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. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
Angels: All of the earliest sources interpret the "sons of God" as angels. From the third century BCE onwards, references are found in the Enochic literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls (the Genesis Apocryphon, the Damascus Document, 4Q180), Jubilees, the Testament of Reuben, 2 Baruch, Josephus, and the book of Jude (compare with 2 Peter 2). This is also the meaning of the only two identical occurrences of bene ha elohim in the Hebrew Bible (Job 1:6 and 2:1), and of the most closely related expressions (refer to the list above). In the Septuagint, the interpretive reading "angels" is found in Codex Alexandrinus, one of four main witnesses to the Greek text.
Rabbinic Judaism traditionally adheres to the first interpretation, with some exceptions, and modern Jewish translations may translate bnei elohim as "sons of rulers" rather than "sons of God". Regardless, the second interpretation (sons of angels or other divine beings) is nonexistent in modern Judaism. This is reflected by the rejection of Enoch and other Apocrypha supporting the second interpretation from the Hebrew Bible Canon.
KTU² 1.40 demonstrates the use of bn il to mean "sons of gods".
KTU² 1.65 (which may be a scribal exercise) uses bn il three times in succession: il bn il / dr bn il / mphrt bn il "El, the sons of gods, the circle of the sons of gods / the totality of the sons of gods."
The phrase bn ilm ("sons of the gods") is also attested in Ugaritic texts, as is the phrase phr bn ilm ("assembly of the sons of the gods").
Elsewhere in the Ugarit corpus it is suggested that the bn ilm were the 70 sons of Asherah and El, who were the titulary deities of the people of the known world, and their "hieros gamos" marriage with the daughters of men gave rise to their rulers. There is evidence in 2 Samuel 7 that this may have been the case also in Israel.
Different source versions of Genesis 6:1-4 vary in their use of "sons of God". Some manuscripts of the Septuagint have emendations to read "sons of God" as "angels".Codex Vaticanus contains "angels" originally. In Codex Alexandrinus "sons of God" has been omitted and replaced by "angels". This reading of Angels is further confirmed by Augustine in his work City of God where he speaks of both variants in book 15 chapter 23. The Peshitta reads "sons of God". Furthermore the Vulgate goes for the literal filii Dei meaning Sons of God. Most modern translations of Christian bibles retain this whereas Jewish ones tend to deviate to such as Sons of Rulers which may in part be down to the Curse of Simeon Ben Yohai who cursed anyone who translated this as "Sons of God" (Genesis Rabbah 26:7).
Beyond this in both the Codices Job 1:6 and Deuteronomy 32:8 when the phrase "angels of God" is used in place of where the Hebrew says "sons of God". For the verse in Deuteronomy the Masoretic Text does not say "sons of God" but "sons of Israel" however in 4Q37 the term "sons of God" is used. This is probably the root reading for the reading we see in the Septuagint.
Job 1:6 b?nê h?'?l?hîm ( ?) the sons of Elohim.
Job 2:1 b?nê h?'?l?hîm ( ?) the sons of Elohim.
Job 38:7 b?nê ?l?hîm ( ) without the definite article - sons of Elohim
Deuteronomy 32:8 both b?nê ?l?hîm ( ?) and b?nê ?l ( ) the sons of Elohim or sons of El in two Dead Sea Scrolls (4QDtj and 4QDtq); mostly "angels of God" (? ?) in the LXX (sometimes "sons of God" or "sons of Israel"); "sons of Israel" in the MT.:147
Closely related phrases include:
Psalms 29:1 b?nê ?lîm ( ) without the definite article - sons of elim (a similar expression).
Psalms 82:6 b?nê elîon ( ) without the definite article and using 'Most high' instead of ?l.
Other early Christians believed that the "sons of God" in Genesis 6:1-4 were the descendants of Seth.Augustine of Hippo subscribed to this view, based on the orations of Julius Africanus in his book City of God, which refer to the "sons of God" as being descendants of Seth (or Sethites), the pure line of Adam. The "daughters of men" are viewed as the descendants of Cain (or Cainites). Variations of this view were also received by Jewish philosophers.
Traditionalists and philosophers of Judaism in the Middle Ages typically practiced rational theology. They rejected any belief in rebel or fallen angels since evil was considered abstract. Rabbinic sources, most notably the Targum, state that the "sons of God" who married the daughters of men were merely human beings of exalted social station. They have also been considered as pagan royalty or members of nobility who, out of lust, married women from the general population. Other variations of this interpretation define these "sons of God" as tyrannical Ancient Near Eastern kings who were honored as divine rulers, engaging in polygamous behavior. No matter the variation in views, the primary concept by Jewish rationalists is that the "sons of God" were of human origin.
Ibn Ezra reasoned that the "sons of God" were men who possessed divine power, by means of astrological knowledge, able to beget children of unusual size and strength.
Jewish commentator Isaac Abrabanel considered the aggadot on Genesis 6 to have referred to some secret doctrine and was not to be taken literally. Abrabanel later joined Nahmanides and Levi ben Gerson in promoting the concept that the "sons of God" were the older generations who were closer to physical perfection, as Adam and Eve were perfect. Though there are variations of this view, the primary idea was that Adam and Eve's perfect attributes were passed down from generation to generation. However, as each generation passed, their perfect physical attributes diminished. Thus, the early generations were mightier than the succeeding ones. The physical decline of the younger generations continued until the Flood, to the point that their days were numbered as stated in Genesis 6:3. It was immoral for the older generations to consort with the younger generations, whereby puny women begot unusually large children. Nephilim was even considered a stature.
^The lexical item in Hebrew: , romanized: '?l?hîm, means "God" but uses the Hebrew plural morpheme -im. Although '?l?hîm is plural in form, it is understood in the singular sense. Therefore the English translation is "God" rather than "Gods".
^James Carleton Paget, The Epistle of Barnabas: outlook and background 1994 - p10 "The quotation finds no precise equivalent in Enoch, which is probably explicable on the grounds that B. is inspired by something he remembers from Enoch at this point (see for a parallel to I Enoch 89:61-64; 90:17f.)"