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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Genesis 6

 

 

Verse 1

GENESIS CHAPTER 6

Unlawful matches of the sons of God with the daughters of men, Genesis 6:1-2, grieve the Spirit of God, who threatens their destruction, Genesis 6:3. Giants and mighty men born; a general degeneracy of mankind, Genesis 6:4-5. God repents that he had made man, and resolves to destroy that world, Genesis 6:6-7. Noah is excepted, and finds favour with God, Genesis 6:8. His character, Genesis 6:9. The earth corrupt, and filled with violence, Genesis 6:11-12. God declares to Noah his purpose to destroy it, Genesis 6:13. Directs him to make an ark, Genesis 6:14-16. Mentions a deluge, Genesis 6:17. His covenant with Noah to preserve a seed, Genesis 6:18-21. Noah’s obedience, Genesis 6:22.

Men, i.e. wicked men, the posterity of Cain, as appears from Genesis 6:2; who are here called men, and the sons of men, by way of contempt, and of distinction; mere men, such as had only the natures and qualities of corrupt men, without the image of God.

Began to multiply, to wit, more than ordinarily; or more than the sons of God, because they practised polygamy, after the example of their predecessor, the ungodly Lamech, Genesis 4:19.

Daughters were born unto them; so doubtless were sons also; but their daughters are here mentioned as one principal occasion of the sin noted in Genesis 6:2, and of the following deluge.


Verse 2

The sons of God; either,

1. Persons of greatest eminency for place and power, for such are called gods, and children of the Most High, Psalms 82:6; where also they are opposed to men, Genesis 6:7, i.e. to meaner men. And the most eminent things in their kinds are attributed to God, as cedars of God, all of God, & c. But it is not probable that the princes and nobles should generally take wives or women of the meaner rank, nor would the marriages of such persons be simply condemned, or at least it would not be mentioned as a crying sin, and a great cause of the deluge. Or rather,

2. The children of Seth and Enos, the professors of the true religion. For,

1. Such, and only such, in the common use of Scripture, are called the

sons and

children of God, as Deuteronomy 14:1, Deuteronomy 32:19, Isaiah 1:2, Isaiah 45:11, Hosea 11:1, Luke 17:27, &c.

2. This title manifestly relates to Genesis 4:26, where the same persons are said to be called by the name of the Lord, i.e. to be the sons and servants of God.

3. They are opposed to the daughters of men, the word men being here taken in an ill sense, for such as had nothing in them but the nature of men, which is corrupt and abominable, and were not sons of God, but foreigners and strangers to him, and apostates from him.

4. These unequal matches with persons of a false religion are every where condemned in Scripture as sinful and pernicious, as Genesis 26:35 Exodus 34:16 1 Kings 11:2-3, Ezra 9:12, Nehemiah 13:23, &c.; Malachi 2:11 1 Corinthians 7:39 2 Corinthians 6:14, and therefore are fitly spoken of here as one of the sins which brought the flood upon the ungodly world.

Saw, i.e. gazed upon and observed curiously and lustfully, as the sequel showeth,

the daughters of men, of that ungodly and accursed race of Cain.

They were fair, i.e. beautiful, and set off their beauty with all the allurements of ornaments and carriage; herein using greater liberty than the sons and daughters of God did or durst take, 1 Peter 3:3; and therefore were more enticing and prevalent with fleshly-minded men. Either,

1. By force and violence, as the word sometimes signifies. Or rather,

2. By consent; for the sons of God were so few, in comparison of the wicked world, that they durst not take away their daughters by force; which also proves that they did not take them for harlots, but for wives.

They took them wives, possibly more than one for each of them, after the example of those wicked families into which they were matched; of all which they chose, i.e. loved and liked, as the word choosing is taken, Psalms 25:12, Psalms 119:173, Isaiah 1:29, Isaiah 42:1, compared with Matthew 12:28. This is noted as the first error, that they did promiscuously choose wives, without any regard to their sobriety and religion, minding only the pleasing of their own fancies and lusts, not the pleasing and serving of their Lord and Maker, nor the obtaining of a godly seed, which was God’s end in the institution of marriage, Malachi 2:15, and therefore should have been theirs too.


Verse 3

The Lord said; either,

1. To the men of that age by the mouth of Noah; or,

2. Within himself; {see Psalms 14:1} he determined.

Strive with man, or, contend, or, debate in or against men, as it hath hitherto done, by inward motions and suggestions in the minds and consciences of wicked men, or by the mouths and ministry of that small remnant of holy men, and particularly of Noah, who protested against and contended with the world of the ungodly, and by their doctrines, admonitions, threatenings, and examples, endeavoured to bring them to repentance: 1 Peter 3:19; or dispute with, or concerning, or because of men, i.e. whether I should destroy or save him, as God disputes with or about Ephraim, Hosea 11:8.

For that he also, i.e. even the seed of Seth, or the sons of God also, no less than the offspring of Cain; the pronoun being here put for the foregoing noun, and the singular number put for the plural, he, i.e. they, to wit, the sons of God. Both which figures are frequent in the use of Scripture. Or, he, i.e. man, all mankind, the sons of God not excepted,

is flesh; not only fleshly in part, or in some actions, but altogether, in regard of soul as well as body, minding nothing but making provision for the flesh to fulfil its lusts, Romans 13:14.

Not having the Spirit, Jude 1:19, nor heeding its good motions, but suppressing and resisting them.

Flesh not only in the condition of their nature, but in the baseness and corruption of their hearts and lives; as the word flesh is commonly used when it is opposed to the Spirit, as John 3:6 Romans 7:18, Romans 8:5, Romans 8:7, Galatians 5:17.

Yet, though he deserve a speedy destruction,

his days, i.e. the time allowed him for repentance, and the prevention of his ruin,

shall be an hundred and twenty years. During which time Noah was preaching; and, to assure them of the truth of his doctrine, preparing the ark. See 1 Peter 3:20 2 Peter 2:5.

Quest. How did God perform this promise, when there were but a hundred years between this time and the flood, by comparing Genesis 5:32, with Genesis 7:11?

Answ.

1. The increasing wickedness of mankind might justly hasten their ruin, and forfeit the benefit of this indulgence.

2. This promise, though mentioned after that, Genesis 5:32, yet seems to have been made twenty years before it; for that verse is added there out of its proper place only to complete the genealogy; and therefore, after this narration, it is repeated here in its due order, Genesis 6:10. And such hysteron proterons are frequently noted in Scripture.


Verse 4

2469

Giants; men so called, partly from their high stature, but principally for their great strength and force, whereby they oppressed and tyrannized over others: for this is mentioned as another sin, and cause of the flood; and therefore they seem to be here noted, not for the height of their stature, which is no crime, but for their violence, which also is expressed beneath, Genesis 6:11, Genesis 6:13.

After that time there arose a new generation or succession of that sort of men, when the sons of God came in, were united and incorporated with them. A modest expression of the conjugal state and act, as Genesis 16:2, Genesis 35:3, Judges 15:2.

Which were of old, which were proper to the first ages of the world; for the succeeding generations were generally less in stature and strength of body, and therefore not so famous for personal exploits. Or these words may be thus joined with the following, which were of old, i.e. among the men of that first and wicked world,

men of renown, i.e. famous in their generations; when indeed they should have been infamous for the abuse of their stature and strength to tyranny and cruelty.


Verse 5

To the heart the Scripture commonly ascribes all men’s actual wickedness, as Psalms 41:6 Proverbs 4:23, Proverbs 6:14, Proverbs 6:18, Jeremiah 17:9, Matthew 15:19 Romans 3:10, &c.; thereby leading us from acts of sin to the original corruption of nature, as the cause and source of them.

Evil continually, i.e. that man was perpetually either doing or contriving wickedness; that not only his actions were vile, but his principles also; his very soul, yea, the noblest part of it, which might seem most free from the contagion; his mind and thoughts were corrupt and abominable, and so there was no hope of amendment.


Verse 6

2448

Properly God cannot repent, Numbers 23:19 1 Samuel 15:11, 1 Samuel 15:29, because he is unchangeable in his nature and counsels, Malachi 3:6 James 1:17, and perfectly wise, and constantly happy, and therefore not liable to any grief or disappointment. But this is spoken of God after the manner of man, by a common figure called anthropopathia, whereby also eyes, ears, hands, nose, &c. are ascribed to God; and it signifies an alienation of God’s heart and affections from men for their wickedness, whereby God carries himself towards them like one that is truly penitent and grieved, destroying the work of his own hands.

It grieved him at his heart, or, at his very soul, i.e. exceedingly.


Verse 7

Both man and beast; for as the beasts were made for man’s use and service, so they are destroyed for man’s punishment, and to discover the malignity of sin, and God’s deep abhorrency thereof, by destroying those innocent creatures that had been made instrumental to it.


Verse 8

i.e. Obtained mercy and favour; which is noted to show that Noah was so far guilty of the common corruption of human nature, that he needed God’s grace and mercy to pardon and preserve him from the common destruction.


Verse 9

The generations of Noah; either,

1. Properly the posterity of Noah, as the word is commonly used, and as it is explained Genesis 6:10. So the rest of this verse comes in by way of parenthesis, which is frequent. Or,

2. The events or occurrences which befell Noah and his family, as the word is taken, Genesis 37:2 Proverbs 27:1.

A just man, and perfect. These words are to be taken either,

1. Jointly, q.d. he was righteous, not only in appearance, or in part, but perfectly, in all respects, towards God and men; or sincerely and truly. Or,

2. Distinctly, q.d. he was for his state and condition just before God, which was by faith, Hebrews 11:7, by which every just man lives, Romans 1:17, and perfect, i.e. upright and unblamable in the course of his life among the men of his age, as it follows;

in his generations. This is spoken either,

1. Diminutively; he was so comparatively to the men that then lived, who were very bad; though otherwise even Noah had many infirmities, so that he also had not been saved but for God’s grace and mercy, Genesis 6:8. Or,

2. By way of amplification and commendation; he was good in bad times, in spite of all evil counsels or examples. He saith

generations, in the plural number, to show that as he lived in two generations, one before the flood, and another after it, so he continued uncorrupted in both of them.

Noah walked with God. See Poole on "Genesis 5:22".


Verse 11

The earth is here put for its inhabitants, as 1 Kings 10:24 Ezekiel 14:13.

Before God, or, before the face of God; q.d. in despite and contempt of God, and of his presence and justice. Compare Genesis 10:9, and Genesis 13:13: q. d. They sinned openly and impudently without shame, boldly and resolutely without any fear of God.

In the latter part of the verse,

the earth is put for the place, or the inhabited parts of it. So the same word is twice used in a differing sense in one and the same verse. See the like Matthew 8:22.

Violence, or, injustice, fraud, rapine, oppression; for all these this word signifies. Some conceive that these two branches note the universal corruption of mankind, in reference to all their duties.

1. Towards God and his worship, which they corrupted by horrible superstition, and by idolatry, which is called corruption, Exodus 32:7 Deuteronomy 32:5, Judges 2:19.

2. Towards men, in the duties of righteousness.


Verse 12

All men, as the word flesh is taken, Psalms 78:39 Isaiah 40:5, and oft elsewhere,

had corrupted his way; either,

1. God’s way, his precepts concerning religion and righteousness; or,

2. Their own way or manner of living.


Verse 13

i.e. The time of ruin, as this word is used, Ezekiel 7:2-3, Ezekiel 7:6, Amos 8:2,

of all flesh, to all men, as Genesis 6:12, though the beasts also were involved in the same destruction,

is come, i.e. is approaching, and at the very door, and shall as certainly come as if it were actually come.

Before me, i.e. in my purpose and decree, howsoever vain men flatter themselves with hopes of longer impunity.

Through them, i.e. By their means; so that the earth even groans under them.

With the earth, i.e. with the fruits and beauty, though not the substance of the earth. Or, from the earth, as Genesis 6:7; the Hebrew eth being oft put for min or meeth, as Genesis 44:4 Deuteronomy 34:1 1 Kings 8:43, compared with 2 Chronicles 6:33.


Verse 14

An ark; a little ship made in the form of an ark or chest, but probably sloping at the bottom for the convenience of navigation, as it was for another reason sloping at the top.

Gopher wood: this word is but once used in Scripture, and therefore it is diversely rendered by the learned; by some pine, by many cedar, but by others cypress, a tree very proper and usual for ships, and of a firm and durable substance, and much abounding in those parts; all which appears from ancient authors.

With pitch; or rather, with some kind of bitumen, of the same nature and use with pitch, to cement the parts of the ark together, and to preserve it from the injuries of the sun, and water, and worms; but more odoriferous, to correct the unpleasant scent of some of the creatures.


Verse 15

This is the fashion, or, this is the measure, or the manner according to

which thou shalt make it; and it was a just and regular proportion, the length being six times more than the breadth, and ten times more than the height. There is no need to understand this of geometrical cubits, which are said to have contained nine ordinary cubits; nor of sacred cubits, which were a hand’s breadth longer than the ordinary, Ezekiel 43:13; nor to suppose the stature of men at that time to have been generally larger, and consequently their cubit much longer. For the ordinary cubit consisting of a common foot and a half, is sufficient for the containing of all the kinds of living creatures and their provisions, which was to be put into the ark, as hath been at large demonstrated by learned men. Nor is there any considerable difficulty in the point, but what is made by the ignorance of infidels, and aggravated by their malice against the Holy Scriptures; especially if these things be considered:

1. That the differing kinds of beasts and birds, which unlearned men fancy to be innumerable, are observed by the learned, who have particularly searched into them, and written of them, to be little above three hundred, whereof the far greatest part are but small; and many of these which now are thought to differ in kind, in their first original were but of one sort, though now they be so greatly altered in their shape and qualifies, which might easily arise from the diversity of their climate and food, and other circumstances, and from the promiscuous conjunctions of those lawless creatures.

2. That the brute creatures, when they were enclosed in the ark, where they were idle, and constantly under a kind of horror and amazement, would be contented with far less provisions, and those of another sort than they were accustomed to, and such as might lie in less room, as hay, and the fruits of the earth. God also, who altered their natures, and made the savage creatures mild and gentle, might by the same powerful providence moderate their appetites, or, if he pleased, have increased their provision whilst they did eat it, as afterwards Christ did by the loaves. So vain and idle are the cavils of wanton wits concerning the incapacity of the ark for the food of so many beasts.

3. That supposing the ravenous creatures did feed upon flesh, here is also space enough and to spare for a sufficient number of sheep, for their food for a whole year, as upon computation will easily appear; there being not two thousand sheep necessary for them, and the ark containing no less than four hundred and fifty thousand cubits in it. But of this matter more may be seen in my Latin Synopsis.


Verse 16

A window, or a light; or lights, or windows; the singular number being put for the plural, which is most frequent: or it might be one great light or lantern, by which light might be derived and distributed into several rooms.

Shalt thou finish it above, i.e. either,

1. The window, which was to be a cubit square. Or rather,

2. The ark; as appears,

1. From the gender of the Hebrew affix, which is feminine, and therefore agrees with the ark, which in the Hebrew is of the feminine gender, not with the window, which is masculine.

2. From the nature of the thing, the ark requiring a roof, and that sloping, that the rain might slide off from it, and not sink into it; for which end the roof in the middle was to be higher than the ark by a cubit. And as the other parts of the ark were made with exquisite contrivance, so doubtless this was not defective therein.

The highest story was for men and birds; the second for provision for the brute creatures; the lowest for the beasts, under which was the sink of the ark, which most probably was made sloping at the bottom, as all ships and boats are, where serpents and such like creatures might be put, with their proper provisions.


Verse 17

I, even I, which is thus emphatically repeated, to signify that this flood did not proceed from natural causes, but from the immediate hand and judgment of God,

do bring, i.e. will assuredly and speedily bring,

all flesh, i.e. all men, birds, and beasts.

Every thing that is in the earth. This limitation is added to show, that the fishes are not included in the threatened destruction, either because they did not live in the same element wherein men lived and sinned; or because they were not so instrumental in men’s sins as the beasts might be; or because man had a greater command over the beasts than over the fishes, and greater service and benefit from them; and therefore the destruction of the former was a greater and more proper punishment to man than the latter.


Verse 18

Either,

1. My promise to preserve thee and thine, both till the flood and in it, notwithstanding all the scoffs and threats of the wicked world against thee all the time of thy preaching and building of the ark. The word

covenant being here understood, not of a mutual compact or agreement, but of a single and gracious promise, as it is also used Numbers 18:19, Numbers 25:12, and in other places. Which promise, though only here mentioned, was doubtless made before, as may easily be gathered, both from these words and some foregoing passages, and from the need which Noah had of such a support and encouragement during all the time of his ministry. Or,

2. My covenant concerning the sending of the promised Seed, and the redemption of mankind by the Messias, who shall come out of thy loins, and therefore thou shalt be preserved.


Verse 19

Of all flesh two; i.e. either,

1. By couples, or male and female; but this is mentioned as a distinct thing in the close of the verse. Or rather,

2. Two at least of every sort, even of the unclean; but of the clean more, as is noted Genesis 7:2.


Verse 20

After their kind, i.e. according to their several kinds. They

shall come unto thee of their own accord, by my impulse, or by the conduct of angels, as Genesis 2:19.


Verse 21

See Genesis 1:29-30.


Verse 22

Both for the matter and the manner of it, although the work of building the ark was laborious, costly, tedious, dangerous, and seemingly foolish and ridiculous; especially when all things continued in the same posture and safety for so many scores of years together; whereby Noah, without doubt, was all that while the song of the drunkards, and the sport of the wits of that age. So that it is not strange that this is mentioned as an heroic act of faith in Noah, Hebrews 11:7, whereby he surmounted all these difficulties.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Genesis 6:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/genesis-6.html. 1685.

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