The Human Desire to Become Like God—and Its Dangers

Through careful examination of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, James A. Diamond identifies several instances of humans who strive to be like God, and are punished for their hubris. This pattern begins with Adam and Eve, who eat the forbidden fruit after the serpent tells them that “the day ye eat thereof . . . ye shall be as gods” (3:5) and continues through the story of the Tower of Babel. Diamond argues that one of the more mysterious passages in Genesis should be read as yet another example of such behavior:

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 [b’nei elohim] 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.” (6:1-3)

Diamond, without trying to interpret the exact meaning of the ambiguous phrase translated here as “sons of God,” explains these verses thus:

I suggest . . . fathers were making use of their daughters’ [beauty] for their own empowerment, presenting them in such a way as to be attractive to these powerful b’nei elohim, to increase the power and prestige of their families. It therefore is another attempt to trespass into God’s domain and become godlike. . . . Whether the girls wished to marry these b’nei elohim did not concern the fathers (or the b’nei elohim), and neither did the fact that this kind of marriage subverts Lord’s plan for human procreation.

The b’nei elohim story is often described as a fragment or narrative standalone, since it is immediately followed by the flood story which seems to have no patent connection to it. . . . Read in this larger context of “beginnings,” however, which presents instances of human beings overreaching to become like God, this prelude to the flood story may offer an example of a specific evil that human beings pursue that pushes the Lord to wish to bring their society to an end.

The story then is not simply a mythic tale of b’nei elohim abducting human women, but rather another instance of human beings longing to achieve some form of godlike status. Fathers exploited their daughter’s beauty to entice the b’nei elohim into marrying them and propagating demi-gods instead of marrying their daughters to human men and propagating the human species as God intended.


More about: Garden of Eden, Genesis, Hebrew Bible


Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy