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    “Sons of God” – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Since Judaism does not accept that Jesus is uniquely the son of God, how can the Book of Genesis (6:2) use a phrase like “the sons of God”?

    A. First, the context. Soon after Creation, human beings began to multiply and daughters were born to them.

    According to the traditional translation, “the sons of God” were attracted by these women and married them.

    The Jewish Publication Society of America 1962 translation replaces “sons of God” with “divine beings”, which seems to change the meaning to “angels”, reflecting a rabbinic notion quoted by Rashi that these were “princely angels who came as messengers from God”.

    The New English Bible (1970) says “the sons of the gods”, which raises new problems.

    The view that Rashi prefers is that the text denotes “sons of princes and rulers”; he explains that Elo-him indicates authority, e.g. Ex. 4:16, “You shall be his master” and Ex. 7:1, “I have made you a master”.

    He could have added cases where the word means “judge”, e.g. Ex. 21:6, and 22:7,8,27. In Psalm 82:1 there are two meanings of Elo-him in one verse: “God… judges in the midst of the judges”, i.e. human judges act or should act on God’s behalf.

    The story in Gen. 6:2 tells us, according to Nachmanides, that once human lust began, sin started to overtake the world and had to be punished by the Flood.

    So how are we to render the phrase you quote? The sense of the Hebrew is, “the mighty and powerful”.

    It should be noted that the Divine name is sometimes used in the Bible as a metaphor for the superlative degree: e.g. Nineveh is a great city “unto God” (Jonah 3:3), i.e. an extremely great city; Nimrod is a mighty hunter “before the Lord” (Gen. 10:9), i.e. an exceedingly mighty hunter.

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