On Wednesdays I’ve been reflecting on my reading of Genesis. One of the constant themes has been that the text reflects a patriarchal society, but that there are also occassional critiques of patriarchy.
Today I’ve been reading one of the few sections where the nephilim are mentioned. The text says that the sons of Elohim (‘sons of the gods’ or ‘sons of God’) were attracted to human women, so they took them as wives. The text suggests that the human women had no choice about this. This makes me wonder, what would the relationship between a divine man and a human woman be like?
According to Orthodox Judaism, the ‘sons of Elohim’ should be understood as human nobles. In the ancient world it was common for royalty to refer to themselves as gods to justify their rule. Could this Orthodox Jewish understanding be suggesting that the ‘sons of Elohim’ are men who claim divine heritage in order to dominate women?
(I think there is a danger here of thinking that we’re much more enlightened than ancients peoples. It might be good to remind ourselves that our own society has previously promoted idioms such as, ‘a man’s home is his castle’ and ‘every man is a king in his own home’. Our own society has been becoming more aware of our problems with family violence.)
YHWH says that his spirit/breath (the Hebrew word ruach means ‘spirit’ and ‘breath’) won’t dwell in human flesh forever. There seems to be a sesne here that YHWH’s spirit/breath has been dwelling in humanity all this time, even as evil has spread within humanity. I wonder how this might challenge Christian understandings of God’s spirit?