Take a look at the photo above. It is a picture of an 18th century painting titled “The Abduction of Orithyia” by Francesco Solimena. It is based on a mythological Greek legend where Boreas, the god of the North Wind abducted Orithyia, the mortal daughter of Erechtheus, king of Thrace. Now I’m not really someone who is a lover of fine art, and I don’t profess to know anything about this painting or Greek mythology, but I certainly think this piece of art is quite interesting.
Let me ask you, when you look at this painting, what do you see? You see a mighty looking man with wings taking hold of a woman and carrying carrying her off up into the sky. Looks an awful lot like an angel, doesn’t he? There are also others in the foreground and background of this painting which I would categorize into two groups: mortals and angelic beings.
Notice that all of the mortals are human women. Now notice that all of the angelic creatures, painted to look like the stereotypical “cherubs” that we are all familiar with, are male. (Look closely…they’re equipped) It’s with this in mind that I find this piece of artwork VERY fascinating.
I am a believer that almost all myths and legends are typically based on some element of truth, however small it may be. Usually myths and legends are based on some sort of historical event in the ancient past. This is exactly why I find this painting so interesting. Consider the following verses from the Book of Genesis:
Genesis 6:1-2 Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
I hope the wheels in your head are starting to turn after reading this. To those who have never seen the painting above before, they could easily think that these verses are an accurate description of the painting.
So, why am I spending so much time talking about a painting? Well as I said, I believe that most myths are based on truth; and the truth according to the Bible, is that at some time in the ancient past the “Sons of God” took daughters of men to be their wives.
But let’s break this down a bit. Who exactly were the Sons of God? This term comes from the Hebrew “B’nai Elohim”, a term used in the Old Testament to refer to angels. (Job 1:6, 38:7, Psalm 29:1) Thus, when looking at the passage from Genesis, what it’s telling us is that in ancient times, sinful angels (who had fallen) were looking upon human women and found them to be beautiful. I think this concept of the “Sons of God” being angels is further validated by the fact that a distinction is made between men & daughters of men as opposed to the Sons of God. They are two different categories. (For those reading this who might be Bible nerds like me, I’ll address the “Sethite Theory” in another post at a later date)
Continuing on… What is it that these Sons of God are doing according to the verses in Genesis? They are taking human females, all of whom they chose. Now you might simply read this and think that these angelic beings were marrying human women; but let me throw another idea your way. Another word that could be substituted for “took” is “abducted”. And when you read the verses this way, it gives a whole new spin to the phrase at the end of the verse “all of whom they chose“. Read this way, what we have is a picture of angels abducting human females of their choosing. And for what purpose?
Well, the verse says that they “took wives”, but again I think this can be understood from a different viewpoint than the one that immediately comes to mind. Back in the time when the Bible was written, people weren’t as open, blunt, or willing to talk about sensitive subjects like sex. They had a much more refined and respectful way of talking about such things. That is what I believe the author is doing here. When you think of wives or marriage, naturally one of the distinctive characteristics of marriage is a sexual relationship between members of the opposite sex. So, when we read in these verses that the angels “took wives” of whom they chose, I believe it is a tactful way of saying that these beings abducted the human females against their will (since the Sons of God appear to be the ones doing the choosing) and forced them to have sexual intercourse. In other words, this is a story of angels raping human women.
Sound far fetched? Let me call your attention back to the painting above and my statment about myths being based on truth. I think this is EXACTLY what the Bible is speaking about in Genesis 6. Furthermore, I also believe that if this concept isn’t understood by those who read the Bible, it will cause them to misinterpret and misunderstand much of the other material written in the Word of God.
I will elaborate more on this subject in future posts, but for now, let me leave you with a question to ponder… Can you think of anything from our modern day times where we hear about inhuman entities abducting human beings against their will for the purposes of sexual intercourse or experimentation? If you can’t, I urge you to do your homework. There are many many people in the world who can elaborate on the subject.