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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Genesis 8



Verses 1-19


The Ark, and the Saved and Renewed Humanity

Genesis 8:1-19

1And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark; and God made a wind to pass over the earth and the waters assuaged.[FN1] 2The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained 3 And the waters returned[FN2] from off the earth continually [to go and return, חלוך ושוב]; and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated 4 And the ark rested[FN3] in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the[FN4] mountains of Ararat 5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen 6 And it came to pass at the end of forty days that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made 7 And he sent forth a raven which went to and fro[FN5] until the waters were dried up from off the earth 8 Also he sent forth a dove from him to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground [הקלו, had become light or shallow, not had disappeared, as Lange says]. 9But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth; then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark 10 And he stayed (וַיָּחֶל) yet other seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark 11 And the dove came in to him in the evening; and lo, in her mouth was an olive-leaf plucked off; so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth 12 And he stayed [יְיָּחֶל Niphal] yet other seven days[FN6] and sent forth the dove; which returned not again to him any more 13 And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry 14 And in the second 15 month, on the seven-and-twentieth day of the month was the earth dried. And God16[Elohim] spake unto Noah, saying, Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee 17 Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl and of cattle, and of every creeping thing, that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful and multiply upon the earth 18 And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him 19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.


1. Stages of the Flood as taken in their Order. a. To its highest point: 1. Seven days, the going in to the ark; 2. forty days of the flood-storm; 3. one hundred and ten days, thereupon, of steady rain, and of the steady rising of the flood—so in general one hundred and fifty days. Threefold grade of advance: 1. The ark is lifted up from the ground; 2. the ark’s going upon the face of the waters; 3. its rising fifteen cubits high above the mountains, b. To the disappearance of the waters: In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, that Isaiah, after five months, or one hundred and fifty days, just as the waters begin to fall, the ark rests on Ararat. On the first day of the tenth month, that Isaiah, after two months and about twelve days (Knobel: seventy-two days after the settling of the ark), the mountain-peaks project[FN7] above the surface of the water. After forty days Noah opens the window and lets fly the raven. Next goes forth the dove. It is not directly said how long after the flight of the raven was the first flight of the dove. The second flight of the dove, however, was seven other days after the first, and therefore it is inferred that there were seven days between the flight of the raven and that of the dove; the third flight, again, was seven days after the second. We must either reckon in here an unnamed portion of time, or the time between the flight of the raven and the flight of the first dove must have been longer than seven days. Hereupon follows the last section of time, from the first day of the first month to the seven-and-twentieth day of the following, or the period of the full drying of the earth. In the six hundred and first year, etc. Luther, following the Septuagint, and by way of explanation, adds, “of Noah’s age.”

2. Genesis 8:1-4. The first Decrease of the Flood to the Resting of the Ark upon Ararat. And God remembered Noah and every living thing.—God’s remembering must be understood in an emphatic sense. God has always remembered Noah; but now he remembers him in a special sense—that he may accomplish his deliverance. There comes a turn in the flood, and the ground of it lay in the government of God. To the rule of judgment upon the human world, succeeds the rule of compassion for the deliverance of Noah and humanity, as also of the animal-world. It is his compassion, not simply his grace. For God remembered also the beasts. Thus did he remember them all, as Elohim, in his most universal relation to the earth. Had there been a longer continuance of the flood, there would not only have been want in the ark, but the ark itself would have been destroyed. A wind must blow to disperse and dry up the flood, whilst, on the other side, the fountains of the flood were closed. With the shutting of the fountains of the deep, or with the restoring of the continental tranquillity of the earth, and of the equilibrium of the atmosphere, there ceases also the extraordinary rain; and besides, the windows of heaven were closed. It is an inexactness of the narration, but which gives it an unmistakable historic character, that the time of the flood’s advance is given as one hundred and fifty days, and that the point of time when the ark settles, and when, therefore, the actual sinking of the waters must have commenced, falls in like manner at the end of the one hundred and fifty days. For Noah, indeed, the first turning-point in the sinking of the waters, which had commenced already before the running out of the one hundred and fifty days, could not have been a matter of observation. For him, the first sure sign of the sinking of the waters was the grounding of the ark.—And the waters returned.—Here is the whole process preliminarily described—how the waters, in their undulations here and there, kept steadily settling more and more. Then follows the indication of the first decrease.—Upon the mountains of Ararat.—“אֵרָרָט is the name of a territory ( 2 Kings 19:37) which is mentioned Jeremiah 51:27, as a kingdom near to Minni (Armenia),—probably the middle province of the Armenian territory, which Moses of Chorene calls Arairad, Araratia. The mountains of Ararat are, doubtless, the mountain-group which rises from the plain of the Araxes in two high peaks, the Great Ararat, 16,254feet, and the Lesser, about12,000 feet, above the level of the sea. This landing-place of the ark is of the highest significance for the development of humanity, as it is to be renewed after the flood. Armenia, the fountain-land of the Paradise rivers, a ‘cool, airy, well-watered, insular mountain-tract,’ as it has been called, lies in the middle of the old continent. And Song of Solomon, in a special manner, does the mountain of Ararat lie nearly in the middle, not only of the Great African-Asiatic desert tract, but also of the inland or Mediterranean waters, extending from Gibraltar to the sea of Baikal,—at the same time occupying the middle point in the longest line of extension of the Caucasian race, and of the Indo-Germanic lines of language and mythology, whilst it is also the middle point of the greatest reach of land in the old world as measured from the Cape of Good Hope to Behring’s Straits—in fact, the most peculiar point on the globe, from whose heights the lines and tribes of people, as they went forth from the sons of Noah, might spread themselves to all the regions of the earth (compare Von Raumer, ‘Palestine’).” Keil. See also Delitzsch, p266. The Koran has wrongly placed the landing-place of Noah on the hill Judhi[FN8] in the Kurd mountain-tract; the Samaritan version locates it on the mountains of Ceylon; the Sybillme books in Phrygia, in the native district of Marsyas. The Hindoo story of the flood names the Himalaya, the Greek Parnassus, as the landing-place of the delivered ancestor.” Knobel. Delitzsch and Keil agree in the supposition of the Armenian highlands.

3. Genesis 8:5-12. The time of the Signs of Deliverance, and of the increasing Hope, from the first Decrease until the Disappearance of the Flood. The first sign of deliverance was the resting of the ark upon Ararat. Now it continues still until the first day of the tenth month (Tammuz), or from seventy to seventy-three days, when there appears the second sign: the peaks of the Armenian highlands become visible; at all events, the ark, on their summit, had become free from the influence of the water. Noah, however, is not satisfied, until after forty days more, that the flood will not return; and then he opens the window (חַלּוֹן) of the sky-light (צֹהַר). Fresh light and air awaken, or rather gradually reanimate, the torpid animal-world, and Noah’s longing desire sends forth the raven through the opened window. (It is to be remarked that the ark had only one male raven, because from the unclean animals there was taken but one pair. From the staying out or returning of the raven Noah might, at all events, draw inferences; but this bird is noted for his appetite, that which makes all life in the ark strive for freedom. The raven, therefore, may be first ventured on this craving flight, since he can find food from the dead bodies left by the flood upon the mountains. “In the ancient world, the raven was regarded as a prophetic bird, and was therefore held sacred to Apollo. Something of this appears ( 1 Kings 17:4; 1 Kings 17:6) in his connection with the prophet Elias. He was thus esteemed among the Arabians, who assumed to understand the voice and flight of the birds. Especially was he regarded as a prophet of the weather, as inferred from his flight and cry. Pliny describes him as a wild and forgetful bird,[FN9] who forgets to come back to his nest. And so he came not back to the ark; but Noah could know from this that the earth was no longer wholly covered with water.” Knobel. We may refer here to the two ravens on the shoulders of Odin. Without returning into the ark, he flew here and there between the ark (to which he was bound by fear and sympathy, the attraction of his mate perhaps, and on the outside of which he could rest) and the emerging mountain-tops, where he found food and freedom.—And he sent forth the dove.—The raven lights everywhere; therefore his remaining out furnishes no proof of the drying of the lower places. But the dove lights upon the plains, and not in the slime and marsh; therefore does its flying abroad give information whether or no the plains are dry. The Septuagint translates מֵאִתּוֹ by ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ, the Vulgate, post eum, Luther correctly, from himself. (So the English translation, from him.) It is perhaps indicated that he had to drive it from him. The time of sending away is reckoned by Baumgarten, Knobel, and others (after Aben Ezra and Kimchi), as being seven days after the sending of the raven; because it is said, Genesis 8:10, he waited other seven days. The delicate dove finds no place fit for her lighting, because all the lower lands are yet covered, and so she turns back. And Noah drew her back again into the ark. The question may be asked: Since the top of Ararat was free from water, why did not Noah go out with the beasts? It Isaiah, however, a truthful characteristic that he did no such thing; since a hasty disturbance of the beasts might have yet brought the whole in danger of destruction. But the second sending forth of the dove, after seven other days, brings to him the fourth and fairest sign of deliverance: the dove returns with a fresh olive-leaf in its mouth. “וַיָּחֶל fut. Hiphil from חיל,[FN10] to be in trouble, to wait painfully and longingly.” Delitzsch. “The olive-tree has green leaves all the year through, and appears to endure the water, since Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. 48, and Pliny, Hist. Nat. 13, 50, give an account of olive trees in the Red Sea. It comes early in Armenia (Strabo), though not on the heights of Ararat, but lower down, below the walnut, mulberry, and apricot tree, in the valleys on the south side (Ritter, “Geography,” 10. p920). The dove must, therefore, have made a wide flight in search of the plains, and on this account have just returned at evening time. This olive-leaf,—which was not something picked up on a mountain-peak, where it might have been floated by the water, but (טרף) something torn off, and, therefore, fresh plucked from the tree,—taught Noah what was the state of things in the earth below. It was the more fitting here, since the olive-branch was an emblem of peace ( 2 Maccabees 14:4; Dion, Halic, Virg, Liv.), and yet in the text it is not an olive-branch (Symm, Vulg.), but only an olive-leaf.” Knobel.—The sign gave intelligence that at least the lower olive-trees, in the lower ground, were above the water; the olive-loaf, moreover, in the mouth of the dove, was a fair sign of promise.—Yet seven other days.—This time the dove returns no more. The attraction of freedom and the new life outweighs the desire to return; in which it is presupposed that it is an attraction which the others will follow. “The dove is found also in the classical myths. According to Plutarch (De Solert. Animal. 13), Deucalion had a dove in the ark, which indicated bad weather by its return, and good weather by its onward flight.” Knobel. It was, in like manner, a prophetic bird at Dodona, according to Herodotus and others; and the ancients were also acquainted with its use as a letter-carrier, according to Ælian and Pliny. On the significance of the dove in the New Testament, see the account of the baptism of Jesus.—In the six hundred and first year.—This reckoning completes the old life of Noah. His seventh hundred is the beginning of his sabbath-time.—In the first month, in the first day, etc.—This date looks back to the beginning of the flood, in the second month of the previous year, on the seventeenth day. Now Noah removes the covering of the ark, and takes a free look around and upon the new earth. The waters, no longer flowing back, were evaporating from the earth, and the ground was in the process of becoming dry. Yet still he waited a month and twenty-seven days, that he might not too hastily expose to injury the living seminarium of the ark, the precious seed of the new life that had been entrusted to his care. But he waited only for the clear direction.—And Noah removed the covering of the ark.—מִכְסֶה. Because this word is used elsewhere only of a covering made of leather and skins with which they covered the holy vessels on the march ( Numbers 4:8; Numbers 4:12), and of the third and fourth covering of the ark of the testimony ( Exodus 26:14, etc.), it does not follow, as Knobel supposes, that the author had in view a similar covering. The deck of an ark on which the rain-storms spent their force, must surely have been of as great stability as the ark itself.—And God (Elohim) spake to Noah.—It is Elohim, because this revelation belongs to the universal relation of God to the earth. “The time of the flood, according to verse14, amounted to twelve months and eleven days, that Isaiah, three hundred and sixty-five days, or a full solar year; consequently in the course of one full circuit of the natural change or period (שָׁנָה), does the earth become destroyed and renewed. In the fact that Noah might not leave the ark from his own free, arbitrary will, there is expressed his preservation of the seal of the divine counsel, and of the divine work.” Baumgarten. New blessings upon the creatures, similar to those which were pronounced at the creation, are connected with his going forth at the divine command; it is the beginning of a new world. “As in creation the beasts were blessed before Prayer of Manasseh, so is it here.” Baumgarten. In the beasts going out of the ark in pairs there is given to us a clear idea of the stability of the new order in nature, and of the security for its continuance.

[Note on the Week, and on the Seventh Day Observance in the Ark.—“And he waited seven days,” Genesis 8:10. “And he waited seven other days.” Dr. Lange gives little attention to the important question connected with this language, as he passes over, with a very few remarks, the whole question of the sabbath in Genesis 1. There is certainly indicated here a sevenfold division of days, as already recognized, whatever may be its reasons. Of these, no one seems more easy and natural than that which refers it to the traditionary remembrance of the creation, and its seventh day of rest, although some of those who claim to be “the higher school of criticism” reject it. Had such a reference to a sevenfold division been found in some ancient Hindoo or Persian book, and along with it, or in a similar writing closely connected with it, an account of a hexameral creation with its succeeding day of rest, they would doubtless have discovered a connection between the ideas. But here they do not hesitate to violate their own famous canon, that “the Bible is to be interpreted like any other ancient writings.” Now it may be regarded as well settled that such a division of time existed universally among the Shemitic and other Oriental peoples. (See this clearly shown in the article Week, in Smith’s “Dictionary of the Bible.”) It is a fact, too, well established, that a similar division existed among the Egyptians, as is particularly stated, with the names given to the days of the week, by Dion. Cassius (Hist. Rom. xxxvii18). They are the names of the seven celestial bodies, and yet there are no astronomical phenomena that could of themselves have given rise to it. It is evidently an after-thought. The things named must have been known before, and when the original reason of the division was lost, the planetary series was adapted to it, although it had to be taken in an irregular and disproportioned manner. This was to give it mystery and interest, and to accommodate it to the astrological superstition, which early came in, of lucky and unlucky days. The same names came into the Roman (ecclesiastical) and Saxon calendars. They could not so readily have found place, had there not been some previous ground in the Occidental heathen ideas (Roman and Scandinavian), although they do not appear in classical literature.

But how shall such a division be explained? The reference to the lunar phases seems plausible, but will not bear close examination. It is true that a lunation (about twenty-nine and one-half days) is approximately divisible into four parts, of nearly seven days each, but the beginnings and endings, especially of the second and fourth quarters, are so obscure, and incapable of easy determination, that it could never have been adjusted with the required practical precision to any settled weekly reckoning of definite days. Besides, in that case, the week would have had its series commence and end with the divisions of the lunation. But we find nowhere any such reckoning. The week has no reference to the month. Such a day, of such a month, is in all calendars, but first or second week, of such a month, is nowhere found. Again, there were adjustments of the months to the solar year by admitted inequalities and intercalations, but there is no trace anywhere of any such attempts to regulate the days of the week with reference to the month. A seventh portion of time computed from an ever-shifting beginning would have been of no use, or would only have introduced confusion. The week, therefore, must have had, and did have, its reckoning from some point entirely independent of any annual, monthly, or even astronomical calculus. It must, too, have been from some remote period, fixed in itself (or supposed to be so fixed), just as we reckon our weeks from the day of Christ’s resurrection, in a series continuing steadily on, though there has been, since then, repeated rectifications of the month (or moons), and even a change of style in respect to the year. The weekly series has been unbroken.

The Jewish reckoning of the seven days, and of the sabbath, we know, was thus independent. In Exodus 16:23, we find the particular sabbath there mentioned as coming on the sixteenth day of the second month (the day after they came to the Wilderness of Sin), and on the twenty-third following, as reckoned without reference to any monthly or annual beginning. It comes on such a day, but computed by itself, and seems to have been thus known as something dating from some ancient, remote period, and kept in remembrance even during the ignorance and debasement of a servile bondage. It must have come by tradition from their patriarchal ancestors, and was probably the same seventh day which was recognized by the Egyptians (their day of Saturn, Remphan, Hebrew כִּיּוּן, Arabic كَيْوَ ان see Amos 5:26, Septuagint version, and Acts 7:43), although with them the observance may have lost its original idea and reason, and become wholly idolatrous or superstitious. Therefore does Moses tell the Jews to remember, and keep it holy, calling back their minds to the primitive ground of its institution. So Kimchi and Aben Ezra, in their comment on Amos 5:26, say “that כִּיּוּן (Kiyun) is the same with שַׁבַּתַּי, Shabbatai (Saturn, or the sabbath-god), for they made tohim an image, whilst another interpretation makes it to be כוֹכַב שַׁבַּתַּי, the star of Saturn, and so is he called כיואן, Khivan, in the tongue of the Arabians and the Persians.” In the earliest Egyptian mythology, as in the most ancient Greek derived from it, the dynasty of Saturn (Κρόνος = χρόνος, time), or the old creative, generative power, was before that of Ζεύς, the light, or the Sun; that Isaiah, his day (dies Saturni) was before the dies Solis, or, sun-day, the primitive dies Jovis.[FN11] So does the darkened mirror of heathenism give to all these early things both a pantheistic and a polytheistic hue. The Hebrew revelation alone preserves them truthful, pure, and holy. The silence of the Scriptures in respect to the patriarchal observance of the sabbath, religiously or otherwise (unless this that is said of Noah be an exception), furnishes no answer to the strong inference to be derived from Exodus 16, 20. See remarks on this in Note on the Sabbath, page197.

The more we examine these acts of Noah, the more it will strike us that they must have been of a religious nature. He did not take such observations, and so send out the birds, as mere arbitrary Acts, prompted simply by his curiosity or his impatience. God had “shut him in,” and as a man of faith and prayer he looks for the divine directions in determining the times of waiting. Every opening, therefore, of the ark, and every sending forth of the birds, may be regarded as having been accompanied. or preceded by a divine consultation. He “inquired of the Lord,” as the Scripture records other holy men as having done. What more likely, then, than that such inquiry should have its basis in solemn religious exercises, not arbitrarily entered into, but on days held sacred for prayer and religious rest. When this was done, then the other, or more human means of inquiry that were in accordance with it, would be resorted to. In this point of view, the sending forth of the raven and the dove may be reverently regarded as divine auspications. (See remarks in marginal note, p310.) They immediately followed such stated religious exercises, and hence his periods of waiting would, in the most natural and appropriate manner, be regulated by them. On any other view, his proceedings would seem wholly reasonless and arbitrary. The idea gives an interest to the life of this lonely, “righteous Prayer of Manasseh,” during his long sojourn in the ark. He did not forget God, nor God’s ancient hallowing of a certain day in seven, and, therefore, is there the stronger emphasis in what is said Genesis 8:1, that “the Lord remembered Noah.” See Lange’s most striking and beautiful remarks on this expression, p309.

There must be reasons for such a seven-days’ waiting, and what more natural and consistent ones could there be than those here stated? It amounts to nothing to say that seven is a sacred or mystic number. How came it to be such? Though afterwards thus used in Scripture, there could have been nothing of this sacredness at that early day, unless it had come from the still earlier account of the creation. It must have been founded on some great fact; for, of all the elementary Numbers, seven may be said to have the least of any mathematical or merely numerical interest, such as gave rise to peculiar speculations in the earliest thinking. There was a mystery about the number one, as the fountain of the infinite numerical series, or as representing a point, the principium of all magnitude. Two had an interest as representing the line, and as the root of that most regular of all series, the binary powers. Three was the binding of unity and duality, and represented the triangle, the simplest or most elementary plane figure in space. Four (the tetractys of Pythagoras) represented the tetraedron, or the most elementary solid. Five was the number of the fingers on the hand, and thus became the origin of the universal decimal notation. Six was the double triad, and so on. But it is not easy to find any such mathematical or numerical peculiarity in seven that could have drawn special attention to it, as having, in itself, anything mystical or occult. It is not a square, nor a power of any kind; it is not what is called an oblong number, or one that can be divided into factors. It represents no figure that, like the hexagon or pentagon, can be geometrically produced. Its sacredness, or mystery, therefore, could only have arisen from some great historical truth, or institution, supposed to have been connected with it; and if we “interpret the Hebrew books like other ancient writings,” this origin could have been no other than a belief in the great events mentioned Genesis 1, as laying the foundation for all subsequent veneration of the hebdomadal number and period.—T. L.]


1. The great turning. As the first half of the flood pictures especially the judgment of death, so the second half presents the redemption from judgment, as it goes forth in its gradual development, with its redemptive and anticipatory signs.

2. God remembered Noah. Everything (every affliction of the pious) endures its time; the goodness of God endureth forever. God’s remembering in a special sense. His righteousness makes a special knowledge, and a special beholding, inside of his general omniscience and omnipotence; so his mercy and his compassion make a special remembrance within his consciousness, wherein there are known to him all his works from the beginning. That Isaiah, God is a living, personal God, showing himself to be such in his government, and in his revelation which makes joyful again the believers in his grace, after they had been exposed to temptation. Each deliverance, each help, especially each experience of salvation, rests upon a remembrance of God. God’s remembrance of man and man’s remembrance of God meet each other, as eye meets eye, in the actual manifestation of saving acts. The compassion of God embraced also the animal-world, but conditions itself through the grace that embraces believing men.

3. As the spirit of God moved over the waters at the beginning of creation, so goes forth here, over the floods of the deluge, the wind that saved, as an emblem of the same divine spirit. It was a wind of life—a vernal wind—for the new earth.

4. As the fountains of the deep were broken up before the windows of heaven were opened, so also were they closed before them. In order that the rain might cease at Ararat, it was necessary that before this the evaporation in the opposite regions of the earth should have come to an end.

5. Ararat. The home of Adam, the home of Noah. Our first home the heights of Paradise, our second home the salvation hills of Ararat, our third home Golgotha, our everlasting home the highest heavens.

6. The salvation is unfolded gradually, and announced in a gradual series of saving signs: 1. The resting of the ark; 2. the appearance of the mountain-tops; 3. the flying forth of the raven; 4. the olive-leaf of the dove; 5. the dove’s not returning. Thus it is that the time of deliverance is a time of patience, and of alternate desire and hope. “Blessed in hope” ( Romans 8).

7. The raven and the dove. The sympathy and the co-operation of the beasts in the kingdom of God. The unity of the raven and the dove, and at the same time their contrast, denotes the community of creaturely interests, as well as the contrast between the interests of the creature generally, and the kingdom of God in particular; for the raven is a figure of the universal life, the dove an emblem of the church.

8. The signs of hope increase from seven to seven days—an indication of the idea of the Sabbath and of Sunday.

9. “The fresh leaf from the olive-tree is the first sign of life from the buried earth. A significant sign: for the oil, as a gentle yet penetrating substance, is the symbol of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This is brought by that purest bird of the heavens, which even among the heathen is held sacred (see Herod255). The green olive-leaf in the mouth of the dove is a sign that the earth is not merely laid waste (we may rather say purified), but also consecrated by the waters.” Baumgarten. And yet we must distinguish between the symbolic significance of the oil, of the olive-tree, and of the olive-leaf. The oil denotes the spirit, the olive-tree (11–14; Revelation 11:3-4) denotes spiritual men, the holy Israel; and in correspondence with this the olive-branch denotes the partakers of the spirit ( Romans 11), the blossoms of the spirit, the signs of love and peace.

10. “If we take the human race and the earth as a totality, the flood is the dividing of the old from the new. The old earth, with the humanity that had become flesh, the ἀρχαῖoς κόσμος,[FN12] is destroyed, but even this destruction is the preservation of the righteous Prayer of Manasseh, of Noah, in that he is delivered from the corruptive community of the flesh. On this account is it said, 1 Peter 3:20, ‘eight souls were saved by water,’ and even there ( Genesis 8:21), the flood is named a type of baptism. The water of the flood Isaiah, therefore, the baptismal water of the earth, which drowns the old whilst it preserves and quickens the new. This view of the flood, moreover, has passed over into the consciousness of the Church. In the prayer for the consecration of the baptismal water in the Sacramentarium Gregorianum it is said: Deus qui nocentis mundi crimina per aquas abluens, etc.” Baumgarten.

11. As baptism makes a distinction between the old and the new Prayer of Manasseh, so did the flood make a distinction between the old and the new humanity, which were, therefore, types on both sides. So did the Red Sea divide the children of Israel from the Egyptians, who were drowned in the same ( 1 Corinthians 10:2).

12. As Noah went into the ark at the command of God, so also must Hebrews, at the same command, go out. That be was in no perturbation, did not wilfully and hastily go forth from the ark, is a sign that we must not anticipate the hour of God’s help, nor throw ourselves hastily out of the ark of the church in sectarian impatience, but wait the Lord’s time in which to go out of the ark into a new world.

13. The renewal of the blessing of propagation upon the creature is a confirmation of the first blessing ( Genesis 1), a repeated expression of God’s goodness, and of his complacency in life. Contrast as against dualism and a sickly asceticism.


See the Doctrinal and Ethical. The figures of the coming salvation1. The resting of the ark, the firmly grounded church; 2. the emerging of the mountain-tops, the mountains of God as the sign of heaven; 3. the flight of the dove, “the longing of the creature;” 4. the dove with the olive-leaf, the spirit of life, with the announcement of peace; 5. the remaining out of the dove and the opening of the ark, the free intercourse between the church and the consecrated world; 6. the going forth from the ark, the passing over of the church into the new world.

Starke: It is certain that God had not forgotten Noah; but the Scripture is wont to speak after the manner of men, namely, as Prayer of Manasseh, sometimes, represents to himself God as speaking. According to this, God’s remembrance denotes the revelation of his gracious will and pleasure, according to which he reveals to the wretched that help which before was hidden (Hieronymus). A life of faith is the most difficult of all,—such a life as Noah and his sons must have lived, who could only cling to the hope of aid from heaven, since the earth was covered with water, so as to give them no ground of trust. It was, therefore, no vain word when the Holy Spirit says that “God remembered Noah.” For it shows that from the day in which he first went into the ark, God had not spoken to him, nor made to him any revelation. He could see no ray of the divine mercy, but must sustain himself alone upon the promise he had received, whilst, in the meantime, the waters of death are raging all around him, as though God had indeed forgotten him (Luther). The leaf represents the gospel, for oil denotes compassion and peace, of which the gospel teaches.—Bibl. Wirt: “O, my Christian friend, hast thou been a long time confined in a wearisome ark, whether it be of some difficult calling, or some painful state; ask not counsel of the charmer, but wait with patience until God, through righteous means, shall bring thee help therefrom.”

Gerlach: God does, indeed, remember all his works, in all times, and in every way, but the prayer “remember me” ( Psalm 25:7; Luke 23:42) goes forth from the image of God in man; and by reason of this we have no rest until we can rejoice in all the attributes of God through an inward, personal communion with him. The word here denotes the trials of Noah, when God hid himself, and the enjoyment of his gracious favor, when he again reveals himself.

Calwer Handbuch: The olive-leaf has been ever held as a symbol of peace.

Schröder: God had exercised Noah’s faith and patience (Calvin). What is said of the raven, Luther makes to correspond, allegorically, with the office of the law. [“In the blackness of the raven is a sign of sorrow, and its voice is unlovely. Song of Solomon, therefore, are all preachers of the law who teach the righteousness of works; they are ministers of death and sin, as Paul names the ministry of the law ( 2 Corinthians 3:6; Romans 7:10). Nevertheless, Moses was sent out with this doctrine even as Noah sent forth the raven. And yet such teachers are nothing else than ravens that fly round the ark, bringing no certain sign that God is reconciled. But what Moses says of the dove is a very lovely figure of the gospel.”]

[Excursus on the partial extent of the Flood, as deduced from the very face of the Hebrew text.[FN13]—This account of the flood furnishes a happy illustration of what may be called the subjective truthfulness of the Scripture narratives. There is meant by this that the language is a perfect representation of an actual, conceptual, and emotional state in the mind of the author. By the author is meant the one in whose soul such emotions and conceptions were first present, from whatever cause, outward or inward, they may have been derived. Whether this was ecstatic vision, or a conviction in the mind supposed to come from a divine influence, or an actual eye-witnessing, it is all faithfully told, just as it was conceived in vision, impressed upon the thought, or seen by the sense. The words are in true correspondence with such a state of soul, an honest imprint of it, according to the influences felt, and the degree of knowledge by which those influences might be affected, or the choice of language controlled. In either case, too, may the term inspiration be applied to it, if we admit the idea of a divine purpose as specially concerned in the communication. It is a special series of divine acts in the physical world, and in the souls of men, that makes revelation strictly, or in that higher sense to which the term is limited in connection with the scriptural narrations. It is this extraordinary doing, whether in nature or above nature, commencing with creation and continued in a series through the whole history of the Church, which constitutes the real manifestation of the divine in the human, of the infinite in the finite, in distinction from that ordinary course in nature and history which cannot thus reveal God personally, because it is merged in the totality, or the one general movement, of the universe. This common movement may be called a Revelation, but it is addressed to the universal reason, and reveals only a general intelligence having nothing special for Prayer of Manasseh, either as a race or as individuals. The other is a special epistle to humanity and to individual men, having our name throughout, attested by chosen witnesses taken from a chosen people who are the spiritual first-born, or representatives of the race. But still it is this extraordinary doing which is the revelation properly, whilst the biblical writings are only the human record of it, sharing in the finity of the medium, or more or less imperfect according to the necessary imperfections of knowledge, conception, and language, in those to whom such recording is given. Had writing never been invented, it might have been a purely oral or traditional account, and then it would have been still more imperfect, but the actual revelation would have remained the same, to be ascertained in the best way we could amidst the deficiences and obscurities of such oral or monumental modes of transmission. Surely the absence of writing could no more have prevented God’s having his witness in this world, than the absence, for so many centuries, of the art of printing; and the want, neither of types nor of alphabets, could have been an absolute bar to that witnessing being in the human, and through the human, as well as to the human. Now in such record of revelation the great thing required for the satisfaction of our faith is a conviction of this perfect subjective truthfulness on the part of the human media. It is a far higher thing, a much more precious thing, than any scientific correctness, or any outward verbal accuracy, which, even if it could be secured through human language and human conceptions, could only be by a mechanical, automaton-like process, or with the loss of all that is truly human in the transmission. It would not be a Revelation, or the history of a Revelation, given to men through men, and so it would not be truly God speaking in humanity. The element of most value, through which we most truly draw nigh unto God, and He unto us, would be lacking in the process. With this distinction between the revelation strictly, and the record of such Revelation, we are the better prepared to understand the import of that third term which is so often confounded with them. Inspiration has respect to the manner and means by which such human conceptions are called out and employed, whilst still remaining strictly human. This may be in various ways, and we may apply the terms higher and lower to them, but with danger of error, if in so doing we make any one of them to be less a true inspiration than the other. All the faculties of man may be used for this purpose. God may employ the imagination (the ecstatic imagination, for that is still human, and in another state may be ordinary and normal), the mental convictions impressed by a divine power, or, when no other means are required, the sense and memory of holy, truthful men, whose holiness and truthfulness, in such case, are as much an effect of divine inspiration as any afflatus more immediately affecting what are called the higher or deeper faculties of the soul.

Thus may we believe that all the Scripture is inspired, that it everywhere has this subjective truthfulness, whether it appears in holy visions of the past and future, or in rapt devotional exercises, or in the sublime doctrinal insight of souls drawn heavenward, or in the pictures it gives us of musing, soliloquizing minds, presenting now their exulting faith, and then again their fears and sad despondencies in view of the dark problems of life. It shows itself in its plain, unpretending, unsuspicious narratives of events, whether it be the supernatural, the great natural, or that filling in of the ancient home-life which, though so far from us, we recognize as so true and so consistent, calling out the feeling that it is indeed a reality that lies before us, and that these words represent actual scenes and actual emotions as true and vivid as any that now occupy our own minds. Thus may we believe all Scripture to be an honest record from beginning to end, from the most astoundingly marvellous to its minutest historical, geographical, biographical, and genealogical details. This view, although admitting human imperfections of language and conceiving, is very different from that theory of partial inspiration that assumes to choose what portions it shall accept, rejecting others as fabricated, false, and legendary. It is all faithful, all θεοπνεύστος, all given to us for our “instruction in righteousness,” constituting in its totality the plenary word of God, the honest human record of that great series of divine doings in the world, in nature, in history, and in the souls of men, to which we give the special name of a divine revelation. Thus received and firmly held in its truthful human aspect, the belief in a great objective truth corresponding to it is irresistible for all sober, thoughtful, truly rational souls. The human in the Bible compels the acceptance of the divine; the ordinary and the natural in its life-like narratives demands the supernatural as its complement. We are forced thus to believe or to admit that the very existence in the world of such a record so kept, so attested through the ages, so lying in the very heart of human history, is as great a marvel for the reason, as any supernatural or miraculous which it contains for the sense.

It is this subjective truthfulness of the Scriptures that furnishes the matter of interpretation. The great end is to get at the conceptual and emotional states which the words originally represented in the minds of the first narrators. The objective truth they represent in the natural or supernatural belongs to the theological reasoning as guided in its inferences by the general truths of the Scriptures, or other knowledge we may have of nature and of God. The one interpretation is to be according to the laws of rhetoric and language in their widest sense, the other according to “the analogy of faith,” in all by which God makes himself known to the human mind.[FN14]

Thus should we aim at interpreting the Scripture narrative of the flood. We have, as an outward ground, the world-wide tradition of such an event far greater than any inundation of waters, or change in nature, recorded in any later or more partial history. The classical story, the Indian, the Persian, etc, are well known; but it is found everywhere. In the remotest and most isolated region to which the traveller penetrates, there meets him this tradition of a great catastrophe by water, and of a “righteous man” who was saved in an ark. It is told with the same general features, and often with a surprising similarity of detail, whether it be in the wilds of Siberia, by the rivers of southern Africa, or in the isles of the Pacific. No other event ever made such an impression on the ethnological memory; and hence it has survived through wastes of historical silence in which other facts, however great their local or tribal interest, have utterly perished. One of two conclusions is inevitable: either the catastrophe was of vast extent, reaching almost every portion of the globe as now known, or it took place in the earliest times of the human existence, when men were confined to a comparatively small part of the earth, whence each wandering people carried it, localizing it afterwards in their own history, their own geography, and ascribing the deliverance, each one, to the ancestral head of their own race.

There is a ground of truth in all these stories. No rational mind can doubt it. The most sceptical of the German critics have felt themselves compelled to admit its substantial verity. Now let any one compare them all with this sublime scriptural narrative, and then let his reason, his rhetorical taste, his judgment of the truthful in style, the subjectively real in conception, and the life-like in narration, determine which is the original, severely simple in its chasteness and grandeur, and which are the legendary copies,—which is the editio princeps, preserved (by some strong influence in opposition to the ordinary human tendency) from grotesque exaggeration, from mythical indistinctness and confusion, from false embellishment, from interpolated deformities, from all that characterizes the story-telling, wonder-making style—and which are the spurious addenda, betraying, by all these marks of their secondary character, that they are the far-off, dimly-seen, and monstrously disproportioned impressions of what, to the scriptural narrator, was an actual scene full of a soul-awing and fancy-restraining emotion.

The Bible story has nothing of the wonder-making about it. It is too full of the overpowering real to allow of such a secondary excitement of the mind and the imagination. The emotion is too high to admit of any play of fancy. It is contemplation in its most exalted state, having no room for anything but the great spectacle before it, and that as seen in its grandest features. Hence so calm and yet so full of animation, so severely chaste yet so sublime. It is a telling from the eye, and it speaks to the soul’s eye of the thoughtful reader, giving the impression of an actual spectacle. The style throughout is adapted to produce such impression. It is a truthful effect, or the narrative is to be regarded as a most skilful fiction, a most ingenious forgery, exhibiting a life-like power of painting and invention utterly inconsistent with any antiquity to which it can be ascribed. The writer or relator is one who stands in mediis rebus. The awful spectacle is present to his absorbed sense or to his vivid memory. He is startled by it to abruptness of description. Though long expected, the catastrophe is sudden in its coming. Torrents descend from the heavens like bursting clouds; chasms are seen in the opening earth, and floods issuing from their subterranean reservoirs. A writer less interested, less awed by the actual scene, would have used comparisons here, or indulged in redundancy of language. The Scripture historian gives it all in one brief verse: “The fountains of the great abyss (the tehom rabba) were broken (נִבקְעוּ, were cloven), the windows of heaven were opened.” The attempt to reconcile this with any scientific correctness is worse than trifling. To resolve it into a poetical metaphor, or any rhetorical artifice of language, takes away all its emotional power. He speaks according to his conception as grounded on the state of his knowledge. He evidently had the old idea of waters above the firmamentum, now descending through the parted barrier. How ill-judging the interpretation that, for any fancied reconciliation with present knowledge, would obliterate the marks of this precious subjective truthfulness, so full of evidence for the great antiquity of the account, and the actuality of the scene as conceived and described. One all-absorbing image of power is before him. The deluge from above and the eruptions from the earth, whatever may have been their cause, have an awful rapidity of effect; and with what graphic touches is this set forth in the vivid Hebrew idioms! The ark is lifted clear from the earth (מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ), and goes forth (תֵּלֵךְ walks forth), עַלְ־פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם, on the face of the waters. וַיּגְבְּרוּ הַמַּיִם, the floods prevail exceedingly, מְאֹד מְאֹד, stronger, stronger—higher, higher—הָלוֹךְ וְגָדֵל, “go and increase” constantly waxing, gradual but irresistible, steadily visible in their rise as measured by the submerged plains, the disappearing hills, until to the remotest extent of the visible horizon, תַּחַת כָּל הַשָּׁמַיִם, “under the whole heavens,” it is water everywhere as far as eye can see, one vast sky-bounded waste, shoreless and illimitable as it appeared to the absorbed and wondering gaze of the one from whose sense and memory this story has come down to us. This is what he saw, and this is all that the interpreter can get from his language. What he may have thought, we know not. He may have supposed the flood to be universal. Probably he did so; but then his universality must have been a very different thing (in conception) from the notion that our modern knowledge would connect with the term. He knew of no land that was not covered by water; he had been told that God meant to destroy the human race, and so far as the extent of the flood was necessary for that purpose, he doubtless supposed the judgment executed.[FN15] But we have only to do, as interpreters, with what he actually saw, the language in which he has recorded it, the necessary conceptions which it suggests, and by which it was itself suggested. We have no right to force upon him, and upon the scene so vividly described, our modern notions, or our modern knowledge of the earth with its Alps and Himmalayas, its round figure, its extent and diversities, so much beyond any knowledge he could have possessed or any conception he could have formed. It may be said that such idea of terrestrial universality is included in his words, such as ארץ earth,—“under the whole heavens,” תחת כל השמים,—“all the high mountains under the whole heavens;” but then the question arises, On what scale of knowledge are they to be interpreted? If we say the modern, calling it the absolute sense (on the supposition that such absolute scale has even yet been reached), then we make him a mere mechanical utterer of sounds whose intended meaning lay not in his understanding, or a writer of words representing, in their truthfulness, neither the emotions felt, nor the spectacle that lay before his eye. A very slight change in our English translation, and that a very justifiable one, greatly affects this impression of universality. Read land for earth wherever the word occurs, as, for example, the whole land, or the face of the whole land, and the scale, to our imagination, is at once reduced. Thus we actually have, in one place, Genesis 7:23, אדמה instead of ארץ, and yet nothing is more evident than that in the previous chapters the first word is used of the Eden-territory and the region adjacent. In like manner is this word אדמה used in the account of the general corruption of the race by the intermarriages of the Sethites and the Cainites, Genesis 6:1 : “When men began to multiply upon the face of the adamah,” עַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדְמָה. It is not only without any warrant from Scripture, but in the face of the fair inferences to be drawn from its artless language, that some have regarded the antediluvian human race as spread over the wide surface of the earth according to our present knowledge. Equally, too, against the impression to be fairly derived from the account, is the idea of a vast population as in any way to be compared with that which has since existed and now exists. We know nothing of any physical or moral reasons that may have accelerated or retarded it. The Scripture simply says, in its introduction to the account of the flood, that men began to multiply, הֵהֵל לָרֹב, evidently implying that they had not been very numerous before in either line, and that the mixture and the multiplication were, at the same time, cause and effect of the corruption. The fair inference, therefore, Isaiah, that it took place, together with the judgment that followed, whilst they were yet confined to this tract, whatever may have been its extent. It was the open, easily cultivated part of the earth (though it had already become sterile in the days of the Sethite Lamech), to which the early men in their gregarious habits yet adhered. There had not come the roving, migrating, pioneering impulse which was first given after the flood, and for the very purpose of breaking up the gregarious tendency which again manifested itself in the plain of Shinar. This reluctance to leave the adamah, or the old homeland of the race near Eden, shows itself in Cain’s language, Genesis 4:14 : “Behold thou art driving me forth this day, מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה, from the face of the adamah, that I may become a wanderer בָּאָרֶץ in the (wide) earth,” as distinguished from the fatherland where the protecting divine presence (פָנֶיךָ) was supposed still to dwell. Cain, bold and evil as he was, felt this. The thought, even though coming from his own vengeance-haunted imagination, was a terror to him, and we may rationally suppose that the feeling was still more strongly shared by his descendants, whom the account represents as still living near the Sethites and corrupting them by their vicinity. All great movements in the world have come from a superhuman impulse, breaking up previous habits, and strangely changing those fixed conditions of human society into which races, when left to themselves, are ever tending; sometimes even when their talk is loudest of progress and change as ever coming from themselves. The course of history is marked by such new movements, unaccountable in their beginning from anything in the previous human (which may probably have been tending strongly in the opposite direction), yet afterwards, from the very fact of sequence, seeming to fall inductively into the natural flow of events. At all events, if we take the Scripture text for our guide, there is no reason to believe that any of the antediluvians (with the exception, perhaps, of a few solitary rovers), had ever crossed the deserts, or ventured upon the seas, or scaled the mountains, or penetrated far into the dense wildernesses that separated the primitive adamah from the vast unknown of earth around them. We may fairly suppose, too, that it was one of the designs of the deluge-judgment to prevent a race which had so dehumanized themselves, or, in the language of Scripture, “corrupted its way,” from spreading over the surface of the globe. But how different was it when the movement came which is recorded Genesis 11:8, whether we regard the “confounding of languages” there mentioned as the cause or the effect of the dispersion. It was, in either view, equally supernatural, or, if the term is preferred, an extraordinary divine intervention, deflecting the course of the human movement from what it would have been had it been left solely to the antecedent human tendency. They were settling down into the old adamah gregariousness, to be followed by the same impieties, not only (for that could be borne with), but by the dehumanizing vices that demanded extinction. “Wherefore the Lord scattered them from thence over the face of all the earth.” The Hebrew verb is a very strong one, וְיָפֶץ אֹתָם, “He drove them asunder”—He sent them far and wide—He broke them up. Compare Deuteronomy 32:8, Acts 17:26. Their reluctance to leave the old home-land, like that of Cain in the earlier time, is shown by the same word, and that strong particle פן so expressive of caution and alarm; Genesis 11:4, פֶּן נָפוּץ עַל פְּנֵי כְּנֵי כָּל הָאָרֶץ, “lest we be scattered over the face of the whole earth,”—the wide earth, the unknown, unbounded earth. We must take the language according to the feeling and knowledge of the day. It was der unabsehbare Bann, as Lange expresses it, No15, p264, the illimitable exile in space which had something of the terror des endlosen Bannes, of the endless exile in time. But though the pioneering effort needs something extraneous to start it, it is afterwards carried on by its love of novelty, which, when once excited, ever feeds the impulse, overcoming the sense of insecurity until it becomes a passion instead of a dread. Thus, as the terror of the unknown gives way, the new impetus soon acquires a rapidity more strange even than the former reluctance, as is attested by other and more modern examples in the world’s history. In the long stagnation of the middle ages geographical knowledge, at least among the Europeans, had actually receded. Less was known of the world in the days of Bede and Alcuin than in those of Ptolemy. But how soon after the start given to Di Gama and Columbus, and by these to others, was the state of things, in this respect, wholly changed! The orbis terrarum immediately began to expand, and so rapidly was the horizon extended, that less than half a century added more to the knowledge and civilized occupation of the earth than a thousand years had done before. In less than thirty years after Columbus had seen the light upon the shore of the first West India isle, Magellan had advanced to the southern extremity of the American continent and accomplished the circumnavigation of the globe. It was not because the men of the tenth and twelfth centuries lacked vigor of body or mind, but because God’s time had not yet come.

So was it when the first great dispersion of mankind commenced. Before the flood, there is no evidence that even Egypt was known or inhabited—we mean scriptural evidence; and notwithstanding the assertions of Bunsen and others, we think it can be shown (in its proper place) that there is no reliable evidence of any other kind. Dwelling as they did, mainly, in the region between the Euphrates and the Indus, the antediluvians had never ventured upon the wide desert that intervened, nor attempted the long way up the rivers and by the mountains of the North. But now the tribes of Ham are streaming down the Persian Gulf, following the Gihon as it winds round Southern Arabia, until they reach the narrow part of the Red Sea. The new impulse soon carries them over into upper Egypt or the ancient Æthiopia, whence they find their way down into Mitzraim (the Narrows), the country of the lower Nile, whilst others start off again for the vast regions of Central Africa. One branch of the sons of Japheth direct their course to the dense Northern wilds, and thence dividing, begin their long march through Middle and Northern Europe in the one direction, or through Middle Asia and towards the American continent in the other. Another branch of the same family roam through Asia Minor, one part crossing at the Bosporus (βοος πορος, as the Greeks afterwards translated the old name, in accordance with one of their fables), the ancient Ox-ford, or cattle-passage, whence they proceed into the Thracian and Danubian forests; whilst another host of pioneers make the Ægean isles their stepping places to Greece, Italy, and Spain. The bold sons of Canaan have ventured upon ships, and are making their way to the extremities of the Mediterranean and even to the Atlantic. In the mean time the descendants of Shem keep nearer to the old homeland, barely diverging into Elam (Persia) and Assyria, moving mainly up the Euphrates to Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, and thence to Northern Arabia. There is every reason to believe that under this mighty impulse that drove them from Shinar, more was done in two or three centuries towards settling the earth than had been accomplished in the1,600 or2,000 years of the antediluvian period; and this fact alone, when taken in connection with its divine causality, is a sufficient answer to those who think that the Hebrew chronology does not give time enough for the great historical beginnings that so soon made their appearance. The world has ever moved by starts, and races, like individuals, oftentimes do more, and live more, in very short periods than they do in others comparatively long.

This is dwelt upon here as having a bearing upon the position of the human race, and the spread of its population, before the flood. The emphasis with which the new movement is announced in the 11 th chapter, and more fully described in the 10 th (see especially Genesis 8:32), furnishes the strongest reason for believing that nothing of the kind, or on such a scale, had ever taken place upon the earth before. “From these (מֵאֵלֵּה) were parted (were divided, נִפְרְדוּ, isolated), the nations in the earth after the flood.”

In the antediluvian period there seems to have been a distinction between ארץ and אדמה, but the former word had not acquired the greater definiteness of after usage. In fact, it must have been utterly indefinite. This is safely inferred from the views we are compelled to form of the primitive territorial notions of mankind. In the earliest times the conception of the earth must have been that of unlimited extent, and of an undivided wild or waste. Nothing to the contrary had been made known, either by experience or by revelation. It was simply the contrast of the sky above and the ground beneath, like the conception presented in the earliest Greek antithesis of οὐρανὸς and χθών. We must ever bear this in mind when we attempt, as we ever ought to do in interpreting, to get back into the conceptions of the ancient narrator. In no other way shall we get the image of which the language is the necessary as well as the only adequate reflexion. There had not even come in the greater definiteness which belongs to the Greek γαῖα, although the Noachian conception, with its heaven above and its abyss below, resembles very much that which is presented in the Homeric oath, Odyss. v. Genesis 184:

̔́Ιστο νῦν τόδε Ταῖα καὶ Οὐρανὸς εὐρὺς ὕπερθεν,

καὶ τὸ κατειβόμενον Στυγὸς ὕδωρ—

still less was it (in conception, at least, whatever may have been the speculative thought), the tellurian idea (see Cicero’s use of the word tellus, Repub. vi17, tellus media et infima et in quam feruntur omnia), of a body, whether spherical or otherwise, lying in a limited space with space all around it. This is not rationalizing against the authority of Scripture. We must judge of this old writer’s conception by his knowledge, real or supposed, which we have no reason to think was in any way changed by that divine afflatus of truth and holiness which made him the faithful recorder of this wonderful scene. This is the very ground on which we trust its graphical correctness, as representing, not a mechanical knowledge (connected with no sense-experience or actual memory in the narrator), but a vivid seeing, with a corresponding vividness of emotion.

The same may be said of other parts of the account, which carry an air of absolute universality, simply because we interpret them by the absolute or scientific notion of our own day. Thus the expression already referred to, “under the whole heaven,” is the primary optical language for the visible horizon.[FN16] It might have been regarded as the real horizon, but if so it would only be the writer’s thought, his speculative notion, and we have no right, as interpreters, to substitute this for what he actually sees and evidently means to describe as seen. If any will insist upon this language as denoting an absolute tellurian universality (as Wordsworth, Keil, and Jacobus have done), let them turn to the same words, Job 37:3, where they are applied to the thunder and the lightning, and connected with other language still more suggestive of extent in space. “Hark, the trembling of his voice, and the deep muttering (הֶגֶה) that goeth forth from his mouth; under the whole heavens, תַּחַת כָּל הַשַׁמַיִם, he directeth it, and its lightning, עַל כַּנְפוֹת הָאָרֶץ, to the wings (or extremities) of the earth.” It is the long reverberating roar that is heard all round the sky, and the vivid flash which for a moment lights up the whole horizon. There are other passages where the expression would seem to take in more than the immediate sense, but it never goes beyond the conceptual limit which is determined by the knowledge, real or supposed, of the utterer, or of those to whom it is addressed. As in Deuteronomy 4:19 : it means there generally the nations far and near, according to the geographical ideas of the times. Its absolute universality would require us to believe that there is not an island in the Pacific, nor a region in the Arctic or Torrid Zone, to which the Jews were not to be dispersed. And so in Deuteronomy 2:25, where the same wide words, “under the whole heavens,” are used in a still more limited sense of the nations immediately surrounding the Jews, though in every direction,—around them on all sides.

In a similar manner are we justified in interpreting the seemingly universal terms which relate to the animals. They were all that the narrator knew. He receives the divine command as measured by his knowledge and convictions, and executes it accordingly. They were the familiar animals by which he was surrounded in the district where he lived. In the terror produced by the great catastrophe, they instinctively come to the ark; as in all great commotions of nature the most ferocious beasts are known to seek the protection of human shelter. Or we may rationally suppose (taking the supernatural as an essential part of the account), that they were determined by a peculiar divine instinct, which would be, to the lower nature, in analogy with the prophetic insight given to the higher. So far as mere natural signs are concerned, their keener and more instinctive senses would discern the coming on of the deluge in its terrestrial and aërial symptoms sooner than it would become manifest to the human cognition, and as they crowd towards the ark or flutter around its protecting roof, there would be given just that impression of universality which the language conveys. The conviction he had upon his mind of the divine command, though from the very nature of the case limited by his knowledge of the living things immediately around him, would express itself in the same general terms. He was directed to take of the בְּהֵמָה, the cattle, the common or domestic animals, clean and unclean.[FN17] It was to be from all, מִכֹּל, a term general instead of distributive, and those taken of the בְּהֵמָה were to be in pairs of species. Thus regarded, the language is all truthful in the highest sense of the word truthfulness. It is subjectively truthful, that Isaiah, it gives the fact and the spectacle as it is seen and felt,—not as calculated, or with that logical and arithmetical precision whose tendency, in a matter of such indeterminateness, would have been to produce distrust rather than the confidence of faith. Greater precision would have betrayed the mere wonder-maker, or the mere story-teller, not speaking from any conceptual experience; whilst, on the other hand, the largeness of the terms, even where it looks like hyperbole, is evidence of the actuality and truthfulness of the emotion that produced them. Thus the impression made on the mind of the beloved disciple by his constant contemplation of the person and the acts of his adored Master: “And there are many other things which Jesus did, the which if they were written every one, I suppose that not even the world would contain the books that should be written.” What words could more truthfully convey this inward state of soul! “And all Judea, πᾶσα ’Ιουδαία, went out to him, and all the country round about Jordan, πᾶσα περίχωρος τοῦ ’Ιορδάνου, and were baptized.” Matthew 3:5. “And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation, ἀπὸ παντὸς ἔθνους, under the heaven.” Acts 2:5. The language in these cases is the true and natural expression of emotion produced by a vast and exciting spectacle. How much more worthy of our trust it is—how much stronger a conviction of an eye-witnessed actuality does it produce, than it would have done had the writers been more guarded and exact in their numerical proportions. So is it in the mode of representation that we find in the account of the flood. There is something in this subjective truthfulness far more precious for our faith in the old document than any objective or scientific accuracy could have been; whilst, at the same time, it leaves us perfectly free to draw, from other ideas connected with the event, such inferences of universality, or of partiality, as its relation to other theological truth, as well as to later knowledge, may demand.

Again: those parts of this account which relate the prophetic knowledge, or the prophetic conviction, present, indeed, something different from the optical representations, but are nevertheless to be interpreted substantially on the same principle of their subjective truthfulness, leaving the higher objective truth for which they stand, or of which they are the human language, to be interpreted by what we have called the higher method of theological exegesis. Now this is what we truly gather from the words given to us: A righteous and holy Prayer of Manasseh, living in the midst of a profane and sensual generation,—a lonely Prayer of Manasseh, holding high communion with God, and constantly in spiritual conflict with the earthly and the vile around him,—has impressed upon his soul a conviction that the end of the world, or of the race, is near. It is so strong, so deep, and constant, that he feels it to come from God. It does come from God. It is so vivid, that it is to him the actual divine voice to his inmost soul. It comes so near, that he recognizes in the sharp impression which it makes the very times in which the great catastrophe is to come, and has impressed upon his soul, as by a divine direction, the way and the means through which he and his family are to be preserved. Thus “warned of God in respect to things not as yet seen, he prepares an ark for the salvation of his house ( Hebrews 11:7), by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” These divine convictions are all truthfully told, just as they are truthfully felt, and given to us from the sense or memory of the first narrator. We cannot doubt that he was thus impressed, that he thus felt, that he thus acted, that the events following corresponded to this vivid impression, and that they are most faithfully narrated. Thus believing in the subjective, the conviction of an objective supernatural, and of a divine objective reality, and of a great divine purpose connected with the history of the world and the Church, comes irresistibly to the spiritual mind having faith in a personal God constantly superintending the affairs of earth through a constant superintending providence, both general and special.

As compared with other stories of the great flood, it is the very simplicity of the account which furnishes the convincing evidence of its having been an actual telling from the eye. Myths, so called, are never told in this way. There is no conceptual lying back of them, presenting the appearance of having ever come from any sense or memory. They arise, we know not how, like national songs that never had any individual composer. They represent ideas, notions, strangely combined, rather than conceptions having their ground in any sense-spectacle, real or supposed. In poetical picturing, on the other hand, or in rhetorical description, there Isaiah, indeed, a distinct conceptual, but it is one for the most part artificially made by the writer or narrator himself. However accurate its limning may be, it carries with it its own testimony that it never came from any actual or even possible seeing. Thus Ovid’s description of the flood is most vivid, and in some respects most true to nature, or what may, very probably, have been the actual state of things—such as fishes swimming among the branches of the elm, or the sea-calves sporting in the vineyards; but no eye ever saw this; it is wholly imagined, whilst the power of thus imagining, and of thus painting it in language, is wholly inconsistent with that emotion which belongs to the actual spectacle of such an event. Especially is this true of the more labored, or artistically poetical, in such descriptions. Ovid’s picture of the south wind Isaiah, indeed, most admirable, but we recognize in it only the highest style of art, wonderful, indeed, in its grouping and in its coloring, yet without feeling, and producing no impression of reality.

Madidis Notus evolat alis,

Terribilem picea tectus caligine vultum;

Barba gravis nimbis, canis fiuit unda capillis;

Fronte sedent nebulæ, rorant pennæque sinusque.

Metamorph. i264.

“The south wind flies abroad with humid wings, his dreadful face covered with pitchy darkness; his beard is loaded with showers; the flood pours from his hoary hairs; clouds sit upon his brow; his wings and robes are dripping with the rain.” We know at once that a man who writes thus never saw the flood, or anything like it. It is all poetry, not in the Bible style, as the name is applied to the more emotional portions of the Scriptures, but in the Greek sense of ποίησις, ποίημα, something made, a fictitious composition artificially colored and invented. Some have regarded the language, Genesis 7:11—“the windows of heaven” and “the fountains of the great deep,” as of this poetical or rhetorical kind. Thus Jacobus compares the first to an “eastern expression” denoting that “the heavens are broken up” with storms, and even Murphy speaks of it as a “beautiful figure;” but all such views detract from the real grandeur, as they also do from the truthfulness, of the account. This opening of the heavens, and breaking up of the deep, were realities to Noah, so conceived by him, and as honestly related as the lifting up of the ark and the disappearing of the mountains. The awful scene itself would never have called out such imagings as those of Ovid, or suggested such language. The Syrian tradition, as given by Lucian in the Syria Dea, comes nearest to the simplicity of the scriptural narrative; but even there, there are parts of the representation which we feel instinctively could never have come from any actual eye-witnessing. The rising of the rivers, for example, on which this tradition dwells, must have been a very insignificant part, if any part at all, of so sudden and terrific a spectacle, as it is set forth in the Bible, and as it must have been, from the very nature of the case, when the floods from above came like bursting clouds or water-spouts, and the breaking and sinking of the earth made a scene so different from anything that could have been produced by a freshet, even of the most extensive kind. Song of Solomon, too, in the Arabian tradition, though in most things closely resembling the scriptural, we find the same tendency to embellishment. See it as given in the Koran, Surat xi40. There is also a mingling with it of the romantic or sentimental which shows the legendary or mere story-making style of perversion. It represents Noah as having a fourth son who is an unbeliever, and it attempts to make an affecting scene between this lost child, who flies to the mountain, and his imploring father, as the ark is borne past him by the separating waters. The Chaldæan is evidently a magnified copy of the Hebrew narrative, but in its enlargement all proportion is lost sight of. The ark is represented as a stadium, or furlong, in length. It is in the same way they have treated the modest Hebrew chronology, keeping its genealogical division in the account of the ten generations before Xisuthrus, but running its decimals and hundreds into thousands and hundreds of thousands to agree with the excessive antiquity of their fabled annals. It is the Bible record swelled out by the inflated Oriental imagination, which everywhere, except in the case of the Hebrews, was unrestrained by any divine check upon the tendency of each nation to give itself a mythical antiquity.

There is one point in the Scripture narrative of the flood which would seem to establish the fact of its limited extent, had it not been for that prejudgment of universality which has influenced so many commentators. In Genesis 8:19 the narrator seems to hurry towards the climax of the scene: “And the waters prevailed exceedingly, מאד,מאד, and all the high hills under the whole heaven wore covered.” The verse following explains and confirms this by an additional particular: “Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail (גברו, they were fifteen cubits strong, or, as we say, fifteen cubits deep), and the hills (the same word, הרים, thus rendered Genesis 8:19) were covered.” Now take this in connection with Genesis 8:4 of Genesis 8 : “And the ark rested (ותנח) in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month (at the end of five months, one hundred and fifty days, or at height of the flood) upon the mountains of Ararat” (הָרֵי אֲרָרָט in the plural—or one of the mountains of Ararat taken as the name of a range or mountainous country, one of whose peaks afterwards obtained the name by way of eminence.[FN18] Here we evidently have the place from which these fifteen cubits were reckoned, and it furnishes the key to the right understanding of what the writer meant to convey as the extent of his knowledge and experience, whatever might have been his opinions as to anything beyond. There is no evidence that this was the high peak of Ararat; the impression (from the use of the plural) is all the other way. Taking all these things into consideration, the explanation is most natural and easy. The ark had drifted up the basin of the Euphrates and Tigris until it grounded on the highlands that formed its northern bank or border, and that, too, not far from a land of the olive and the vine. The surrounding mountains, or high hills, had previously been in sight, but at this time, or just before it, they disappeared. These are the same “mountains under the whole heaven” mentioned Genesis 8:19. Fifteen cubits strong were the waters, and the mountains were covered. When the ark rested, there was no land anywhere in sight. Noah ascertains the depth by measurement, or by his knowledge of the ark’s draught of water, and as it did not float again, he takes this time as the summit of the flood. He may have supposed the whole earth covered, as far as he knew anything about the earth as a whole; but we must take what he saw, what he knew, and what he describes as coming evidently from his experience. Without some such view we have no standard. It may be said, too, that this mountain on which the ark rested could not have been the high peak of Ararat, nor one from which that peak was in sight; since, in the one case, the surrounding mountains must have disappeared much earlier, and, in the other case, the declaration of their disappearance would not have been true. Again, had it been the high peak of Ararat, then, in the going down of the waters, a very large part of it must have been wholly bare before the others became visible (נראו), as is said Genesis 8:5; but this is contrary to the whole impression derived from that part of the account. All these difficulties (difficulties, we mean, on the face of the account) become greatly increased, if we suppose that the flood was not only above Ararat, or one of the mountains of Ararat, but also covered the whole globe, and mountains known to be twelve thousand feet, or more than two miles, higher than any in Armenia. In such case, besides there being no standard of measurement for the fifteen cubits, there would be a strangeness and inconsistency in the language, since this highest mountain would be as much covered by a rise of one cubit above its summit as by fifteen. The expression implies excess, as measured from some known condition, or it has no meaning. How did the describer know it?

This may be answered by saying that Noah knew it divinely, that Isaiah, by a knowledge and a memory having no basis in any actual knowing or sense-experience. It was an impression made upon his mind. Now, had it been so related, it would have been perfectly consistent with that subjective truthfulness on which we insist. Other things are thus stated among the immediate antecedents of the flood, but this appears in the midst of the vividly optical, and in direct connection with facts having every appearance of being described from sense. As a thing utterly unknown and unknowable without such divine intimation, or as a fact that might have been, but which sense necessarily failed to reach, it would be like Ovid’s “dolphins in the subaquean woods,” or his “sea-calves swimming in the vineyards,” except that it has an air of statistical particularity, which, as thus given, affects its credit, either as prose or poetry. There are other things that, on the supposition of universality, must have been utterly beyond experience, but which are very confidently stated, and vividly described, just as things would be that fall directly under the observation of the eye.[FN19] A sphere of water covering the entire globe would have left no means of determining the time of greatest elevation, or the period of abatement before the hills again appeared. The Jewish commentators maintain the universality as essential to the honor of their Scriptures. But they are critics who overlook nothing, and they therefore keenly see these difficulties. In order to avoid them, they distinguish between what was known from the spirit of prophecy, נְבוּאָה, and what is narrated from sense, רְגִישָׁה, or experience. Our Rabbins, says Maimonides, were led to this from the knowledge (afterwards obtained) that there were mountains in Greece (Europe, he means) higher than Ararat, which, he tells us, was in the lower part of the earth-sphere (כִּידוֹר), not far from Babylon. To overcome the objection, he adopts the singular view,that the resting on Ararat, though at the height of the flood when the waters became even, was sometime after the highest mountains were submerged. This submersion, or rather supermersion, came from the great commotion, the tossing or boiling of the waters (רְתִיחָה),—the violent eruption from the earth causing them to dash and surge over the highest parts, thus covering them, but not as an even mass or œquor. He makes a distinction, which has some ground, between שכך, the calming of the waters, and חסר, their abating. It was after the going down of this wild commotion, or when the waters came to a level, that the ark happened to be (יקר מקרה) over the region of Ararat, and settled down upon it. It was also a part of this singular view that the ark, in consequence of its load and its great specific gravity, did not truly float, but was lifted up by the great force of the up-pouring waters, and this, he holds, is what is meant by the words Genesis 7:18, וַתֵּלֵךְ עַל פִּנֵי הַמָּיִם, “it went upon the face of the waters,”—wherever the waters drove it. Such views, from so sober a commentator, are only of value as showing the immense difficulties attending this opinion of universality—difficulties that come not more from outside objections than from the face of the account itself, if we depart from the plain optical interpretation.

The whole argument may be briefly summed by a careful consideration of the three main aspects of the Noachian account: 1. The divine communications warning Noah of the impending judgment, and directing him to prepare an ark for the saving of himself and his house. Whether these were made in vision, or by vivid impressions upon the mind, they are truthfully received and truthfully related, that Isaiah, translated into human speech as representing the conceptions and knowledge of the relator in respect to the subjects of such divine communication. The human race were to be destroyed, and the earth, or land, they inhabited, was to be covered with water. In such warning, God did not teach him geography, nor give him the figure of the earth, nor the height of the unknown, far-distant mountains2. The directions in respect to the animals. These are to be interpreted in the same way, and with the same limitations of knowledge and conception. He was to take of the living thing (or the animals) under the threefold specification of the behéma (the cattle), the fowl, and the creeping thing. They were the animals with which he was familiar, as belonging to the region in which he lived. He was aided by a divine instinct in the creatures, supernaturally given in the beginning, and now supernaturally excited. But God did not teach him zoölogy, nor the vast variety of species, nor is there any evidence that animals came from the distant parts of the unknown earth, such as the giraffe from Southern Africa, the elephant from India, or the kangaroo from Australia3. The actual event itself, and this under two aspects: a. The flood as optically described by some one in the ark (Noah or Shem). Here we have certain data which seem unmistakable in the inferences to be deduced from them. If we look steadily at the connections of events as they are most artlessly narrated, the conclusion appears almost unavoidable, that the mountains mentioned, Genesis 7:20, as covered by fifteen cubits, and that come again in sight, Genesis 8:5, as seen from the same place whence they disappeared at the height of the flood, and when the ark grounded on the seventeenth of the seventh month, are the game “high hills under the whole heaven,” that are mentioned Genesis 7:19. We have here what Noah saw, or knew from sense,—the visible objects around him, the grounding, the disappearing, the reappearing—all referring to the same phenomena, one part being as much optical as another, and the knowledge of any one of these facts, as they appear on the face of the narrative, as much referrible to experience as that of any other, b. The inferred extent. Noah had no means of measuring the distance to which the ark drifted. We judge of it from what can be ascertained of its termini. It started from a place near the old Eden-land (in the neighborhood of the Persian Gulf), and it struck on one of the mountains of Armenia in the north. This could not have been the high Ararat, for then the lesser Ararat, which is only seven miles distant, and four thousand feet, or nearly a mile, lower, must have been long under water, contrary to the vivid impression made by what is said Genesis 7:20 and Genesis 8:5. It could not have been the lesser peak, for then the higher (only seven miles distant) would have been clearly visible, and four thousand feet above the water during the whole time of the ark’s resting. It must, therefore, have been some high land on the borders of the mountainous region, and at quite a distance, S. or E, from either. This distance of the ark’s sailing before it grounded (taking into view the fact that there was no land then visible from it in any direction, although there had been just before) would give a flood which probably covered the old adamah, together with Babylonia, Assyria, the neighboring parts of Persia and Media, Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Arabia, and a good portion of. Asia Minor, with peaks, perhaps, here and there, projecting above its surface. Subsequent events seem to confirm this view. From the unknown, rugged, mountainous region where the ark rested, the Noachidæ soon found their way back (at a time, too, when, as appears from Genesis 11:4, the flood was in fresh remembrance) to the plain of Shinar. To this they were led by the primitive gregarious tendency (see remarks, p317), and their aversion to being driven into the unknown, until there came that remarkable divine impulse which, for the first time, sent them far and wide to the remotest regions of the earth. Each pioneering family carried with them the story of the terrible judgment, locating it in different lands according to the traditions of their ancestors, and each distorting or embellishing it after their own mythical or legendary fashion. The Bible alone gives us the veritable account, truthfully and vividly told, carrying every mark of being an actual eye-witnessing, and furnishing the best data for determining its locality, its probable extent, its true chronology, and, what is of greater value than all else, its theological bearing, as one of the great divine interventions in the history of the world and of the church.—T. L.]


FN#1 - Genesis 8:1.—ניּשֹׁכּוּ. E. V. assuaged. It differs from חסר, to ebb or fail (as used in Genesis 8:3). שָׁכַךְ refers to the quieting, or becoming calm, of the waters after the ebullition that followed their eruption from the earth, and the heavy pouring of the water-spouts (LXX. καταῤῥάκται) from above. Its primary sense appears Esther 2:1; Esther 7:10, חמת המלך שככה, the wrath of the king was calmed. So in Hiphil, Numbers 17:20, where it denotes the quieting of popular commotion. LXX. ἐκόπασε τὸ ὕδωρ, and the water grew tired. The Vulgate confounds it with חסר, imminutæ sunt aquæ. The Syria ܐܬܬܒ̇ܚܘ, “the waters rested;” the late Arabic Translation (Amer. Bib. Soc.), very beautifully and significantly, دصل البيا ه, the waters became quiet. The distinction between this word and חסר is important in determining the stages of the flood—T. L.]

FN#2 - Genesis 8:3.—יָשׁוּבוּ. Began to turn, or to return. It denotes the turning-point after the waters had become calm. At first this turning was very slight, and the whole decrease for 73 days (compare Genesis 8:4-5) was only fifteen cubits, of from the grounding of the ark, when the hills disappeared (as is evident from Genesis 7:20), and their coming in sight again or the first day of the tenth month. This may be called the turn of the flood; so that we have three stages, 1. the becoming calm of the waters, 2. a period almost stationary, 3. the more perceptible, but still gradual subsiding expressed by the peculiar Hebrew idiom הָלוֹךְ וָשׁוֹב—T.L.]

FN#3 - Genesis 8:4.—וַתָּנַח. The ark’s grounding on one of the mountains of Ararat in the very height of the flood (whether one of the lower, or on its highest peak), is so inconsistent with the idea of the flood’s having covered mountains known to be more than two miles higher, that some have maintained that תנח here must mean resting over, as though it were suspended quietly, and remained stationary at that distance, directly above the top of Ararat. If there were no other objection, the decisive answer to this is that the word, as it appears in every such connection, means resting upon, like the lighting of a bird. Thus it is followed by עַל, which cannot here be rendered over or above. Comp. Exodus 10:14; Numbers 10:36; Numbers 11:25-26; Isaiah 11:2. There is an example of the noun thus used immediately following, Genesis 8:9 : “and the dove found no rest (מָנוּח) for the sole of her foot.”—T. L.]

FN#4 - Genesis 8:4.—עַל הָרֵי אֲרָרָט. The subject here being in the singular, this can only be rendered, among the mountains of Ararat, or upon one of the mountains of Ararat. The force of the language, if there were no other objection, is against the idea of its having been upon that high peak of Ararat that towers so much above everything around it. The diversity in the old Versions is also opposed to so definite and marked a view. The Vulgate has, super montes Armeniæ; LXX. ἐπὶ τὰ ὄρη τὰ ’Αραράτ; Targum of Onkelos, עַל טוּרֵי קַרְדּוּ, upon the mountains of Kardu, or the Karduchian; the Syriac the same, ܠܠ ܛܘܪܫ ܩܖ̇ܪܘ, as also Arabs Erpen. عاى جبا القى ود. The Koranic Arabic has it constantly اكو دى, Al Judi. The Samaritan Version (not the Hebraico-Samaritan) has the strangest of all. It says the ark rested on the mountains of Serendib, which is in the island of Ceylon. These various renderings are only important as showing, that anciently the place was regarded as in a measure unknown and indefinite. The old translators did not consider themselves as bound by the Hebrew אררט to confine it to the peak which afterwards solely acquired that title. The name might have been transferred to Armenia, or to other countries, just as the story of the flood itself was transferred, and located in different parts of the earth, according to the ancestral traditions of the various migrations. The place where the ark grounded could not, at the time, have had a name to Noah and his sons, since, before this, there are no geographical distinctions recognized in the Bible except Eden, the names of the Paradise rivers (if they are not subsequent), and the land of Nod, or of the wanderer, which is clearly metaphorical. It is to be noted, that of all proper names in the Bible, there is no one that has less of the Shemitic form than this word אֲרָרָט. As it occurs 2 Kings 19:37; Jeremiah 51:27, it may have been a much later transfer, just as the old Pelasgi carried certain names through Asia Minor, Greece, and even Italy, or as the early sons of Gomer left traces of their ancestral name through Europe. In like manner the names of the old ark-mountain, like the story itself, may have been transferred to different countries; so that, if we had nothing to guide us but the literal face of the Hebrew account, the direction of the ark’s moving, and the place where it rested, would be as indeterminable, geographically, as the land of Nod. The Samaritan Serendib would have as good a claim to be regarded as a right translation of אררט, as the Armenia of the Vulgate, and the Kardu (or Karud) of the Targums and the Syriac. The argument, however, for the region now commonly lecognized, has a good support in the concurrence of the Chaldæan and Syrian traditions.—T. L.]

FN#5 - Genesis 8:7.—וַיֵּצֵא יָצוֹא וָשׁוֹב. “And it went back and forth.” The LXX, Vulgate, and Syriac, render it, “and did not return,” as though they had read וְלֹא שָׁב. There can be, however, no doubt of the Hebrew text, fortified as it is by the Targums, the Samaritan Codex, and the Samaritan Version. The LXX, etc, may have derived the negative paraphrastically—the going back and forth being regarded as evidence that it did not Revelation -enter the ark. Bochart, in his Hierozoikon, vol2. pp209, 210, makes a labored attempt to reconcile them.—T. L.]

FN#6 - Genesis 8:12.—“And he waited yet seven days.” וַיִּיָּחֶל, as here pointed, is the regular Niphal of יחל, whereas. וַיָּחֵל, Genesis 8:10, has the form of the Hiphil of חיל or חול, and is so regarded by the modern commentators and lexicographers generally. From חול, doluit, they get the sense of waiting anxiously, painfully. It seems strange, however, that where the connection is so precisely similar, the word should be assigned to two distinct roots, though they are of forms that sometimes interchange senses. It is safer, therefore, to follow the Jewish authorities, who make them both from יחל. The first, says Rashi, is Piel (יְפָעֶל), as though he regarded it as equivalent to וַיְיָחֶל (contracted into יַיָּחֶל), and the second Hithpahel (יתפעל) or יִתְיָחֶל, becoming by assimilation יִיֶּחֵל, like יִנַּבֵּא for יִתְנַבֵּא. Aben Ezra, however, makes the second a regular Niphal, which is to be preferred, since there is a passive or deponent sense in the idea of waiting, as is seen in the Latin moror, demoror, præstolor; Greek, ἐκδέχομαι, προςδέχομαι. In regard to the first, it is easy to see how יְיָחֶל would become יָחֶל (yyâ-hel = yâ-hel), since to the ear there is hardly any perceptible difference in the pronunciation (the sounds ia, iya, and ya, being organically the same). So Rabhi Judah would read יֵילִיל, Isaiah 15:2-3; Isaiah 16:7, for יְיֵליל (or yé-lil for yyé-lil), as stated by Jona ben Gannach in his Hebrew Grammar (lately edited in Hebrew), p28.—T. L.]

FN#7 - The Hebrew נִרְאוּ here, in Niphal, would seem to have a more emphatic sense—became distinctly visible. It is another example of the remarkably optical style of this whole narrative. The Vulgate beautifully renders it, apparuerunt cacumina montium. They might have projected before, but now, on this day—perhaps the first clear day that afforded Noah an opportunity for taking an observation—they stood forth as conspicuous objects, in open sight.—T. L.]

FN#8 - There is no evidence of any hill so called among the Kurd mountains, or in any other region. In a note on the Koran, 11:46, Sale regards it as a corruption for Jordi, or Giordi, but there is no trace of this in the Arabic. In the Koran and elsewhere, wherever the Arabian tradition appears, it is constantly written أكْوُدِىٌ, and is evidently a descriptive name from جبل اكودى, præstans, bonus fuit. It Isaiah, therefore, an epithet denoting goodness, liberality, or mercy: جبل الجودى, the hill of Mercy, or mount Mercy, as we say, the cape, of Good Hope. Compare the Hebrew appellative, Deuteronomy 3:25, הַר הַטוֹב, and especially such epithets as we find in Genesis 22:14, הַר יְהוָֹה יֵרִאֶה, Mount Jehovah Jiraeh, Mount in which the Lord appears. On Al- Jude, see Herbelot, Bib. Orient. 375. A. He calls it Giouda, and finds a difficulty in locating it, but conjectures it to be near a village called Thamanin, from the eight persons saved in the ark, as is supposed.—T. L.]

FN#9 - This is rather from Servius, in his Note on Virg. Georgic. lib. i410, and who incorrectly ascribes it to Pliny. See Bochart, Hieroz. ii207. B. The idea, however, may have come from the tradition of the raven’s not returning to the ark, as the story is told in other accounts than that of the Hebrew. There was another wide-spread ancient belief respecting him, which is given by Pliny, x12, by Aristotle, Hist. Nat. ix31, and mentioned by the Rabbins, as well as the Christian Fathers, that this bird is cruel to its young, and early ejects them from the nest before they are prepared to gather food for themselves. Whether true or false, it seems to have furnished the ground for one of the most touching illustrations of the divine care for the helpless to be found in the Scriptures. See Psalm 147:9, “who giveth to the young ravens when they cry,” Job 38:41, “who provideth for the raven his food, when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.” The Arabians had the same tradition, and employ it in a similar illustration of the divine compassion, giving it in almost the very words of the Hebrew. Thus in a verse to be found in Hariri, Seance13. p151 (De Sacy ed.),

يَـا رَازِقَ النٌعٌابِ فى عُىثِىهِ

“O Thou that providest for the young raven in his nest.” On which the Scholiast makes a very singular comment: “When the young raven,” he says, “or the naabu, breaks the egg, it comes out white, which so frightens the parents that they fly far away; for the raven is the most timid and cautious of birds. When this takes place Allah sends to it the flies that fall into the nest. And so it lives for forty days, until its feathers are grown, and it becomes black, when the parents again return to it,” etc. The truth or falsehood of such a belief, or of the fact of abandonment in any way, does not affect the force or beauty of the illustration drawn from it. Our Saviour most tenderly makes use of it, Luke 12:24. On the prophetic powers, or the weather-foretelling powers, of the raven, see the striking passage, Virg. Georgic. i410, and the philosophic explanation the poet there attempts to give of the animal signs of the weather in general.

It might be a question worth studying: how far the whole science of bird-divination, so prevalent in the ancient world, may have had its origin, like that of other perverted beliefs, in the use Noah made of the raven and the dove in determining (divining, we might say) the natural signs of safety for himself and the ark, and so the gracious signs of the divine mercy and promise. So prevalent was the belief and the practice, that οἰωνός (bird) in Greek becomes a name for omen, or fortune, good or bad. So the Latin auspicium (avispicium)—our words auspice, auspicious, though the latter is generally taken in a favorable sense. The Hebrew words עוֹנֵן, part. מְעוֹנֵן, (denoting divination by clouds,) as used Leviticus 19:26, Deuteronomy 18:10, et al, show the prevalence of a precisely similar superstition, and furnish some proof of such an origin, in the perversion of what were originally holy and believing acts. Just so they perverted the memory of the brazen serpent. There may, however, have been another, or a concurrent, ground of these bird-divining practices of the Greeks and Romans, in a primitive notion that the inhabitants of the air (the birds of heaven, as Scripture calls them) were nearer to the divine, or that from their super-earthly position they may have had a superhuman sight and knowledge of things on the earth. Comp. Job 28:7, “a path which no fowl knoweth, which the eagle’s eye hath not seen.” Also Genesis 8:21, where of the mysterious wisdom it is said: “it is hid from the eyes of all living, and concealed from the birds of the heavens”—a poetical mode of saying, it is beyond all human divining, or human investigation.—T. L.]

FN#10 - See remarks on this derivation in the textual notes, No6, page308—.T. L.]

FN#11 - This name was also given to Thursday, as ruled by the planet Jupiter, but in the most ancient mythology it must have come directly after Saturn, as dies Solis.—T. L.]

FN#12 - This word κόσμος, as used by Peter, does not necessarily denote the earth as a whole. It means a former state of things as distinguished from the present. As employed, it has the same generality, and the same limitation, as οἰκουμένη, when used for the inhabited world, real or supposed.—T. L.

FN#13 - The great importance of the question, and the fact that Dr. Lange fails to give a decided view, form the plea for the length of this Excursus. Delitzsch also seems undecided, though he presents some views strongly favorable to the theory of limitation.—T. L.]

FN#14 - In respect to the first kind, the famous canon of the rationalist, undoubtedly holds true: the Scriptures, in their human language, are to be interpreted as other books. When, however, it is applied to the second, or what may be called the theological exegesis, it ignores and denies what is most peculiar in the Bible as a book composed during two thousand years, by different writers, in widely different styles, and embracing a vast variety of ideas, yet preserving, from beginning to end, a holy aspect, and a religious unity, that no other writings possess, and which have given it a place in the very core of human history, such as no other book, no other literature, or literary series, can lay any claim to. Not less absurd would it be than to interpret Homer’s Iliad as an accidental or arbitrary series of fragmentary unconnected ballads, after the profoundest criticism, grounded on the truest Homeric feeling, has decided it to possess an epic unity and an epic harmony worthy of the high poetical inspiration from which it flows.—T. L.]

FN#15 - Delitzsch, though undecided in the main, presents the whole case, or the whole ground of argument for and against, when he says, page Genesis 262: “The Scripture demands the universality of the flood, only for the earth as inhabited, not for the earth as such; and it has no interest in the universality of the flood in itself, but only in the universality of the judgment of which it is the execution.”—T. L.]

FN#16 - It is the appearance so graphically described, though in other language, Job 26:10 : חֹק חָג עַל פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם עַד תַּכְלִית אוֹר עִם חשֶׁךְ, “The circle he hath marked upon the face of the waters, at the ending of the light in the darkness,”—or where the visible disappears in the invisible.—T. L.]

FN#17 - There is no mention of “the wild animals as included” in the בְּהֵמָה, as that judicious commentator, Murphy, well observes (p211). There were “the fowl, and the creeping thing.” The first included the birds in general (who would be most defenceless, and who would most naturally, of themselves, resort to the ark for shelter), and the smaller well-known animals, who would come under the general denomination. There is no evidence of its here including insects or reptiles. And then again, it must be ever borne in mind how our view of the universal terms in respect to the animals is affected by the prejudgment of the absolute universality of the flood as covering all the globe. The all in the one case is very much modified by the all in the other. If the flood was confined to the basin of the Euphrates and Tigris, it would have swept away the then existing human race, but not the animal races who had roamed farther into the wildernesses and deserts. There is not a syllable to show that lions came from Africa or bears from Siberia. The generality of the terms, then, cannot be carried farther than the ends intended, which were the preservation of Noah and his family, as the seed of a new human race, and of the animals in the district where he lived as “the seed” of other animals that would be wanted for the new population, either in their immediate, or their more remote and indirect, utilities.

On the question of the universality of the flood, the reader is referred to the Commentary on Genesis by James G. Murphy, LL.D, Professor of Hebrew, Belfast. On this subject especially is he learned and judicious, yet with a reverence far removed from latitudinarianism.—T. L.]

FN#18 - See the marginal note on those words, חרי אררט, page308.—T. L.]

FN#19 - Such, for example, as the הָלוֹךְ וְחָסוֹר, Genesis 8:5, a peculiar Hebrew idiom, denoting most graphically a gradual yet constant subsidence (Vulg, ibant el decrescebant aquæ), or, the period of highest water, which could have had no mark for the eye, if they covered the highest land upon the earth, twelve thousand feet, or more than two miles, above the high peak of Ararat itself.—T. L.]

Verse 20




The First Typical Covenant. The Primitive Precepts (Noachian Laws). The Symbol of the Rainbow

Genesis 8:20 to Genesis 9:17

20And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord, and took of every[FN20] clean beast and of every clean fowl and offered burnt offerings on the altar 21 And the Lord smelled a sweet savour,[FN21] and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake: for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth [here, excusing]; neither will I again smite any more everything living as I have done 22 While the earth remaineth [all the days of the earth] seedtime and harvest [the order of nature], and cold and heat, and summer and winter,[FN22] and day and night, shall not cease.

Genesis 9:1 And God [Elohim] blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth 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, and upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hands are they delivered 3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green 4 herb have I given you all things. But flesh which is the life thereof [its soul, its animation], which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat 5 And surely your blood of your lives[FN1] [of each single life] will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it [take vengeance for it], and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of Prayer of Manasseh 1:6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by Prayer of Manasseh 1:2 shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he Prayer of Manasseh 1:7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth 8 abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. And God [Elohim] spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying [לֵאמֹר], 9And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; 10And 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 [that shall proceed from them in the future]. 11And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off anymore by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth 12 And God [Elohim] 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: 13I do set my bow[FN3] in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth 14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:[FN4] 15And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more 16 become a flood to destroy all flesh. And my bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every 17 living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God [Elohim] said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.


1. Genesis 8:20-22. The offering of Noah and the acceptance and promise of Jehovah. The offering of Noah is not, as has been maintained, to be referred back from the later time of the law, to the primitive history. It reflects itself, moreover, in the mythological stories of the flood (Delitzsch, p268). An altar to the Lord. The altar is called מִזְבֵּהַ, place of slaying the victim, from זָבַח, as θυσιαστήριον from θύειν. That the sons of Adam offered without an altar is a mere supposition. According to Keil there was no need of an altar, because God was still present in paradise to men. In the judgment of the flood was paradise destroyed; the place of his presence was withdrawn, and he had taken his throne in the heaven, that from thence, hereafter he might reveal himself to men. (Comp. Genesis 2:5; Genesis 2:7). “Towards heaven must now the hearts of the pious lift up themselves; their offerings and their prayers must go up on high, if they would reach God’s throne. In order to give the offerings this upward direction, elevated places were fixed upon, from which they might ascend heavenwards in fire. Hence the offerings derived their name of עֹלוֹת, from עֹלָה, the ascending, not so much because the animal offered was laid upon the altar, or made to ascend the altar, but rather because of the ascending (of the flame and smoke) from the altar towards heaven. (Comp. Judges 20:40; Jeremiah 48:15; Amos 4:10). In like manner Delitzsch in relation to Psalm 29:10; (according to Hofmann: “Prophecy and Fulfilment,” pp80, 88). If by this is meant that the religious consciousness, which once received God as present in paradise, must now, through its darkness by sin, revere him as the Holy One, far off, dwelling on high, and only occasionally revealing himself from heaven, there would be nothing to say against it; but if it is meant as a literal transfer of the place of the divine dwelling and of the divine throne, it becomes a mythologizing darkening of the divine idea (see Psalm 139). Christ was greater than the paradisaical Adam; notwithstanding, in prayer, he lifted up his eyes to heaven ( John 11:41); and already is it intimated, Genesis 1:1, that from the beginning, the heaven, as the symbolical sign of God’s exceeding highness, had precedence of the earth. That, however, the word עוֹלָה may have some relation, at least, to the ascendency of the victim upon the altar is shown by the expression העלה in the Hiphil. The altar was erected to Jehovah, whose worship had already, at an earlier period, commenced ( Genesis 4:4). Everywhere when Elohim had revealed himself in his first announcements, and had thus given assurance of himself as the trusted and the constant, there is Jehovah, the God amen, in ever fuller distinctness. As Jehovah must he especially appear to the saved Noah, as the one to whom he had fulfilled his word of promise in the wonderful relation he bore to him.—Of every clean beast.—According to Rosenmuller and others, we must regard this as referring to the five kinds of offerings under the law, namely, bullock, sheep, goats, doves, turtle doves. This, however, is doing violence to the text; there appears rather to have been appointed for offering the seventh surplus example which he had taken, over and above the three pairs, in each case, of clean beasts.—And offered it as a burnt offering.—We are not to think here of the classification of offerings as determined in the levitical law. The burnt offering forms the middle point, and the root of the different offerings (comp. Genesis 22:13); and the undivided unity is here to be kept in view. There Isaiah, at all events, contained here the idea of the thank offering, although there is nothing said of any participation, or eating, of the victim offered. The extreme left side of the offering here, as an offering for sin and guilt, was the Herem or pollution of the carcases exposed in the flood (like the lamb of the sacrifice of Moses as compared with the slain first-born of the Egyptians); the extreme right side lay in that consecrated partaking of flesh by Noah which now commenced.—And the Lord (Jehovah) smelled a sweet savor.—The savor of satisfaction. An anthropomorphic expression for the satisfied acceptance of the offering presented, as a true offering of the spirit of the one presenting it.[FN5]And said in his heart.—Not merely he said to himself or he thought with himself; it means rather, he took counsel with, his heart and executed a purpose proceeding from, the emotion of his divine love.—I will not again curse.—In words had he done this, Genesis 3:17, but actually and in a higher measure, in the decree of destruction Genesis 6:7; Genesis 6:13. With the last, therefore, is the first curse retracted, in as far as the first preliminary lustration of the earth is admitted to be a baptism of the earth. According to Knobel, the pleasing fragrance of the offering is not the moving ground, but merely the occasion for this gracious resolve, But what does the occasion mean here? In so far as the saving grace of God was the first moving ground for Noah’s thank offering, was this latter also a second moving ground (symbolically, causa meritoria) for the purpose of God as afterwards determined.—For the imaginations of man’s heart.—The ground here given for God’s forbearance and compassion seems remarkable. Calvin: “Hic inconstantiœ videtur deus accusari posse. Supra puniturus hominem, causam consilii dicit, quia figmentum cordis humani malum est. Hic promissurus homini gratiam, quod posthac tali ira uti nolit, eandem causam allegat.” Between this passage, however, and the one Genesis 6:6, there is a twofold difference. In the latter there precedes the sentence: Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth; in connection with this corruption of actual sin, the evil imagining of the human heart itself, is reckoned for evil, as being its fountain. Here, however, the burnt offering of Noah goes before. In connection with tills sacrificial service, expressing the feeling of guilt and the want of forgiveness, the evil imagination of the human heart appears as a sufferer of temptation. The innate sinfulness is not disease merely, but as it stands in organic connection with the actual sin, is also guilt. It Isaiah, however, disease too; and precisely in its connection with the disposition for pardon, and the better desire of Prayer of Manasseh, is it regarded as disease by God, and as being, therefore, an object of his compassion. Moreover it is called here simply יֵצֶר לֵב, the involuntary unconscious sense and imagination, but there ( Genesis 6:6), it was “the imagination of the thoughts (the purposes) of his heart,” and, therefore, a matter of consciousness; here it is wickedness from his youth up, there, it is only wickedness, nothing else but wickedness, wickedness throughout and continually. In the effect of the flood, and in the light of the sacrificial offering, which Noah offers not only in his own name, but in that of his family and race, the guilt of the innate sinfulness of the human race appears typically weakened in the same way as in the evangelical church-doctrine, the condemnation of hereditary sin is taken away by baptism, of which the flood is a type.[FN6] Knobel lays stress on the fact that it is said from his youth up, not from his mother’s womb; but the word evidently means that just as soon as the heart comes to its peculiar imagining, or the sensual imagining that is appropriate to it, then immediately appears the innate sinfulness.—Whilst the earth remaineth.—“The three first pairs of words do not denote, as the Jewish interpreters (see Raschi) explain it, six times of the year reckoned by two months each (a division found in the Vedas and the Avesta), but they divide the year into two halves each, as the old Greeks did into θέρος and χειμών (in Hesiod it is ἄμητος and ἀροτος), namely the summer (including the autumn), beginning with the early rising of the Pleiades, and the winter (including the spring, see Job 29:4) beginning with the early setting (Ideler, Chron1, p241).” Delitzsch. And yet the antitheses are not tautological. Seed-time and harvest denote the year according to its most obvious significance for man. Cold and heat are according to the equilibrium of the year, lying at the ground of seed-time and harvest, and conditioned by the regular change of temperature. Summer and winter present the constant appearance of this change, the order of which is imaged in the small and ordinary changes of day and night that belong to the general course of nature. Delitzsch supposes that this new course of nature, consisting in interchanges of temperature, is opposed to a “serene or uninterrupted warmth that prevailed before the flood.” That the earth in the primitive period had an even temperature may be regarded as very probable; but not that the flood, in this respect, made any sudden turning point, although such an epoch in the earth’s life must, at the same time, denote the beginning of a change. At all events, the new order of nature is not denoted as a mere imperfect earth, for this purified earth will God never again cover with a flood. Delitzsch admirably remarks: “they are God’s thoughts of peace which he gives to Noah’s inner perception as an answer to his offering; as even now every one who prays in faith gets from the heart of God an inward perception that his prayer is answered.” The doubled form, לֹא אֹסִף, has as in Isaiah 54:9, the power of an oath. As an establishment of the new order of nature, this promise corresponds to the creative words Genesis 1.

2. The blessing of God on the new humanity, its dominion, its freedom and its laws ( Genesis 9:1-7). The benediction of Noah and his sons, Genesis 9:1, corresponds to the blessing of Adam and Eve, Genesis 1:28. In like manner, the grant of dominion over the animal world corresponds to the appointment there expressed. The distinct license here given for the slaying of the beasts corresponds to Genesis 1:29, and Genesis 2:16. The prohibition of eating blood corresponds to the prohibition of the tree of knowledge. Finally, the command against murder has relation, without doubt, to the murder committed by Cain ( Genesis 4). Delitzsch: “After that the general relations of nature, in view of such a ruin as has happened in the flood, are made secure by promise, there are given to men new physical, ethical, and legal foundations.”—And the fear of you.—Your fear, as the effect, מוֹרָא. The exciting of fear and terror are to be the means of man’s dominion over the animals. Delitzsch remarks: “It is because the original harmony that once existed between man and nature has been taken away by the fall and its consequences. According to the will of God, man is still the lord of nature, but of nature now as an unwilling servant, to be restrained by effort, to be subjugated by force.” Not throughout, however, is nature thus antagonistic to man; it is not the case with a portion of the animal world, namely, the domestic animals. It is true, there has come in a breach of the original harmony, but it is not now for the first time, and the most peculiar striving of the creature is against its doom of perishability ( Romans 8:20). Moreover, it is certainly the case, that, the influence of the fear of man upon the animals is fundamentally a normal paradisaical relation. But a severer intensity of this is indicated by the word dread. Knobel explains it from the fact, that hence-forth the animal is threatened in its life, and is now exposed to be slain. Since the loss of the harmonic relation between man and the animals (in which the human majesty had a magical power over the beast), the contrast between the tame and the wild, between the friendly innocence and the hostile dread of the wilder species, had increased more and more, unto the time of the flood. Now is it formally and legally presented in the language we are considering. Man is henceforth legally authorized to exercise a forcible dominion over the beasts, since he can no longer rule them through the sympathy of a spiritual power. Also the eating of flesh, which had doubtless existed before, is now formally legalized; by which fact it Isaiah, at the same time, commended. A limitation of the pure kinds is not yet expressed. When, however, there is added, by way of appendix, all that liveth (that Isaiah, is alive), the dead carcase, or that which hath died of itself, is excluded, and with it all that is offensive generally. There Isaiah, however, a distinct restriction upon this flesh-eating, in the prohibition of the blood: But flesh with the life thereof.—Delitzsch explains it as meaning, “that there was forbidden the eating of the flesh when the animal was yet alive, unslain, and whose blood had not been poured out,—namely, pieces cut out, according to a cruel custom of antiquity, and still existing in Abyssynia. Accordingly there was forbidden, generally, the eating of flesh in which the blood still remained.” It Isaiah, however, more to the purpose to explain this text according to Leviticus 17:11; Leviticus 17:14, than by the savage practices of a later barbarous heathenism, or by Rabbinical tradition. “With its life,” therefore, means with its soul, or animating principle, and this is explained by its blood, according to the passage cited ( Deuteronomy 12:23); since the blood is the basis, the element of the nerve-life, and in this sense, the soul. The blood is the fluid-nerve, the nerve is the constructed blood. The prohibition of blood-eating, the first of the Song of Solomon -called Noachian commands (see below), Isaiah, indeed, connected with the moral reprobation of cruelty to animals, as it may proceed to the mutilation of the living; it Isaiah, therefore, also connected with the avoidance of raw flesh (בָּשָׂר חַי, or living flesh, 1 Samuel 2:15. Knobel). “The blood is regarded as the seat of the soul, or the life, and is even denoted as נֶפֶשׁ, or the soul itself ( Leviticus 1:5), as the anima purpurea of Virgil, Æn. ix348; even as here נַפשׁוֹ is explained by the apposition דָּמוֹ. But the life belongs to God, the Lord of all life, and must, therefore, be brought to him, upon his altar ( Deuteronomy 12:27), and not be consumed by man.” Knobel. This Isaiah, therefore, the second idea in the prohibition of the blood. As life, must the life of the beast go back to God its creator; or, as life in the victim offered in sacrifice, it must become a symbol that the soul of man belongs to God, though man may partake of the animal materiality, that Isaiah, the flesh. Still stronger is the restriction that follows: And surely your blood of your lives.—“The soul of the beast, in the blood of the beast, is to be avoided, and the soul of Prayer of Manasseh, in the blood of Prayer of Manasseh, is not to be violated.” Delitzsch. At the ground of this contrast, however, lies the more general one, that the slaying of the beast is allowed whilst the slaying of man is forbidden.–Will I require; that Isaiah, the corresponding, proportionate expiation or punishment will I impose upon the slayer. The expression לְנַפְשֹׁתֵיהֶם, Knobel explains as meaning “for your souls,” for the best of your life (comp. Leviticus 26:45; Deuteronomy 4:15; Job 13:7). According to Delitzsch and Keil לְ expresses the regard had for the individual. And this appears to be near the truth. The blood of man is individually reckoned and valued, according to the individual souls.—At the hand of every beast.—The more particular legal regulation is found in Exodus 21:28. Here, then, is first given a legal ground for the pursuit and destruction of human murderous and hurtful beasts. Still there is expressed, moreover, the slaying of the single beast that hath killed a man. “In the enactments of Solon and Draco, and even in Plato, there is a similar provision.” Delitzsch.—And at the hand of man. “אִישׁ אָח, brother Prayer of Manasseh, that Isaiah, kinsman; comp. Genesis 13:5; Song of Solomon, אִישׁ כֹּהֵן, a priest- Prayer of Manasseh, etc. By the words אִישׁ אָחִיו is not to be understood the next of kin to the murdered Prayer of Manasseh, whose duty it was to execute the blood-vengeance (Von Bohlen, Tuch, Baumgarten), as the one from whom God required the blood that was shed, but the murderer himself. In order to indicate the unnaturalness of murder, and its deep desert of penalty, God denotes him (the murderer) as in a special sense the brother of the murdered.” Knobel. Besides this, moreover, there is formed from אִיש the expression every man (Delitzsch, Keil). Every Prayer of Manasseh, brother man.—The life of man.—Man is emphasized. Therefore follows, emphatically, the formula: Whosoever sheddeth man’s blood, and at the close again there is once more man (הָאָדָם) prominently presented.—By man shall his blood be shed: “namely, by the next of kin to the murdered, whose right and duty both it was to pursue the murderer, and to slay him. He is called גֹּאֵל הַדָּם, the demander of the blood, or the blood-avenger. The Hebrew law imposed the penalty of death upon the homicide ( Exodus 21:12; Leviticus 24:17), which the blood avenger carried out ( Numbers 35:19; Numbers 35:21); to him was the murderer delivered up by the congregation to be put to death ( Deuteronomy 19:12). Among the old Hebrews, the blood-vengeance was the usual mode of punishing murder, and was also practised by many other nations.” Delitzsch and Keil dispute the relation of this passage to the blood-vengeance. It is not to be misapprehended, 1. that here, in a wider sense, humanity itself, seeing it is always next of kin to the murdered, is appointed to be the avenger; and2. that the appointment extends beyond the blood-vengeance, and becomes the root of the magisterial right of punishment. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that in the patriarchal relations of the olden time it was a fundamental principle that the next of kin were not only justified in the execution of the law of blood, but on account of the want of a legal tribunal, were under obligation to perform the office. This primitive, divinely-sanctioned custom, became, in its ideal and theocratic direction, the law of punishment as magisterially regulated in the Mosaic institutions (but which still kept in mind the blood-vengeance), whereas, in the direction of crude heathenism, which avenged the murder even upon the relations of the murderer, it became itself a murderous impulse. Delitzsch remarks, that God has now laid in the hands of men the penal force that belonged to him alone, because he has withdrawn his visible presence from the earth,—according to the view, before cited, of his transfer of the divine throne to the heavens.—For in the image of God made he man.—This is the reason for the command against murder. In man there is assailed the image of God, the personality, that which constitutes the very aim of his existence, although the image itself, as such, is inviolable. In murder the crime is against the spirit, in which the divine kinsmanship reveals itself, and so is it a crime against the very appearing of God in the world in its most universal form, or as a prelude to that murder which was committed against the perfect form of man (or image of God in man), Zechariah 12:10; John 3:10; John 3:15).—But be ye fruitful.—The contrast to the preceding. The value of human life forbids its being wasted, and commands its orderly increase.—Bring forth abundantly in the earth—In the spreading of men over, the earth, and out of its supplies of food (by which, as it were, the life of the earth is transformed into the life of man) are found the conditions for the multiplication of the human race. Thus regarded, there is only an apparent tautology in the verse, not an actual one.

3. Genesis 9:8-17. The covenant of God with Noah, with his race, and with the whole earth.—To Noah and to his sons with him.—Solemn covenanting form. The sons are addressed together with Noah; for the covenant avails expressly for the whole human race.—And I, behold I establish.—The words, and I, (וֹאני) form a contrast to the claims of God on the new humanity as an introduction to the promise. According to Knobel, God had established no covenant with the antediluvians. Not, indeed, in the literal expressions here employed; since it was after men had had the experience of a destroying judgment. According to the same (Knobel), the Jehovist, in Genesis 8:21 presented the matter in a way different from that of the Elohist here. Clearly, however, does the offering of Noah there mentioned, furnish the occasion for the entire transaction that follows in this place. The making of a covenant with Noah is already introduced, and announced Genesis 6:13; it stands in a development conditioned on the preservation of Noah’s faith, just as a similar development is still more evident in the life of Abraham (see James 2:20-23). Keil remarks that “חֵקִים בְּרִית is not equivalent to כָּרַת בְּרִיתּ, that Isaiah, it does not denote the formal concluding, but the establishing, confirming, of a covenant,—in other words, the realization of the covenanting promise” (comp. Genesis 22with Genesis 17, 15). Delitzsch: “There begins now the era of the divine ἀνοχή( Romans 3:26) of which Paul preached in Lystria ( Acts 14:15).” In its most special sense, this era begins with the origin of heathenism, that Isaiah, from the Babylonian dispersion. With a right fulness is the animal world also included in this covenant, for it is elohistic,—universalistic; it keeps wholly predominant the characteristic of compassion for the creaturely life upon the earth, although man forms its ethical middle point, with which the animal world and the kosmos are connected. The covenant with the beasts subsists not for itself, and, in respect to its nature, is only to be taken symbolically.—Shall not be cut off any more.—This is the divine covenant promise—no new destruction,—no end of the world again produced by a flood.—My bow in the cloud, it shall be for a token.—In every divine covenant there is a divine sign of the covenant; in this covenant it is said: my bow do I set. According to Knobel the rainbow is called God’s bow, because it belongs to the heaven, God’s dwelling place. It is a more correct interpretation to say, it is because God has made it to appear in the heaven, as the sign of his covenant. According to the same, the author of the account must have entertained the supposition that there had never been a rainbow before the time of the flood. Delitzsch is of the same opinion.[FN7] It Isaiah, indeed, a phenomenon of refraction, which may be supposed of a fall of water, and sometimes, also, of a dew-distilling mist. But the far visible and overarching rainbow supposes the rain-cloud as its natural conditioning cause. We have already remarked that from the appointment of the rainbow, as the sign of the covenant, it by no means follows that it had not before existed as a phenomenon of nature ( Genesis 2). The starry night, too, is made the sign of a promise for Abraham ( Genesis 15). Keil is not willing to infer that hitherto it had not rained, but only presents the conjecture that at an earlier period the constitution of the atmosphere may have been different.—And I will look upon it that I may remember.—An anthropomorphising form of expression, but which like every other expression of the kind, ever gives us the tenor of the divine thought in a symbolical human form. Here it is the expression of the self-obligating, or of the conscious covenant truthfulness, as manifested in the constant sign. “In his presence, too, have they power and most essential significance.” (Von Gerlach).

[Note on the Appointment of the Rainbow as the Sign of the Covenant.—In regard to this it may be well to give the views of some of the older Jewish commentators, if for no other purpose, to show that what is really the most easy and the most natural interpretation comes from no outside pressure of science, but is fairly deducible from the very letter of the passage. Thus reasons Maimonides respecting it: “For the words are in past time, אֵת קַשְׁתִּי נָתַתִּי, my bow have I set (or did set) in the cloud, not, I am now setting, or about to set, which would be expressed by אֲנִי נוֹתִן, according as he had said just before, הַבְּרִית אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן, the covenant which I am now establishing. Moreover the form of the word קַשְׁתִּי my bow, shows that there was something to him so called from the beginning. And so the Scripture must be interpreted: the bow which I put (נתתי) in the cloud in the day of creation, shall be, from this day, and henceforth, for a sign of the covenant between me and you, so that every time that it appears, I will look upon it and remember my covenant of peace. If it is asked then, what is meant by the bow’s being a sign, I answer that it is like what is said Genesis 31:48, in the covenant between Jacob and Laban, הִנֵּה הַגַּל הַזֶּה עֵד, lo, this heap is a witness, etc., or Genesis 31:52, עֵדָה הַמַּצֵּבָה, and this pillar shall be a witness, etc. And so also Genesis 21:30, אֶת שֶׁבַע כְּבָשׁוֹת תִּקַּח מִיָּדִי, seven lambs shalt thou take from my hand, לְעֵדָה for a witness. In like manner everything that appears as thus put before two, to cause them to remember something promised or covenanted, is called אוֹת. And so of the circumcision; God says, it shall be a sign of the covenant, לְאוֹת בְּרִית, between me and you. Thus the bow that is now visible, and the bow that was in nature (בטכע) from the beginning, or from of old (מעוֹלם) are one in this, that the sign which is in them is one.” He then proceeds to say that there are other and mystic interpretations made by some of the Rabbins, but this great critic is satisfied with the one that he has given. Aben Ezra says that the most celebrated of the Jewish Rabbins held the same opinion as Maimonides, namely, that the rainbow was in nature from the beginning, though he himself seems to dissent.

“And I will look upon it to remember the בְּרִית עוֹלָם, the covenant of eternity.” Let us not be troubled about the anthropopathism, but receive the precious thought in all its inexpressible tenderness. Lange most beautifully characterizes such mutual remembrance as eye meeting eye. We all know that God’s memory takes in the total universe of space at every moment of time: but there are some things which he remembers as standing out from the great totality. He remembers the act of faith, and the sign of faith, as he remembers no other human Acts, no other finite phenomenon. May we not believe that there is the same mutual remembrance in the Eucharist? The “remember me” implies “I will remember thee.” The eye of the Redeemer looking into the eye of the believer, or both meeting in the same memorial: this is certainly a “real presence,” whatever else there may be of depth and mystery in that most fundamental Christian rite—the evangelical אוֹת בְּרִית עוֹלָם, or sign of the everlasting covenant.

The Hebrew אוֹת is not used of miraculous signs, properly, given as proofs of mission or doctrine. It is not a counteraction of natural law, or the bringing a new thing into nature. Any fixed object may be used for a sign, and here the very covenant itself, or a most important part of it, being the stability of nature, there is a most striking consistency in the fact that the sign of such covenant is taken from nature itself. The rainbow, ever appearing in the “sunshine after rain,” is the very symbol of constancy. It is selected from all others, not only for its splendor and beauty, but for the regularity with which it cheers us, when we look out for it after the storm. Noah needed no witness of the supernatural. The great in nature, in that early age when all was wonderful, was regarded as manifesting God equally with the supernatural. Besides, in the flood itself there was a sufficient witness to the extraordinary. There was wanted, then, not a miracle strictly as an attestation of a message, or as a sign of belief, like the miracles in the New Testament (when there was a necessity for breaking up the lethargy of naturalism), but a vivid memorial for the conservation rather than the creation of faith. The Hebrew word for miracle is more properly פֶּלֶא, though it may be used simply for prodigy, like the Greek τέρας, in distinction from the New Testament σημεῖον, which is properly a proof or attestation of a miraculous kind. Τέρας simply means anything wonderful, whether in nature or not. Superstition converts such appearances into portents, or signs of something impending, but in the Bible God’s people are expressly told “not to be dismayed at the signs of the heavens as the heathen are.” Jeremiah 10:1. The word there used is this same אוֹתוִֹת in the plural, but accommodated to the heathen perversion. To the believing Israelites the signs of the heavens, even though strange and unusual, were to be regarded as tokens of their covenant God above nature yet ruling in nature, and ever regulating the order of its phenomena. There is a passage sometimes quoted from Homer, Il. xi27, Genesis 28 :

̔́Ιρισσιν ἐοικότες ἅστε Κρονίων

’Εν νέφεϊ στήριξε ΤΕΡΑΣ μερόπων ἀνθρώπων.

“Like the rainbows which Zeus fixed in the cloud a sign to men of many tongues.” But τέρας there has the sense of prodigy, or it may denote a wonderful and beautiful object. We cannot, therefore, certainly infer from this any traditional recognition of the great sign-appointing in Genesis. So Plato quotes from Hesiod the genealogy of Iris (the rainbow), as the daughter of Θαύμας or Wonder, as a sort of poetical argument that Wonder is the parent of philosophy, as though the rainbow were placed in the heavens to stimulate men in the pursuit of curious knowledge. But it is the religious use that is prominent in this as in all the Bible appeals to the observation of nature. It is for the support of faith in the God of nature, “that we may look upon it and remember;” and this is admirably expressed in a Rabbinical doxology to be found in the Talmudic Kidduschin, fol8, and which was to be recited at every appearance of the rainbow, ברוך אתה יהוה אלהינו וגו, “Blessed be thou Jehovah our God, King of eternity (or of the world), ever mindful of thy covenant, faithful in thy covenant, firm in thy word,” comp. Psalm 119:89, Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. The Targum of Oukelos translates Genesis 9:13 : “And it shall be a sign, בין מימרי ובין ארעא, between my word and the earth.”

It is not unreasonable to suppose some reference to this place in that difficult passage Habakkuk 3:9, עֶרְיָה תֵּעוֹר קַשְׁתֶּךָ, most obscurely rendered in our English version, “thy bow was made quite naked—the oaths of the tribes—the word.” Kimchi translates it revealed, made manifest. It is commonly thought that all that is said in that sublime chapter has reference to events that took place during the Exodus, but there is good ground for giving it a wider range, so as to take in other divine wonders, in creation and in the patriarchal history.—T. L.]


1. There are the most distinct indications that the flood, as the greatest epoch of the primitive time, made a turning point, not only in the spiritual life of humanity, but also in its physical relations,—yea, in the very life of the earth itself. Only we may not, in the first place, regard this turning point as a sudden change of all relations; just as little as the fall ( Genesis 3) suddenly brought in death, or as the confusion of tongues produced immediately the wide-spread diversities of language. And, in the second place, again, it must not be regarded as a change of all relations for the worse. There is supposed to have been a change of the atmosphere (concerning the rain and the rainbow, see above). At all events, the paradisaical harmony of the earth had departed at an earlier day. But, on the other hand, there comes in now a more constant order of the atmospherical relations ( Genesis 8:22). Again, some have called it a sudden change in the duration of human life. But to this is opposed the fact that the aged Noah lived350 years after the flood. It is evident, however, that during the period of Noah’s life the breaking through of death from the inner to the outer life had made a great advance. And to this the fear which the flood brought upon the children and grandchildren of Noah (not upon himself) may have well contributed. As far as relates to the increasing ferocity of the wild beasts towards men, the ground of their greater estrangement and savageness cannot be found in their deliverance in the ark. Already had the mysterious paradisaical peace between man and beast departed with the fall. Moreover, the words: “all flesh had corrupted its way,” ( Genesis 6:12) indicate that together with men’s increasing wickedness the animal world had grown more ferocious. But if the mode of life as developed among men made the eating of flesh (and drinking of wine) a greater necessity for them than before, then along with the sanctioning of this new order of life, must there have been sanctioned also the chase. And so out of this there must have arisen a state of war between man and the animal world, which would have for its consequence an increased measure of customary fear among the animals that were peculiarly exposed to it.

2. Immediately after the flood, Noah built an altar to Jehovah, his covenant God, who had saved him. The living worship (cultus) was his first work, the culture of the vineyard was his second. The altar, in like manner, was the sign of the ancestral faith, as it had come down from paradise and had been transmitted through the ark. This faith was the seed-corn as well as sign of the future theocracy and the future church. It was an altar of faith, an altar of prayer, an altar of thanksgiving, for it was erected to Jehovah. But it was also an altar of confession, an acknowledgment that sin had not died in the flood, that Noah and his house was yet sinful and needed the symbolic sanctification. In this case, too, was the offering of an animal itself an expression of the greater alacrity in the sacrifice since Noah had preserved only a few specimens of the clean animals. This readiness in the offering was in that case an expression of his faith in salvation, wherein, along with his prayer for grace and compassion, there was inlaid a supplication for his house, for the new humanity, for the new world. His offering was a burnt-offering, a whole burnt-offering (Kalil) or an ascending in the flame (Olah), as an expression that Hebrews, Noah, did thereby devote himself with his whole house, his whole race, and with the whole new earth, to the service of God. The single kinds of offering were all included in this central offering. It was this sense of his offering which made the strong burnt odor of the burning flesh, a “sweet savor” for Jehovah in a metaphorical sense. The attestation of Jehovah makes it evident in what sense Noah offered it. It expresses1. an averting of the curse from the ground, 2. the fact that the hereditary sinfulness of man was to be an object of the divine compassion. The sinful tendency in its connection with the act of sin is guilt, but in its connection with the need of salvation and salvation itself, it is an evil, the sorest of diseases and suffering (see above); 3. the promise that Jehovah would not again destroy every living thing; 4. the establishment of a constant order of nature; such as the prosperity of the new human race demanded. On this promise of sparing compassion for sinful men, and which God as Jehovah pronounces, there is grounded the renewed relation into which, as Elohim, he enters with all humanity, and the creature world connected with it. This relation is denoted by grants made by God to Prayer of Manasseh, and demands which he makes of Prayer of Manasseh, whereupon follows the establishment of the Elohistic covenant with Noah and all living. The Grants of God: 1. the repetition of the blessing upon Noah and upon all his house, as before upon the animals; 2. the renewed grant of dominion over the beasts; the sanction given to the eating of flesh. In contrast with these grants that guarantee the existence and well-being of the human race, stand the demands or claims made in respect to human conduct. The first is the avoidance of the eating of flesh with the blood, whereby there is together established the sanctification of the enjoyment, the avoidance of savageness as against nature, and of cruelty as against the beast. The second not only forbids the shedding of human blood, but commands also the punishment of murder; it ordains the magistracy with the sword of retribution. But it expresses, at the same time, that the humane civil organization of men must have a moral basis, namely the acknowledgment that all men are brothers (אִישׁ אָחִיו every Prayer of Manasseh, his brother man), and with this again, a religious basis, or the faith in a personal God, and that inviolability of the human personality which rests in its imaged kinsmanship with God. On this follows the establishment of the covenant. Still it is not made altogether dependent on the establishment of the preceding claims. It is a covenant of promise for the sparing of all living that reaches beyond this, because it is made not for individuals but for all, not merely for the morally accountable but for infants, not merely for men but also for the animal world. Notwithstanding, however, this transcending universality of the divine covenant, it Isaiah, in truth, made on the supposition that faith in the grace and compassion of Jehovah, piety in respect to the blessing, the name and the image of Elohim, shall correspond to the divine faithfulness, and that men shall find consolation and composure in the sign of the rainbow, only in as far as they preserve faith in God’s word of promise.

3. In the preceding Section we must distinguish between what God says in his heart, and what Elohim says to Noah and his sons. The first word, which doubtless was primarily comprehensible to Noah only, is the foundation of the second. For God’s grace is the central source of his goodness to a sinful world, as on the side of men the believing are the central ground for the preservation of the world, as they point to Christ the absolute centre, She world’s redeemer, having, however, his preserving life in those who are his own, as his word testifies: Ye are the salt of the earth. We must, then, again distinguish between the word of blessing, which embraced Noah and his sons, and with them humanity in general, and the word of the covenant which embraced all living ( Genesis 9:10).

4. The institutions of the new humanity: 1. At the head stands the altar with its burnt-offering as the middle point and commencing point of every offering, an expression of feeling that the life which God gave, which he graciously spares, which he wonderfully preserves, shall be consecrated to him, and consumed in his service2. The order of nature, and, what is very remarkable, as the ordinance of Jehovah, made dependent on the foregoing order of his kingdom of grace3. The institution of the marriage blessing, of the consecration of marriage, of the family, of the dispersion of men4. The dominion of man over the animal world, as it embraces the keeping of cattle, the chase, manifold use of the beasts5. The holding as sacred the blood—the blood of the animal for the altar of God, the blood of man for the priestly service of God; the institution of the humanitat,[FN8] of the humane culture and order, especially of the magistracy, of the penal and judicial office (including personal self-defence and defensive war). 6. The grounding of this humanitat on the religious acknowledgment of the spiritual personality, of the relation of kinsman that man bears to God, of the fraternal relation of men to each other, and, consequently, the grounding of the state on the basis of religion7. The appointment of the humanization of the earth ( Genesis 9:7) in the command to men to multiply on the earth—properly, upon it, and by means of it. As men must become divine through the image of God, so the earth must be humanized8. The appointment of the covenant of forbearance, which together with the security of the creature-world against a second physical flood, expresses also the security of the moral world against perishing in a deluge of anarchy, or in the floods of popular commotion ( Psalm 93). 9. The appointment of the sign of the covenant, or of the rainbow as God’s bow of peace, whereby there is at the same time expressed, in the first place, the elevation of men above the deification of the creature (since the rainbow is not a divinity, but a sign of God, an appointment which even the idolatrous nations appear not to have wholly forgotten, when they denote it God’s bridge, or God’s messenger); in the second place, their introduction to the symbolic comprehension and interpretation of natural phenomena, even to the symbolizing of forms and colors; thirdly, that God’s compassion remembers men in their dangers, as indicated by the fact, that in the sign of the rainbow his eye meets their eye; fourthly, the setting up a sign of light and fire, which, along with its assurance that the earth will never again be drowned in water, indicates at the same time its future transformation and glorification through light and fire.

5. In the rainbow covenant all men, in their dealings with each other, and, at the same time, with all animals, have a common interest, namely, in the preservation of life, a common promise, or the assurance of the divine care for life, and a common duty in the sparing of life.

6. The offering as acceptable to God, and its prophetic significance.

7. The disputes concerning original sin have variously originated from not distinguishing its two opposing relations. These are, its relation to actual sin, Romans 5:12, and to the desire for deliverance, Romans 7:23-25.

8. The magical or direct power of man over the beasts is not taken away, but flawed, and thereupon repaired through his mediate power, derived from that superiority which he exercises as huntsman, fisher, fowler, etc. In regard to the first, compare Lange’s “Miscellaneous Writings,” vol. iv. p189.

9. The ordinance of the punishment of death for murder, involves, at the same time, the ordinance of the magistracy, of the judicial sentence, and of the penal infliction. But in the historical development of humanity, the death-penalty has been executed with fearful excess and false application (for example, to the crime of theft); since in this way, generally, all humane savageness and cruelty has mingled in the punitive office. From this is explained the prejudice of the modern humanitarianism against capital punishment. It is analogous to the prejudice against the excommunication, and similar institutes, which human ignorance and furious human zeal have so fearfully abused. Yet still, a divine ordinance may not be set aside by our prejudices. It needs only to be rightly understood according to its own limitation and idea. The fundamental principle for all time is this, that the murderer, through his own act and deed, has forfeited his right in human society, and incurred the doom of death. In Cain this principle was first realized, in that, by the curse of God, he was excommunicated, and driven, in self-banishment, to the land of Nod. This is a proof, that in the Christian humanitarian development, the principle may be realized in another form than through the literal, corporeal shedding of blood (see Lange’s treatise Gesetsliche Kirche als Sinnbild, p72). It must not, indeed, he overlooked, that the mention is not merely of putting to death, but also of blood-shedding, and that the latter is a terrific mode of speech, whose warnings the popular life widely needed, and, in many respects, still needs. Luther: “There is the first command for the employment of the secular sword. In the words there is appointed the secular magistracy, and the right as derived from God, which puts the sword in its hands.” Every act of murder, according to the Noachian law, appears as a fratricide, and, at the same time as malice against God.

10. To this passage: “for in the image of God made he Prayer of Manasseh,” as also to the passage, James 3:9, has the appeal been made, to show that even after the fall there is no mention of any loss of the divine image, but only of a darkening and disorder of the same. Others, again, have cited the apparently opposing language, Coloss. Genesis 3:10, and similar passages. But in this there has not always been kept in mind the distinction of the older dogmatics between the conception of the image in its wider sense (the spiritual nature of man) and the more restricted sense (the spiritual constitution of man). In like manner should there be made a further distinction between the disposition of Adam as conformed to the image (made in, or after the image) and the image itself as freely developed in Christ (the express image, Hebrews 13.), as also finally between the natural man considered in the abstract, in the consequences of his fall, and the natural man in the concrete, as he appears in the operation of the gratia prœveniens. This perfect developed image Adam could not have lost, for he had not attained to it. Neither can men lose the ontological image as grounded in the spiritual nature, because it constitutes its being; but it may darken and distort it. The image of God, however, in the ethical sense, the divine mind (φρόνημα πνεύματος), this he actually lost to the point where the gratia prœveniens laid hold on him, and made a point of opposition between his gradual restoration and the fall in abstracto. But to what degree this image of God in fallen man had become lost, is shown in this very law against murder, which expresses the inalienable, personal worth, that Isaiah, the worth that consists in the image as still belonging to Prayer of Manasseh, and thus, in contrast with grace, must man become conscious of the full consequences of his sinful corruption according to the word: what would I have been without thee? what would I become without thee?

11. With this chapter has the Rabbinical tradition connected their doctrine of the seven Noachic precepts. (Buxtorf: Lexicon Talmudicum, article, Ger, גֵר). They are: 1. De judiciis; 2. de benedictione Dei; 3. de idolatria fugienda; 4. de scortatione; 5. de effusione sanguinis; 6. de rapina; 7. de membro de animali vivo sc. non tollendo. The earlier supposition, that the Apostolical decree ( Acts 15) had relation to this, and that, accordingly, in its appointments, it denominated the heathen Christians as proselytes of the gate (on whom the Song of Solomon -called Noachian laws were imposed) is disputed by Meyer, in his “Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles” (p278), though not on satisfactory grounds. The matter of chief interest is the recognition, that in the Israelitish consciousness there was a clear distinction between revealed patriarchal precepts and the Mosaic law. Such a distinction is also expressed by Christ, John 7:22-23. Song of Solomon, too, did the Levitical law make a distinction between such precepts as were binding upon aliens (proselytes of the gate) and such as were binding upon the Jews ( Leviticus 17:14; see Bibelwerk, Acts of the Apostles, p215). It lies in the very nature of the case, that in Acts 15 the seventh precept of the tradition, according to its wider appointment, was divided into two (namely, abstinence from blood and from things strangled), and that, moreover, only those points came into the general view, in respect to which heathen Christians, as freer Christians, might be liable to fail. It was, in fact, a monotheistic patriarchal custom, which, as the expression of the patriarchal piety and humaneness, became the basis of the Mosaic law, and on this basis must the heathen Christians have come together in ethical association, if, in their freedom from the dogmas of the Mosaic law, they would not endanger even the churchly and social communion of the Jewish Christians (see Lange: Geschichte des Apostolischen Zeitalters, ii. p187). The prohibition of blood-eating has here no longer any dogmatic significance, but only an ethical. The Greek Church mistook this in its maintenance of the prohibition (Trullanic Council, 692), whereas, the Western Church, in the changed relations, let the temporary appointment become obsolete.

12. On the symbolical significance of the rainbow, see Delitzsch, p277, and Lange’s “Miscellaneous Writings,” i. p277, from which Delitzsch gives the following passage: “The rainbow is the colored glance of the sun as it breaks forth from the night of clouds; it is its triumph over the floods—a solar beam, a glance of light burnt into the rain-cloud in sign of its submission, in sign of the protection of all living through the might of the sun, or rather the compassion of God.” To this adds Delitzsch: “As it lights up the dark ground that just before was discharging itself in flashes of lightning, it gives us an idea of the victory of God’s love over the black and fiery wrath; originating as it does from the effects of the sun upon the sable vault, it represents to the senses the readiness of the heavenly light to penetrate the earthly obscurity; spanned between heaven and earth, it announces peace between God and man; arching the horizon, it proclaims the all-embracing universality of the covenant of grace.” He then cites some of the mythical designations of the rainbow. It is called by the Hindoos, the weapon of Indras; by the Greeks, Iris, the messenger of the gods; by the Germans, Bifröst (living way), and Asen-brücke, “bridge of Asen;” by the Samoeids, the seam or “border of God’s robe.” There are, besides, many significant popular sayings connected with its appearance. Knobel: “The old Hebrews looked upon it as a great band joining heaven and earth, and binding them both together; as the Greek ἶρις comes from εἴρω, to tie or bind,[FN9] they made it, therefore, the sign of a covenant, or of a relation of peace between God in heaven, and the creatures upon the earth. In a similar manner the heavenly ladder, Genesis 28:12.” On this, nevertheless, it must be remarked, that the Hebrews were conscious of the symbolic sense of the designation; not Song of Solomon, however, the Greeks, who were taken with the fable merely. In like manner, too, did the Hebrew view rest upon a divine revelation. How far the mere human interpretation may be wide of the truth, is shown by the fact, that classical antiquity regarded the rainbow as for the most part announcing “rain, the wintry storm, and war.”

[Note on the Ancient, the Universal, and the Unchanging Law of Homicide.—The divine statute, recorded Genesis 9:6, is commonly assailed on grounds that are no less an abuse of language, than they are a perversion of reason and Scripture. The taking the life of the murderer is called revenge—no distinction being made between this word, which ever denotes something angry and personal, and vengeance, which is the requital of justice, holy, invisible, and free from passion. On this false ground there is an attempt to set the Old Testament in opposition to the New, notwithstanding the express words of Christ to the contrary. This perverse misnomer, and the argument grounded upon it, apply equally to all punishment, strictly such—to all retributive justice, or to any assertion of law that is not resolvable into the merest expediency, excluding altogether the idea of desert, and reducing the notion of crime simply to that of mischief, or inconvenience. It thus becomes itself revenge in the lowest and most personal sense of the term. Discarding the higher or abstract justice, giving it no place in human law, severing the earthly government wholly from the divine, the proceeding called punishment, or justice, is nothing more nor less than the setting the mere personal convenience of the majority, called society, against that of the smaller numbers whom such society calls criminals. This has all the personality of revenge, whether with passion, or without; whereas, the abstract justice, with its moral ground, and its idea of intrinsic desert, alone escapes the charge. Intimately connected with this is the question respecting the true idea and sanction of human government,—whether it truly has a moral ground, or whether it is nothing higher than human wills, and human convenience, by whatever low and ever falling standard it may be estimated. If the murderer is punished with death simply because he deserves it, because God has commanded it, and the magistrate and the executioner are but carrying out that command, then all the opposite reasoning adverted to falls immediately to the ground. It has neither force nor relevancy.

The same, too, may be said in respect to much of the reasoning in favor of capital punishment, so far as it is grounded on mere expediency, and is not used as a collateral aid to that higher principle by which alone even a true expediency can be sustained. Should it even be conceded that this higher principle Isaiah, in itself, and for its own sake, above the range of human government, still must it be acknowledged in jurisprudence as something necessary to hold up that lower department of power and motive which is universally admitted to fall within it. Reformation and prevention will never be effected under a judicial system which studiously, and even hostilely (for there can be no neutrality here) shuts out all moral ideas. There may be a seeming reform in such case; but it has no ground in the conscience, because it is accompanied by no conviction of desert, to which such influences must be wholly alien. The deterring power, on the other hand, must constantly lose its vigor, as the terror of the invisible justice fades away in the ignoring of the law, and there takes its place in the community that idea of punishment which is but the warring of opposite conveniences, and the collision of stronger with weaker human wills.

Men are not merely permitted to take the life of the murderer, if the good of society require it, but they are commanded to do so unconditionally. In no other way can the community itself escape the awful responsibility. Blood rests upon it. Impunity makes the whole land guilty. A voice cries to heaven. Murder unavenged is a pollution. Numbers 35:33; Psalm 106:38; Micah 4:11. Such is the strong language of the Scripture as we find it in Genesis, in the statute of the Pentateuch—which is only a particular application of the general law—and in the Prophets. Such, too, is the expression of all antiquity—so strong and clear that we can only regard it as an echo of this still more ancient voice—the τριγέρων μῦθος, as Æschylus styles it in a passage before referred to, Note, p257. The Greek dramatic poetry, like the Scriptures, presents it as the crime inexpiable, for which no lesser satisfaction was to be received: “Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of the murderer, who is guilty of death.” Numbers 35:31.

τὰ πάντα γάρ τις ἐκχέας ἀνθ̓ αἳματος

ἑνός, μάτην μόχθος—

Lavish all wealth for blood, for one man’s blood—

’Tis all in vain. Æsch, Choæph. 518.

And this gives the answer to another false argument: It was only a law for the Jews, it is said. The first refutation is found in this passage, which is certainly universal, if anything can be called such. It was just after that most fearful judgment which had been brought upon the earth by lust and murder. It is not a prediction, but a solemn statute made for all, and to all, who then constituted the human race. It has the strongest aspect of universality. The reason for it, namely, the assailing the image of God, not only embraces all earthly humanity, but carries us into the spiritual and supernatural world. The particular law afterwards made for the Jews refers back to this universality in that repeated declaration which makes it to differ from all other Jewish laws that do not contain it: “This shall be a statute to you in all your places, in all generations.” The language is universal, the reason is universal, the consequences of impunity are universal.

Such, too, was the sentiment of all antiquity, a thing we are not to despise in endeavoring to ascertain what is fundamental in the ideas of ethics and jurisprudence. The law for the capital punishment of homicide was everywhere. The very superstitions connected with it, as shown in the expiatory ceremonies, are evidence of the deep sense of the human mind, that this crime, above all others, must have its adequate atonement; and that this could only be, life for life, blood for blood—

φόνοι φόνους αἰτούμενοι.

Even in the case of accidental homicide, an expiatory cleansing was demanded. These ideas appear sometimes in harsh and revolting forms. The language is occasionally terrific, especially as it appears in the ancient tragedy; but all this only shows the strength and universality of the feeling, together with the innate sense of justice on which it was grounded. Aristotle reckons the punishment of murder by death among the νόμιμα ἄγραπτα, the universal “unwritten laws,” as they are styled by Sophocles in the Antigone, 451, although, in the latter passage, the reference is to the rights of burial, and the sacredness of the human body—ideas closely connected with the primitive law against murder as a violation of the divine image in humanity. All of this class of ordinances are spoken of as very ancient. No man knew from whence they came, nor when they had their origin.

οὐ γάρ τι νῦν γε κἀχθές, ἀλλ’ ἀεί ποτε

ζῇ ταῦτα, κοὐδεὶς οἶδεν ἐξ ὅτου ’φάνη.

Not now, nor yesterday, but evermore

Live these; no memory tracks their birth.

To the same effect does the philosopher quote the lines of Empedocles, περί τοῦ μὴ κτείνειν τὸ ἔμψυχον, “on the crime of taking life,” or slaying that which has soul in it,

Very much in the language of the Hebrew phrase הֹרֵג נֶפֶשׁ. Numbers 31:19. For this, he says—namely, the punishment of homicide by death—is not the law in one place, and not in another,

ἀλλὰ τὸ μὲν πάντων νόμιμον.

See Aristotle’s Rhetorica, lib. i. ch. xiii. Comp. also Sophocles: Ajax, 1343, and the Œdipus Tyran. 867.

The “blood revenge,” or rather, “the blood vengeance,” as it should be called, Die Blutrache, has an odious sound, because pains have been taken to connect with it odious associations, but it is only a mode of denoting this strong innate idea of justice demanding retribution in language corresponding to the horror of the crime,—the enormity of which, according to the Scripture, is not simply that it is productive of inconvenience—pain and deprivation to the individual and loss to society—but that it is assailing the image of God, the distinguishing essence of humanity. So that it seems to justify the Rabbins in what might otherwise appear an extravagant saying, namely, that “he who slays one man intentionally is as though he had slain all men.” He has assailed humanity; as far as lies in his power, he has aimed at the destruction of the human race. The same thought, Koran, v35.

The crime of murder must be punished, the land must be cleansed; and so before organized human government had, or could have had existence, to a sufficient extent for prompt and methodical judicial processes, it was not merely permitted, but enjoined upon, those nearest the transaction, to execute the divine sentence. Those who were disobedient to this command were themselves stained with blood, or as long as it was unexecuted. Hence the phrase גוֹאֵל הַדָּם, which becomes the general name for the pursuer or prosecutor; whence it has passed into the law language of almost all criminal codes. He is also called the Redeemer or rescuer. In this sense it is transferred to the Great Redeemer, our next of kin, the avenger of the spiritual murder of our race, as against the great demonic homicide who is called ἀνθρωποκτόνος ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς—“a manslayer from the beginning,” John 8:44; compare also Job 19:25. From the criminal side of justice, we may say, this term, by a very natural transition of ideas, is carried to the civil, and so the Goel, or Redeemer, is also the next of kin who buys back the lost inheritance.

Sometimes the objection to capital punishment assumes a pious tone, and quotes the Scriptural declaration: “Vengeance is mine.” See, however, the true interpretation of this phrase, as given by the Apostle himself, Romans 12:19, and in what immediately follows in Genesis 13, about the magistracy as ordained of God. It is God’s justice, not merely delegated to, but imposed upon, human society, thus making it the very antithesis of that revenge with which it is so sophistically confounded. The odious term, it may be repeated, is far more applicable to that doctrine of expediency which, in discarding the idea of desert, has nothing deeper or firmer to build upon than the shifting notions of human convenience, and the antagonism of human wills. There is undoubtedly given to men great freedom in determining the details of jurisprudence, and in fixing the gradations of punishment. Here, to a certain extent, expediency may come in as a modifying influence, harmonizing with the higher moral principle which cannot be kept out of law without destroying all its healthy, conserving power. But some things are fundamental; and they cannot be changed without weakening all the sanctions of human government. Among these is the punishment due to the crime of blood-shedding. God has fixed it. The State, indeed, may disobey; it may contemn other social ordinances having a like divine institution; but in so doing it discards its own highest idea, and rejects the only foundation on which it can permanently rest. It builds alone on human wills, and that is building on the sand.

The reason here given: “for in the image of God made he Prayer of Manasseh,” seems to have an intensity of meaning which forbids its being confined to the spiritual or immaterial. It penetrates even the corporeal or organic nature, as Lange appears to intimate. There is a sense in which it may be said to inhere even in the body, and, through it, to be directly assailable. The human body itself is holy, as the residence of the Spirit, as the temple in which this divine image is enshrined, and through which it is reflected. Compare the ναὸς Θεοῦ, 1 Corinthians 3:16. Something like this seems to be implied in the strange expression הֹרֵג נֶפֶשׁ, as it occurs, Numbers 31:19, and which is identical with the ancient Arabian phrase قتل ذـفس, as found in the Koran. See Surat. v35, صن قتل ذـفس دـغم ذـغس, “he who slays a soul except for a soul,” that Isaiah, unless in retribution for a soul. This is the literal sense, strange as it may sound; but נֶפֶשׁ may be taken here in the general sense of person, as ψυχὴ is used in several passages of the New Testament—the soul put for the whole personality. Or there may be the ellipsis of some such word as אֹהֶל, the tabernacle of the soul, an assault upon which is an assault upon the soul itself; and this may also be the explanation of the Hebrew phrase מַכֵּה נֶםֶשׁ, he who smiteth a soul. Compare Genesis 37:21, לֹא נַכֶּנּוּ נֶפֶשׁ, “let us not smite him (Joseph) the soul.” But in a still closer sense the body may be called the image of the soul, the reflection of the soul, even as the soul is the image, or in the image of God. And this furnishes good ground for such transfer of the sense, even to that which is most outward in the human constitution. We may trace the shadow of the idea as surviving even in the Greek poetry, where the human body is styled ἄγαλμα θεῶν. See Euripides: “Suppliants,” 616, where it is applied to the decomposed and mouldering remains of the Argive warrior when carried to the funeral-pyre:

τὸ σὸν ἄγαλμα πόλεος ἐκκομίζομαι

πρὸς πυρὰν ὑβρισθέν.

To the funeral-pyre thine image bear I forth

Marred as it is.

It is spoken of as something sacred to the patron deity of the Argive state, like a statue or a shrine. See also Plato: Phœdrus, 251 A. The expression הֹרֵג נֶפֶשׁ may also have some connection with the old idea of the blood as the seat of the soul, regarded as representing it, and thus indirectly bearing the image of God. In any view, there is implied something holy in humanity, and even in the human body—something in it transcending matter or material organization, and which is not thus inherent in any other organic life, or corporeal structure.

But the murderer, too, it may be said, is made in the image of God, and therefore should he be spared. The answer to this is simply the citation of the divine command. His life is expressly demanded. He is חֵרֶם, ἀνάθεμα, one devoted. See 1 Kings 20:42 : “Because thou hast sent away אישׁ חֶרְמי, the man of my doom (or of my dooming), therefore shall thy soul be in place of his soul,” נַפְשְׁךָ תַּחַת נַפְשוֹ. See also עַם חֶרְמִי, “the people of my doom,” Isaiah 34:5. The judicial execution of the murderer is truly a sacrifice, an expiation, whatever may be objected to such an idea by a false humanitarianism which seems to have no thought how it is belittling humanity in its utter ignoring of anything above Prayer of Manasseh, or of any relation between the human and the eternal justice.

Harsh as they may seem, we need these ideas to give the necessary strength to our relaxing judicial morality, and a more healthy tone to the individual and social conscience. The age is fast going into the other extreme, and crime, especially the crime of blood-shedding, is increasing in the ratio of our spurious tenderness. The harshness is now exhibiting its other and more hypocritical phase. Those who speak with contempt of the divine law, are constantly railing at society as itself the criminal in the punishment of crime, and as especially malignant and revengeful in discharging the divinely imposed duty of executing justice upon the murderer.—T. L.]


See the Doctrinal and Ethical. Genesis 8:20 would present a good text for a thanksgiving sermon. In connection with Genesis 9:21, it would be suitable for an exposition of thankfulness. Genesis 9:21 would be adapted to a sermon on human sinfulness in the light of the divine compassion. How God’s speaking in his heart Revelation -echoes in the innermost heart of the believer. Genesis 9:22 would be suitable for a representation of the connection between the kingdom of grace, and the kingdom of nature with its laws. Genesis 9:1, A marriage-blessing at the celebration of a wedding. Genesis 9:2-3, The worth and sacredness of the creaturely life (sparing of the animal, consecration of all enjoyment). Genesis 9:5, The holy estimation of human life. The chief point of view in the whole Section is the covenant of God with Noah as the type of all covenants that follow; since they all rest upon the personal relation of God to man; all are of God’s free institution; all, moreover, as ethically personal alliances (after the manner of a contract), are an interchange of divine promises and human vows, of divine claims and human faith; all are sacramentally sealed. How God binds himself in his sacramental signs, and in them truly remembers the man who remembers him. How the divine eye of grace and the human eye of faith meet each other in the sacrament. The rainbow, the extraordinary phenomenon of heaven, and, on that account, an image of the divine kindness, compassion, and friendship. The light of the heavenly sun in the colors of the earthly rainbow.

Starke: Genesis 8:20. The building of the altar; probably upon the mountains of Ararat. Noah valued thankfulness before all earthly business. It is not said through what means God made known to Noah his acceptance of the offering. We may conjecture that the offering was set on fire by fire from heaven (but the expression of satisfaction here follows the burning of the offering).

Genesis 8:21, concerning the abuse of these words in the exculpation of sin (in many ways does the element of mildness in them become misapprehended).— Genesis 9:1, Because before the flood God was provoked at the sin of unchastity, it becomes necessary, in consideration of the fearful display of wrath, to show that he is not hostile to the lawful connection of man and woman, nor does he condemn, but rather designs through it the multiplication of the human race. Therefore, in this text is the marriage-state praised and celebrated, since thereout flows not only the order of the family and the world, but also the existence of the church.

Genesis 9:3, Just as every herb does not serve for food, so also is not everything thereto serviceable that, by means of life, moves upon the earth.

Genesis 9:4, The aim of the prohibition is mainly that the way of cruelty may be barred to men.

Genesis 9:6, The magistracy is God’s ordinance, and derives the sword from no other authority ( Romans 13:14). Starke prefers the view that the rainbow had existed before the flood, as in like manner he supposes, that before the flood men might eat of flesh.

Genesis 9:15, Luther: When the Scripture says “God remembers,” it means that we feel and are conscious that he remembers it, namely, when he outwardly presents himself in such a manner, that we, thereby, take notice that he thinks thereon. Therefore it all comes to this: as I present myself to God, so does he present himself to me.

Schröder: After God’s curse on the occasion of the fall, we meet with the offerings of Cain and Abel; again do offering and altar connect themselves with the judicial curse of the flood.—“The Lord smelled a sweet savor,” in the Hebrew, a savor of rest (resting, or satisfaction); (“it denotes that God rests from his wrath and has become propitiated.” Luther). Therefore is it a savor of satisfaction—a chosen expression that becomes fixed in its application to the burnt-offering.—“Jehovah spake to his heart,” that Isaiah, he resolved with himself. In the creation of Prayer of Manasseh, Genesis 1:26; Genesis 2:18, and also in his destruction, there precedes a formal decree of God; and no less does the divine counsel precede the covenant for man’s preservation. Prayer was always connected with the sacrifice; in fact, every offering was nothing else than an embodied prayer.—While the earth remaineth. There Isaiah, therefore, even to the earth in its present state, a limit indicated ( 2 Peter 3:5; 2 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 3:10; Isaiah 66.; Revelation 20:11; Revelation 21:1).— Genesis 9:1, The Noachian covenant is a covenant of Elohim, a covenant with the universal nature. Luther finds in our Section the inauguration of an order of instruction, of economy, and of defence (Noah’s offering, the blessing of the family, inauguration of the magistracy).

Genesis 9:7, God does not love death, but life. The covenant is Revelation -established, for as made with Adam it had failed. According to Calvin the rainbow had existed before, but was here again consecrated as a sign and a pledge.


FN#20 - Genesis 8:20.—מִכֹּל—from all the pure of the cattle, and from all the pure fowl. The word denotes selection. It can hardly mean one of every kind deemed pure among the cattle; much less can it have this large meaning in respect to the fowl (or the birds), among whom the pure species far excelled the impure, which are mentioned as exceptions (twenty-four in number), Leviticus 11:13; Deuteronomy 14:12. If Noah had had every earthly species of bird in the ark (seven of all that were regarded as pure), and offered of each in sacrifice, it would have required an immense altar. There was evidently a selection, and such use of the term מִכֹּל here may serve as a guide in respect to its antecedent uses, justifying us in limiting it to the more common kinds of all species known to Noah, and inhabiting the portion of the earth visited by the flood.—T. L.]

FN#21 - Genesis 8:21.—נִיחֹחַ A word of a very peculiar form, like נִיצֹץ, Isaiah 1:31. Aben Ezra compares it with נַאֲפוּף, Hosea 2:4. It denotes rest intensively; the rest, not of mere quietude, or cessation, but of satisfaction, complacency, delight. An odor of rest—of complete and gratified acceptance. Compare the suggested language, Zephaniah 3:17, expressing God’s great satisfaction in Jerusalem, יַחֲרִישׁ בְּאַהֲבָתוֹ, He shall rest in his love. The word ניחח occurs here for the first time, and is evidently meant to have a connection with the name נֹחַ (Noah), but becomes the common phrase (ריח ניהח) to denote the pleasant odor of the sacrifice, in Exodus,, Leviticus, etc. Hence the New Testament Hebraism as seen in the word εὐωδία, in such passages as 2 Corinthians 2:15, a sweet savour of Christ, Ephesians 5:2, a sweet-smelling savour, Philippians 4:18, as also the use of ὀσμή, 2 Corinthians 2:16, the savour of life unto life. The Jewish interpreters here, as usual, are afraid of the anthropophatism, and so the Targum of Onkelos renders generally, The Lord received the offering graciously. In like manner the Jewish translator Arabs Erpenianus. Aben Ezra affects a horror of the literal sense. חלילה, he says—“O profane! away with the thought that God should smell or eat.” With all their reverence for their old Scriptures, these Jewish interp reters had got a taste of philosophy, and hence their Philonic fastidiousness, as ever manifested in a desire to smooth over all such language.—T. L.]

FN#22 - Genesis 8:22.—חֹרֶף, rendered winter—more properly autumn, though it may include the winter, as קַיִץ may include the spring.—T. L.]


FN#1 - Ch9. Genesis 9:5.—דִּמְכֶם לְנַפְשׁוֹתֵיכֶם, your blood of (or for) your souls. Maimonides renders it דמכם שהוא נפשותיכם, your blood which is your souls. LXX, αἶμα τῶν ψυχῶν ὑμῶν, blood of your souls.—T. L.]

FN#2 - Genesis 9:6.—בְּאָדָם. E. V. by man. This would seem rather to require the term בְּיַד, by the hand of man, the usual Hebrew phrase to denote instrumentality. That it was to be by human agency is very clear, but the ב in באדם may be better taken, as it is by Jona ben Gannach (Abul-Walid), in his Hebrew Grammar, p33, to denote substitution,—for Prayer of Manasseh, in place of man—life for life, or blood for blood, as it is so strongly and frequently expressed in the Greek tragedy. The preposition ב, in this place, he says, is equivalent to בַּעֲבוּר, on account of, and he refers to 2 Samuel 14:7, “Give us the man who smote his brother, and we will put him to death, בְּנִפֶשׁ אָחִיו, for the soul (the life, or in place of) his brother,” Exodus 20:2, וְנִמְכַּר בִּגְנֵבָתוֹ, “and he shall be sold for his theft,” as also, among many other places, to Genesis 44:5. וְהוּא נַחֵשׁ יְנַהֵשׁ בּוֹ, where, instead of “divining by it,” as in our English versions and the Vulgate, he gives what seems a more consistent rendering: “he will surely divine for it” (בעבורו), that Isaiah, find out by divination, who has in his possession the lost cup. Such also seems to have been the idea of the LXX. in Genesis 9:6, where they have nothing for באדם but ἀντὶ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ, in return for his blood. Arabs Erpenianus renders it فر قول اذـسا ن by the word, or command, of man, indicating a judicial sentence. So the Targum of Onkelos, by the witnesses according to the word of judgment, and so also Rushi and Aben Ezra, בארם בעדים, by Prayer of Manasseh, that Isaiah, by the witnesses.—T. L.]

FN#3 - Genesis 9:13.—קַשְׁתִּי, my bow, as just before, Genesis 9:11, בְּרִיתִי, my covenant. The language seems, on the very face of it, to imply a thing previously existing, called, from its remarkable appearance, the bow of God, and now appointed as a sign of the previously existing covenant. Had it been a new creation, the language would more properly have been: I will make, or set, a bow in the cloud. See remarks (in the Introd. to the I. ch. p144) on the rainbow as the symbol of constancy in nature, from its constant and regular appearance whenever the sun shines forth after the rain. For further views on this, and for the opinions of the Jewish commentators, see also note, p328.—T. L.]

FN#4 - Genesis 9:14.—This verse should be connected, in translation, with the one following. As it is rendered in E. V, the appearing of the bow is made the subject of the sentence (though apparently the predicate), whereas the sequence of the conjunction ו, and of the tenses, would give the sense thus: And it shall come to pass, when I bring the cloud, etc, and whenever the bow appears in the cloud, that I will remember my covenant; the conjunction before זָכַרְתּי having an illative force.—T. L.]

FN#5 - The flame mounting heavenward from the great altar of Noah, the vast column of smoke and incense majestically ascending in the calm, clear atmosphere, transcending seemingly the common law of gravity, and thus combining the ideas of tranquillity and power, would of itself present a striking image of the natural sublime. But, beyond this, there is a moral, we may rather say, a spiritual sublimity, to one who regards the scene in those higher relations which the account here indicates, and which other portions of Scripture make so clear. It offers to our contemplation the most vivid of contrasts. There comes to mind, on the one hand, the gross selfishness of the antediluvian world, ever tending downward more and more to earth and a sensual animality—in a word, devoting life to that which is lower than the lowest life itself; whilst now, on the contrary, there rises up in all its rich suggestiveness, the idea of sacrifice, of life devotion to that which is higher than all life, as symbolized in the flame ascending from the offered victim. It Isaiah, moreover, the spirit of confession, of penitence, of perfect resignation to the will of God as the rational rule of life,—all, too, prefiguring One who made the great sacrifice of himself for the sins of the world, and who, although historically unknown to Noah, was essentially embraced in that recognition of human demerit, and of the divine holiness, which is styled “the righteousness of faith.” Whilst thus the new spirit of sacrifice ascends from the baptized earth, heaven is represented as bending down to meet the symbol of reconciliation; the infinite descends to the finite, and humanity, in verification of the Scripture paradox, rises through its very act of lowliness and self-abasement. The wrath all gone, infinite compassion takes now its place, and this is expressed in that striking Hebraism, רִיחַ נִיחֹחַ “the odor of rest,” typifying the εὐωδία Χριστοῦ ( 2 Corinthians 2:4) “the sweet savor of Christ in them who are saved.”

The writer of this old account knew as well as Philo, or Strauss, or any modem rationalists, that God did not smell nor eat; but the emotional truthfulness of his inspiration made him adopt the strongest and the most emotional language without fear of inconsistency or anticipated cavil. “How gross!” says the infidel, “this representation of God, snuffing up the odor of burning flesh;” but it is he who “snuffs” at God’s holy altar ( Malachi 1:13). It is he who is “gross” in his profane mockery of a spirituality which his carnal earthliness utterly fails to comprehend.—T. L.]

FN#6 - There is no need here of labored attempts to remove apparent inconsistencies. The most simple and direct interpretation of Scripture is generally that which is most conservative of its honor as well as of its truthfulness. The passage seems to assign the same reason for sparing the world that is given Genesis 6:5-6, for its destruction; and in both cases there is used the same particle כִּי. Some would render it although: “I will not again smite, etc, although the imagination of the heart of man is evil.” Others, like Jacobus, would connect it with the words בַּעֲכוּר הָאָדָם for man’s sake, intimating that it should never more be done for this reason. But nothing of the kind helps the difficulty, if there be any difficulty. There are but very few places (if any) where כִּי can be rendered although. The passages cited by Noldius under this head in almost every case fail to bear him out. It is n particle denoting a reason, and sometimes a motive, like the two senses of the Greek ὅτι and the Latin quod, or the two English conjunctions because and that. The idea presented by Lange gives the key. Sin is both guilt and disease. Man’s depravity, therefore, is the object both of vengeance and compassion, two states of feeling which can exist, at the same time, perfect and unweakened, only in the divine mind, but which are necessarily presented to us in a succession, produced by varying circumstances on the finite or human side. It is in reference to the former that the language is used, Genesis 6:5-6, where כִּי denotes the reason of the vengeance. Here, in like manner, it expresses the reason of the mercy. Noah’s offering had made the difference, not changing God, but placing man in a different relation to him as viewed under a changed aspect. He is the poor creature, as well as the guilty creature. He is depraved from his youth, not meaning, we think, a less severe description of his sinfulness, as Lange seems to intimate, but giving a deeper view of it, as a greater calamity. It is not the mere habit-hardening or world-hardening of manhood and old age, as contrasted with the comparative innocence of childhood; but the seeds of the evil lie deep, away back in his very infancy. It is the hereditary, or disease, aspect that induces the language, which seems like regret on the part of Deity for an act so calamitous, though so just and necessary: “neither will I again smite every living thing as I have done.” It is as though his heart smote him, to use a transplanted Hebraism elsewhere employed of Prayer of Manasseh, or as it is said of David. 1 Samuel 24:6. It would not be a stronger expression, or more anthropopathic, than that used Genesis 6:6,” and he was grieved at his heart.” It is not, however, simply the idea of hopelessness in view of man’s incorrigibility, but an expression of holy and infinite compassion, such as the closest criticism will more and more discover as abounding in this old book of Genesis, even in the midst of the severest threatening of judgment. The greatness of man’s sin reveals the greatness of the divine sorrow on account of it. The sinner, too, is allowed to feel it, and make it a ground of his pleading for forgiveness; as the Psalmist prays, Psalm 25:11pardon mine iniquity, for (כִּי) it is great.” In that passage, too, some would render כִּי although, to the great marring of the force and pathos of the supplication. Christ did not die for small sins, as Cranmer has well said.

It is a peculiarity of the Holy Scriptures thus to set forth unshrinkingly the sharp contrasts, as we may reverently call them, in the divine attributes. None but inspired writers could venture to do this; and how boldly do they present them! often, too, in closest connection without betraying any fear of cavil, or charge of inconsistency. The tremendous wrath, and the most melting mercy appear in the same chapters, and sometimes in immediately succeeding verses. Among others, compare Nahum 1:1; Nahum 1:7. What a burning stream of indignation finds its closing cadence in the words: “Jehovah, he is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, he knoweth them that put their trust in him.” Such strong contrasts appear especially in portions of Scripture which the careless reader passes over as indelicate, like Ezekiel 16, that awful picture of impurity and utter depravity, as presented in the history of the meretricious and utterly abandoned woman who symbolized the Jewish and Israelitish people. A too fastidious taste would forbid the reading of that chapter, at least in any public religious service, but it is this most revolting representation (as some would style it) which is the very thing that makes the divine forgiveness and compassion at the close so full of a melting tenderness, beyond what any other kind of language could express: “Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish with thee a covenant of eternity. Then shalt thou remember thy ways, and be ashamed, and thou shalt know that I am thy Lord, that thou mayest remember and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith Adonai Elohim, thy Lord and thy God.” The Hebrew Isaiah, literally, when I have made an atonement (בְּכַפְרִי לָךְ) for thee, or a covering for thee. Ezekiel 16:63. It is in these strong contrasts,—in these apparent inconsistencies, as some would call them,—that the great power and pathos of the Scripture appear.—T. L.]

FN#7 - The opinion of Delitzsch is not so broad as this. He seems, rather, to hold that the rainbow existed in nature before the flood, but had not appeared, on account of the absence of the conditions. See Delitzsch, p276.—T. L.]

FN#8 - Our word humanity will not do here at all; as it corresponds to the German menschheit; whilst our humanitarianism, on account of its abuse, would be still worse. It is defined by what follows.—T. L.]

FN#9 - Plato, in the Cratylus, fancifully connects it with εἴρω, εἴρομαι = φημι, to speak, and gives it the idea of messenger (Hermes], or interpretation.—T. L.]


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 8:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.

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