The Toledot of Adam, The Likeness of God, and the Identity of the Sons of God in Genesis 6

The toledot of Adam (Gen 5:1–6:8) records Adam/humanity’s creation (5:1-3), a genealogy of the antediluvian patriarchs (5:4-32), and a single narrative (Gen 6:1-8) that focuses on the “sons of God.” This paper will argue that the inclusion of the “sons of God” pericope in the toledot of Adam (Gen 5:1), the emphasis of Adam being made in the likeness of God (Gen 5:1), Seth being made in the likeness of Adam (Gen 5:3), and the focus on sonship in the genealogy, all suggest a narrative continuity to see the
“sons of God” in Genesis 6:1-8 as natural offspring of Adam, most likely his children through the Sethite line. While the identification “sons of God” refers to angelic beings in other texts (Job 1:6), the immediate context of the story within the toledot of Adam suggests a terrestrial reading.

Key to this thesis is the identification of Adam and his offspring as sons of God. Three considerations show this is indeed the case.

First, the introduction of the toledot (Gen 5:1-3) emphasizes Adam/humanity’s creation in the likeness of God. Like Genesis 1:26-28, Genesis 5:1-3 uses a three-fold repetition of bara to describe humanity’s creation (1:27, 5:1-2), records the creation of male and female in the image of God (1:27, 5:2) and God’s blessing over humanity (1:28, 5:2). Unlike Genesis 1:26-28, however, Genesis 5:1-3 reverses the word order of tselem and demut (e.g., demut occurs alone in 5:1 and first in Genesis 5:3), reverses the
prepositions (bet and kaph) modifying tselem and demut, and uses demut twice (5:1,3) but tselem only once. Importantly, Seth is described as a son fathered in the likeness of Adam (5:3), which provides a concrete and definitive context for understanding Adam’s creation in the likeness of God (see also Luke 3:38). Additionally, the text describes God naming humanity/Adam on the day he created him (5:1). Since naming is a right reserved for parents, and Adam immediately names his own son, Seth (5:3), God’s
naming of Adam indicates that Adam is God’s son.

Second, the genealogy of Genesis 5:4-32 follows father to son, focusing on the line of Adam through a particular son, Seth. The genealogy also notes that each patriarch produced many other sons and daughters.

Third, the genealogy describes Adam naming Seth (5:3) and Lamech naming Noah (5:29), emphasizing the right of the father to name his children. Just as God named Adam, fathers name their sons. The significance of naming also occurs in Genesis 6:4,
which describes the sons of God as “men of name,” while ironically providing no names for them at all.

In sum, the placement of the “sons of God” text within the toledot of Adam, as well as the focus on Adam’s divine parentage in Genesis 5:1-3 suggests a narrative continuity with Genesis 6:1-8.