Descendants of Seth as the Sons of God: Genesis 6:1–2 (Part 2 of 5)

descendants Seth (2)

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b) Gen 6:1–2 cont.: This chapter opens with, “And it came about, when humanity (adam) began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, and the sons of God/the gods saw the daughters of humanity (adam), that they [were] good (tov). And they took to themselves wives, whomever they chose.”

One option for identifying “the sons of God/the gods” asserts that these men hailed from the godly descendants of Seth (Gen 5), in contrast to the godless men from the line of Cain (Gen 4:17–24).[1]



Beginning in the third century AD, this comprised the dominant Christian understanding.[2]

Augustine (354–430) popularized the notion in his great work The City of God.[3] Other proponents of this view included Luther and Calvin.[4]

Corporate sonship of the nation of Israel does appear in several Old Testament texts, lending credence to this concept (Exod 4:22; Deut 14:1).[5]

If correct, the sin consisted of marriages between godly men and ungodly women.[6]



However, this option restricts the word “humanity” (adam) in Gen 6:1 to a specific group of men in Gen 6:2.

This also requires understanding the “daughters of humanity” as “daughters of descendants of Cain.”

Moses never specifically delineated men from the lineage of Seth as “the sons of God.”[7]

In addition, this view ignores any other lines of descent from Adam and Eve (Gen 5:4).

Furthermore, it assigns an evil nature to every descendant of Cain, while presuming the godliness of everyone from Seth’s line.

Finally, it fails to explain why Moses employed the phrase “daughters of humanity” to describe wicked people, especially since the text calls them “good” (tov), a positive quality associated with marriageability.[8]



Nevertheless, until nineteenth century archaeologists unearthed great quantities of Ancient Near Eastern cuneiform tablets and Egyptian hieroglyphics, this view held sway.[9]

Today, few experts advocate this interpretation.[10]

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Read Gen 6:1–2. List the strengths and weaknesses for the view that these men were descendants of Seth who intermarried with the descendants of Cain:







Go to Fallen Angels as the Sons of God (Gen 6:1–2 cont.)

[Related posts include Sons of God or Sons of the Gods? (Gen 6:1–2); Fallen Angels as the Sons of God (Gen 6:1–2 cont.); Kings as Sons of the Gods (Gen 6:1–2 cont.); Taking Wives for Themselves (Gen 6:1–2 cont.); Nephilim in the Land (Gen 6:4); Cain Dedicated a City (Gen 4:17); Two Wives (Gen 4:18–19); Advancements in Civilization (Gen 4:20–22); Lamech’s Ode to Himself (Gen 4:23–24); An Appointed Son (Gen 4:25); and Walking with God (Gen 5:21–24)]

[Click here to go to Chapter 5: Groaning and Grieving (Genesis 5:28–6:8)]


[1]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 139.

[2]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 116.

[3]Augustine, The City of God, 2 Vols, 15, 2:62,

[4]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 116.

[5]Matthews, Chavalas, and Walton, IVPBBCOT, Gen 6:2.

[6]Walton, Genesis, 291.

[7]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 264.

[8]I. Höver-Johag, “טוֹב”  (tov) TDOT 5:296–317, 306.

[9]Walton, Genesis, 291–3.

[10]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 140.