Genesis 6:1

The moral chaos out of which the new order is about to be evolved. We find these features in the corrupt state depicted.

I. ILL-ASSORTED MARRIAGES. The sons of God - i.e. the seed of the righteous, such men as the patriarchs described in Genesis 5., men who walked with God, and were his prophets - fell away from their allegiance to the Divine order, and went after the daughters of the Cainites, The self-will and mere carnal affections are denoted by the expression "all whom they chose."

II. VIOLENCE AND MILITARY AMBITION. The giants were the "nephilim," those who assaulted and fell upon their neighbors. The increase of such men is distinctly traced to the corrupt alliances.

III. THE WITHDRAWAL by judgment of THE DIVINE SPIRIT from marl, by which may be meant not only the individual degeneracy which we see exemplified in such a case as Cain, driven out from the presence of the Lord, given up to a reprobate mind, and afterwards in Pharaoh; but the withdrawal of prophecy and such special spiritual communications as had been given by such men as Enoch.

IV. THE SHORTENING OF HUMAN LIFE. Since the higher moral influence of Christianity has been felt in society during the last three centuries, it is calculated that the average length of human life has been increased twofold. The anthropomorphism of these verses is in perfect accordance with the tone of the whole Book of Genesis, and is not in the least a perversion of truth. It is rather a revelation of truth, as anticipating the great central fact of revelation, God manifest in the flesh. But why is God said to have determined to destroy the face of the earth, the animal creation with the sinful man? Because the life of man involved that of the creatures round him. "The earth is filled with violence." To a large extent the beasts, creeping things, and fowls of the air participate in the disorder of the human race, being rendered unnaturally savage and degenerate in their condition by man's disorderly ways. Moreover, any destruction which should sweep away a whole race of men must involve the lower creation. The defeat of a king is the defeat of his subjects. In all this corruption and misery there is yet, by the grace of God, one oasis of spiritual life, the family of Noah. He found grace not because he earned it, but because he kept what had been given him, both through his ancestors and by the work of the Spirit in his own heart. - R.

The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
1. In disposition.

2. In profession.

3. In moral character.

4. In eternal destiny.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

Opinions have differed greatly as to the meaning of the name "Sons of God," or rather of "Elohim." The rabbis, as was natural, from their love of the marvellous, took for granted that the fallen angels are meant; since "nephilim is derived from the verb to fall." Hence Apocryphal Jewish literature assumes this constantly, while not a few writers of the most opposite schools still support this explanation, which, nevertheless, seems fanciful and ungrounded. The giants are not said to have been "the sons of Elohim," and their name may as fitly be explained as referring to their "falling upon" their fellow men as by any mysterious connection with the rebel angels. Nor does the name "sons" of "Elohim" necessarily refer to angels at all; for the word "Elohim" is used elsewhere in Scripture of men. Thus, in Psalm 82:1, we read that God "judges in the midst of the Elohim," who are shown in the next verse to be those who "judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked." The name is evidently given them from their office, in which they represented, in Israel, the supreme judge of the nation — Jehovah. Jewish interpreters generally adopt this meaning of the passage, believing that the "great" or "mighty" sons of Cain are contrasted with the lowlier daughters of Seth. It is, moreover, very doubtful if the word be ever applied in the Old Testament to angels. On the other hand, it is continually used of heathen idols, and hence it may well point in this particular case to intermarriages between the adherents of idolatry and the daughters of the race of Seth, and a consequent spread of heathenism, far and near, with its attendant violence and moral debasement. If, however, by "the sons of Elohim" we understand the worshippers of Jehovah, the "daughters of men" would mean those of the race of Cain. This interpretation, indeed, is now very generally adopted, and seems the most natural. We should, then, read "the sons of the godly race" took wives of "the daughters of men." The children of such marriages sadly increased the prevailing corruption. They became "gibborim," or fierce and cruel chiefs, filling the world with blood and tumult. It was to prevent the final triumph of evil, Scripture tells us, that the deluge was sent from God.

(C. Geikie, D. D.)

It came to pass, when men began to multiply upon the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God (men well qualified) saw the daughters of men (very lewd ones) that they were fair (that is all they aimed at), and, therefore, they took them wives (hand over head) of all which they chose; but, being not of God's providing, they had better been without them. Thus, when men send out lusts to seek them wives, and unclean spirits to woo for them; when men send out ambition to make their houses great, and covetousness to join house to house and land to land; when men send out flattery, lying and deceitful speeches, and do not send out prayers and loud cries unto Almighty God to direct them in their choice, they may thank themselves if they meet with wives, but not such helpmeets as God otherwise intended for them.

(J. Spencer.)

We see how grievous a thing unequal marriages be, when the godly with the ungodly, the believing with the infidels, the religious with the superstitious, are unequally yoked — surely even so grievous to God, that for this cause especially the whole world was destroyed by the flood. The Lord is no changeling; He disliked it ever, and disliketh it still. It is a secret poison that destroyeth virtue more speedily than anything. Solomon was overthrown by the daughters of men, for all his wisdom. Jehoshaphat matched his son to Ahab's daughter, and it was his destruction. He forsook the way of the Lord, and wrought all wickedness in a full measure. Why? Because, saith the text, "The daughter of Ahab was his wife." Ahab was wicked, but a wicked wife made him far worse, for she provoked him, saith the text. "Be not unequally yoked with infidels," saith the apostle, "for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath the believer with the infidel?" It is a law of marriage that should not be broken, that it be in the Lord — that is, with His liking and in His fear — with such as be godly and hold the truth. Our children we allow not to marry against our wills, but our right we challenge to give a consent. And shall the children of God seek no consent of their Father in heaven to their marriages? But His consent He will never give to marry His enemy, and therefore do it not. It is not lawful; it is not expedient if it were lawful. The flood came to punish such disobedience, and forget it never.

(Bishop Babington.)

Beauty is a dangerous bait, and lust is sharp-sighted. It is not safe gazing on a fair woman. How many have died of the wound in the eye! No one means hath so enriched hell as beautiful faces, Take heed our eyes be not windows of wickedness and loopholes of lust.

(J. Trapp.)

The mingling of that which is of God with that which is of man is a special form of evil, and a very effectual engine in Satan's hand for marring the testimony of Christ on earth. This mingling may frequently wear the appearance of something very desirable; it may often look like a wider promulgation of that which is of God. Such is not the Divine method of promulgating with or of advancing the interests of those who ought to occupy the place of witnesses for Him on the earth. Separation from all evil is God's principle; and this principle can never be infringed without serious damage to the truth.

(C. H. M.)

You will remember that at this time there were two distinct races upon the earth — the descendants of Cain and the descendants of Seth; or, as we will call them, the Cainites and the Sethites. The latter were godly people; they worshipped and served the Lord; they kept up the observance of family prayer; they recognized, in fact, an unseen and spiritual kingdom; and they fashioned their lives, or endeavoured to fashion them, in accordance with their belief. The Cainites, on the contrary, cared for none of these things; they flung off the restraints of religion; they were the secularists and materialists of the antediluvian world. Whether there was an unseen kingdom, and a King to rule over it; whether there was such a thing as truth, or such a thing as righteousness, or even such a Being as God Himself, they did not care at all to inquire. These things might be, or might not be; but, at all events, there was the present visible, tangible, enjoyable condition of existence in which they found themselves placed; and of that they determined to make the best, without troubling themselves about difficult and abstruse questions which could probably never be solved. There is another observable thing, too, about these Cainites. Female names occur in their genealogies; and these female names are of such a character as indicates that especial attention had been given to attractiveness of personal appearance, and especial value set upon it by the women of this branch of the human family. Adah is one name: it means "ornament — beauty." Zillah is another: it means "shade," and seems to refer to the woman's thick and clustering tresses, Naamah is a third: it means "pleasing," and alludes, in all probability, to the fascination and winning attractiveness of manner possessed by the person who bore it. All this seems significant. We gather from it that the women of the Cainite race came into greater prominence, exercised a greater influence of a certain kind than the women of the Sethite race; were more obtrusive and less modest; wore more costly dresses, spent more time in adorning their persons, and gave themselves up to the cultivation and practice of feminine allurements. The recollection of this fact will enable us to understand better the statement of the text. Now, for some considerable time the two races kept completely apart; the Cainites went their way, the Sethites went theirs, and there was no intercourse to speak of between them. But after awhile the separation was removed. We are not informed how the change took place; it may have been through what we may call accidental circumstances, bringing the two races into contact; but it was more probably owing to a relaxation of religious principle on the part of the Sethites, a lowering of the spiritual tone, a departure from the ancient severity of their religious character, which threw them open to the assaults of temptation on the part of their worldly neighbours. And it was through the women of the Cainite race that the danger came in: "the sons of God" (that is, the worshippers of God — the Sethites) "saw the daughters of men that they were fair." Their beauty attracted and ensnared them; their dress was exquisite; their manners were fascinating, if a trifle bold — unlike, they would say, the shy and retiring ways of the women of their own race; and they first fluttered round, and then fell into the net that was spread for them. "And they took them wives of all which they chose." There is indicated in this language a simple following of their own will; there is no reference to God or to duty in the matter. The result was an intermingling of the two races, and a very rapid increase of the corruption of mankind. Possibly some of the Sethites, the sons of God, may have deceived themselves with fancying that they, by the infusion of their goodness, were going to raise from its spiritual degradation the Cainite family, and instruct them in the knowledge and the love of God. Ah, the snow as it falls upon the street may cherish the hope that it is going to cover the pathway with a robe of unsullied whiteness! The pure bright stream may fancy when it mingles its waters with those of some turbulent and turbid companion, that it is going to absorb the other's foulness into its own immaculate purity! But what a miserable mistake this is! Good is indeed more potent than evil when it stands on the defensive and occupies its own ground; but it is feeble, it is powerless, it is soon overcome, when it allows itself to be drawn into the enemy's territory, and to meet him as a friend. This seems to be the true explanation of the narrative to which our text belongs. And now the question arises, Has it any practical bearing upon ourselves, and upon the circumstances in which we are placed? We believe it has. In what did the criminality of these Sethites consist? In that perversion of the moral sense which led them to prefer external advantages, external attractions, to goodness. Yet how often we are tempted to prefer other things to this sterling quality, or at least to think that the absence of it is more than atoned for by the presence of exterior fascinations! Take, for instance, some favourite writer. He is profane, perhaps; he scoffs at religion, or at least sneers in a covert way. "True," we say, apologetically; "but how full of intellect he is! What a masterly hand he lays upon his subject! How magnificent are his descriptions, and how his thoughts roll forth in a grand overwhelming tide from the depths of his mind, sweeping all before them!" Or that companion of ours, whom we have lately been warned against. "Perhaps he is irreligious; perhaps he is a little loose, both in his habits and his notions. But how clever he is! No one ever feels dull in his company!" Instances and proofs might easily be multiplied. Now, all this exactly corresponds to the fault, the sin of the "sons of God," spoken of in our text. It is a criminal preference of external fascinations to the goodness which consists in recognition of God and in consecration to His service. "It is natural," perhaps you will say. Granted; but the Christian ought to carry that about him which enables him to discriminate between the seeming and the real, and to know things, to a certain extent at least, as they really are. Our subject applies to companionship generally, and suggests the extreme importance of a right choice of associates. Many of us, of course, are thrown into unavoidable juxtaposition with those with whom we have no manner of sympathy, and whom we would gladly avoid if we could. The exigencies of business bring into the same office, or into the same pursuit, the pure and the impure, the godly and the ungodly; and nothing is more common than to hear right-minded young people complaining of the words which they are compelled to hear, or of the things which they are compelled to witness, in the place in which their lot is cast. But, after all, a man is safe if he is in the path of duty. It is the voluntary and not the enforced association which exercises a deleterious influence upon mind and character. But the subject suggests more particularly the effect of companionship between the sexes, and, more particularly still, it puts men on their guard against the fascinations of attractive and accomplished, but irreligious and unspiritual, women.

(G. Calthrop, M. A.)

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