeds” explanation fits better, given that Noach was operating with a cursed ground. There is yet another clue in Scripture, and it’s actually in our key text of Genesis 6:14.

However, before continuing, I have to ask, why the fuss about the material? Why have some translators opted to go for broke and use “cypress” despite the uncertainty? If God wanted the material to be known, couldn’t He have inspired a much more understandable word to be preserved for the Ages?

Part of me thinks the desire for a strong composition like “cypress” or “cedar” is somewhat vain. I suspect it has to be made of something strong because religious people badly want the ark to be discovered one day to reprove Scripture – evidence of God’s judgment and existence.  What I would suggest, however, is that as contradictory as it may seem, sometimes murkiness can be part of God’s plan. If we read this verse again, God’s chief concern for the structure of the ark doesn’t appear to be the material, but the DESIGN:

Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. (Genesis 6:14, KJV)

I think our focus should probably be that the intent was to construct an ark of qiniym – literally “nests” – a word frequently associated with birds (translated here as “rooms”). When it is used with mankind, it usually has a negative and/or temporary connotation in that the “nest” is about to be torn down (i.e. Job 29:18, Obadiah 1:4, Habbakuk 2:9). In this context, we should also glean a temporary interpretation – that any creature that dwelled in the ark’s nests would have an expectation of a more permanent hope, and that one day, the flood waters will recede, and better dwellings will be fashioned. The ark is an ark of nests; whatever gopher they are made of is secondary.

Alas, however, an ark made of reeds makes a lot more sense if the overall intent is to build “nests”. Thus, given the curse upon the land and the desire to build these temporary nests, I envision the Ark was a type of giant floating basket. I also like the semblance this interpretation has to the life of Moses, who was also hidden in a basket covered with pitch (see Exodus 2:3). In both the cases, salvation of life was the overall objective.

Now, I’d hate to disappoint people, but the Ark will never be found. An ark made of reeds wouldn’t survive, even a hundred years. To reiterate, the linguistics of using “nests” points to a temporary dwelling – it was designed to be destroyed. I believe that God wanted to forget it the way He “forgets” our sins, especially in how He spoke to Noach after the flood.

In closing, let’s remember that the importance of the Ark was not its composition, but the safe passage of life, including humans. Yes, I know that every depiction of the Ark is the animals going in “two-by-two”, but in coming posts I hope to show how there were enough hammocks in that Basket Ark to carry many souls to a better world. Ω

Genesis 6:13, God’s Poetic Flood

I never realized what a foreshadowing Genesis 6:13 bore until I read it a little more closely in the Hebrew. The regular text reads something like this:

God said to Noah, “I will bring an end to all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them and the earth.” (WMB)

However as we can clearly see in the Hebrew due to neat resources such as qbible.com, the original text uses the word panay, which literally means “face”:

Gen613

The scripture portrays the end of all flesh as coming (ba, in the perfect, just completed sense) to God’s “face” (p’ney, also fanay, depending on pronunciation). The first occurrence of p’ney uses the -l proclitic, which usually denotes a “to” preposition- which is appropriate here. However, the next p’ney uses a different -min preposition. Most translations opt for “through” but -min literally means a partition, meaning from or out of something. Thus, what we’re reading here is that something – in this case chamas – comes from the faces of men up to the face of God.

I recognize that p’ney can have metaphorical interpretations, and most translations go the metaphorical route, getting to the point and omitting “face” from versions. But this is a disservice because I think we miss the symbolism and poetic foreshadowing.  As I’ve written since I began analyzing each verse in-depth, every word, even letter in the Bible is by design – and I’m only in the sixth chapter of the first book!

The way I imagine it, I see chamas – which by the way can denote injustice as much as violence – spewing from the faces of men like a fountain, which rises to the face of God like… a FLOOD! It raises the question – did God feel like He was drowning in mankind’s evils?

In the very next breath, when He says “behold, I will destroy their land“, that ended with a literal flood in the way He perhaps was Himself flooded with various evils and injustices. So be it.

In addition to the above play on words, this verse also begins a pattern wherein iniquity or transgressions reaches a “boiling point” evoking God’s judgment, usually at an appointed time. This includes, but is not limited to:

  •  The sin of the Amorites “reaching its full measure”, leading to the judgment of Canaan (cf. Gen 15:16)
  •  The wrath of Hashem grew against Israel until there was no remedy (2 Chron. 36:16)
  •  The time of the dead are judged in God’s wrath with similar language as used here in Genesis 6:13, “to destroy those who destroy the earth” (cf. Rev. 11:18)

When we realize that God reaches a point that feels like perhaps He’s drowning in the evils of mankind, perhaps we can better prepare for His wrath. The way this world is on course right now, I certainly do expect it. Ω

 

 

 

Genesis 6:9-14, The Histories of Noah

This is the history of Noah: Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time. Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9, in my own words)

The first eight verses of Genesis 6, as I’ve previously written, is meant to be an account of how Man left God. The Scriptures transition from referring to them as “sons of God” to meat bags (“flesh” being the exact wording), based on their mindset to find ways to work wickedness or violence (v. 5).

This is the history of Noah” is likely an introduction from a separate scroll, and begins the same story, but this time, the account will read from Noah’s point of view. Noah is absent in the first history – but as I’ve written before, he does, at least mysteriously and mystically, show up in that first account.

When we compare the two accounts side-by-side we can see some obvious similarities. The meat-bags had children; Noah had children. God said he will not strive with Man in the first account, but in the second, he is certainly still striving (literally walking) alongside Noah. The comparison, which I color-coded to highlight similarities, looks like so:

noah comparison

There are some obvious takeaways, probably the most striking of which, at least for me, is that Noah found favor through work; specifically, he had to obey the commandment to build the ark. Sometimes, to accrue the Lord’s favor, we have to leave all behind and build. So be it.

Are there any similarities that stick out to you, or that maybe you haven’t noticed before? If so, by all means, please share!

Genesis 6:8-9, The Original Grace

But Noach found favor in the eye of YHVH. (Genesis 6:8)

This is the first appearance of the all-important Hebrew word chen (or alternatively, the Greek charis, common to the Septuagint and New Testament). This is an important word to properly interpret, because for better or worse, it is key to understanding salvation doctrines extant in the world today.

It appears as “favor” or “grace” in Genesis 6:8, and the reality of it is that it will be inconsistently translated throughout the rest of the Scriptures.  In Christian circles “grace” seems to be the de facto translation; the hymn does not ring “Amazing favor, how sweet the sound” after all. There exists many songs, poems, books, soliloquies, odes and clichés about the “grace” of God, but credence to His “favor” is surprisingly lacking.

One such saying, “saved by grace” – which appears in translations of the New Testament such as Ephesians 2:8 – has almost become a Christian cliché of sorts.  Ministries and even movies are named after it.  Every Christian pastor I’ve ever met has preached it, but being honest with myself I have questions, and this is my way of challenging what I’ve been thinking about for a long, long time.

If “grace” is looked up in any and every concordance, it’s defined in some way by the word “favor” or even “unmerited favor.” One such example can be found in Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (1996):

 “An accurate, common definition describes grace as the unmerited favor of God toward man.”

However, when we look up Baker’s definition for favor, it reads this way:

“Finding favor means gaining approval, acceptance, or special benefits or blessings… The favor that human beings receive from God depends on his good pleasure and is often extended in response to prayer or righteous living.”

Interesting.

May I even ask, but if “grace” and “favor” come from the same word (chen or charis), how can one be unmerited, but the other be merit-based, “dependent on righteous living”?

I’m concerned that there is confusion as to what grace – and being saved by grace – actually means. For clarity’s sake, we must take an honest look at the context of Scripture.

In the context of Ephesians 2:8 for example being “saved by grace” means we attain God’s charis through trusting Him (vs. 8). No one disputes this. However, we sometimes neglect the context of what Paul means here, as we have also ceased walking as dead men in our transgressions (vs. 5), with a commitment to walk the rest of our destiny in good works (vs. 10). Therefore, this context suggests salvation is NOT unmerited if the saved lifestyle must in contrast to the “sons of disobedience” (vs. 2).  In other words, I’m saved by God’s “favor” meritoriously: through trusting Him first, and continuing in righteousness forever and ever. Paul is not just talking about the beginning of my salvation, he talks what my salvation should always look like.

Noah’s life is actually a prophetic glimpse of the Judgment to come (cf. Matt. 24:37-39), so we should investigate if the first appearance of chen meshes with our current understanding of “saved by grace”. If it doesn’t, we might have a serious problem, because our hope of salvation is linked to the “days of Noah”, including how Noah was “saved by grace”. There is absolutely zero difference in being “saved by grace” and “finding chen in the eye of YHVH.”

It’s occurred to me lately that the twenty-first century understanding of “grace” focuses on the bargain for the recipient, but rarely do we ask ‘what’s in it for God?’  Swapping the atonement of Yeshua’s life for otherwise unpardonable transgressions is indeed a great bargain for sinners – and that’s proclaimed far and wide.  However, this is not to be confused with “grace”.  That forgiveness is “mercy” or “atonement.”  But God gains nothing by granting mercy; He offers mercy liberally.  However, when God grants favor, He’s getting a return on His mercy He invested – and that’s the major difference.  Indeed, asking for God’s mercy – by which He forgives sins – is the beginning of salvation, but it’s not the end of salvation.  After hearing of God’s mercy, one may “look back after putting his hand to the plow” (Luke 9:62), be blot out of the Book of Life (Rev. 3:5), might return to his vomit (2 Pet. 2:22), or any kind of relapse occur to a man who once attained mercy.

Yeshua often said, “many are called, but few chosen.”  Everyone finds His mercy to be a sweet sound, but few actually respond with a life of righteousness that God can use. If you are of the few to keep going, you walk in the realm of favor.  And this endurance, this life of righteous living is the completion of salvation, exemplified in the life of Noah.

I once proposed that there was a message of God and Noah’s relationship hidden within a very deep, intimate look into the heart of God, but now, His favor is openly declared in black and white.

Noah’s “attainment” (the Heb. matsa means “attained” or “reached”) means that God saw something that made Noah worthy of favor while everyone else could only reach the point of destruction.  And what God actually saw comes a bit later: “Come into the Ark, you and all your house, for you alone have I seen as righteous before Me in this generation” (Genesis 7:1, emphasis mine).

So what was in it for God? God had found righteousness that lasted an entire generation. The Scripture also says:

This is the history of the generations of Noah.Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time. Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9)

God saw Noah was still righteous after walking with Him those many years… he had “endured to the end, and was saved…”

I challenge you, dear reader, when you read or hear about “grace” or “favor” – and you will, because it’s everywhere – try to find the implied response of righteousness that is embedded in its context.  It doesn’t matter if you’re reading about Noah, Yeshua’s teachings about righteousness, or Paul’s – they all agree on this point. We are offered mercy in exchange for a life of righteousness, and if we walk righteously, we shall forever be favored.

May we all escape as Noah escaped.

 

 

 

 

 

Genesis 6:8, The Unnecessary Verse

But Noach found favor in the eye of YHVH. (Genesis 6:8)

This is an interesting transitional verse that ties together two similar accounts of the antediluvian world.  The first history (vv. 1-7) is the Falling Away from the perspective of God, while vs. 9 begins the same history through the perspective of Noah. In fact, the specific language of verse 9 (“this is the history of Noah”) indicates this was the introductory language of an ancient scroll (See Genesis 2:4 for another example with similar language; it was also likely the introduction of another scroll preserved in the Bible).

If we read the first 13 verses of Genesis 6 straight through, it is admittedly redundant though consistent in theme.  The words of God’s judgments on mankind are different (a topic for a later time), as is the description of man’s relations with one another.  This was so compiled quite like the Creation, the Torah, the Chronicles of Israel, the Gospels or even some epistles – we often get different versions of the same themes.

What’s interesting here is this “link” connecting these two similar accounts of the horrific time before the Flood.  Verse 8 isn’t necessary; the Scriptures could have progressed from verse 7’s “I will destroy man whom I have created from the surface of the ground—man, along with animals, creeping things, and birds of the sky—for I am sorry that I have made them” to verse 9’s “This is the history of Noah…” without a hitch in the flow.

The reason for this unnecessary verse is of course, beautiful: God wants the focus of the Flood story to be how Noah escaped, not on everyone else’s destruction!  His divine hand guided the scripture to make this salvation of Noah leap from the page.  Thus God is diverting our attention to what it should be – i.e. how do I find what Noah found?  or even the emphatic ‘Perhaps I can find favor myself!

Yes, the story of the Flood is a violent one – there can be no denying that, but it is also a story of salvation, and with this unnecessary verse, I suggest our intended focus is leaping off the pages of Scripture:  God is inviting us to also find favor in Him. ◊

Genesis 6:6-8, Erasing Creation while Disclosing the Meaning of Life

The LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart. The LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the surface of the ground—man, along with animals, creeping things, and birds of the sky—for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:6-7)

I understand that this is uncomfortable reading about God’s wrath extending to the animal kingdom, so let’s address that elephant in the room (see what I did there?). I might not alleviate that discomfort, but I will offer an explanation.

In your discomfort you may have noticed the several animal groupings (beasts, birds of the sky, creeping things) which are vertabim quotes from the creation account of Genesis 1.  I interpret this as an allegory to ‘erasing’ history, which is precisely how the verb em’cheh (“I will destroy”) is employed elsewhere in Scripture – denoting the blotting out of words from paper.

The allegories to Genesis 1 also invite us to review what went wrong. After all, this is sort of like God “rewinding” the creation script, is it not?  When we do, we read that we were charged to “bear fruit and increase. Fill the earth and conquer it, and subjugate the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves over the whole earth.” (Gen. 1:28)

May I suggest that we didn’t do ANY of this?  While it’s true we did start increasing in number (Gen. 6:1), we didn’t tame the animal kingdom – we instead subjugated each other.  We murdered, we ruled by force, we built harems and enslaved fellow men.   We did not expand outward, but inward, and this enabled animals to lose their instinct in fearing us (cf. Gen. 9:2).  The takeaway here is that the animal kingdom is at its best when man is at his best, but that’s not what occurred.  We let the earth become unable to be tamed, which stemmed from an abundance of wickedness.

The Heart of God

This bears repeating:  no other scripture offers such a deep glimpse into the Almighty.  No other verse dares to look into the heart of the One True God,  and I take this as an invitation to investigate.

First, I’d reiterate something I found earlier in Genesis 6:6, that the Divine Name (YHVH) and the verb yinachem (having the same root as the name of Noah/Noach) are together side-by-side, surrounded by depictions of chaotic hearts. Whether it be the evil imaginations of men’s hearts (vs. 5), or the grief inside the Almighty’s heart, I believe this is a deep, prophetic revelation showing that Noah wanted to flee wickedness as much as God craved fellowship among righteous men.  According to the rest of the story, this is exactly what happened.  God and Noah found each other, as demonstrated by the very next verse:

But Noah found favor in the eye of YHVH.  (Genesis 6:8)

And the impetus for this covenant stemmed from a simpatico distaste for the evils of mankind and a mutual search for righteous, holy fellowship:  “The LORD said to Noah, “Come with all of your household into the ship, for I have seen your righteousness before me in this generation.” (Genesis 7:1)  We were created to live righteously that we might fellowship with the Holy One.  As a matter of fact, this is the meaning of life!

Frankly, I don’t believe God discloses secrets to just any scrub who decides to casually read the Bible.  It’s more His nature to reveal intimacies to those who are intimate with Him.  That’s why the grief inside God’s heart was fully disclosed as a WARNING.  When the grief was great enough, YHVH reached a tipping point and began to erase His creation.  This is provided as a prophecy.  Other Scriptures show that there will again be a time when lawlessness will abound in the earth (Matt. 24:12), and that YHVH will not preserve Mankind after they forsake the point of life:  to live righteously before the One True God and have fellowship with Him.

Finally, the last revelation from this – and another tie to the Creation story – is how men “grieved” YHVH in his heart.  The word for “grief” is et’sev,  which is from the same root word used after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden.  In both judgments of woman and man (in Gen. 3:16-17), God used “itzavon” to explain what life would be in a post-Paradise world.   I suggested then that itzavon should not be understood as physical pain (i.e. the pain of childbirth), but rather emotional stress or grief that comes with raising children all-day-every-day, or the sweat-of-your-face labor that just might feed your family and pay all the bills.

So we have stressful situations that qualify as itzavon, but most men will work jobs that suck before letting his family starve.  To compare this with God’s grief, we’d have to imagine a man tolerating so much abuse from his family that he’d say “they’re on their own, I’m out.”  Or, to a greater extent, we have to imagine a mother turning in her derelict sons to the police.  The anguish that these men and women experience isn’t accrued overnight.  It’s a grief symptomatic of long-term mental abuse and disappointment.  In other words, the Scriptures show that this et’sev – experienced by a long-suffering God – was likewise grief built over time, as men continually ran away from Him.

If we do not live righteously and fellowship with the One True God,  we are not doing as we were created to do, like petulant children who curse, disobey and otherwise abuse their parents.  Every man has a breaking point, and apparently so does God! Let us not grieve Him; let’s bring ourselves into righteous order and fellowship with Him.  In this way we shall be confident we’ll be on the right side of God’s next breaking point, and not have our creation erased. ◊

Genesis 6:5-6, Noah and God’s Hidden Love Story

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart was continually only evil.  The LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart. (Genesis 6:5-6)

The more I study the Word of God in Hebrew, the more I fall in love with it.  We really do lose so much in translation.  If I had read the above verses in my trusty and copyright-free World English Bible, I would’ve probably missed the nuances that beg to be discovered in Hebrew.

But before digging into the depths of Hebrew, there are two phrases repeated between these two verses that are conspicuous enough, even in English.  They are “Mankind in the earth” (haadam ba’aretz) and “his heart” (lib-o).  This isn’t a coincidence; it’s a pattern – and it’s up to us to follow that pattern and discover why these words were so woven.

This pattern seems to follow two lines of thought:  a connection of mankind with the earth and what’s going on in the heart.   At first I thought these were two parallelisms describing the statuses of both men and then God, but these do not seem to be clever rephrasing of the same thoughts, as we are accustomed to seeing elsewhere in the Bible (i.e. ‘ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find’).

No, this is something different.  It’s frightfully different, in fact.  Considering that Moses was once told by God “no one can look into my face and live” (Exodus 33:20), it’s sort of shocking that there is this glimpse into the Almighty’s heart.   This certainly hasn’t escaped my attention; there’s definitely something God wants us to learn here.

So if we hone in on the “Mankind in the earth” and “his heart” verses in the Hebrew, we see that they are have similarities (which I emphasize in bold):

The first is: Kiy rabah raat ha-adam ba-aretz wa-khal yetzer mach’sh’vot lib-o raq ra kal-ha-Yom (that great was the evil of Mankind in the earth, and every form of imagination of his heart is evil all the day).

The second is: Kiy asah et ha-adam Ba-aretz wa-Yit’atzev el-liB-o (that He made Mankind in the earth, and it pained him at His heart)

So we can see these two thoughts about the evil of mankind on one hand, and the pain experienced by God on the other, were similarly constructed (This is an example of a chiasm which is often found throughout the Bible).  Now there is one small but gargantuan phrase which separates the “evil of man” and “pain of God” thoughts.  Can you guess it?

It’s wayinachem yhweh (“And YHVH regretted”).  Its significance?  The root of this verb yinachem is shared by the name of Noach (Noah).  That cannot be a coincidence. This is a deep sod revelation that Noah and YHVH are TOGETHER, caught in between the evil of Mankind and the pain of the Almighty!  In fact, this prophetically and spiritually suggests that Noach – as he was running away from the evil of mankind, met YHVH as He was trying to forget the pain in His heart.  And it was here, in the middle, where they found each other.  So in the middle of all this chaos, we get this hidden love story.

A little later in the text we read that Noah was “found” by God (see vs. 8).  Maybe, just maybe, the Word is giving us additional hints as to how that meeting came about.

You may not agree with how I see things prophetically in the Word, and I can live with that.  But as the proverb says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honor of kings to search for it” (Proverbs 25:2).  This is one of those “things”.  I can honestly say that my experience in reading about Noah has been amplified, and I hope it is for you as well. ◊

Genesis 6:4-6, The Nephilim May Have Been Giants, But They are Still “Just Flesh”

The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when God’s sons came in to men’s daughters and had children with them.  Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:4)

Opinions on the identity of the Nephilim range from the constructive to the flat-out bizarre, but no matter their intentions, I think almost all such speculations are based off the wrong questions.  We focus on the WHO the Nephilim were, but we don’t often ask better questions, such as:  ‘what did the Nephilim DO?’ or ‘what is it about the Nephilim God wants us to learn?’ To this latter point, it’s obvious God wants us to learn from them, seeing how He made them noteworthy by the simple fact He included them in His Word.

Thus ‘what happened?’ is the right question to ask, because as it stands almost no theory on the Nephilim really answers this question.  All theories generally treat their existence as an “aside”, yet none of them paints the Nephilim a warning for future generations.

It’s remarkable to me how the bizarre theories (i.e. the Nephilim were space aliens visiting the Earth from time to time) ignore how the Bible describes them.  Even some of the more dominant theories – i.e. the Nephilim were the giant offspring of fallen angels and human women – also surprisingly dismiss some of the more obvious facts disclosed to us.  This is something followers of the One True God must correct, as these theories misrepresent the Book and makes us seem like myth-tellers.  For one example, the Nephilim are often compared with the Greek Titan myths.

Therefore, it is imperative that any teaching on the Nephilim require textual criticism, logic, and God’s ‘what happened’ lesson.  And because we don’t want to ignore the facts that God DOES disclose to us, here’s what we can learn from the text:

The Nephilim were giants.   In the book of Numbers there is a description of Nephilim that reads:  “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that eats up its inhabitantsAll the people who we saw in [the land] are men of great stature. There we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim. We were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:32-33)

There can be no doubt from this description that the Nephilim were giants, but when made to be something more, like space aliens or fallen angels, specific words get ignored.

The Nephilim were just human men.  There are only two places where the word n’filim appears (in Genesis 6 and Numbers 13, both of which I already cited).  In both cases they are clearly described with words applicable only to human beings. Numbers 13:32 uses am (people or tribe) and iysh (meaning “man”). In Genesis 6:4, iysh is also used, twice in the phrase “these are mighty men of old, men of renown.”  Lastly, Genesis 6:3 is the third indication of the Nephilim’s humanity, which not only calls them ‘men’ but also reads “he is just flesh” (using the word basar for ‘flesh’), which denotes the flesh-and-bone existence of mankind in the derogatory way.  To put it a modern way, God is dissing the Nephilim when He says “he is just flesh“!

They had sexual intercourse with human women.  It’s a tall order to consider the Nephilim as anything other than human men, especially when they had to have the tools necessary for you know… having children.   In other words, their iysh parts had to mesh with iysha (women) parts.  So the Bible betrays anyone who wants to enlarge the Nephilim beyond the status of regular men.

Speculations about the identity of the Nephilim traditionally hinge on the phrase “sons of God” (starting in Genesis 6:2). Admittedly, it is an awkward phrasing, but the writers were seemingly differentiating from its textual counterpart – the “daughters of men“.  It wouldn’t have the same effect if it read “men saw women, that they were good“.  They took poetic license for a number of reasons.

I’ve written about one such reason here.  The Hebrew ben (meaning “son”) was used a lot in the verses around Genesis 6, as is bat (“daughter”).  This carries with it spiritual undertones, meant to portray God looking at a world where his creations – his sons and daughters – were experiencing a spiritual drowning long before the physical one in the Great Flood.

There are also more practical reasons, too.  The text does not say “b’nai elohim” like we’d expect for “sons of God”, it has a definite article and reads ‘b’nai ha elohim‘ – literally “sons of the gods” (as skeptics are quick to show).   However, this is not a nod to polytheism.  Remember, the Nephilim are described in the human terms of iysh, am, and basar.  So this is either a contradiction, or poetic license.  I’ll continue to advocate reading the first few chapters of Genesis under a poetic lens and emphatically suggest that this is more of the same.

The word “elohim” is one of those terms that can only be interpreted through context. So is the entire phrase “b’nai ha elohim“.   For starters, ben doesn’t always denote “male-child” but it can also mean an entity.  For example, in 2 Kings 2:3 ‘sons of the prophets‘ clearly means just ‘the prophets’.  Additionally, elohim doesn’t always mean God (i.e., as in Genesis 1:1), it can also mean ‘rulers’.  A well-known example of denoting rulers as ‘elohim‘ can be found in Psalms 82: “God presides in the great assembly.  He judges among the gods. How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked?” (vv.1-2) and again says,  ‘I said, “You are gods, all of you are sons of the Most High.  Nevertheless you shall die like men, and fall like one of the rulers.” (vv. 6-7.  By the way this is also the exact point Messiah was making in John 10:34).

So given that the definition of elohim can mean ‘rulers’, and that these elohim had real human children, by context we can understand these ‘b’nai ha elohim‘ were human rulers provoking the One True God to wrath (which by the way was the same situation in Psalms 82).  We can conclude that these rulers were abusing their power, and building harems for themselves.

The fact of the matter is, Genesis 6:4 is clarifying who the “b’nai ha elohim” were.  Obviously, by using the term “in those days, and even after, so that” we know this was an insertion by compilers hundreds, maybe thousands of years after the fact.  The irony is, they probably were trying to clarify any confusion about who the b’nai ha elohim might’ve been!  They made it a point to highlight the Nephilim as two things: they were famous (men of name) and they were gibborim (powerful).  In other words, they were in fact our mysterious ‘b’nai ha elohim‘!

In other words, Genesis 6:4 is saying, ‘Remember those ‘elohim‘ who took women as wives, all that they wanted’? Well, this was when those infamous Nephilim were in power.  They were the rulers who took wives so that they would bear children to them, to keep the Nephilim in power.’

In other words, the Nephilim saw women as “good” (tovot, cf. Genesis 6:2, not ‘fair’ or ‘beautiful’ as some translate it) in the sense that women were “useful” for keeping them in power, because the more sex they had, the more the odds increased that they would have Nephilim children – powerful gibborim men to dominate the world.

In my last post I proposed that at some point men stopped his outward expansion into the Earth and set his sights inward – on dominating men and women and establishing a powerful dynasty of Nephilim rulers.  And God did NOT create men and women to be under the control of a gibborim dynasty:

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart was continually only evil. The LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart. (Genesis 6:5-6)

Keep in mind, that these gods – like the rebuke of Psalms 82 – were ruling with corruptness and violence (cf. vs. 11).  They ruled by force; they took what they wanted violently.  If they wanted additional wives, they took them.   If they did not bear giant children for the Nephilim, the Nephilim gave her away to one of the non-Nephilim. So much in every way, the Nephilim were controlling who was being born.  That is why the Bible emphasizes their positions as rulers (bnai ha elohim) and being gibborim, as well as tying that to how they took wives and had children… for THEMSELVES.  In those days everything revolved around how they kept themselves in power.

I’m sorry if this disappoints anyone who wants to believe in space aliens or fallen angels who impregnate women.   The truth is, while these corrupt rulers may have been giants, they were not gentle giants – they were brutal giants, who destroyed the lives of many people on the earth.  All in all, as the LORD said, at the end of the day they were still “just flesh“, and received the same death that these powerful gibborim was powerless to stop.

 

Genesis 6:1-3, When Man Forgot His End of the Bargain

When God created men and women, He blessed them with the whole earth and said “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).   

Men and women didn’t have any trouble fulfilling at least one part of that commandment;  at some point they did “multiply” and start filling the earth:

When men began to multiply on the surface of the ground, and daughters were born to them… (Genesis 6:1)

However, as for the rest of that original blessing, man didn’t uphold his end of the bargain.  God may have granted men the whole earth and its fullness, but mankind didn’t tame (or subdue) it.  ‘Having dominion over every creature’  is a far cry from what God told Noah after the Great Flood:  “The fear of you and the dread of you will be on every animal of the earth… (Genesis 8:2)”  Somewhere along man’s timeline, we veered off course.  From this I deduce that at some point, mankind quit his expansion into the Earth and stopped coming into contact with her wildlife, which is why the beasts had lost their natural instinct to fear man.

The rest of Genesis 6 explains what went wrong.

God’s sons saw that men’s daughters were beautiful, and they took any that they wanted for themselves as wives. (Genesis 6:2)

So instead of Man branching out and subduing the Wild – making the earth work for him – it seems that men stopped looking outward.  Rather, they looked inward and began to subdue not the Earth, but each other.

A woman was meant to become one flesh with her man by supporting him and at times even opposing him toward their mutual destiny, while at the same time being the anchor of the family unit.  However, it seems by the time of Noah, women were being treated by the dominant sex as a commodity and being auditioned, selected and/or traded among men.  To this point even Messiah Yeshua said, “as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, and they didn’t know until the flood came, and took them all away…” (Matthew 24:38-39).

I can argue that at some point such men became oblivious to the rest of the earth, and focused only on establishing themselves.  However, the text emphasizes that the chief industry of those days not appear to be crops, flocks or anything related to ‘taming the earth’.  Instead the text points to the chief industry being the trafficking of women.

If this is the case,  then this new female identity as a “commodity” to one day join a harem as her highest level of achievement would’ve completely altered the family structure forever.  As opposed to having a voice within her family, she would now live to be preferred by the “sons of God” (more to follow on them).  The consequences of that restructuring would also negatively affect the nurturing and raising of children.

When men expand their influence and tame the earth, he needs a Living God.  By definition, this is called “adventure” and “pilgrimage”.  All of the great men of old encountered God when they sojourned to places like Beersheva (Avraham), Bethel (Yaakov), or even Horev (Moses).

However, when a men turns inward and enslaves himself, he kills that sense of pilgrimage. He alters the need for God to be in control, because he becomes that control. He also kills the need to commune with a Living God.

Simply put, these new controls put in place by man in those days proved to be incompatible with the Spirit of YAH, even as God strove with us to bring us back to His will for us:

The LORD said, “My Spirit will not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; so his days will be one hundred twenty years”” (Genesis 6:3).

There is still much to be said about the particulars of those days – i.e. who the Nephilim were and so forth, and that will definitely be my next topic.  For now, the main point is to show how the Earth’s destruction came about mainly due man altering the creation of God.  They killed the family structure by making women commodities.  They stopped up their spirit of pilgrimage which consequently led to God striving with them.

If we think about it, a lot of men were destroyed when they lost their ability to expand and sought to control men.  King Saul lost it when he feared the people.  Solomon also lost communion with God when he stopped expanding the kingdom and built himself a harem.  In short, it’s a pattern that will repeat itself over and over again.

I suppose this is a warning not to lose my sense of pilgrimage.  It’s true that when I feel comfortable, I want to keep a comfortable lifestyle.  I might even be controlling those around me to keep what I have.

And this is exactly what I’m reading in Genesis 6, just on a larger scale.  That’s exactly the point I’ll make when I tackle the identities of the Nephilim and their contribution to the fall of the ancient world, as well as the rest of humanity.

 

 

 

 

 

Genesis 5:32-6:3, Why Did Noah Wait So Long to Have Children?

And Noah is a son of five hundred years, and Noah begetteth Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Genesis 5:32, YLT)

Noah sure did wait a long time to have children.  Comparatively speaking, his ancestors became fathers at the average spring chicken age of 120 (based on the average age of the patriarchs in Genesis Chapter 5).   The choice in wording is also interesting, as this verse specifically uses the word ben, which typically means “son”.   The Hebrew ben isn’t used to describe how any of Noah’s patriarchs became fathers; it’s only attached to Noah to poetically describe the years of an older man’s life.

Is there anything to make of this?  Could it be that there is something more beyond the poetry that gives us a clue as to why Noah remained childless for so long?

I believe the Scriptures DO offer us answers.

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all that they chose. (Genesis 6:1-2, emphasis mine)

Here’s that word “ben” again (this time in plural form, b’nai).  I’ll venture to say that the Word of God might be trying to teach us something about being a son, a son of the Most High God that is.  Let’s forget all the gross speculation about these “sons of God” being aliens or fallen angels, and instead consider that the author is trying to show how Noah kept his status as a son… while the rest of mankind lost theirs.  Perhaps the Word is showing that men substituted fellowship with the Holy One for the company of women.  I believe my interpretation fits the context, especially after reading the very next revelation:

Yahweh said,My Spirit will not strive among man forever, in whom only is flesh; and his days will be one hundred twenty years.” (Genesis 6:3, my translation).

In Noah’s 480th year (the Flood came when Noah was 600; cf. Gen. 7:11), God lined out how long mankind would remain on the Earth.  While putting this mark on mankind, He certainly isn’t calling them “sons of God” anymore.  He’s now seeing them as something much worse – specifically he calls them “flesh”.   This is how God will hereafter describe humanity up to the flood, especially when He shows Noah His vision, i.e. “the end of all flesh has come before me…” (vs. 13).

This wasn’t intended of course.   It’s perfectly clear that we were made to fellowship with His Spirit, even if He would strive for us for a time.  However, In God’s view, men rejected following God’s spirit and instead chased flesh.  Men lost sight of being “sons of God” to the point of just becoming your average bag of flesh:

“Yahweh saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Yahweh was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart.” (Genesis 6:5-6)

This is not an account of fallen angels, this is an account of fallen men!  This was a time when Yahweh looked at the earth and no longer found any “sons”… except for one.

Interestingly enough, whereas the above Scripture says “Yahweh was sorry” that verb is actually yinachem – the same root bearing Noah’s real name “Noach”, who “was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time. Noah walked with God.” (vs. 9)

I believe the reason Noah abstained from bearing children was because he looked at the world in the same way Yahweh saw it – with much grief.  I believe Noah walked with God so closely that he was also nachem (sorry) that God made man, and didn’t see any reason to bring a child into the world.   In fact, I don’t think Noah even considered fatherhood until God’s Spirit marked out a remaining 120 years, and gave Noah a vision about entering the ark with sons of his own (cf. Gen. 6:18).   When Noah saw these things, I believe Noah adjusted his life to the will of the Spirit  – and is this not what every righteous man aspires to be?  To be such a man who adjusts his life to the will of the One True God?

In short, Noah was being a son amidst a great deal of flesh.

If any man is not a son of God, he is just a walking bag of bones.  Noah’s life exemplifies how we all must have our walk with the Almighty – even if the whole world falls away. ◊