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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Genesis 9



Verses 1-7

Be Fruitful and Multiply - After the Flood, God reinstated the command that He had first given to man in Genesis 1:28-29, which was to be fruitful and multiple and take dominion over the earth.

Genesis 1:28, "And God gave them his blessing and said to them, Be fertile and have increase, and make the earth full and be masters of it; be rulers over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing moving on the earth."

After the flood, God also allows man to eat meat from the animal kingdom. In the beginning God allowed man to eat only from the plant kingdom. Now he is allowed to each any animal of the as long as its blood was not still in its flesh. One possible reason is that disease is easily passed from an animal to a person through the blood and other body fluids. Song of Solomon , God was giving man a standard of hygiene.

Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

Genesis 9:2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.

Genesis 9:2Comments- Since God is now going to allow man to kill beasts for food, He wisely places the fear of man within them so that they can run and hide. Otherwise, man in his depravity and foolishness, would walk amongst herds and flocks and kill them all for sheer pleasure. Thus, God instills within the animals an instinct for self-preservation.

This instinctive fear of man that will now become a part of the animals' character raises the issue of how God directs the natural world in which we live. For example, God's intimate involvement in nature is described in Job 38-41, which says the Lord gives animals wisdom and commands ( Job 39:26-27).

Genesis 9:3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

Genesis 9:3Comments- Prior to the Flood, God gave man only the plants to eat ( Genesis 1:29). After the Flood, man is allowed to eat meat. Why did God give man meat to eat after the Flood and not before it? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that mankind now need the protein to help restore the skin and other harmful effects of ultraviolet rays that could not penetrate the clouds before the Flood. Thus, meat is an important part of our diet with these new characteristics of the earth.

Genesis 1:29, "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat."

Man is now allowed to eat meat, but man cannot eat the blood, or raw flesh with the blood, still in the meat. Up until the time of this passage, mankind had been commanded to eat a vegetarian diet, based on Genesis 1:29.

This is the first place in the Bible where man is allowed to eat meat. In Leviticus 11:1-47 God lists the clean and unclean animals that man is allowed to eat. This occurs fifteen hundred years after the time of Noah. The Scriptures tell us that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every matter is confirmed ( Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16, 2 Corinthians 13:1). Thus, we have confirmation that man needs to eat meat as part of a balanced and healthy diet.

Genesis 9:4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

Genesis 9:4Comments- The NAB reads, "Only flesh with its lifeblood still in it you shall not eat." One reason that God did not want people to eat meat with its blood is because blood is a primary way in which disease is transmitted. Thus, they were to eat meat well cooked because of hygiene.

Genesis 9:5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man"s brother will I require the life of man.

Genesis 9:5Comments- Although man can now kill beasts for food ( Genesis 9:3-4), he cannot kill a man lest judgment fall upon the manslayer. The judgment is life for life. Genesis 9:5 tells us that God will require retribution if a beast kills a Prayer of Manasseh , or if a man kills his brother. The KJV is a little difficult to follow. Genesis 9:5 does not say that God will kill anyone who kills an animal with blood (mammals) in it, because:

1. Noah has just shed the blood of clean beast and clean fowl with a sacrifice to God in Genesis 8:20, "And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar."

2. Also, in Genesis 9:3, God has just said that man can eat every moving thing that lives. But he cautioned in verse four, "Only flesh with its lifeblood still in it you shall not eat" (NAB).

3. In addition, in the rest of the book of Genesis , the patriarchs continually ate animals and made animal sacrifices.

Thus, God is really saying here that he will require a reckoning when a man is killed. He will require it if a beast kills a Prayer of Manasseh , or if another man kills his brother. Note other modern English translations:

NKJV, "Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man"s brother I will require the life of man." ( Genesis 9:5)

YLT, "And only your blood for your lives do I require; from the hand of every living thing I require it, and from the hand of Prayer of Manasseh , from the hand of every man"s brother I require the life of man." ( Genesis 9:5)

Genesis 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man"s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Genesis 9:6Comments- Genesis 9:6 repeats Genesis 9:5 for clarification as well as for emphasis.

Genesis 9:7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

Genesis 9:5-7Comments- The Law of Retribution - In Genesis 9:5-6 we see the first law of retribution given to mankind by God. It was man's excessive violence towards one another that brought divine judgment upon mankind in the form of the flood. He will now require judgment as each man commits violence against one another, which will avoid God building up His wrath again to the point of destroying the earth. If men will punish criminal Acts , iniquity will be kept in check so that it does not overwhelm the human race as it did leading up to the flood. In this manner mankind can now fulfill God's original commandment to "be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein." ( Genesis 9:7)

Prior to this command of life for life, God had not been requiring it. For example, when Cain killed Abel, God did not require the life of Cain, but rather placed a curse upon him ( Genesis 4:11-12). Also, Lamech killed a man in Genesis 4:23, and God did not require his life. Now God is establishing law and order into a fallen race.

Genesis 4:11-12, "And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother"s blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth."

Genesis 4:23, "And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt."

Verses 8-17

God's Covenant with Noah and His Seed and with Every Living Creature - In Genesis 9:8-17 the Lord makes a covenant with Noah. This is God's covenant to Noah and every living creature.

Genesis 9:8 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,

Genesis 9:9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

Genesis 9:10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.

Genesis 9:11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

Genesis 9:11Comments- Isaiah compares God's promise to remove His wrath off of Israel to His promise to Noah to never again destroy the earth by a flood ( Isaiah 54:9).

Isaiah 54:9, "For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee."

Genesis 9:11Comments- In Genesis 9:12 God promises Noah that He would never again destroy mankind by a flood. But God will again judge men and destroy them. From now on He will do it through famine, pestilences, earthquakes and the sword. We see this method of judgment upon mankind in its fullness during the Tribulation Period described in the book of Revelation. Thus, God will destroy the earth one more time, but in a different manner. I believe one reason that God now chooses a different form of judgment upon mankind is because the earth has now changed it physical characteristics. God uses the new characteristics of the earth to inflict judgment.

Genesis 9:12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

Genesis 9:13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

Genesis 9:13Comments- I do not think that the rainbow could have appeared in the former earth prior to the Flood, since it seems to be a part of the characteristics of this post-flood earth.

Genesis 9:14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

Genesis 9:15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Genesis 9:15Comments- According to Isaiah 54:7-9 God destroyed the earth by the Flood in a "surge of anger" ( Isaiah 54:8 a in the NIV). Now His anger is past.

Isaiah 54:7-9, "For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee."

Genesis 9:16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

Genesis 9:17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

Genesis 9:17Comments- The token of a covenant between God and Noah was the rainbow. In contrast, the token of the covenant between God and Abraham was circumcision. The token, or guarantee, of a covenant between God and mankind came through Jesus Christ's shed blood and the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Verses 18-27

Noah Curses Canaan - Genesis 9:18-27 gives us the story of Noah's drunkenness and the curst that he placed upon Canaan. Noah planted a vineyard and drank of the wine and was drunk. His son Ham found Noah in his nakedness and went and told his two brothers who were outside. Shem and Japheth responded by laying a garment upon their shoulders and walked in backwards so as not to see his nakedness and covered their father Noah. When Noah awoke he cursed Canaan the son of Ham.

The Meaning of the Curse- It is a little difficult for us to understand why such a simply act invoked a curse upon his lineage. Commentators offer several suggestions. (1) Some scholars suggest that Shem went out and made fun of his father's nakedness and this was his sin, using the phrase, "Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without" to support this view (Josephus Antiquities 361, Matthew Henry, Keil-Delitzsch). 128] (2) Others go so far as to say that Shem lay with his father as an act of incest, or lay with his father's wife, using the phrase "And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him" to support this view. This phrase does say that Shem actually did something to his father; and the word "know" is used many other times in Scripture when describing a man "knowing" his wife sexually. Thus, some make the conclusion that incest was committed. (John Gill cites several ancient Jewish rabbis who held this view) 129] (3) I do not take either of these two views at this point in my studies. The Book of Jubilees does not give us any additional insight into this passage of Scriptures. Noah was a righteous man so that he could have known things by a supernatural word of knowledge.

128] Matthew Henry, Genesis, in Matthew Henry"s Commentary on the Whole Bible, New Modern Edition, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1991), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), notes on Genesis 9:18-23; C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Pentateuch, vol 1, in Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, trans. James Martin, in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), comments on Genesis 9:18-25.

129] John Gill, Genesis , in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Genesis 9:22.

Genesis 9:18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.

Genesis 9:19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.

Genesis 9:19Comments- The Bible leaves no doubt that every man and earthly beast died upon the earth, not just in that region of the world ( Genesis 7:20-21). The waters rose above Mount Ararat ( Genesis 8:4), whose highest peak today reaches approximately 17 ,000 feet (ISBE). 130]

130] George Frederick Wright, "Ararat," in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, c 1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v 1511 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

Genesis 7:20-21, "Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:"

Genesis 8:4, "And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat."

Genesis 9:20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:

Genesis 9:21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.

Genesis 9:21 — "he was uncovered within his tent" - Comments- Drunkenness causes a sensation of overheating resulting from the dilation of the veins at the surface of the skin. 131] Therefore, Noah probably removed his clothing because he felt hot.

131] Jeff Herten writes, "As it circulates through the body, alcohol produces a mild dilation of blood vessels, especially in the skin. This produces the flushed face of the acutely intoxicated and may contribute to the large dilated veins seen on the cheeks and nose of many drunks...The dilation of skin blood vessels caused by alcohol may result in a prompt and dramatic heat loss as the warm blood, reaching the surface, radiates heat into the surrounding environment." [Jeff Herten, An Uncommon Drunk: Revelations of a High-Functioning Alcoholic (Bloomington, Indiana: iUniverse, 2006), 10-11.]

Genesis 9:22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.

Genesis 9:23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father"s nakedness.

Genesis 9:24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.

Genesis 9:24Comments- Noah was a righteous man and could have known things by a supernatural word of knowledge.

Genesis 9:25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.

Genesis 9:25Comments- Why did Noah curse Canaan, his grandson, and not Ham, who committed the sin? Justin Martyr says that God could not curse the three sons of Noah, whom He had blessed. Therefore, He cursed Ham's son. 132] Another view is that Noah did not curse his own Song of Solomon , lest he defame his own name; for a father finds honour in his son's prosperity, and dishonour in his son's failures ( Proverbs 10:1; Proverbs 10:5; Proverbs 15:20; Proverbs 17:21; Proverbs 17:25; Proverbs 19:13; Proverbs 19:26; Proverbs 23:15-16; Proverbs 23:24-25; Proverbs 29:3; Proverbs 29:15, Ecclesiastes 2:19).

132] Justin Martyr writes, "For another mystery was accomplished and predicted in the days of Noah, of which you are not aware. It is this: in the blessings wherewith Noah blessed his two sons, and in the curse pronounced on his son's son. For the Spirit of prophecy would not curse the son that had been by God blessed along with [his brothers]. But since the punishment of the sin would cleave to the whole descent of the son that mocked at his father's nakedness, he made the curse originate with his son." (Dialogue of Justin Martyr, chapter 139) See Justin Martyr, Dialogue of Justin Martyr, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 1: Translations of the writings of the Fathers down to A.D 325, eds. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, & A. Cleveland Coxe (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, c 1885, 1997), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 268.

Proverbs 10:1, "The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother."

Proverbs 10:5, "He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame."

Proverbs 19:26, "He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach."

We see examples of this in Scriptures. When Solomon sinned, the Lord was angry with Song of Solomon , but the Lord could not punish Solomon personally without bringing discredit upon the name of David, his father ( 1 Kings 11:9-12). Therefore, the Lord took the kingdom from Solomon's son. In the same sense, Noah could not punish his own Song of Solomon , without bringing discredit upon his own name; for it was Noah who raised and taught Ham.

1 Kings 11:9-12, "And the LORD was angry with Song of Solomon , because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded. Wherefore the LORD said unto Song of Solomon , Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father"s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son."

Because of Josiah"s faith, the Lord also postponed the calamities that He would bring upon Judah during the days of Josiah, and brought them upon the nation during the reign of his son instead ( 2 Kings 22:11-20).

We can see another example of this relationship in the form of a blessing passing between a father and a son in the story of David and Goliath, when King Saul rewarded David"s valor by making his father's house free. King Saul had already become acquainted with David, who played harp in the king"s presence ( 1 Samuel 16:17-23), but in the story of David and Goliath, the king wanted to know the name of David's father ( 1 Samuel 17:55-58). The king made this enquiry because he had promised to make the house of the father of the man that killed Goliath free ( 1 Samuel 17:25). Thus, the blessing passed upon David's father when he slew Goliath.

1 Samuel 17:55-58, "And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell. And the king said, Enquire thou whose son the stripling is. And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite."

1 Samuel 17:25, "And the men of Israel said, Have ye seen this man that is come up? surely to defy Israel is he come up: and it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father"s house free in Israel."

This idea might also found in the voice of a woman who blessed the mother of the Lord Jesus ( Luke 11:27).

Luke 11:27, "And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked."

The book of Proverbs also makes reference to this relationship between a father and a son ( Proverbs 10:1; Proverbs 15:20; Proverbs 17:25; Proverbs 19:13).

Proverbs 10:1, "The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother."

Proverbs 15:20, "A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother."

Proverbs 17:25, "A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him."

Proverbs 19:13, "A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping."

It is interesting to find a similar passage of Scripture in Genesis 48:1-22 where Israel blessed Joseph's two sons, his grandsons, before his death, rather than directly blessing his son Joseph.

Genesis 9:26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Genesis 9:26"Blessed be the LORD God of Shem" - Comments- God's name seems to be placed upon those in the lineage of Jesus Christ.

Genesis 9:26Comments - For the Hebrews , the descendants of Shem, Noah's blessing upon Shem, and prophecy of his dominion over the Canaanites comes to fulfillment during the conquest of Joshua when God gave Israel the Promised Land. At this time Israel subdued the Canannites according to the prophecy of Genesis 9:26.

Genesis 9:27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Genesis 9:27 — "God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem" - Comments- John Gill refers to the ancient Jewish rabbis in the Talmud who understand Genesis 9:27 to mean that "the language of Japheth being spoken in the tents of Shem." 133] Thus, the prophecy of this verse would say that the Greek language, which was the language of Japheth's descendants, would be spoken among the Jews, who are descendants of Shem. This would means that the New Testament would one day be written in the Greek language by Jews.

133] John Gill footnotes "T. Hieros. Megillah, folio 712. T. Bab. Megillah, fol 92. Bereshit Rabba, sect 36. folio 321." John Gill, Genesis , in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Genesis 9:27.

Verse 28-29

Epilogue to the Genealogy of Noah - Genesis 9:28-29 gives us the closing epilogue of the genealogy of Noah ( Genesis 6:9 to Genesis 9:29). It simply gives us the dates of his life after the Flood and the total life span that he lived. When the Scriptures tell us that a patriarch dies in a ripe old age in peace, it implies that he fulfilled the destiny that God had given him. I believe that we can see this in epilogues to the genealogies of the lives of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and in the life of Joseph.

Genesis 9:28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.

Genesis 9:29 And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.


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These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Genesis 9:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.

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