Just curious on your thoughts on Michael Heiser’s interpretation of the serpent, son’s of God, Nephilim, Watchers and Genesis.
He’s mostly right. Although I will admit that the only place outside of Genesis where B’nei Elohim clearly refers to divine beings is in Job 38. Humans are often referred to with similar terminology
One area which I disagree with him is where he continues to describe the Bible as Monotheistic, when Monolatric is a much more appropriate term.
As for his views on the Serpent in Eden, I will never read Genesis 2-3 the same way again.
This could be where you and I actually agree on something !!!
I enjoyed Heiser’s video here:
This one was especially focused on the nature of the “Cherubim”… depicted sometimes as serpents, sometimes as other mixtures of creatures.
Have you ever seen the Sumerian depiction of a cherubim? You probably have, and just didn’t know exactly what it was supposed to be.
Interestingly, it is another kind of mixture of creatures.
The deity was a serpent/human deity known as “Ningishzida” - - sometimes translated the “Tree of Good”.
One can almost imagine the unspoken part of this deity’s name: “The Tree of Good [& Evil]”. Snakes have bodies that look like tree roots… big snakes can look like narrow trunks of trees. And a grape vine, as a serpentine kind of tree, culminates all the possibilities.
Ningishzida represented the immortality of snakes… and because snakes didn’t seem to be male or female, a religious narrative emerged that they represented both genders simultaneously. Thus the immortal serpent was also a deity of fertility - - one might even say the ultimate fertility, if they have both genders. Dual gender was frequently represented by giving a snake two heads. And with two heads, they might be associated with wisdom even more than the usual divinity.
Heiser describes the animal imagery as “visual symbols” of the invisible entity’s job descriptions… he had
some fairly sophisticated descriptions in that 7 minute video! In Sumerian mythology, Ningishzida was also
compared to the Brother of Tammuz, sometimes Tammuz himself, and sometimes a divinity that was either male or female.
A cherub (singular of the plural cherubim) is similar to a sphinx.
Thanks Reggie and George. I believe that this is important I am not sure that Heiser thinks that the serpent was actually a talking snake. I think that he uses the word Hebrew word Nachash that he interprets as a divine being that is serpentine ( snake like) or shining one. Think like the Latin Lucifer. I think that he views the snake in connection with Genesis 6 and the book of Enoch. The sons of God are the Watchers (divine beings) of the book of Enoch that took the daughters of man creating the Nephilim (giants). For this the fallen watchers are cursed by God. And results in the flood. The fall of the divine watchers may have been considered the bigger sin of Genesis by the Hebrew thought of the time.
This has completely changed my understanding of the Bible.
I suggest that you view Heiser’s video “angels, demons , Nephilim cherubim and other spiritual beings.” It does change the view of the whole Genesis and really the whole Bible. You can also view “ the unseen realm” and his “ reversing Hermon”.
I think you’re speaking about Mesopotamian Karibu, or Lamassu. Biblical Cherubs aren’t quite the same, though they still are Chimera of multiple beings.
Although I do like Michael Heiser this Facebook page does offer some rebukes to his ideas, which are sometimes convincing. He actually agrees with Michael quite a bit on his core premises (namely divine plurality and the Nachash being a Seraph) but disagrees with him on other areas. If you look through the comment questions I have been responding to some of this counterpoints but I still need help. Some of his posts (eg on the local flood and accommodationism are worrying me, and making it hard for me to reconcile science with scripture.
In the 7 minute video, Heiser spells it out in a few distinct steps:
He believes the snake in Genesis is a divine being, not an animal.
He believes the snake is not the actual appearance of this divine being, who he says is essentially invisible.
He believes the various descriptions of cherubim are ways of presenting the divine being’s characteristics and/or “job description” for God.
The purpose of the snake in Genesis is best interpreted by the human mind as (according to my paraphrasing his lengthier statements) an “escort” or “guardian” to the God of the Universe:
a. he/they are located near God’s “throne”, whatever that would mean in the invisible realm of the divine;
b. he/they has/have wings.
c. they are described as “glowing” or “burning” to borrow from the same imagery as The Transfiguration described in the New Testament… where “light” or “sparkling” indicates divinity.
If the Bible were a shorter book, you might have been able to reconcile science with scripture. For example, if Genesis had not been included, we would probably be cooking marshmallows over a fire right now!
Science cannot reconcile:
- A Global Flood < can’t be done.
- A 6000 year age for the Earth < it would be terrifically obvious if the Earth was that young.
- Talking Donkey? Magic hair of Samson? < These are borrowed stories… not science.
- Dare I even mention Firmament at this point?
- Job’s treasuries of snow and ice? < Totally impossible.
I said they are similar.
Ummm ! S’mores! Good points George. And if I understand you right, you are saying the science and scripture cannot be reconciled in the literal sense, sort of like how it has pointed out that following the law to the letter is necessary for salvation, but no one can do it, thus grace. Which means we must reconcile them on a different level, more in a figurative sense.
Exactly! You are obviously not just a pretty face!
But how do we think @Reggie_O_Donoghue means “reconciling science and scripture”?
Reggie, if your intention was as JPM describes it, then my apologies. But somehow, at the time, it didn’t sound like that was what you meant…
He is right about the serpent not being a snake. They had about seven words for snake and they use the one that means “to practice divination” as a verb and is literally “shining one”?
Regarding the Sons of God and the Nephilim, he is getting way more fantastical than the text demands.
In addition to the cherubim, another strange beast we find in the OT is the seraph. Seraphim are winged cobras often represented in Egyptian art in association with Syro-Phoenician thrones and on Israelite seals, with wings outstretched to protect the deity. Seraphs figure in the awe-inspiring passage in Isaiah 6:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
The bolded part above is part of the Sanctus, which In turn is part of the mass. If you want to hear something beautiful, check out the Sanctus from Bach’s B minor Mass!
Thank you Mark. You have obviously spent much time and thought on this. What do you think the serpent (nachash) is? Heiser draws on the book of Enoch which clearly is related to the Genesis 6 and of course Enoch himself is also mentioned as Noah’s grandfather. This seems to define who the sons of God are, who the sons of men are and who their daughters are. This also defines what the Nephilim and watchers are. Clearly these actions by the sons of God led to the flood.
I am also interested in understanding the description of the sons of God in Job? Where is that?
I think that Heiser doesn’t believe that all Sons of God and Watchers were/are evil. But if I understand from the Book of Enoch Heiser in His reversing Hermon believes that this was what early Hebrews considered the heavenly division that led to the fall of man. I think that he believes that the book of Enoch though not canonacle would have been widely known/understood and given the context for these verses of Genesis.
Don’t reply to me; I am not Mark.
Sorry beaglelady. The website was having problems with my post to mark. Just curious have you looked at the heiser videos reversing hermon, unseen realm and angels, demons, Nephilim,cherubim and other spiritual beings?
Yes sir I have, though I have not thought about Satan even close to the degree that Heisner has. I only know what I have been shown and not more. That said I will give you the hypothesis, not conclusions, that I have. I think the serpent is Satan. Perhaps his original and intended role was to track the misdeeds of humanity and report to God. I can see how doing that for a few tens of thousands of years would give one a low view of humanity. And then to hear that God was going to make them in His own image? Its’ pride would not let it serve these creatures whose venal misdeeds had been his area of study.
The plan to uplift humanity started with this Adam kid, whom the LORD God was building all kinds of hedges around. Maybe he was like a prosecutor who crossed the line and went from catching and reporting misdeeds to entrapment. Nevertheless, God’s wisdom will prevail and it has all worked to His glory in Christ.
I believe Job 1:6 and 2:1 describes Satan being among the “sons of God” who present themselves, unless you are reading the Septuagint in which case it says “angels” (while retaining “sons of God” in Genesis 6). I believe I had that on the board on the 2nd half of the video.
Regarding the book of Enoch I feel more certain. It is not canon and there is a reason that it is not canon. If you will research the origins of the book you will learn that there was an original first chapter, which seems to be what is referenced in Jude. Its origins were in the distant past- though that does it make it from the original Enoch. That first chapter is orthodox and I believe was an inspired prophecy (hence Jude using it).
But the rest of the “book of Enoch” was added in stages later. There is a sharp break between chapter one and the succeeding chapters. The subject changes completely. I don’t give the rest of it any weight at all. I don’t consider them inspired writings- nor did those whose job it was to identify the canon. So I know it is “fun” reading, and titillating, but none of that makes it true.
I think Heisner goes off the rails when he views early Genesis through the lens of the book of Enoch. The only way early Genesis makes any sense is to view it through the lens of Christ. When we do, it is astounding how much more sense it makes. The ancient Jews did not have that advantage, we do. We should use it!
In Heiser’s 7 minute video, he says the Egyptian seraph is simply the Egyptian variant of the same invisible divine entity. Since, as he says, this entity doesn’t have any visible appearance, the artistic rendering of what it is and what it does depends on the cultural and artistic vocabulary.
Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just doing the reporting…
I meant the idea that God spoke to the Israelite’s in terms which they would understand, which the Facebook user argues is wrong.