The Story of Divine Rebellion and Deception

Divine Council

Yahweh rules the world through a divine council from his temple in the heavenly realm. Although the Bible is not silent on this matter, nor is there any lack of scholarly support for it,[1] Such an assembly and its operation are largely unknown by and hidden from the average Christian pastor, teacher and layman.

It was God’s will that the divine beings (lesser gods) that God had created would rule with God in the divine council, with special attention to the unseen realm. These divine beings are God’s imagers in the unseen realm, as they represent God there.

Human Imagers

God created mankind in his image, after his likeness and gave them dominion over the fish of the seas, the birds of the heavens, over the livestock, and the earth, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. (Gen 1.26-27)

He then commanded mankind to reproduce themselves and spread over the entire earth. They were to keep it in good order and exercise wise stewardship over the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. (Gen 1.28)

As food for mankind, God gave every seed-bearing plant and tree, and for every beast of the earth, bird of the heavens and everything that creeps and has the breath of life, God gave every green plant. (Gen 1.29-30)

Having created mankind on the sixth day, God declared that what he had done was “very good”, then God blessed and made the seventh day holy and rested from all the work he had done. (Gen 1.31-2.3)

Mankind was created as God’s imager. To be God’s imager is to be God’s representative on earth. It is a status and function. To be human is to image God.[2] The divine image cannot be lost or taken away. To the extent mankind is wayward his imaging is distorted, and God is misrepresented.

To image God man has been given various attributes, such as intelligence, creativity, and free will without which man could not fully image God. This latter attribute also gives man the ability to exercise his will contrary to God’s will.

It was God’s will that mankind rules the earth in accordance with God’s will as it is heaven.

10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Mt 6.10).

“The story of the Bible is about God’s will for, and rule of, the realms he has created, visible and invisible, through the imagers he has created, human and nonhuman. This divine agenda is played out in both realms, in deliberate tandem.”[3]

Dominion

Before there were any bushes, plants, or rain, and while a mist was emanating from and watering the ground, God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life and man became a living creature. (Gen 2.5-7)

God put man in a garden he planted in the East. God caused every tree that is pleasant and good for food to sprout from the ground, including two special trees: the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, where it divided into four rivers (Pishon, Gihon, Tigris and Euphrates) to water Havilah, Cush, Assyria and beyond. (Gen 2.8-14)

God assigned and delegated man to work and nurture the garden of Eden. He placed only one restriction on him: he must not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for in that day he shall surely die. (Gen 2.15-17)

To find a suitable helper for man, God brought very living being of the field and bird of the heavens to man for him to name. Man named all livestock, birds of the heavens and every living creature of the field. However, none of these living creatures were fit for man. God then put man into a deep sleep and separated from him a portion of man’s side and formed a woman. It was God’s will that man would leave his parents and unashamedly join himself with the woman as his wife. (Gen 2.18-25)

Deception

The woman was approached by the serpent, a lesser god who was bent on undermining God’s plan for man to rule over the earth.[4], This serpent was craftier than any other living creature of the field that the Lord God had made. The serpent wishing to plant doubt in woman’s mind suggested that God had forbidden them from eating from any tree in the garden. The woman corrected the serpent, but in so doing incorrectly said that merely touching the forbidden tree would cause them to die. Emboldened the serpent told the woman that she will not surely die. Instead he said that God knows that her eyes will be opened, and she will be like God, knowing good and evil. Softened up the woman saw that the forbidden tree was good for food, beautiful to look at, and desired to make one wise. Unable to resist, she ate some of the forbidden fruit and gave some to her husband that he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened and they realized that they were uncovered and sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness. (Gen 3.1-7)

When the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking in the garden in the breezy portion of the day, they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God asked the man to tell him where he was. The man said he was afraid when he heard God walking in the garden.Because he was naked he hid himself. God then asked who told him that he was naked. God then asked whether the man had eaten of the forbidden tree. The man said he had, but not before he blamed the woman who God had given him for giving him the forbidden fruit. God then asked the woman what she had done. The woman said she had eaten the forbidden fruit because the serpent had deceived her. (Gen 3.8-13)

Judgment

God then cursed the serpent, who had aspired to exalt himself above the YHWH, and brought him lower than all the livestock and living creatures of the field. God put enmity between the serpent and the woman and between the serpent’s offspring and the woman’s descendent. The women’s descendent shall strike a fatal blow to the serpent’s offspring, but the serpent’s offspring will strike a fatal blow to the lower nature of the descendent of the woman.(Gen 3.14-15)

In judgment God multiplied the childbearing pain of the woman. Although the woman’s desire would be contrary to her husband, he would rule over her. (Gen 3.16)

Because Adam listened to his wife and ate the forbidden fruit, God cursed the ground. In pain Adam would eat of the ground all the days of his life. It would produce thorns and thistles and Adam would eat the plants of the field. Until he died and returned to the ground from which he was taken, only with great effort could Adam produce food from the ground. (Gen. 3.17-19)

Hearing the promise of Gen 3.15, Adam named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all living. The Lord God made for Adam and Eve garments of skins and clothed them. (Gen 3.20-21)

Banishment

Because Adam now knew good and evil and lest he eat of the tree of life and live forever, the Lord God banished him from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. At the east of the garden, God placed cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to watch over the way to the tree of life. (Gen 3.22-24)

Divine Transgression

At the time of Noah, the sons of God (lesser gods) were attracted to the daughters of men who were multiplying on the earth, taking as wives any they chose. The Lord was not pleased, warning, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.” These unions produced the Nephilim, the heroes of old, warriors of renown. (Gen 6.1-4)

Overcome by lust two hundred angels descended on the summit of Mount Hermon in the days of Jared and swore an oath bound by mutual imprecations to not abandon the plan to choose wives from the daughters of men and beget children. And these are the names of their leaders: Samîazâz, their leader, Arâkîba, Râmêêl, Kôkabîêl, Tâmîêl, Râmîêl, Dânêl, Êzêqêêl, Barâqîjal, Asâêl, Armârôs, Batârêl, Anânêl, Zaqîêl, Samsâpêêl, Satarêl, Tûrêl, Jômjâêl, Sariêl. These are their chiefs of tens. (1 Enoch 6.1-6)

Each of the two hundred angels chose a wife for himself and fornicated with her and produced great giants. They also taught man forbidden knowledge: charms, enchantments, cutting of roots and knowledge of plants. These giants consumed all the property of man and when this was not enough, the giants turned against and devoured mankind. They also began to do unthinkable things against birds, animals, reptiles and fish. They even began to devour one another and drink their blood. The earth rose up and accused the lawless ones. (1 Enoch 7.1-6)

Azâzêl, the apparent leader of the angels, taught men to make swords, knives, shields, breastplates, and showed them the metals of the earth and the art of working them into bracelets, ornaments and other items. He also taught man the use of antimony, cosmetics, all kinds of costly stones and all coloring tinctures. As a result, godlessness, fornication and corruption thoroughly contaminated man. Other angels also taught man forbidden knowledge:

  • Semjâzâ; enchantments and root cuttings,
  • ’Armârôs: the resolving of enchantments,
  • Barâqîjâl: astrology,
  • Kôkabêl the constellations,
  • Êzêqêêl: knowledge of the clouds,
  • Araqiêl: signs of the earth,
  • Shamsiêl: signs of the sun,
  • Sariêl: the course of the moon.

As men perished, they cried out to heaven. (1 Enoch 8.1-4)

The loyal angels in heaven, Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel, heard the cries arising from the earth, and interceded with the “Lord of the ages”, “Lord of lords”, “God of gods”, “King of kings” and “God of the ages.” Their appeal is based on these attributes of God:

  • God’s throne stands for all ages,
  • God’s holy and glorious name is blessed unto all ages,
  • God has made all things,
  • God has power over all things,
  • God sees all things, nothing can hide from God.

Their appeal to God contains the following charges against the rebellious angels:

  • Azâzêl has taught unrighteousness and revealed eternal secrets which were preserved in heaven, but now which man is striving to learn.
  • Semjâzâ, who had authority over his associates, led angels to sleep and defile themselves with the women and revealed to them all kinds of sins. The women have borne giants and the whole earth has thereby been filled with blood and unrighteousness.
  • Because of the lawless deeds which are wrought on earth, the souls who have died are crying and ceaselessly appealing to heaven.

The loyal angels ask what they are to do in regard to these troubles. (1 Enoch 9.1-11)

The Most High, the Holy and Great One, gave the following instructions to the loyal angels:

  • He sent Uriel to Noah, the son of Lamech, to tell him to hide himself, because a great deluge will destroy all that is on the earth. Uriel was to tell Noah that he may escape, and his seed may be preserved forever.
  • The Lord told Raphael to bind Azâzêl hand and foot and cast him into the darkness and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dûdâêl, and cast him therein. The Lord told Raphael to place upon him rough and jagged rocks and cover him and his face with darkness and let him abide there forever. On judgment day he shall be cast into the fire. The Lord told Raphael to heal the earth the angels have corrupted so that the children of men may not perish through all the secret things that the Watchers have taught their sons. And the whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azâzêl: to him ascribe all sin.’ [Rational for Yom Kappur][Luke 3 genealogy – 70 generations]
  • The Lord told Gabriel to proceed against the bastards, reprobates and children of fornication, destroy the children of fornication and of the Watchers, send them against each other that they may destroy each other in battle so that they will not long survive. Although they hope for eternal life, any such request shall not be granted them.
  • The Lord told Michael to go, bind Semjâzâ and his associates who have joined and defiled themselves with women. When their sons have slain one another, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth till the great day of judgment, when they shall be led off to the abyss of fire and to torment of the prison in which they will be confined forever. The Lord said to destroy all wrong from the face of the earth and let every evil work end. (1 Enoch 10.1-16a)

Because the wickedness of man was great, and every thought was continually evil, the Lord, grieved in his heart, regretted that he had made man. The Lord resolved to blot out man, animals, creeping things and birds of the heavens. Only Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (Gen 6.5-8)

Noah and the Flood

Noah was righteous and blameless and walked with God. He had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Because all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth, filling it with violence, God told Noah that he will destroy all flesh with the earth.

He told Noah to make an ark of gopher wood, having rooms and covered inside and out with pitch. The ark was be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. The ark would have a roof within a cubit above the ark and a door would be set in its side. It would have a lower, second, and third decks.

Because God would bring a flood that would destroy all flesh having the breath of life, God would establish a covenant with Noah, his sons, his wife and his sons’ wives. God told Noah to bring his family, a male and female of every sort of living thing including birds, all according their kinds into the ark to keep them alive. Noah was to take and store every sort of food for their use during the flood. Noah did all that God commanded. (Gen 6.9-22)

On the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventh day of the month, the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. The flood continued forty days on the earth and the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day, on the six hundred and first year of Noah’s life, the waters had dried up. God commanded Noah to leave the ark, along with his family and all the animals and birds so that they may abound and be fruitful and multiply on the earth. (Gen 7.1-8.19)

God’s Covenant with Noah

Noah then built an altar, took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings to the Lord. When the Lord smelled their pleasing odor, the Lord promised, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Gen 8.20-22)

God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them:

  • Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
  • The fear and dread of you shall be upon every beast, every bird, everything that creeps and all the fish. Into your hand they are delivered.
  • Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. Before I gave you the green plants, now I give you everything.
  • You shall not eat flesh with its life, that is its blood.
  • For your lifeblood I will require a reckoning from every beast and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. (Gen 9.1-7)

God then established his covenant with Noah, his offspring, and all living creatures of the earth having the following provisions:

  • Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood,
  • Never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth,
  • The sign of this everlasting covenant is God’s bow in the cloud. (Gen 9.8-17)

Descendants of Noah

Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Ham was the father of Canaan) were the three sons of Noah who went forth from the ark and from whom the whole earth was populated. (Gen 9.18-19)

After the flood, Noah became a farmer and planted a vineyard. He became drunk from the wine and lay uncovered in his tent.

  • Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.
  • Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father.
  • Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.
  • When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he cursed Canaan:
    • Canaan shall be a servant of servants to his brothers,
    • God will bless Shem,
    • Canaan shall be Shem’s servant,
    • God will enlarge Japheth,
    • God will let Japheth dwell in the tents of Shem,
    • Canaan shall be Japheth’s servant.

[Two interpretative issues arise in this pericope:

  1. What was the nature of Ham’s offense?
  2. Why Ham’s son, Canaan, was cursed instead of Ham?

There are three views that attempt to answer these two questions, each of which fail to qualify as the best explanation:

  • Voyeurism – This view has enjoyed widespread support both in antiquity and in modernity.
  • Castration – This is the traditional rabbinic view, because of the weakness of the voyeurism view.
  • Paternal incest – This view is enjoying a surprising contemporary resurgence. This view characterizes the paternal incest as homosexual in nature. In other words, Ham engaged in homosexual sex with Noah. This view goes a long way toward identifying the term nakedness of his father as a Hebrew idiom for sexual intercourse. Its weakness is that it does not go far enough in identifying the nature of the intercourse.

The maternal incest view best explains the anomalous features of both the text and its relationship to its context. The key to understanding the nature of Ham’s offense is to recognize that the term nakedness of this father is a Hebrew idiom for heterosexual intercourse, specifically with the father’s wife. In other words, Ham took advantage of Noah’s drunkenness and had sexual relations with Noah’s wife, presumably Ham’s mother. For a complete exegesis of these two questions, see the paper on Noah’s Nakedness and the Curse on Canaan (Gen 9.20-27).

“Ham’s crime of maternal incest would have been an attempt to usurp Noah’s position as leader of the family clan. This explains why Ham would announce what he had done to his brothers—he was asserting authority over them (v. 22). The fact that Canaan was cursed suggests that Canaan was the offspring of Ham’s sexual intercourse with Noah’s wife. The son bore the punishment for the crime of his father. The curse on Canaan forms the backdrop to the later antipathy between Israel and the Canaanites.”

A surface reading of the narrative appears that Canaan was cursed immediately after Ham’s offense. Of course, that cannot be the case, because it would not have been known that Ham’s wife was even pregnant. Obviously, the redactor compressed the time frame in explaining what eventually happened.

Ham is repeatedly, and apparently superfluously, identified as “the father of Canaan (vv 18 and 20) because the narrator wishes to signal the reader that this narrative explains how Ham became “the father of Canaan. [5]]

After the flood Noah lived 350 years, dying at the age of 950 years. (Gen 9.20-29)

Descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japheth

  1. Japheth – From these the coastland peoples spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations.
    1. Gomer
      1. Ashkenaz
      2. Riphath
      3. Togarmah
    2. Magog
    3. Madai
    4. Javan
      1. Elishah
      2. Tarshish
      3. Kittim
      4. Dodanim
    5. Tubal
    6. Meshech
    7. Tira (Gen 10.1-5)
  2. Ham – These are the sons of Ham, by their clans, their languages, their lands, their nations.
    1. Cush
      1. Seba
      2. Havilah
      3. Sabtah
      4. Raamah
        1. Sheba
        2. Dedan
      5. Sabteca
      6. Nimrod
        1. First on earth to be a mighty man (גִּבֹּ֖ר, gib·bōr)
        2. Beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar
  • From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.
  1. [
  1. Egypt
    1. Ludim
    2. Anamim
    3. Lehabim
    4. Naphtuhim
    5. Pathusim
    6. Casluhim (from whom the Philistines came)
    7. Caphtorim
  2. Put
  3. Canaan
    1. Sidon
    2. Heth
    3. Jebusites
    4. Amorites
    5. Girgathites
    6. Hivits
    7. Arkites
    8. Sinites
    9. Aravadites
    10. Zemarites
    11. Hamathites (Gen 10.6-20)
  4. Shem – These are the sons of Shem, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations. The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the hill country of the east.
    1. Elam
    2. Asshur
    3. Arpachshad
      1. Shelah
        1. Eber
          1. Peleg
          2. b) Joktan
            • 1) Almodad
            • 2) Sheleph
            • 3) Hazarmaveth
            • 4) Jerah
            • 5) Hadoram
            • 6) Uzal
            • 7) Diklah
            • 8) Obal
            • 9) Abimael
            • 10) Sheba
            • 11) Ophir
            • 12) Havilah
            • 13) Jobab
          3. Lud
          4. Aram
            1. Uz
            2. Hul
            3. Gether
            4. Mash (Gen 10.21-32)

Babel, Disinheritance, and Dispersal

As the people migrated from the east, they settled in a plain in the land of Shinar. At that time, they had one language and the same words.

[God’s plan for man was to reproduce and disperse themselves across the face of earth. In so doing they would extend the garden of Eden throughout the earth. (Gen 1.28)

God reiterated his purpose for man to Noah after Noah disembarked from the ark saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” (Gen 9.1) and “Be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.” (Gen 9.7).]

The people’s plan:

  1. Make bricks and burn them thoroughly,
  2. They had brick for stone and bitumen for mortar,
  3. Let us build ourselves a city,
  4. Let us build a tower with its top in the heavens,
  5. Let us make a name for ourselves,
  6. Lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.

Yahweh’s assessment of their plan:

  1. They are one people,
  2. They have all one language,
  3. This is only the beginning of what they will do,
  4. Nothing they will propose to do will be impossible for them.

Yahweh’s response to their plan:

  1. Confuse their language
  2. So that they may not understand one another’s speech.
  3. The Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth,
  4. They left off building the city, therefore its name was called Babel (sounds like Hebrew word for confused).(Gen 11.1-9)

[Being fruitful, multiplying and filling the earth is central to God’s purpose for mankind and the earth. God could and would not ignore mankind’s resistance to his will and therefore he disinherited the nations, divided them and fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. (Deut 32.8)

Yahweh assigned members of his divine council to rule these nations. But Moses warned the Israelites not to worship gods assigned to the nations. They were his special people, who worshipped exclusively.

19 And do this so that you do not lift your eyes toward heaven and observe the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of the heaven, and be led astray and bow down to them and serve them, things that Yahweh your God has allotted to all of the peoples under all of the heaven. 20 But Yahweh has taken you and brought you out from the furnace of iron, from Egypt, to be a people of inheritance to him, as it is this day. (Deut 4.19-20)

The disinherited nations would have no direct relationship with Yahweh, but instead could worship and follow other gods.]

YWYH calls Abram and chooses Jacob as his Portion

When Yahweh disinherited the nations, he chose Jacob as his allotted heritage (Deut 32.9).

Yahweh said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Abram went as the Lord had told him and he journeyed on by stages toward the Negeb. (Gen 12.1-9)

[God changed Abram’s name to Abraham to better reflect his purpose for Abraham. Abraham was to be an ancestor of many nations. In other words, Israel was to be a kingdom of priests, calling the disinherited nations back to Yahweh.]

 

[1] Michael S. Heiser, a Hebrew Bible scholar who since 2000 has devoted his study to this and related areas has a “cumulative divine council bibliography … numbering over three thousand items.” See Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible First Edition. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015, 20, 389.

[2] Heiser, M. S. (2015). The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (First Edition, pp. 42–43). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Heiser, M. S. (2015). The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (First Edition, p. 38). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Heiser maintains that the serpent that approached woman in the garden should be understood to be a divine being, a lesser god in the divine realm who exalted himself above God, an action that resulted in his being cast out of the divine realm and down to earth. Heiser asserts that his position that Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 as they relate to Genesis 3 are the conceptual backdrop to these chapters is not idiosyncratic, that solid scholarship supports the Cosmic Rebel Story.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 9:25). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.