Who were the 'sons of God' in Genesis 6:2?

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This question is from Genesis 6:2: who were the sons of God? This phrase, 'sons of God' is also found in Job 1:6. Thanks in advance; I look forward to your detailed reply. – Question submitted by Janet.

 Although the phrase 'sons of God' refers at times to heavenly beings (Genesis 6:1-4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Psalm 29:1; 89:6), it usually denotes those people who acknowledge God as the source and goal of their life and who enter into a relationship of trust and love with God. All people are the creation of God, and as such all people bear the image of God and should therefore be treated with the greatest respect and dignity; but not all people can be called the children of God in the sense in which the phrase is used in the Bible. All people are, however, potential children of God. Divine beings associated with God in the heavens in what can be called the 'divine council' (Psalm 82:1, NRSV) or the 'council of the holy ones' (Psalm 89:7, NASB). In Job, the earliest Greek translation translated 'sons of God' as 'angels of God' (Job 1:6; 2:1) and 'my angels' (Job 38:7). The phrase 'sons of the living God' in Hosea 1:10, however, refers to Israel.

The expression 'sons of God' employs a Hebrew idiom in which 'son(s)' refers to participants in a class or in a state of being, and the second word describes the class or state of being. Thus, in Genesis 5:32, Noah is said to be a 'son of five hundred years', meaning he was 500 years old. In English an adjective often best translates the second term, so that 'divine beings' rather than 'sons of God' would be a better rendition of the Hebrew. This accords with the NRSV's translation 'heavenly beings' for 'sons of gods' in Psalms 29:1; 89:6. In the New Testament, 'sons of God' always refers to human beings who do God's will (Matthew 5:9; Romans 8:14, 19). Similar expressions with the same meaning are to be found in Matthew 5:45; John 1:12; Romans 9:26 (Hosea 1:10); and 2 Corinthians 6:18. The usual designation of the heavenly beings in the New Testament is 'angels'. The biblical reference to giants in Genesis 6:1-4 is to the nephilim born to the 'daughters of men' and the 'sons of God'. Interpreters differ on the origin of these giants. Some hold that the stories of the giants in the Old Testament are a form of biblical mythology, with an 'eyewink' to pagan mythology.

Some understand the 'sons of God' to be angelic beings who intermarried with human women (see Jude 6). Others view them as descendants of Seth who intermarried with the ungodly. Later descendants of the nephilim were called 'the sons of Anak' (Numbers 13:33) or Anakim (Deuteronomy 2:11; 9:2). They inhabited the land of Canaan prior to Israel's conquest. Egyptian records testify to their presence as early as 2000 B.C. Similar races of giants had also inhabited Moab (Deuteronomy 2:9-11) and Ammon (Deuteronomy 2:19-20).

A second class of giants who inhabited pre-Israelite Palestine were the rephaim. Their last survivor was Og, king of Bashan (Deuteronomy 3:11-13). A valley near Jerusalem (Joshua 15:8; 18:16) and part of the wooded country in the tribal territory of Ephraim (Joshua 17:15) retained their name. The Old Testament also records cases of individual giants. The well-known Goliath (1 Samuel 17) was a Philistine champion. A family of giants from Gath were among the Philistine enemies slain by David and his followers (2 Samuel 21:16-22; 1 Chronicles 20:4-8).

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