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subego
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Jun 10, 2012, 05:21 AM
 
Genesis 6. The "sons of God". Who do you think they are?

It goes without saying Big Mac, you're invited to this party.
     
nonhuman
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Jun 10, 2012, 12:51 PM
 
I'm going to pre-empt Big Mac by pointing out that this is addressed in Jewish scholarship already. In Hebrew, it's actually the 'sons of elohim', which, according to Rashi, refers to the sons of princes and judges because elohim implies rulership. In the copy that I have (The Art Scroll Stone Edition), it's translated as the 'the sons of the rulers'.
     
subego  (op)
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Jun 10, 2012, 02:23 PM
 
Is there any commentary about why elohim refers to rulers in this context and not gods?
     
subego  (op)
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Jun 10, 2012, 02:40 PM
 
Also, is there commentary on the context around it? As in how does ruler plus daughter of men make a nephilim?

My Spidey senses tingle Rashi's interpretation as relatively modern. Looking at the context, does it appear to you that was what was meant?
     
nonhuman
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Jun 10, 2012, 02:46 PM
 
There are a number of explanations. One is based on Exodus 4:16 in which Moses is told that his brother Aaron will be his mouthpiece and speak his words as though Moses were a god to him. In that verse, elohim is also used, and from that it is determined that elohim references authority. There's much more scholarship on this, of course, but I'm not super familiar with this stuff.

The specific passage you're talking about is part of the first weekly Torah portion (Bereishit). Wikipedia actually has some detail on this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bereis...esis_chapter_6
     
subego  (op)
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Jun 10, 2012, 03:25 PM
 
Ooooh. Good link. Thanks!
     
Athens
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Jun 10, 2012, 04:40 PM
 
What im interested in most is the differences between the 3 main religions.
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Missed 2012 by 3 days, RIP Grandma :-(
     
nonhuman
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Jun 10, 2012, 04:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by Athens View Post
What im interested in most is the differences between the 3 main religions.
Christianity, Islam, and none? Or, if you ignore the irreligious, Christianity, Islam, and Hindusim? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_...r_of_adherents
     
subego  (op)
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Jun 10, 2012, 07:50 PM
 
Anti-Semite.
     
Athens
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Jun 10, 2012, 10:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by nonhuman View Post
Christianity, Islam, and none? Or, if you ignore the irreligious, Christianity, Islam, and Hindusim? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_...r_of_adherents
I think every one including you knew I was referring to Christianity, Islam and Judaism, the 3 main religions that tie together from Abraham.
( Last edited by Athens; Jun 10, 2012 at 10:28 PM. )
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subego  (op)
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Jun 10, 2012, 10:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by Athens View Post
Troll (and other choice words)
Whoa. Lighten up, dude. That was funny.
     
Athens
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Jun 10, 2012, 10:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Whoa. Lighten up, dude. That was funny.
I didn't pull out the "Anti Semite" card
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subego  (op)
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Jun 10, 2012, 10:18 PM
 
I was joking. nonhuman is Jewish.
     
subego  (op)
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Jun 10, 2012, 10:45 PM
 
@nonhuman

Do you buy the "sons of rulers" interpretation? I'm having trouble myself. Why is it the sons of rulers and the daughters of men, not the rulers themselves? Where did these rulers get the ability to have giant offspring, and/or how did they become giants themselves (Gen. 6 isn't clear whether the sons of God are nephilim, who have nephilim children, or they are something else, for which the result of congress with a human is a nephilim)?

Edit: on top of it, the sons of X corrupt mankind to the point Yaweh needed to flood the shit. If it means "rulers" doesn't that make Gen. 6 an anti-monarchy story?
( Last edited by subego; Jun 10, 2012 at 10:52 PM. )
     
Big Mac
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Jun 11, 2012, 03:31 AM
 
Yay Bible Talk time! Thank you for the warm invitation, subego.

Because there are a number of cryptic passages in Genesis particularly that are open to interpretation and confusion, there's more than one way to interpret them. Genesis 6 is one such example. Judaism's main interpretation as set forth by the sages and great commentators like Rashi is authoritatively that the "benei hael-him" and the "banot haadam" were an illicit pairing of the sons of a group of human judges/nobles and the apparent daughters of Adam. Some further hypothesize that these two groups of humans came from different bloodlines of Adam, one from Seth and the other Cain, with Seth's line being the more exalted lineage of humans. I think I've seen that in some rabbinic commentaries, possibly Rav Hirsch, but I could be wrong about that. Now that is the mainstream Jewish view, but that doesn't mean that there aren't Jewish commentaries that take the fallen angel approach, but they are in the minority. Ancient, highly regarded sage Shimon bar Yochai supposedly (according to what I read online) placed a ban on teaching that these illicit marriages involved fallen angels, but I have to go find my Genesis Rabbah collection to see if the citation they give to that ban is accurate, especially since they don't quote him directly.

Edit: I also see now that the Ethiopian Jewish version of Jubilees says that the "benei haelohim" were disobedient sons of Seth while the "daughters of Adam" were said to be from Cain. While Jubilees isn't a canonical book of Judaism except for Ethiopian Jews, we can at least apparently trust the Ethiopian Jubilees as an accurate and literalistic translation that matches the large number of Jubilees scrolls found as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls. See the Book of Jubilees wiki. And now that I know that information, I'm really interested to read the whole text of the DSS or Ethiopian version of Jubilees, since it is an ancient text that also comports with the Jewish (and interestingly a traditional Christian) view of the meaning of these verses.

To backtrack a bit and reiterate, the general view that these were two distinct groups of humans who should not have been intermarrying, imputing no supernatural associations with either those sons or daughters, is the mainstream Jewish view that is apparently shared by some ancient Christian thinkers such as Julius Africanus who was said to influence St. Augustine to hold the same view.

On the other hand, there's the very understandable and some say most ancient interpretation, that the benei hael-him were fallen angels. The apocryphal book of Enoch (and some suspect versions of Jubilees) takes this route and develops a complex fallen angel mythology from it. Those who cling to this reading do have as textual support (aside from the apparent supernatural context of Genesis 6) the fact that you find two references (one to "benei hael-him" "benei el-him") within the book of Job (the oldest book in the Hebrew canon) that clearly refer to the angels. And aside from that, both the Talmud and the Zohar reference benei hael-him as one of the divisions of angels.

Can the two views be reconciled? Absolutely. Benei hael-him to the sons of exalted humans, and it may also refer to the angelic sons of G-d. KEY POINT: It is not unusual for humans to be called the children of G-d. Some examples among many: G-d instructs Moses to tell Pharaoh regarding the nation of Israel, "This is what the L-rd says: Israel is my first born son. . . let My son go so that he may worship me" (Exodus 4); Also in Exodus G-d tells Moses that he will be an "el-him" (often translated as god) in relation to Pharaoh and Aaron Moses' brother would be like a prophet in relation to Moses (since Aaron spoke for Moses whose speech was slow). G-d says (found in 2nd Samuel) regarding King Solomon that Solomon will be a son to Him; the Prophet Hosea says in his first chapter that the children of Israel will be called "the sons of the living G-d."

Also see the very apropos Pslam 82, which speaks obviously of human judges of the "congregation of El-him" referring to these judges, however, as el-him. The Pslam states that they do not judge justly even though they are el-him of the "Most High" but all the same die as normal men. In fact, the gospel Jesus references this Psalm when he is confronted for saying he is a god; Jesus claims it isn't wrong for him to do so since G-d calls the judges of Israel by the name "el-him."

So there you have multiple references throughout the breadth and depth of the Hebrew Scriptures (from all three portions of the TaNaKh) in which G-d calls humans His son/sons and uses the term el-him (an appellation that He very often uses for Himself) to refer to exalted human beings.

Now when I first studied this Genesis 6 topic, I too thought it was difficult to hold to the notion that "benei hael-him" meant anything other than the angels, especially because the discussion is so close to the Nephilm (fallen ones/giants) and the giving birth to "mighty men" who seemed to have qualities that exceeded normal human beings. For a period of time I entertained the thought that the most plausible interpretation was some consort between angels and humans. However, such a notion strongly conflicts with Jewish theology that rejects the concept that angels have free will to transgress against the G-dly will, and it's contrary to the explicit teachings of the sages and rabbis on these verses.

Now one can choose to believe that the sages and rabbis decided to conceal and obfuscate uncomfortable portion of the written Torah and humanize sins of higher beings so as to sanitize the text and bring it in line with rabbinic theology. That's the view that's taken by the author of the Fall of Angels of the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), but also contrast this with an Encyclopedia Judaica article on the Nephilim. Alternatively, one can take the ancient Jewish explanation at face value, which is made easier to relate to for those who take the more supernatural view of these illicit marriages when one recognizes the point I've made about divine appellations being applied to human beings throughout the scriptures.

As I've shown, I've come to realize that while there is indeed a recognized division of angels called the Benei El-him within Jewish understanding, these very same divine titles and names are used throughout the scriptures to refer to mortal beings. I've also realized through careful reading of the Genesis 6 verses that while there are supernatural elements concomitant with this pairing of the sons of el-him with the daughters of Adam, the text doesn't explicitly state that the offspring of those unions were something other than human - extraordinary, unusual humans yes, but not necessarily anything other than human. The straight reading of the text to me also shows that the Nephilim were distinct contemporaries of the pairing between the "benei haelohim" and the daughters of Adam, and their offspring were not Nephilm but perhaps had associated qualities to which an analogy is possibly hinted at. It should be noted that if the Torah referred here specifically to the angels, it could have instead used the explicit term for angels (malakim).

Now aside from my treatment of these illicit pre-flood marriages, I haven't directly touched on what the Nephilim were specifically, be they giants or fallen, and if so fallen what and from where, and what a select few Jewish texts teach about fallen angels (aside from the apocryphal Enoch). I'll try to add additional points on that to this thread because it too is an interesting facet of this overall discussion.

These esoteric verses in Genesis are so intriguing and tantalizing because of their subject matter, diction and brevity. Only a brief reference is made to these topics using words that definitely have multiple meanings, so it's no wonder that this part has captivated humans since Moses received the Torah. That fascination led the authors of Enoch and Jubilees to expound upon the verses in the ways they did, but of course neither of these books are accepted in the canons of the vast majority of Christians or Jews. And again I emphasize the captivating point I just found that at least the trustworthy versions of Jubilees contain the illicit human relations explanation, not the corrupted angels version.

Afterword: after some thought, I chose to uniformly hyphenate the transliterated el-him here because while the divine appellation in question can and often does refer to things other than the one true G-d, it is one of the most used Hebrew divine appellations. Since I hyphenate G-d, rather than make a very fine distinction between holy and lesser uses, I'll hyphenate the it generally. I hope that doesn't bother anyone.
( Last edited by Big Mac; Jun 11, 2012 at 05:11 AM. )

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
subego  (op)
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Jun 11, 2012, 03:51 AM
 
Excellent post! Thank you so much! Much for me to consider here.

I'm certainly not bothered by the hyphenation. Along the same lines, I mean no offense by using God's proper name. I try and refrain from doing that, but felt since Gen. 6 refers to both elohim and the proper name (I think), I should use what's being used in the particular verse.

I picked "God" for elohim since that's what my go-to bible (the New American Standard) uses. It uses "Lord" for the proper name, which is just confusing if you ask me.
     
Big Mac
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Jun 11, 2012, 04:57 AM
 
You're welcome. I enjoyed writing that post. Someone should write a comprehensive scholarly treatment of just this topic.

Regarding hyphenation of holy appellations, it's something that I choose to do here even if not strictly necessary by official religious standards because I'm writing on an impermanent electronic medium, but of course I don't hold anyone else to it and won't be offended by its absence or use. I know some people in the past have objected to the practice or gently mocked me for it, but I prefer to the convention as a small display of reverence for direct references to the divine.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
Athens
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Jun 11, 2012, 11:52 AM
 
Do you guys believe in religion as pure fact as it is written or more as a guide for personal interpretation, IE this is the story, this is fact this is how it was vs this is the story, with your own interpretation of the story you come to your own understanding

(Just curious)
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subego  (op)
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Jun 11, 2012, 01:16 PM
 
Do you mean "you guys [in this thread]" or "you guys [who are devout Jews]"?
     
Big Mac
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Jun 11, 2012, 01:23 PM
 
I think Athens' question was an open one to all religious believers participating. I'll be responding after WWDC.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
besson3c
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Jun 12, 2012, 12:32 AM
 
Hey guys, I'm here to talk some bible.

My favorite character is that one guy with the robe and beard.
     
subego  (op)
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Jun 12, 2012, 12:47 AM
 
He's all our favorites.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Jun 12, 2012, 07:00 AM
 


You mean this guy?
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Jun 12, 2012, 12:02 PM
 
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
- Thomas Paine
     
subego  (op)
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Jun 12, 2012, 03:14 PM
 
Looks like a good buy. Do you have any commentary on that book before I drop the hammer?
     
Big Mac
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Jun 12, 2012, 03:20 PM
 
That's a very good translation, highly recommended to students (as far as English translations go) when I was in yeshiva in Jerusalem. Rabbi Kaplan was terrific. But it's not a comprehensive scholarly treatment on the particular topic we've been discussing, the Nephilim and the benei hael-him marrying the daughters of Adam. I'll have to look in mine to see if it has any unique translations or comments on the section.

Shaddim, I'm sure you have an interesting perspective yourself.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
subego  (op)
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Jun 12, 2012, 03:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
You mean this guy?
I mean him:

     
subego  (op)
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Jun 12, 2012, 03:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
That's a very good translation, highly recommended to students (as far as English translations go) when I was in yeshiva in Jerusalem.
That's all I need. One-clicked.
     
Big Mac
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Jun 12, 2012, 03:27 PM
 
Moshe received a six pack along with the tablets? Neat!

What versions of the text have you been reading subego, out of curiosity?

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
subego  (op)
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Jun 12, 2012, 03:45 PM
 


Here's Cain (Andy Dick) and Abel (Lou Ferrigno) from the same movie.


I've been using the New American Standard, which is an attempt to do as direct a translation as possible. From what I can tell it does a pretty good job. It definitely seems better than the RSV.

I have however (on your prompting, no less) decided to take a shot at learning Biblical Hebrew.
     
Big Mac
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Jun 12, 2012, 03:50 PM
 
Very nice. Based on your strong interest I think it's definitely worth the effort.

Here's another online resource I recommend: The Complete Tanach with Rashi's Commentary - Tanakh Online - Torah - Bible

And another (I like the large parallel Hebrew text, but the translation is from early last century so that's not as good) Parallel Hebrew English Bible

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
imitchellg5
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Jun 12, 2012, 03:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
Moshe received a six pack along with the tablets? Neat!

What versions of the text have you been reading subego, out of curiosity?
And Jesus is always very, very white with an English accent
     
subego  (op)
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Jun 12, 2012, 03:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
Very nice. Based on your strong interest I think it's definitely worth the effort.

Here's another online resource I recommend: The Complete Tanach with Rashi's Commentary - Tanakh Online - Torah - Bible

And another (I like the large parallel Hebrew text, but the translation is from early last century so that's not as good) Parallel Hebrew English Bible
Beautiful! Thank you!

There are a whole bunch out there so it's very helpful to have some wheat separated from the chaff.
     
Big Mac
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Jun 12, 2012, 04:04 PM
 
You're very welcome. Have you found an online concordance you like?

I'm just looking at a specific verse on bible.cc (a Christian Bible site but one that has nice Hebrew features including interlinear and concordance), and I'm marveling at the fact that all of the Christian translations, even the newest that usually do better (than say, the KJV), get it wrong. And the commentary provided below the translations on the site gets it pretty right, but all the Christian translations get it wrong. It really shows how the power of theological bias colors even the best of Christian translations, but I don't want to side track this thread and turn it negative.
( Last edited by Big Mac; Jun 12, 2012 at 04:17 PM. )

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subego  (op)
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Jun 12, 2012, 04:09 PM
 
No. I haven't even started looking.
     
Chongo
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Jun 12, 2012, 10:41 PM
 
Try this: Faith Database It's not free,but it has a ton of resources.
     
   
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