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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Genesis 6

 

 

Verse 1

Genesis 6:1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

Ver. 1. When men began to multiply.] Not good men only, but bad men too; who therefore took them more wives than one, that they might multiply amain. A numerous offspring is no sure sign of God’s special favour. It is well observed, that when God promised children as a blessing, he said, “The wife should be as the vine, and the children as olive plants”; - two [Psalms 128:3] of the best fruits, the one for cheering the heart, the other for clearing the face; [Psalms 104:15 9:9; 9:13] the one for sweetness, the other for fatness. “Blessed is the man that hath his quiver full of such, as are the arrows of a strong man.” [Psalms 127:4-5] Hence it follows, that they must have more in them than nature; for arrows are not arrows by growth, but by art: so they must be such children, the knottiness of whose nature is refined and reformed, and made smooth by grace. This workmanship of God in the hearts and lives of children, is like the engraving of a king’s “palace,” or the “polished corners” of the temple. [Psalms 144:12] This preserves “Jacob from confusion, and his face from waxing pale”: - this makes religious parents to “sanctify God’s name,” even to “sanctify the Holy One,” and with singular encouragement from “the God of Israel.” [Isaiah 29:22-23] It never goes well with the Church, but when the son marries the mother. [Isaiah 62:5]


Verse 2

Genesis 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they [were] fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

Ver. 2. That the sons of God saw the daughters.] Sons of God; such as had called themselves by his name, [Genesis 4:26] his peculiar professant people, called sons of Jehovah, [Deuteronomy 14:1] yea, his firstborn, and so higher than the kings of the earth. [Psalms 89:27] Hence, after mention made of the four monarchies, a greater than them all succeeds; and that is the "kingdom of the saints of the Most High"; [Daniel 7:17-18] saints at large he means; all "that have made a covenant with him by sacrifice". [Psalms 50:5] Now we read of sacrificing Sodomites; [Isaiah 1:10] "sinners in Sion"; [Isaiah 33:14] profligate professors; [Matthew 7:23] who, though called "Israel," yet are to God "as Ethiopians". [Amos 9:7] Such were these sons of God.

Saw the daughters of men that they were fair.] Beauty is a dangerous bait, and lust is sharpsighted. It is not safe gazing on a fair woman. How many have died of the wound in the eye! No one means has so enriched hell as beautiful faces. Take heed our eyes are not windows of wickedness and loopholes of lust. Make "a covenant with them" as Job; [Job 31:1] pray against the abuse of them with David; [Psalms 119:37] and curb them from forbidden objects, as Nazianzen, who had learned τους σφθαλμους σωφρονιζειν, to nurture his eyes, as himself tells us. {See note on "Genesis 3:6"}

They took them wives.] Of their own heads, without God’s licence, or parents’ consent; as Esau did; and of all which they chose, that is, that they liked and loved. Thus, as some marry by their ears, upon mere hearsay; others, by their fingers’ ends, for money; so these gallants married by their eyes. They were led by the "lust of their hearts, and sight of their eyes," [Proverbs 31:30] as Solomon’s young nobleman; not considering that "favour is deceitful, beauty vanity"; and that many a woman is like Helen without, but Hecuba within, or an earthen "potsherd covered with silver dross". [Proverbs 26:23] (a)


Verse 3

Genesis 6:3 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.

Ver. 3. My Spirit shall not always strive,] that is, I’ll consult no longer, but resolve to ruin them, as some gloss it; or, I’ll pull the sword out of the sheath, the soul out of the body, as others gather out of the Hebrew word (a) here used. But they do best, in my mind, that sense it thus: My Spirit - whereby I hitherto "went and preached," by Noah and other patriarchs, to those "spirits" (once in pleasure, now) "in prison," [Ecclesiastes 11:9 1 Peter 3:18-19] but prevailed not - shall not always strive with perverse men by preaching, disputing, convincing, in the mouths of my servants, whom I have sent unto them; nor in their own minds and consciences, by inward checks and motions, which they have made no good use of. Delicata res est Spiritus Dei . Grieve it once, and you may drive it away for ever. It "bloweth where it listeth," and will not be at your whistle.

For that he also is flesh.] He is therefore the worse, because he ought to be better, (b) God expects singular things from his people, and takes it ill when they are "carnal and walk as men". [1 Corinthians 3:3] They should be higher than others by head and shoulders, as Saul was; and all that is in them, or comes from them, should be as the fruit of the trees in Paradise, fair to the eye, and sweet to the taste.

Yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.] It shall be so long ere I destroy. This longsuffering of God is celebrated by St Peter, [1 Peter 3:19-20 2 Peter 2:5] and well it may; for had he not been God, and not man, he could never have held his hands so long. Neither indeed did he; for so extreme was the provocation, that he cut them off twenty years of this promised count: that all the earth might "know" to their woe his "breach of promise". [Numbers 14:34]


Verse 4

Genesis 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare [children] to them, the same [became] mighty men which [were] of old, men of renown.

Ver. 4. There were giants.] Gigantes, quasi Gηγενεις, earth-sprung. They were "of the earth, they spake of the earth," [John 3:31] and the earth heard them; heard them, I say, and fell before them; as the beasts of the field do before the roaring lion. Hence they are called in Hebrew, Nephilim; such as being fallen from God, fell upon men, [Job 1:15] and by fear and force, made others fall before them. Thus they sought to renown and raise themselves, by depressing others, and doing violence. But this was not the way; for now they lie shrouded in the sheet of shame. To "do worthily in Ephrata," is to "be famous in Bethlehem". [Ruth 4:11] To be patiently perseverant "in well-doing," is to "seek for glory and honour"; yea, to attain "immortality and eternal life" [Romans 2:7]


Verse 5

Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.

Ver. 5. The wickedness of man was great in the earth.] Which was now grown so foul, that God saw it but time to wash it with a flood; as he shall shortly do again with streams of fire. He destroyed the world then with water, for the heat of lust; he shall destroy it with fire, for the coldness of love, as saith Ludolfu. (a)

And that every imagination of the thoughts.] Omne figmentum cogitationum :The whole fiction or "every creature of the heart," as the apostle has it, [Hebrews 4:13] speaking there of the thoughts and intents of the heart. There is a general disorderliness; the whole frame is out of frame. (b) The understanding dark as hell, and yet proud as the devil. The will cross and overthwart. The memory slippery and waterish to receive and retain good impressions; but of a marble firmness to hold fast that which is evil. The affections crooked and preposterous. The very tongue a world of wickedness, what then the heart? Si trabes in oculo, strues in corde . The operations thereof are evil, only evil; "every day evil," saith this text; and assigneth it for the source of the old world’s wickedness. David also resolves his adultery and murder into this pravity of his nature, as the principle of it; [Psalms 51:5] so doth Job; [Job 40:4] Paul; [Romans 7:24] Isaiah [Isaiah 6:5] The whole Church [Isaiah 64:6] cries out, "Unclean, unclean," [Leviticus 13:45] and, "All we like sheep have gone astray". [Isaiah 53:6] Now, as no creature is more apt to wander, so none less able to return, than a sheep. "The ox knoweth his owner, the ass his master’s crib"; [Isaiah 1:3] the very swine accustomed to the trough, if he go abroad, yet at night will find the way home again: not so the sheep. Lo! such is man. Quintilian, therefore, was quite out when he said, "It is more marvel that one man sinneth, than that all men should live honestly; sin is so against the nature of man." But he erred, not knowing the Scripture. For "do ye think," saith St James, alluding to this text, "that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?" [James 4:5] The civil man’s nature is as bad as the worst, - not changed, but chained up. Truly said Cicero, Cum primum nascimur in omni continuo pravitate versamur . We are no sooner born than buried in a bog of wickedness.


Verse 6

Genesis 6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

Ver. 6. And it repented the Lord, &c., and it grieved him.] These things are spoken of God ανθρωποπαθως, after the manner of men; but must be taken and understood θεοσπρεπως, as it beseemeth God. When repentance is attributed to God, saith Mr Perkins, it noteth only the alteration of things and actions done by him, and no change of his purpose and secret decree, which is immutable. God’s repentance, saith another learned divine, (a) is not a change of his will, but of his work. Repentance with man is the changing of his will; repentance with God is the willing of a change. Mutatio rei, non Dei; effectus, non affectus; facti, non confilii .


Verse 7

Genesis 6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

Ver. 7. I will destroy man.] See here the venemous and mischievous nature of sin. It causeth God to make a world, and again to unmake it: it sets him against man his masterpiece, and makes him, though he be φιλανθρωπος, not only to devise, but to delight in the destruction of his own creature, to "mock at," and make merry in his "calamity," [Proverbs 1:26] to deliver "the beloved of his soul into the hands of the destroyer". [Jeremiah 12:7] Time was, when Christ, being by at the creation, "rejoiced in this habitable part of God’s earth, and his delights were with the sons of men". [Proverbs 8:31] But since the fall, it is far otherwise; for he is "of more pure eyes than to behold sin" [Habakkuk 1:13] with patience. He hates it worse than he hates the devil: for he hates the devil for sin’s sake, and not sin for the devil’s sake. Now the natural and next effect of hatred is revenge. Hence he resolves, "I will destroy man."

Both man and beast, the creeping thing, &c.] Why, "what have those poor sheep done?" [2 Samuel 24:17] They are all undone by man’s sin, and are, for his punishment, to perish with him, as they were created for him. This is a piece of that bondage they are still subject to; and grievously groan under, waiting deliverance. [Romans 8:21-22]


Verse 8

Genesis 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

Ver. 8. But Noah found grace.] Because in covenant with God; who of himself was a child of wrath, and saved by grace only, though "just and perfect in his generation." The mercy seat was no larger than the ark; to show that the grace of God extends no further than the covenant. As all out of the ark were drowned, so all out of the covenant are damned.


Verse 9

Genesis 6:9 These [are] the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man [and] perfect in his generations, [and] Noah walked with God.

Ver. 9. Noah was a just man.] By a twofold justice: 1. imputed; 2. imparted. By the former he was justified; by the latter, sanctified: and note, that he found grace in God’s eyes, before he was either of these; for grace is the foundation of all our felicity, and comprehends all blessings, as manna is said to have done all good tastes,

Perfect in his generation.] At best in those worst times, which is a singular commendation; and perfect, that is upright: aiming at perfection, willing {θελοντες, Hebrews 13:18} in all things to please God; and yet not more desiring to be perfect, than hating to seem only to be so. Or, Noah was perfect, compared to that sinful generation; which yet gloried in the title of the sons of God, and children of the Church. But was not Judas called "friend," and Dives "son?" [Luke 16:25] Hath not many a ship been known by the name of "safeguard" and "goodspeed," which yet hath dashed upon the rocks, or miscarried by-pirates? External privileges profit not, where the heart is not upright, but increase wrath. It was an aggravation to Solomon’s sin, that God "had appeared unto him twice"; [1 Kings 11:9] and that he had been timely forewarned by his mother to beware of wine and women, [Proverbs 31:3-4] both which he was afterwards, nevertheless, most inordinately addicted to. [Ecclesiastes 2:1]


Verse 10

Genesis 6:10 And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Ver. 10. Shem, Ham, and Japheth.] {See Trapp on "Genesis 5:32"}


Verse 11

Genesis 6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.

Ver. 11. The earth also was corrupt before God.] Or, rotten, putrid, and stank again. Sin is an offence to all God’s senses; yea, to his very soul, as he complains in Isaiah 1:1-16. Oh that it were so to ours! then would we not hide it under our tongues, as a child doth sugar, and harbour it in our hearts; yea, let it eat of our meat, and drink of our cup, and lie in our bosoms, as the poor man’s lamb did in Nathan’s parable. [2 Samuel 12:3] Lust was but a stranger to David, as the prophet there intimates [2 Samuel 12:4] At other times, and when himself, "I hate vain thoughts," saith he, [Psalms 119:113] yea, "every false way," [Psalms 119:104] as the vomit of a dog, as the devil’s excrements, as the putrefaction of a dead soul, dead in trespasses; dead and rotten, as here, stinking ( τεταρταιος), worse before God, than Lazarus was or could be, after he had lain four days in the grave. [John 11:39]


Verse 12

Genesis 6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.

Ver. 12. All flesh had corrupted his way.] General defection precedes general destruction; as here all sorts and sexes were fallen from God. All kinds of sins were common among them. In the family, promiscuous lusts, unlawful marriages, &c. In the state, tyranny, violence, injustice. In the Church, contempt of God’s word; abuse of his patience to presumption; of his bounty to security in sin. For they ate, they drank, they married, they planted, they builded, &c. And all this they did constantly and pleasantly, passing from eating to drinking; from drinking to marrying (for, Venus in vinis , and gluttony, is the gallery that wantonness walks through); from marrying to planting, for the use of posterity, as St Luke sweetly sets forth by an elegant rhetorical figure (a) All this they did, and God was silent, [Psalms 22:2] therefore their hearts grew fat as brawn, and they knew nothing, saith our Saviour, nor would know, till the very day that the flood came. Into such a dead lethargy were they cast by their sins; which were therefore grown ripe, and ready for the sickle.


Verse 13

Genesis 6:13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

Ver. 13. The end of all flesh is come before me.] I will surely, and swiftly ( certissime citissimeque) destroy them. A like threatening there is used in Ezekiel 7:2-3; Ezekiel 7:6, against Israel, when once their sins were full ripe, and "hanged but for mowing," as we say: "The end is come," "is come," "is come," and so some ten or twelve times, "Is come, is come," q.d., destruction is at next door by, and Noah must know it too. Not by his skill in astrology, as Berosus belies him, but by divine premonition. For "shall I hide from" Noah, from "Abraham," "that thing which I do"? [Genesis 18:17] No surely, they shall know all: they shall be both of God’s court and counsel For "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him" [Psalms 25:14] And "the Lord will do nothing" of this nature, "but he will first reveal it unto his servants the prophets". [Amos 3:7] And even to this day, the more faithful and familiar we are with God, so much the sooner and better do we foresee his judgments, and can foreshow them to others; as those that are well acquainted with men, know by their looks and gestures that which strangers understand not, but by their actions: As finer tempers are more sensible of the changes of weather, &c.

I will destroy them.] I will corrupt them, - so the Hebrew hath it, - I will punish them in kind; pay them in their own coin; corrupt them from the earth, as they have corrupted themselves in the earth, which also now is burdened with them, and cries to me for a vomit to spue them out.


Verse 14

Genesis 6:14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.

Ver. 14. Make thee an ark.] Or chest, or coffin. And indeed by the description here set down, the ark, in shape, was like to a coffin for a man’s body, six times so long as it was broad, and ten times so long as it was high: and so fit to figure out, saith an interpreter, (a) Christ’s death and burial, and ours with him, by mortification of the old man: as the apostle applies this type to baptism, [1 Peter 3:20-21] whereby we are become "dead" and "buried with Christ". [Romans 6:3-4; Romans 6:6] The poets’ ship, "Argos," may have reference to this ark.


Verse 16

Genesis 6:16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; [with] lower, second, and third [stories] shalt thou make it.

Ver. 16. A window shalt thou make.] The ark had little outward light; so the Church, till she become triumphant. There could not but be much stench among all those creatures, though shut up in several rooms; so here, there is much annoyance to those that have their "senses exercised to discern good and evil". [Hebrews 5:14] Compare the estate of Prince Charles in his queen-mother’s womb with his condition at full age, in all the glory of his father’s court; there is a broad difference. And it may fitly resemble, saith one, (a) the difference of our present and future estate; while the Church doth here travail of us, we are pent up in dark cloisters, and annoyed with much stench of sin, both in ourselves and others; but when we come to heaven, we shall see and enjoy the light of life, our feet shall be as hinds’ feet, upon the everlasting mountains.


Verse 17

Genesis 6:17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein [is] the breath of life, from under heaven; [and] every thing that [is] in the earth shall die.

Ver. 17. And behold I, even I.] Verba stomachantis, &c., confirmantis veritatem comminationis suae . Abused mercy turns into fury. God will not alway serve men for a sinning stock. Crudelem medicum intemperans ager facit. (a)

Every thing that is in the earth shall die.] A dismal doom; and God is now absolute in his threatening, because he will be resolute in his execution. Oh, tremble and sin not; while others sin and tremble not. "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry"; [Psalms 2:12] "Who knoweth the power of his anger? Surely according to our fear, is his wrath". [Psalms 90:11] It is a just presage and desert of ruin, not to be warned. God hath hanged up the old world in gibbets, as it were, for our admonition. Worthily are they made examples, that will not take them. Who pities the second captain, consumed by fire with his company, [2 Kings 1:11-12] since he had a fair warning, but would not beware by it? "Behold the day of the Lord cometh, that shall burn as an oven," [Malachi 4:1] This last day was foretold by Enoch, [ 1:14] before the deluge was by Noah. Longer it is before it comes, but shall be more terrible when it is come.


Verse 18

Genesis 6:18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.

Ver. 18. Thou and thy sons.] Yet Ham, soon after, degenerated: for the present he concealed his wickedness from men; from God he could not. He bears with hypocrites in his visible Church for a season, till the time of separation. In area nobiscum esse possunt, in horreo non possunt ,{ a} "He will thoroughly purge his floor". [Matthew 3:12] "The Canaanite shall not be in the land any longer"; nor "the unclean spirit". [Zechariah 13:2; Zechariah 14:21] O foelicem illam dieculam !

Two of every sort,] i.e., Two at least: for of clean creatures (fit for sacrifice) (b) there were more.


Verse 20

Genesis 6:20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every [sort] shall come unto thee, to keep [them] alive.

Ver. 20. Two of every sort shall come unto thee.] "For they are all thy servants," saith David; [Psalms 119:91] they wait upon thy word. This Noah might make good use of; and did, no doubt. See how sequacious these poor creatures are to God their centurion. If he bid them come, they come; if go, they go. And shall not I obey God, and follow his call, be there never so many lions in my way?


Verse 21

Genesis 6:21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather [it] to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.

Ver. 21. Take thou unto thee of all food.] God could have kept them alive without either food or ark. But he will have us serve his providence, in use of lawful means; and so to trust him, as that we do not tempt him.


Verse 22

Genesis 6:22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

Ver. 22. Thus did Noah, according to all, &c.] The wicked world could not flout him out of his faith; but that "moved with fear," [Hebrews 11:7] he preacheth, and buildeth, and finisheth; every stroke upon the ark being a real sermon (as Nazianzen hath it) to forewarn them to flee from the wrath to come; (a) which yet they did not, - no, not the very shipwrights that made the ark, - but were all buried together, in one universal grave of waters.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 6:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-6.html. 1865-1868.

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