And it came to pass, when men began to multiply
on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of
God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of
all which they chose" (Gen. 6:1-2)
Since the ancient times these lines of the Bible caused
bewilderment: who are these "sons of God"— "bne Elogim,"
who took the human daughters as wives? In the Pre-Christian époque in the
ancient targums the Jewish Scribes interpreted this extract of the Holy Gospel,
as the process of joining of angels and women (the Targum of Oncelos). But
surely such an understanding in no way coincides with our Christian teaching
about angels, as non-carnal , having no physical traits, spirits; it does not
coincide with the belief in our faith into the only source of origin of mankind
from Adam and Eve. In the time when the ancient pagan legends assigned to their
kings and heroes the Divine or semi-Divine origin, the Holy Scripture since the
most ancient times categorically asserts the unique character of origin of all
people from the common antecedents. That is why even the early fathers of our
Church did not accept the rabbis’ interpretations of this extract (St. Justin,
St. Clement of Rome, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Lactancius and
Commodian), but they taught that as "the sons of God" one must
understand the righteous part of mankind.
Really, already in the Old Testament it is said
about the righteous as of the sons of God. For example, in the Wisdom of
Solomon: "How is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is
among the saints!" (5:5), "But thy sons not the very teeth of
venomous dragons overcame" (16:10). And the very Lord says: "But
they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world… are equal unto the
angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection"
(Luke 20:36). St. John the Theologian testifies: "What manner of
love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of
God." And St. John Chrysostom, explaining these words of the Apostle,
teaches: "Anytime, when we do the good, we are born from God, for His seed
abides in us" (The Conversation on 1 John, 3:9)
And St. Basil the Great writes: "Many are
called in the Scripture as the sons of God due to the words: "I have
nourished and brought up children" (The interpretation of Isaiah).
So, the first lines of chapter 6 of the book of
Genesis should be understood by us, in the full concordance with the testimony
of the Holy Scripture and the teaching of the very Lord and holy fathers, as
the narration about how righteous men, seeing the daughters of the unrighteous,
got tempted by them.
Taking into consideration that in that time
mankind consisted of two branches: the descendents of Cain, the first murderer,
and the progeny of righteous Seth, in whom they started to appeal to the Lord,
we without fantasies shall understand what it is said about: the people from
the progeny of righteous Seth began to be fascinated by the women of Cain’s
descendants and get corrupted because of that.
Why does the Bible continue to call these people,
in spite of their downfall, "the sons of God"? — The cited above
words of the Book of Wisdom of Solomon are explaining this: "thy
sons…by whom the uncorrupt light of the law was to be given unto the
world" (18:4). The progeny of Seth — are the sons of God not only
because they are righteous themselves, but because mostly, after many centuries
would pass, the unfading light of the Divine Law would be given through them to
the world, and the Only perfect Son of God — Jesus Christ — will appear before
And the Lord said: "My spirit shall not
always strive with man, for that he also is flesh." The picture of the
inner state of primitive mankind we can imagine thanks to the analogy with the
contemporary one, for as well in our time we basically observe the same: the
people more and more become carnal, they are interested only with the material,
and the spiritual welfare ceases in them, and even emotions dull, and because
the carnal features have no power by themselves, then in having become physical
mankind more and more aggressively begins to act the force of the evil spirits.
"And God saw that the wickedness of man
was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart
was only evil continually."
The same way as angels, the Lord created the man
so that he could gain the blissful eternal life, as we have said in one of the
extracts: "being Himself Ever-Blissful and Ever-Joyful, He wanted the
other creatures to have this joy of life, joy of existence."
But mankind sinned and through that fell off from
their calling: instead of blissful immortal life, it gained disastrous and
mortal life. But the downfall of mankind was temporary and not hopeless. Adam
and Eve repented. Seth was righteous, with Enos they started to appeal to the name
of the Lord. Enoch to the highest degree pleased God. In the spiritual depths
of mankind is fulfilled the precious process of the spiritual ripening, thanks
to which there comes closer the moment, when the Son of God — the Savior — will
have the possibility to come to the people, join them and make them again the
heirs of the Reign of God.
This process is fulfilled in the best currents of
the righteous branch of mankind. This process is precious for the Lord, for His
human-loving, saving goals. But for its sake He does not at all deprive the man
of the free will, of free choice. The process of spiritual ripening is being
performed in mankind, until the people, on their free will, feel drawn to it.
And so, this process in mankind in the pre-flood
époque ceases. The sons of God — the descendants of righteous Seth, Enos and
Enoch, being righteous (though comparatively) got close to the daughters of the
cruel and dissolute branch of mankind, the descendants of Cain, and began to be
tempted by them. The process of the spiritual ripening of the human spirit
ceased. People became carnal, without a shade of any spiritual shifts, and the
evil without hindrance penetrated into them, all their thoughts became evil in
But if the process of the spiritual ripening in
the souls of the people ceases forever, the existence of the human kind would
become senseless. Really, for the spirit-bearing creature to be born into the
world, in order that during the number of years to catch pleasant physical
feelings, and then, dying, descend into hell without hope to be freed from this
place of agony and tortures,— what can be more terrible and senseless than such
a perspective? What can be further from the Divine plan about the man, as about
the co-heir of the reign of God, called for eternal joy and bliss? Pre-flood
mankind firmly and irrevocably stepped onto the way of moral degeneracy.
But in whole mankind by that time there remained
only one pure exception: "Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with
Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. On
them was focused the entire hope for the possibility of moral restoration of
mankind, and consequently — for the opportunity of its moral salvation, returning
to God, the Divine eternal bliss.
But if to leave Noah and his children among
dissolute mankind, they would inevitably become corrupted, would catch the
common depravity, if not Noah himself and his children, then his grandsons and
great-grand-sons would yield to the common corruption, for under the influence
of the sinful downfall of the forefathers human nature became more inclined to
And then the Lord, Ever-Merciful and Human-Loving
Lord, decides to undertake the extreme measure: to exterminate the major part
of mankind, which lost any sense in life, in order to preserve the only branch
of people, which had not yet lost this sense, and which is able for the
And the Lord said: "I will destroy man
whom I have created from the face of the earth." So, the Lord decides
to exterminate mankind by a flood of waters.
And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is
come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and,
behold, I will destroy them with the earth." The Lord sets the time for the people to confess: "Yet
his days shall be an hundred and twenty years."
To save Noah and his family, the Lord commands to
him: "Make thee an ark of gopher wood (probably, cypress)… and the door
of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third
stories shalt thou make it. And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters
upon the earth, to destroy all flesh…But with thee will I establish my
covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife,
and thy sons' wives with thee."
Here we should consider the questions, connected
with the narration of the Scripture about the Flood, in detail. This narration
is more often subjected to the criticism than the others.
As one of the testimonies of the immutable truth
of this narration let us draw attention to the exceptional universality of the
legends about it. Far from being religious French scientist,
writer-archeologist François Lenorman brilliantly testifies to that: "The
flood is not a myth, but a historical fact, for, at least, tree race branches
of the ancient civilized world preserved the similar legends about it."
[Originating from around the 2d century BC
story about Utnapishtim, and the preserved by the Babylonian-Greek chronicler
Berrows legend about Ksinsufr. The Syrian: The ancient-Roman writer Lucinian
(De Dea Syrah) gives the Syrian legend about the flood. About this tells Joseph
Flavius (Ant. 1,3,6). The Arabs: The Koran several times mentions about the
Flood. The Suras 54,9 and 69,11 without doubt are inspired by the Biblical
narration, but in the Sura 18,59 is given, obviously, the independent of the
Bible ancient Arabic legend. The Greeks: The classical legend about Deucalion,
the son of Prometheus and his wife Pyrrha. The Persian: In Avesta it is said
about the flood. (vendidad 2,46). The Hindus: About the flood say 3 sources:
the Satapat-Brahman, Mahabharata and Bhagavat Purana. The Algonquians (the
northern-American Indians): The written originally by the missioner Per-Le-Jeune
in 1634 legend tells about the musk rat, which found the dry land during the
flood. The Aztecs: The known legend about Quetzalcoatl. The Polynesians: on the
Hawaii — the legend about the flood and the ship Tango Loa; on Tahiti — about
the flood upon the sun; in New Zeeland — about Maui (the New-Zeeland Noah) ]
The flood was universal, but not for the
whole territory. Neither Africa, nor South-West Asia, or Australia, or America
were covered by the waters of the Flood. The Universal Flood means the death of
whole mankind and all the living creatures in the places of their inhabitance,
but not upon the entire globe. It has to be recalled, for what the Lord created
the Flood: "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the
earth… And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face
of the earth." Consequently, we fairly can imagine the Flood in the
form of waters, which covered only "ecumeni," i.e. only the space of
the earth, inhabited by people, and how much this territory was — we do not
With that we should not be embarrassed by the
circumstance that the Holy Bible several times says about the Flood, as of the
spread "upon the earth." The Bible and all religious works,
taking care only of human souls, but not of the problems of geography, often
call as land and universe only the regions, inhabited by people, and sometimes
only the region of some definite human culture — the one, which was ready for
accepting the Holy Scripture. This way brought up on the Bible Byzantium called
the Universe the Mediterranean Sea, therefore it named its emperors as
"the rulers of the universe," and gave to the Patriarch of
Constantinople the title of "universal."
When was the Flood?
We do not know that. In our previous conversation
we spoke of the impossibility to build the chronology on the basis of narration
of the book of Genesis. Anyway, the flood must relate to a very far époque of
the human history, and the very wideness of spreading of legends about it
The one, who writes these lines (personally I, but
very disputably) imagine as the most probable the relation of the Flood to the
époque, which is known in science as the border between the époque Mustier and
the époque Orignac, the border between the upper and lower Paleolith, when
unexpectedly and all of a sudden from the face of the planet there disappeared
the multiple before that race of the Neanderthal man, some traits of which (the
absolute absence of burials, consequently, one can presume, the absence of
faith into the life after death, absence of any artistic drawings, i.e.
contempt towards the feeling of beauty, etc.) correspond to the main signs of
the negative branch of the primitive man: "My spirit shall not always
strive with man, for that he also is flesh," i.e. without any signs of
Footnote: Into the arc there were taken the
animals, inhabiting the place, where the flood would happen. There was no word
about any giraffes, rhinoceroses, etc., which did not live in that area.
"And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark;
for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean
beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts
that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by
sevens": ducks, geese, chicken, maybe, swans, storks, etc, with which
Mesopotamia is so rich, and besides pigeons and crows. "And
it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.
The same day were all the fountains of the great deep (i.e. the sea and
ocean) broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened." Surely, the
expression about the windows of heaven is not literal, but figurative.
of the arc of Noah coincide to those of the research of Fernando Navvar. During
the expedition to the pick of Ararat in 1956 he saw under the eternal ice the
outlines of the Arc and brought the part of its frame, made of oak, the age of
which was defined through the radioactive method as 5 thousand years. Look, the
book of F. Navvar in French "I’ai trouve l’arc de Noah," (I’ve found
the ark of Noah), 1956.
The narration about the flood is very important
for all times in the light of Christ’s warning to all of us: "And as it
was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man: They
did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the
day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed
them all" (Luke 17:26).
We have already said that the Universal Flood,
which have destroyed ancient, fallen into the deprivation mankind, in spite of
the seeming cruelty of this measure, was the sign of the Divine care about
mankind. To save the last branch of mankind, able for the spiritual revival and
perfection, to the ability one day, even in the far away future to become able
to inherit heavenly life, in order to save that branch, it was necessary to
destroy the rest of corrupted mankind, so that it would not infect the last
healthy branch by its moral corruption.
But having destroyed by the waters of the Flood
this corrupted majority of mankind, have God forgotten about it, did He totally
reject those turned away from Him sinners? — No, the Merciful and Human-Loving
Lord many centuries after recalled His lost sheep! When the appearance to the
world of the Son of God and His atonement of mankind happened, then, as Apostle
Paul testifies, the Lord stretched His saving hand into hell to those, lost
because of the Flood souls. "By which also he went and preached unto
the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the
longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a
preparing" (1 Pet. 3:19-20).
Blessed Theothilactus, interpreting these words,
says that here is meant all primitive mankind since the times of Adam.
Naturally, here belongs as well that generation, which was washed off by the
waters of the Flood.
St. Gregory the Theologian reminds together with
that (the word 45) that "Christ, having appeared to those being in hell,
saves not everybody, but those who believed in Him." And though it
is hidden from us, who of the common people will be saved and who will perish,
we can guess with hope, that a great number of those lost in the Flood
miserable, having forgotten God souls, having experienced the torture of hell,
having used the Good News of the Conqueror of Death, and having believed in
Him, followed Him into the Reign of His eternal joy.
Return to the first page