In Genesis 3, Eve’s sin occurs when she takes the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree God had forbidden his image-bearers to eat from. Note the language in 3:6: the woman “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,” so “she took of its fruit and ate.” In 6:2, the sons of God “saw” that the daughters of man were “attractive,” so they “took” as their wives any they chose. In Genesis 3 and 6, there was a “taking” of what someone “saw” as “desirable,” and this “taking” was something that should not have happened.
In Genesis 6:1–4, the reader encounters one of the most challenging passages in all of Scripture to interpret. I’d like to spend some posts exploring this passage. In this first article, let’s get our bearings. Here’s the passage in the ESV.
1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
Echoes from Genesis 1–3
People multiplying is an echo of Genesis 1. God made “man” (Gen 1:26–27), and then he commissioned his image-bearers to be fruitful and “multiply” (1:28). In 6:1, we read of this multiplication happening.
The reference to God “Spirit” in Genesis 6:3 reminds us of 1:2, the second verse in the Bible. There the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters, and in 6:3 the Lord’s Spirit shall no longer abide in image-bearers for extraordinary lengths of time. The limit of “his days shall be 120 years.”
Marriages are reported in Genesis 6:1–4, and marriage is rooted in Genesis 2. Adam and Eve were the first image-bearers, and they were the first married couple. Many generations later, marriages were happening in Genesis 6.