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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Were the Sons of God Ancient Rulers Who Claimed to Be Divine?

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Don Stewart
Another popular view is that the sons of God were rulers or magistrates who sinned by marrying common people. Since rulers or leaders are called Elohim (the name for God) elsewhere in Scripture, it is possible that rulers are what is referred to here. Therefore the phrase, sons of God [Elohim] is not referring to sons of the true God, but rather sons of rulers. Thus, in this passage, Elohim does not refer to the one true God but rather to rulers who lived at that time. The sons of God were powerful rulers who were striving for further fame. The evidence for this view is both scriptural and historical.

Scriptural Evidence

Magistrates or rulers are called Elohim elsewhere in Scripture.

God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods . . . I said, You are gods [Elohim], and all of you are children of the most high (Psalm 82:1,6).

Then his master shall bring him to the judges [Elohim] (Exodus 21:6).

If the thief is not found, then the master of the house shall be brought to the judges [Elohim]. . . the cause of both parties shall come before the judges [Elohim] (Exodus 22:8,9).

From Ezekiel 28:11-19 and Daniel 10:13 we find that the great kings of the earth have princes ruling behind them. Scripture states that this power is demonic.

Ancient Texts

In certain ancient texts, kings are referred to as sons of gods. They were believed by their subjects to be half-human and half-god, or demigods. These rulers were revered by their subjects. The phrase sons of the gods is used in Ugaritic literature as referring to the pantheon of gods as well as the mighty kings of the earth. The references are similar to Genesis 6 and it is, therefore, likely, that the sons of God are the same as the kings mentioned in the ancient texts.

Genesis 6:1-4, therefore, speaks against the pagan belief that these people who were the rulers at that time were of divine origin.


The biblical evidence that the word Elohim refers to humans does not mean that it has this meaning in Genesis 6.

The fact that some ancient texts refer to human leaders as sons of God does not mean that we have human leaders in this instance.

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