Posts tagged “Christianity

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. ◊

Advertisements

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.