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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries

Genesis 6

 

 

Verses 1-8

EXPOSITION

Genesis 6:1, Genesis 6:2

And it came to pass. Literally, it was; not in immediate sequence to the preceding chapter, but at some earlier point in the antediluvian period; perhaps about the time of Enoch (corresponding to that of Lamech the Cainite), if not in the days of Enos. Havernick joins the passage with Genesis 4:26. When menha'adham, i.e. the human race in general, and not the posterity of Cain in particular (Ainsworth, Rosenmüller, Bush)—began to multiply—in virtue of the Divine blessing (Genesis 1:28)—on (or over) the face of the earth. "Alluding to the population spreading itself out as well as increasing" (Bonar). And daughters were born unto them. Not referring to any special increase of the female sex (Lange), but simply indicating the quarter whence the danger to the pious Sethites rose: "who became snares to the race of Seth" (Wordsworth). That the sons of God. Bene-ha Elohim.

1. Not young men of the upper ranks, as distinguished from maidens of humble birth (Onk; Jon; Sym; Aben Ezra); an opinion which "may now be regarded as exploded" (Lange).

2. Still less the angels; for

( α) it is uncertain Whether the phrase " το Ì ν ὁ ì μοιον του ì τοις τρο ì πον ἐ κπορνευ ì σασαι και Ì ἀ πελθοῦ σαι ὀ πι ì σω σαρκο Ì ς ἑ τεì ρας" refers to the angels or to " αἱ περι Ì αὐ ταÌ ς ποì λεις," in which case the antecedent of τουì τοις will not be the ἀ γγεì λοι of Jude 1:6, but σο ì δομα και Ì γο ì μοῤ ῥ α of Jude 1:7;

( β) if even it refers to the angels it does not follow that the parallel between the cities and the angels consisted in the "going after strange flesh," and not rather in the fact that both departed from God, "the sin of the apostate angels being in God's view a sin of like kind spiritually with Sodom's going away from God's order of nature after strange flesh" (Fausset);

( γ) again, granting that Jude's language describes the sin of the angels as one of carnal fornication with the daughters of men, the sin of which the sons of Elohim are represented as guilty is not πορνειì α, but the forming of unhallowed matrimonial alliances. Hence

3. The third interpretation, therefore, which regards the sons of God as the pious Sethites, though not without its difficulties, has the most to recommend it.

Genesis 6:3

And the Lord—Jehovah; not because due to the Jehovist (Tuch, Bleek, Colenso), but because the sin above specified was a direct violation of the footing of grace on which the Sethites stood—said,—to himself, i.e. purposed,—My spirit—neither "ira, seu rigida Dei justitia" (Venema), nor "the Divine spirit of life bestowed upon man, the principle of physical and ethical, natural and spiritual life" (Keil); but the Holy Ghost, the Ruach Elohim of Genesis 1:2shall not always strive. London:

1. Shall not dwell (LXX; οὐ μηÌ καταμειì νη; Vulgate, non permanebit; Syriac, Onkelos).

2. Shall not be humbled, i.e. by dwelling in men (Gesenius, Tuch).

3. More probably, shall not rule (De Wette, Delitzsch, Kalisch, Furst), or shall not judge ( οὐ κριì νει), as the consequence of ruling (Symmachus, Rosenmüller, Keil), or shall not contend in judgment (arguere, reprehendere; cf. Ecclesiastes 6:10), i.e. strive with a man by moral force (Calvin, Michaelis, Dathe, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Murphy, Bush). With man, for that he also—beshaggam. Either be, shaggam, inf. of shagag, to wander, with pron. surf. = "in their wandering" (Gesenius, Tuch, Keil)—the meaning being that men by their straying had proved themselves to be flesh, though a plural suffix with a singular pronoun following is inadmissible in Hebrew (Kalisch); or be, sh (contracted from asher), and gam (also) = quoniam. Cf. 5:7; 6:17; So 1:7 (A.V.). Though an Aramaic particle, "it must never be forgotten that Aramaisms are to be expected either in the most modern or in the most ancient portions of Scripture" ('Speaker's Commentary)—is flesh, not "transitory beings" (Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Tuch), or corporeal beings (Kalisch), but sinful beings; bashar being already employed in its ethical signification, like σαì ρξ in the New Testament, to denote "man's materiality as rendered ungodly by sin" (Keil). "The doctrine of the carnal mind (Romans 8:1-39.) is merely the outgrowth, of the thought expressed in this passage ' (Murphy). Yet his days—not the individual's (Kalisch), which were not immediately curtailed to the limit mentioned, and, even after the Flood, extended far beyond it (vide Genesis 11:1-32.); but the races, which were only to be prolonged in gracious respite (Calvin)—shall be an hundred and twenty years. Tuch, Colenso, and others, supposing this to have been said by God in Noah's 500th year, find a respite only of 100 years, instead of 120; but the historian does not assert that it was then God either formed or announced this determination.

Genesis 6:4

There were. Not became, or arose, as if the giants were the fruit of the previously-mentioned misalliances; but already existed contemporaneously with the sons of God (cf. Keil, Havernick, and Lange). Giants. Nephilim, from naphal, to fall; hence supposed to describe the offspring of the daughters of men and the fallen angels (Hoffman, Delitzsch). The LXX, translate by γιì γαντες; whence the "giants" of the A.V. and Vulgate, which Luther rejects as fabulous; but Kalisch, on the strength of Numbers 13:33, accepts as the certain import of the term. More probable is the interpretation which understands them as men of violence, roving, lawless gallants, "who fall on others;" robbers, or tyrants (Aquila, Rosenmüller, Gesenius, Luther, Calvin, Kurtz, Keil,. Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary'). That they were "monsters, prodigies" (Tueh, Knobel), may be rejected, though it is not unlikely they were men of large physical stature, like the Anakim, Rephaim, and others (cf. Numbers 13:33). In the earth. Not merely on it, but largely occupying the populated region. In those days. Previously referred to, i.e. of the mixed marriages. And alsoi.e. in addition to these nephilim—after that,—i.e. after their up-rising—when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men. Ha'gibborim, literally, the strong, impetuous, heroes (cf. Genesis 10:8). "They were probably more refined in manners and exalted in thought than their predecessors of pure Cainite descent" (Murphy). Which were of old. Not "of the world," as a note of character, taking olam as equivalent αἰ ωÌ ν to but a note of time, the narrator reporting from his own standpoint. Men of renown. Literally, men of the name; "the first nobility of the world, honorable robbers, who boasted of their wickedness" (Calvin) or gallants, whose names were often in men's mouths (Murphy). For contrary phrase, "men of no name," see Job 30:8.

Genesis 6:5

And God (Jehovah, which should have been rendered 'the Lord') saw—indicative of the long-continued patience (Calvin) of the Deity, under whose immediate cognizance the great experiment of the primeval age of the world was wrought out—that the wickedness (ra'ath; from the root raa, to make a loud noise, to rage, hence to be wicked) of man (literally, of the Adam: this was the first aggravation of the wickedness which God beheld; it was the tumultuous rebellion of the being whom he had created in his own image) was great (it was no slight iniquity, but a wide-spread, firmly-rooted, and deeply-staining corruption, the second aggravation) in the earth. This was the third aggravation; it was in the world which he had made, and not only in it, but pervading it so "that integrity possessed no longer a single corner" (Calvin). And that every imaginationyetzer, a device, like pottery ware, from yatza, to fashion as a potter (Genesis 2:7; Genesis 8:19). Cf. yotzer, a potter, used of God (Psalms 94:9, Psalms 94:20). Hence the fashioned purpose ( ἐ νθυì μησις) as distinguished from the thought out of which it springs—"a distinction not generally or constantly recognized by the mental philosopher, though of essential importance in the theory of the mind" (Murphy)—of the thoughtsmahshevoth; from hashal, to think, to meditate = ἐ ì ννοια; cf. Hebrews 9:12 (T. Lewis)—of his heart—or, the heart, the seat of the affections and emotions of the mind. Cf. 16:15 (love); Proverbs 31:11 (confidence); Proverbs 5:12 (contempt); Psalms 104:15 (joy). Here "the feeling, or deep mother heart, the state of soul, lying below all, and giving moral character to all (Lewis). Cf. the psychological division of Hebrews 4:12 was only evil continually. Literally, every day. "If this is not total depravity, how can language express it?" Though the phrase does not mean "from infancy," yet "the general doctrine" (of man's total and universal depravity) "is properly and consistently elicited hence" (Calvin).

Genesis 6:6

And it repented the Lord. Yinnahem; from naham, to pant, to groan; Niph; to lament, to grieve bemuse of the misery of others, also because of one's own actions; whence to repent (cf. German, rouen; English, rue: Gesenius); = "it grieved him at his heart." "Verbum nostae pravitatae accommodatum" (Chrysostom); "non est perturbatio, sod judi-cium, quo irrogatur pinna;" and again, "poenitudo Dei est mutandorum immutabilis ratio". "Deus est immutabilis; sed cum ii, quos eurat, mutantur, murat ipse res, prout ils expedit quos eurat". "The repentance here ascribed to God does not properly belong to him, but has reference to our understanding of him (Calvin). "The repentance of God does not presuppose any variableness in his nature or purposes" Keil). "A peculiarly strong anthropathic expression, which, however, presents the truth that God, in consistency with his immutability, assumes a changed position in respect to changed man" (Lange). That he had made man on the earth. i.e. that he had created man at all, and in particular that he had settled him on the earth. And it grieved him at his heart. A touching indication that God did not hate man, and a clear proof that, though the Divine purpose is immutable, the Divine nature is not impassible.

Genesis 6:7

And the Lord said,—"Before weird (doom) there's word: Northern Proverb" (Bonar)—I will destroy—literally, blot or wipe out by washing (cf. Numbers 5:23; 2 Kings 21:13; Proverbs 30:20; Isaiah 25:8). "The idea of destroying by washing away is peculiarly appropriate to the Deluge, and the word is chosen on account of its significance" (Quarry)—man whom I have created from the face of the earth. An indirect refutation of the angel hypothesis (Keil, Lange). If the angels were the real authors of the moral corruption of the race, why are they not sentenced as the serpent was in Genesis 3:14? Both man, and beast, and the creeping thing. Literally, from man unto beast, &c. The lower creatures were involved in the punishment of man neither because of any moral corruption which had entered into them, nor as sharing in the atonement for human sins (Knobel); but rather on the ground of man's sovereignty over the animal world, and its dependence on him (Keil, Lange), and in exemplification of that great principle of Divine government by which the penal consequences of moral evil are allowed to extend beyond the immediate actor (cf. Romans 8:20). For it repenteth me that I have made them. Vide supra on Genesis 3:6.

Genesis 6:8

But Noah found grace. Hēn; the same letters as in Noah, but reversed (cf. Genesis 18:3; Genesis 39:4; 1 Kings 11:19). The present is the first occurrence of the word in Scripture. "Now for the first time grace finds a tongue to express its name" (Murphy); and it clearly signifies the same thing as in Romans 4:1-25; Romans 5:1-21; Ephesians 2:1-22; Galatians 2:1-21; the gratuitous favor of God to sinful men.

HOMILETICS

Genesis 6:1-8

The days that were before the flood

(Matthew 24:38).

I. SIN INCREASING.

1. Licentiousness raging. The special form it assumed was that of sensuous gratification, leading to a violation of the law of marriage. In the seventh age Lamech the Cainite became a polygamist. By and by the sons of God, captivated by the charms of beauty, cast aside the bonds of self-restraint, and took them wives of all whom they chose.

2. Violence prevailing. Those who begin by breaking the laws of God are not likely to end by keeping those of man. From the beginning a characteristic of the wicked line (witness Cain and Lamech), lawlessness at length passed over to the holy seed. What with the Nephilim. on the one hand (probably belonging to the line of Cain) and the Gibborim on the other (the offspring of the degenerate Sethites), the world was overrun with tyrants. Sheer brute force was the ruler, and the only code of morals was "Be strong." Moral purity alone has a God-given right to occupy the supreme seat of influence and power upon the earth. After that, intellectual ability. Mere physical strength, colossal stature, immense bulk, were designed for subjection and subordination. The subversion of this Divinely-appointed order results in tyranny; and, of all tyrannies, that of strong, coarse, passion-driven animalism is the worst. And this was the condition of mankind in these antediluvian ages. And what was even a worse symptom of the times, the people loved to have it so. Those lawless robbers and tyrants and these reckless, roving gallants were men of name and fame, in everybody's mouth, as the popular heroes of the day. As mere physical beauty was woman's pathway to marriage, so was sheer brute force, displaying itself in feats of daring and of blood, man's road to renown.

3. Corruption deepening. Most appalling is the picture sketched by the historian of the condition of the Adam whom God at first created in his own image, implying—

II. GOD REPENTNG.

1. A mysterious fact. "We do not gain much by attempting to explain philosophically such states or movements of the Divine mind. They are strictly ἀ ì ῤ ῥ ητα—ineffable. So the Scripture itself represents them—Isaiah 4:1-6 :9" (Taylor Lewis). What is here asserted of the Divine thoughts is likewise true of the Divine emotions; like the Deity himself, they are past finding out.

2. A real fact. The language describes something real on the part of God. If it is figurative, then there must be something of which it is the figure; and that something is the Divine grief and repentance. These, however, are realities that belong to a realm which the human intellect cannot traverse. As of the Divine personality man's personality is but an image or reflection, so of the Divine affections and emotions are man's affections and emotions only shadows. Man repents when he changes his mind, or his attitude, or his actions. God repents when his thoughts are changed, when his feelings are turned, when his acts are reversed. But God is "of one mind, and who can turn him?" He is "without variableness and shadow of turning;" "the same yesterday, today, and for ever." Hence we rather try to picture to ourselves the Divine penitence as expressive of the changed attitude which the immutable Deity maintains towards things that are opposite, such as holiness and sin.

3. An instructive fact, telling us

4. An ominous fact. As thus explained, the grief and penitence of God describe the effect which human sin ever have upon the Divine nature. It fills him with heart-felt grief and pity. It excites all the fathomless ocean of sympathy for sinning men with which his infinite bosom is filled. But at the same time, and notwithstanding this, it moves him to inflict judicial retribution. "And the Lord said, I will destroy man."

III. GRACE OPERATING.

1. In restraining sinners. It was impossible that God could leave men to rush headlong to their own destruction without interposing obstacles in their path. In the way of these apostates of the human race he erected quite a series of barriers to keep them back from perdition. He gave them

(a) measuring out to them a long term of years, yet

(b) solemnly reminding them of their mortality, and finally

(c) giving them a reprieve, even after they were sentenced to destruction.

2. In sarong believers.

Lessons:

1. The terrible degeneracy of human nature.

2. The danger of mixed marriages.

3. God may pity, but he must likewise punish, the evil-doer.

4. The day of grace has its limits.

5. If a soul will go to perdition, it must do so over many mercies.

6. God never leaves himself without a witness, even in the worst of times.

HOMILIES BY R.A. REDFORD

Genesis 6:1-8

The work of sin.

The moral chaos out of which the new order is about to be evolved. We find these features in the corrupt state depicted.

I. ILL-ASSORTED MARRIAGES. The sons of God—i.e. the seed of the righteous, such men as the patriarchs described in Genesis 5:1-32; men who walked with God, and were his prophets—fell away from their allegiance to the Divine order, and went after the daughters of the Cainites, The self-will and mere carnal affections are denoted by the expression "all whom they chose."

II. VIOLENCE AND MILITARY AMBITION. The giants were the "nephilim," those who assaulted and fell upon their neighbors. The increase of such men is distinctly traced to the corrupt alliances.

III. THE WITHDRAWAL by judgment of THE DIVINE SPIRIT from marl, by which may be meant not only the individual degeneracy which we see exemplified in such a case as Cain, driven out from the presence of the Lord, given up to a reprobate mind, and afterwards in Pharaoh; but the withdrawal of prophecy and such special spiritual communications as had been given by such men as Enoch.

IV. THE SHORTENING OF HUMAN LIFE. Since the higher moral influence of Christianity has been felt in society during the last three centuries, it is calculated that the average length of human life has been increased twofold. The anthropomorphism of these verses is in perfect accordance with the tone of the whole Book of Genesis, and is not in the least a perversion of truth. It is rather a revelation of truth, as anticipating the great central fact of revelation, God manifest in the flesh. But why is God said to have determined to destroy the face of the earth, the animal creation with the sinful man? Because the life of man involved that of the creatures round him. "The earth is filled with violence." To a large extent the beasts, creeping things, and fowls of the air participate in the disorder of the human race, being rendered unnaturally savage and degenerate in their condition by man's disorderly ways. Moreover, any destruction which should sweep away a whole race of men must involve the lower creation. The defeat of a king is the defeat of his subjects. In all this corruption and misery there is yet, by the grace of God, one oasis of spiritual life, the family of Noah. He found grace not because he earned it, but because he kept what had been given him, both through his ancestors and by the work of the Spirit in his own heart.—R.

HOMILIES BY W. ROBERTS

Genesis 6:1-5

The demoralization of the race.

This was due to—

I. THE LONG LIVES OF THE ANTEDILUVIANS. Long life, if helpful to the good, is much more injurious to the wicked. Giants in health and life are often giants in wickedness.

II. THE UNHOLY ALLIANCES OF THE SETHITES AND CAINITES. Nothing so demoralizing as marriage with an evil woman. Its bad effects are commonly transmitted to, and intensified in, posterity.

III. THE DEPRAVITY INDUCED BY THE FALL, which was universal in its extent, and gradually deepening in its intensity.

Lessons:—

1. The inherent evil of our natures.

2. The curse clinging to ungodliness.

3. The true function of worldly sorrows and of frequent and early death.—W.R.

HOMILIES BY R.A. REDFORD

Genesis 6:3

Probation, approbation, and reprobation.

"And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man," &c. The life of man, whether longer or shorter, is a time during which the Spirit of God strives with him. It is at once in judgment and in mercy that the strife is not prolonged; for where there is continued opposition to the will of God there is continual laying up of judgment against the day of wrath. The allotted time of man upon the earth is sufficient for the required probation, clearly manifesting the direction of the will, the decided choice of the heart. Here is—

I. THE GREAT MORAL FACT OF MAN'S CONDITION IN HIS FLESHLY STATE. The striving of God's Spirit with him.

1. In the order of the world and of human life.

2. In the revelation of truth and positive appeals of the Divine word.

3. In the constant nearness and influence of spiritual society.

4. In the working of conscience and the moral instincts generally.

II. THE DIVINE APPOINTMENT OF SPIRITUAL PRIVILEGE at once a righteous limitation and a gracious concentration. That which is unlimited is apt to be undervalued. Not always shall the Spirit strive.

1. Individually this is testified. A heart which knows not the day of its visitation becomes hardened.

2. In the history of spiritual work in communities. Times of refreshing generally followed by withdrawments of power. The limit of life itself is before us all. Not always can we hear the voice and see the open door.

III. THE NATURAL AND THE SPIRITUAL ARE INTIMATELY RELATED TO ONE ANOTHER IN THE LIFE OF MAN. He who decreed the length of days to his creature did also strive with the evil of his fallen nature that he might cast it out. The hundred and twenty years are seldom reached; but is it not because the evil is so obstinately retained? Those whose spirit is most in fellowship with the Spirit of God are least weighed down with the burden of the flesh, are strongest to resist the wearing, wasting influence of the world.

IV. THE STRIVING OF GOD'S SPIRIT WITH US MAY CEASE. What follows? To fall on the stone is to be broken, to be under it is to be crushed. The alternative is before every human life—to be dealt with as with God or against him. "Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!" The progressive revelations of the Bible point to the winding up of all earthly history. Not always strife. Be ye reconciled to God.—R.

HOMILIES BY W. ROBERTS

Genesis 6:3

The striving of the Spirit

implies—

I. THE DOCTRINE OF HUMAN DEPRAVITY.

II. THE GRANTING OF GOD'S SPIRIT TO OUR FALLEN WORLD.

III. That God's Spirit is OPPOSED BY MAN.

IV. That the effort of God's Spirit for man's salvation, even though not successful, COMES TO AN END.

V. That the striving of God's Spirit comes to an end not because God's willingness to help comes to an end, but because HUMAN NATURE SINKS BEYOND THE POSSIBILITY OF HELP.

VI. That it belongs to God as Sovereign to FIX THE DAY OF GRACE.

Learn—

1. The richness of Divine mercy.

2. The possibility of falling away beyond the hope of repentance.

3. The fact that our day of grace is limited.

4. The certainty that, however short, the day of grace which we enjoy is available for salvation.—W.R.


Verses 9-22

§ 4. THE GENERATIONS OF NOAH (CH. 6:9-9:29).

EXPOSITION

Genesis 6:9

These are the generations of Noah. "Novi capitis initium = "haec est historia Noachi (Rosenmüller; cf. Genesis 5:1). Noah (vide Genesis 5:29) was a just man. צַדִּיק : not of spotless innocence (Knobel); but upright, honest, virtuous, pious (vir probus); from צָדַּק, to be straight, hence to be just; Piel to render just or righteous (Eccl. Lat; justificare), to declare any one just or innocent (Gesenius); better "justified" or declared righteous, being derived from the Piel form of the verb (Furst). "Evidently the righteousness here meant is that which represents him as justified in view of the judgment of the Flood, by reason of his faith, Hebrews 11:7 " (Lange). "To be just is to be right in point of law, and thereby entitled to all the blessings of the acquitted and justified. When applied to the guilty this epithet implies pardon of sin among other benefits of grace" (Murphy). And perfect. תָּמִים : complete, whole ( τεì λειος, integer); i.e. perfect in the sense not of sinlessness, but of moral integrity (Gesenius, Calvin). It describes "completeness of parts rather than of degrees in the renewed character" (Bush). "The just is the right in law, the perfect is the tested in holiness" (Murphy). If, however, the term is equivalent to the τελειì ωσις of the Christian system (1 Corinthians 2:6; Hebrews 7:11), it denotes that complete readjustment of the being of a sinful man to the law of God, both legally and morally, which is effected by the whole work of Christ for man and in man; it is "the establishment of complete, unclouded, and enduring communion with God, and the full realization of a state of peace with him which, founded on a true and ever valid remission of sins, has for its consummation eternal glory" (Delitzsch on Hebrews 7:11). In his generations. בְּדְֹרֹתַיו, from דּוּר, to go in a circle; hence a circuit of years; an age or generation (generatio, seeulum) of men. The clause marks not simply the sphere of Noah's virtue, among his contemporaries, or only the duration of his piety, throughout his lifetime, but likewise the constancy of his religion, which, when surrounded by the filth of iniquity on every side, contracted no contagion (Calvin). "It is probable, moreover, that he was of pure descent, and in that respect also distinguished from his contemporaries, who were the offspring of promiscuous marriages between the godly and the ungodly" (Murphy). And Noah walked with God . The special form in which his just and perfect character revealed itself amongst his sinful contemporaries. For the import of the phrase see on Genesis 5:22. Noah was also a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), and probably announced to the wicked age in which -he lived the coming of the Flood (Hebrews 11:7).

Genesis 6:10

And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (cf. Genesis 5:32). Here (in the story of the Flood) if anywhere, observes Rosenmüller, can traces be detected of two distinct documents (duorum monumentorum), in the alternate use of the names of the Deity, the frequent repetitions of the same things, and the use of peculiar forms of expression; and in Genesis 6:9-13, compared with Genesis 6:5-8, Bleek, Tuch, Colenso, and others find' the first instance of needless repetition, on the supposition of the unity of the narrative, but a sure index of the Elohistic pen, on the hypothesis of different authors; but the so-called "repetition" is explained by remembering that Genesis 6:5-8 forms the close of a section "bringing down the history to the point at which the degeneracy of mankind causes God to resolve on the destruction of the world," while the new section, which otherwise would begin too abruptly, introduces the account of the Deluge by a brief description of its cause. The structure of the narrative here is not different from what it appears elsewhere (cf. Genesis 2:4; Genesis 5:1).

Genesis 6:11

The earth

Genesis 6:12

And God looked upon the earth. "God knows at all times what is doing in our world, but his looking upon the earth denotes a special observance of it, as though he had instituted an inquiry into its real condition" (Bush; cf. Psalms 14:2; Psalms 33:13, Psalms 33:14; Psalms 80:2, Psalms 80:3). And, behold, it was corrupt. "Everything stood in sharpest contradiction with that good state which God the Creator had established" (Delitzsch, quoted by Lange). The nature of this corruption is further indicated. For all flesh, i.e. the human race, who are so characterized here not so much for their frailty (Isaiah 40:5, Isaiah 40:6) as for their moral and spiritual degeneracy (Genesis 6:3, q.v. )—had corrupted—skachath ( καταφθειì ρω, LXX. ); literally, had destroyed, wrecked, and ruined, wholly subverted and overthrown—his wayderech (from darach, to tread with the feet), a going; hence a journey, a way; e.g.

Here it signifies the entire plan and course of life in all its ethical and religious aspects as designed for man by God (cf. Psalms 119:9; and contrast "the way of Cain," Jude 1:11; "the way of Balaam," 2 Peter 2:15)—upon the earth.

Genesis 6:13

And God said unto Noah, The end. קֵץ (from Hophal of קָצַץ, to cut off) that which is cut off, the end of a time (Genesis 4:3) or of a space (Isaiah 37:24); specially the end or destruction of a people (Ezekiel 7:2; Amos 8:2), in which sense it is to be here understood (Gesenius, Rosenmüller). The rendering which regards ketz as, like τεì λος—the completion, consummation, fullness of a thing (here of human fleshliness or wickedness), and the following clause as epexegetic of the present (Bush), though admissible in respect of Scriptural usage (cf. Jeremiah 51:13; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Romans 10:4) and contextual harmony, is scarcely so obvious; while a third, that the end spoken of is the issue to which the moral corruption of the world was inevitably tending (Keil, Lange), does not materially differ from the first. Of all flesh, I.e. of the human race, of course with the exception of Noah and his family, which "teaches us to beware of applying an inflexible literality to such terms as all, when used in the sense of ordinary conversation" (Murphy). Is come before me. Literally, before my face. Not "a me constitutus est" (Gesenius), "is decreed before my throne" (Kalisch); but, "is in the contemplation of my mind as an event soon to be realized" (Murphy), with perhaps a glance at the circumstance that man's ruin had not been sought by God, but, as it were, had thrust itself upon his notice as a thing that could no longer be delayed. If בָּא לְפָנַי = the similar expression בָּא אֶל, which, when applied to rumors, signifies to reach the ear (cf. Genesis 18:21; Exodus 3:9; 1 Kings 2:1-46 : 28; Esther 9:11), it may likewise indicate the closeness or near approach of the impending calamity. For the earth is filled with violence through them. More correctly, "from their faces; a facie eorum" (Vulgate). That is, "the flood of wickedness which comes up before God's face goes out from their face" in the sense of being perpetrated openly (Lange), and "by their conscious agency" (Alford). And, behold, I will destroy them. Literally, and behold me destroying them. The verb is the same as is translated "corrupt' in Genesis 6:12, q.v; as if to convey the idea of fitting retribution (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:17 : εἰ ì τις το Ì ν ναο Ì ν τοῦ θεοῦ δθει ì ρει φθερεῖ τοῦ τον ὁ θεοì ς; Revelation 11:18 : και Ì διαφθεῖ ραι του Ì ς διαφθει ì ροντας τη Ì ν γῆ ν). Whether this destruction which was threatened against the antediluvian sinners ex tended to the loss of their souls throughout eternity may be reasoned (pro and con) from other Scriptures, but cannot be determined from this place, which refers solely to the-extinction of their bodily lives. With the earth. Not from the earth (Samaritan), or on the earth (Syriac, Rosenmüller), or even the earth, "thus identifying the earth with its inhabitants" (Bush), but, together with the earth (Kalisch, Keil, Alford; cf. Genesis 9:11; και Ì τη Ì ν γῆ ν, LXX.). The universality of representation which characterizes this section (Genesis 6:9-13) is regarded by Davidson, Colenso, and others as contradictory of Genesis 6:5, which depicts the corruption as only human, and limits the destruction to the race of man. But as the two accounts belong to different subdivisions of the book, they cannot properly be viewed as contradictory.

Genesis 6:14

Make thee an ark. תֵּבַת, constr. of תֵּבָה, etymology unknown (Gesenius); of Shemitic origin, from תָּבָה, to be hollow (Furst); of Egyptian derivation, a boat being called tept (Keil, Kalisch, Knobel); from the Sanskrit pota, a pot or boat (Bohlen); "a peculiar archaic term for a very unusual thing, like מַבּוּל, the term for the Flood itself" (T . Lewis); translated κιβωτοì ς θιì βη (LXX.), area (Vulgate), λαì ρναξ (Nicolas Damaseenus), πλοῖ ον (Berosus); not a ship in the ordinary acceptation of the word, but a box or chest (cf. Exodus 2:3) capable of floating on the waters. "Similar vessels, generally, however, drawn by horses or men, were and are still used in some parts of Europe and Asia" (Kalisch). Of gopher wood. Literally, woods of gopher ( גֹפֶר : ἁ ì παξ λεγ.; the root of which, like כפר, seams to signify to cover (Kalisch); ligna bituminata (Vulgate); pitch trees, resinous trees, such as are used in ship-building (Gesenius); most likely cypress, κυπα ì ρισσος (Bochart, Celsius, Keil), which was used "in some parts of Asia exclusively as the material for ships, in Athens for coffins, and in Egypt for mummy cases" (Kaliseh). "It is said too that the gates of St. Peter's Church at Rome (made of this wood), which lasted from the time of Constantine to that of Eugene IV; 1. a 1100 years, had in that period suffered no decay" (Bush). Roomskinnim, nests, applied metaphorically to the chambers of the ark—shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. וְכָפַרְתָּ בַּכֹּפֶר: literally, shalt cover it with a covering. The substance to be employed was probably bitumen or asphalt ( ἀ ì σφαλτος, LXX.; bitumen, Vulgate). The root (cf. English, cover) signifies also to pardon sin, i.e. to cover them from God's sight (Psalms 65:3; Psalms 78:38; 2 Chronicles 30:18), and to make expiation for sin, i.e. to obtain covering for them (Genesis 32:20; Daniel 9:24); whence gopher is used for a ransom (Exodus 21:30; Exodus 30:12), and capporeth, the covering of the ark (Exodus 25:17), for the mercy-seat ( ἱ λαστηì ριον, LXX.; propitiatorium, Vulgate).

Genesis 6:15

And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of. The shape of it is not described, but only its dimensions given. The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits,—a cubit = the length from the elbow to the middle finger (Deuteronomy 3:11); nearly twenty-two inches, if the sacred cubit; if the common, eighteen inches,—the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. With a cubit of twenty-one inches, the length would he 525 feet, the breadth 87 feet 6 inches, dimensions not dissimilar to those of the Great Eastern which is 680 feet long, 83 feet broad, and 58 feet deep. The cubic contents of the ark with these dimensions would be 2,411,718'75 feet, which, allowing forty cubic feet per ton, would give a carrying capacity equal to 32,800 tons. P. Jansen of Holland, in 1609, proved by actual experiment that a ship constructed after the pattern of the ark, though not adapted for sailing, would in reality carry a cargo greater by one-third than any other form of like cubical content. The difficulty of building a vessel of such enormous magnitude, T. Lewis thinks, may be got over by remembering the extreme simplicity of its structure, the length of time allowed for its erection, the physical constitution of the builders, and the facilities for obtaining materials which may have existed in abundance in their vicinity. Bishop Wilkins ('Essay towards a Philosophical Character and Language'), Dr. A. Clarke, and Bush are satisfied that the ark was large enough to contain all the animals directed to be taken into it, along with provision for a twelvemonth; but computations founded on the number of the species presently existing must of necessity be precarious; and besides, it is at least doubtful whether the Deluge was universal, or only partial and local, in which case the difficulty (so called) completely vanishes.

Genesis 6:16

A windowעֹהַר, from עָהַר, to shine, hence light ( עָהֲרַיִם, double light, or light of midday—Genesis 43:16 ; Jeremiah 6:4). Not the window which Noah afterwards opened to let out the dove, which is called הַלּוֹן (Genesis 8:6), but obviously a lighting apparatus, which may have been a series of windows (Gesenius), scarcely one (Theodotion, θυì ραν; Symmachus, διαφανεì ς; Vulgate, fenestram; Kimchi, Luther, Calvin); or an opening running along the top of the sides of the ark, occupied by some translucent substance, and sheltered by the eaves of the roof (Knobel); or, what appears more probable, a light opening in the upper deck, stretching along the entire length, and continued down through the different stories (Baumgarten, Lange); or, if the roof sloped, as is most likely, an aperture along the ridge, which would admit the clear light of heaven (tsohar), and serve as a meridional line enabling Noah and the inmates of the ark to ascertain the hour of noon (Taylor Lewis). Keil and Murphy think we can form no proper conception of the light arrangement of the ark. The conjecture of Schultens, which is followed by Dathius, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, and others, that the tsohar meant the covering (tectum, dorsum), "quo sane hoc aedificium carere non potuit, propter pluviam tot diernm continuam," is obviously incorrect—shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit—to a cubit, i.e. all but a cubit (T. Lewis); into a cubit, i.e. to the extent of a cubit (Ainsworth); by the cubit, i.e. by a just measure (Kalisch)—shalt thou finish it—not the window (Gesenins, Ewald, Tueh), the feminine suffix agreeing with tebah, which is feminine, and not with tsohar, which is masculine; but the ark—above. Literally, from above to above; i.e; according to the above interpretations of the preposition, either the roof, after the construction of the windows, should be regularly finished "by the just measure" (Kalisch); or the roof should be arched but a cubit, that it might be almost flat (Ainsworth); or from the eaves up toward the ridge it should be completed, leaving a cubit open or unfinished (T. Lewis). And the door of the ark—the opening which should admit its inmates—shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories. The word stories is not in the original, but some such word must be supplied. Lunge thinks that each fiat or story had an entrance or door in the side.

Genesis 6:17

And, behold, I, even I. More correctly, "And I, behold, I," an emphatic assertion that what was coming was a Divine visitation, and not simply a natural occurrence. Do bring. Literally, bringing, the participle standing in place of the finite verb to indicate the certainty of the future action. A flood of waters upon the earth. מַכּוּל, pronounced by Bohlen "far-fetched," "is an archaic word coined expressly for the waters of Noah (Isaiah 44:9 ), and is used nowhere else except Psalms 29:10 waters upon the earth" (Keil). The first intimation of the means to be employed in inflicting judgment on the morally corrupted world. To destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. The fishes only being excepted, "either

Genesis 6:18

But with thee will I establish my covenant. בְּרית ( διαθηì κη, LXX.; foedue, Vulgate; testamentum, N.T.), from בָּרַא, to cut or carve; hence a covenant, from the custom of passing between the divided pieces of the victims slain on the occasion of making such solemn compacts (cf. Genesis 15:9 ; Gesenius); from בָּרַה, to eat, hence an eating together, a banquet (cf. Genesis 31:54; Lee). On the Bible idea of covenant see Genesis 15:9. My covenant = the already well-known covenant which I have made with man. And thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy son's wives with thee. This was the substance of the covenant agreement so far as Noah was concerned. The next three verses describe the arrangements about the animals.

Genesis 6:19-21

And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort (literally, by twos, i.e. in pairs) shalt thou bring into—or cause to enter, i.e. receive them when they come (Genesis 6:20)—the ark, to keep them alive—literally, to cause to live; ἰ ì να τρε ì φης (LXX.); in order to preserve alive (sc. the animals)—with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind (literally, of the fowl after its kind), and of cattle after their kind (literally, of the cattle after its kind), of every creeping thing of the earth after its bind, two of every sort shall come unto thee. "Non hominis actu, sed Dei nutu". Perhaps through an instinctive presentment of the impending calamity (Lange, 'Speaker's Commentary'). And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee (collecting sufficient for a twelve month's sustenance); and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.

Genesis 6:22

Thus did Noah; according to all that God (Elohim; in Genesis 7:5 it is Jehovah) commanded (with respect to the building of the ark, the receiving of the animals, the collecting of provisions) him, so did he.

HOMILETICS

Genesis 6:9-22

The building of the ark.

I. THE MAN AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES. A common saying, and one possessed of a show of wisdom, that a person seldom rises far above the average goodness, or sinks far below the average wickedness, of the age in which he lives. Yet it is precisely in proportion as individuals either excel or fall beneath their generation that they are able to affect it for good or evil. All epoch-making men are of this stamp. Noah, it is obvious, was not a man whose character was shaped by his contemporaries. In respect of three things, the contrast between him and them was as great and decided as could well be imagined.

1. Legal standing. Noah was a just man, i.e. a sinner justified by his believing acceptance of the gospel promise of the woman's seed; while they were corrupt, or bad declined into infidelity.

2. Spiritual character. Noah was perfect in the sense that his heart was right with God, and his nature was renewed by Divine grace; they were wanting in all the essential characteristics of true being, "alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that was in them, because of the hardness of their hearts."

3. Outer walk. As a consequence the daily life of Noah was one of eminent piety—a walking with God, like that of Enoch; while theirs was one of impious defiance of the laws of God, and ruthless oppression of the rights of men. Learn

II. THE EVENT AND ITS OCCASION. The event was—

1. Appalling in its form. The destruction of a world by a flood of waters. "In the beginning," at God's command, the goodly fabric had risen from the waters (Genesis 1:2; 2 Peter 3:5), radiant in beauty, swimming in a sea of light, rejoicing its Creator's heart (Genesis 1:31); now it was about to return to the dark and formless matrix whence it sprang. If the world's birth woke music among the morning stars (Job 38:7), surely its destruction was enough to make the angels weep!

2. Universal in its sweep. Without engaging at present in any controversy as to the actual extent of the Deluge, we may notice that Elohim represents it as destructive of the entire human race (Noah and his family excepted). Considering the impression made upon our hearts by the report of some sudden accident (the explosion of a mine, the sinking of a ship, the collision of a train), in which a number of lives are lost, it is not wonderful that the echo of this stupendous catastrophe should have vibrated through the world (see 'Traditions of the Deluge').

3. Supernatural in its origin. It was not an ordinary occurrence, but a distinctly miraculous phenomenon. "Behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth."

4. Punitive in its purpose. Its retributive character was distinctly implied in the form of its announcement—"I will destroy." All temporal calamities are not of this description. That all suffering is penal was the mistake of Job's friends (Job 4:7, et passim), though not of Job himself, and certainly it is not the teaching of the Bible (cf. Job 33:29; Psalms 94:12; Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 4:17). But this was—

5. Melancholy in its occasion—the total, absolute, and radical corruption of the earth's inhabitants. Through unbelief and disobedience they had ruined the moral nature which God had given them; and now there was no help for it but that they should be swept away.

6. Inevitable in its coming. Implied in one interpretation of the words "the end of all flesh" (vide Expos.). Sin ever carries its own retribution in its bosom; not merely, however, in recoiling upon itself with inward misery, sense of loss, weakness, depravation; but likewise in necessitating the infliction on the part of Elohim of positive retribution.

7. Near in its approach. "Behold, I am bringing I" as if it were already at hand. See here

III. THE COMMISSION AND ITS EXECUTION.

1. It related to the safety of the Church (verse 18). At that time the antediluvian Church was small, consisting only of Noah and his family (Genesis 7:1), and in all probability uninfluential and despised, by the Gibborim and Nephilim of the day ridiculed and oppressed. Endangered by the immorality and violence of the times, it was likewise imperiled by the impending Deluge. Yet God never leaves his people unprotected or unprovided for (Deuteronomy 33:12; Psalms 34:15; Psalms 46:5; Zechariah 2:5; 2 Peter 2:9). The Church of God and Christ is imperishable (Isaiah 54:17; Matthew 16:18; Matthew 18:14). That was symbolized to Israel by the burning bush (Exodus 3:2), and to all postdiluvian time by the ark. It was impossible that God could be unconcerned about the safety of the believing remnant in antediluvian times. The commission which came to Noah concerned the rescue of himself and children.

2. It was Divinely given (verses 13, 14). Salvation is of the Lord (Psalms 3:8; Jonah 2:9). Manifestly only God could have provided for the safety of Noah and his family. Directions from any other quarter, or even expedients devised by himself, must have proved both futile and presumptuous. So, whatever instructions may be given to man with a view to salvation must come from God, if they are to be successful. Schemes of redemption may be beautiful, ingenious, attractive, hopeful; if they are not God's schemes they are worthless (Isaiah 43:11; Hosea 13:4).

3. It was minutely detailed (verses 14-16). The plan which God proposed to Noah for the salvation of himself and house was building of an ark according to Divinely-prepared specifications. In its construction there was no room left for the exercise of inventive genius. Like the tabernacle in the wilderness, it was fashioned according to a God-given pattern. And so, in all that concerns the salvation of sinful men, from first to last the plan is God's, admitting neither of addition nor subtraction, correction nor improvement, at the hands of the men themselves.

4. It was believingly received (Hebrews 11:7). Perhaps the last device that would ever have suggested itself to the mind of Noah, very likely ridiculed by his contemporaries as an act of folly, probably at times regarded with considerable misgivings by the patriarch himself, and certainly an undertaking that would involve immense labor, patient endurance, heroic self-sacrifice, it was yet accepted in a spirit of meek and unquestioning faith. And so should it be with us. When God speaks we should hear. When he directs we should obey.

5. It was obediently carried through (verse 22). This was the best test of his faith. Where obedience is absent, faith is not present. Faith always discovers its existence by obedience (Hebrews 11:8). Learn—

Genesis 6:22

The obedience of Noah.

I. Pious in its PRINCIPLE.

II. PROMPT in its OPERATION.

III. LABORIOUS in its EXERCISE.

IV. UNIVERSAL in its EXTENT.

V. PERSEVERING in its COURSE.

VI. SUCCESSFUL in its END.

HOMILIES BY R.A. REDFORD

Genesis 6:9-22

Righteousness and peace.

The description of Noah is very similar to that of Enoch, just and perfect in his generation, that is, blameless in his walk before men, which is saying much of one who lived in a time of universal corruption. And he walked with God, i.e. devout and religious, and, from the analogy of the preceding use of the words, we may say, a prophet. He preached righteousness both with lip and life. To this good and great prophet the announcement is made of the coming judgment. "The secret Of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant." The earth is filled with violence through men, and therefore with man must be destroyed. With the message of judgment there is also the message of mercy, as at the first.

THE ARK, AN EMBLEM OF SALVATION BY GRACE, AS AFTERWARDS (cf. 1 Peter 3:19-22). The offer of salvation was a trial of faith. God did not himself provide the ark; it was made by the hands of men, of earthly materials, with ordinary earthly measurements and appointments, and prepared as for an ordinary occasion. There was nothing in the visible ark to stumble faith; but, as it was connected with a positive commandment and prophecy, it was a demand on the simple faith of the true child of God, which is of the nature of obedience. We cannot doubt that this Divine message to Noah was the Bible of that time. It appealed to faith as the word of God. And, as in all times, with the written or spoken word there was the unwritten law, the lex non scripta; for we are told that "Noah did according to all that God commanded him, so did he." In this primitive dispensation notice these things:—

1. The righteousness of God is the foundation.

2. The accordance of the world with God's heart, as at once commanding righteousness and hating violence, is the condition of its preservation.

3. The mercy of God is connected with his special revelations in and by the men who have found grace in his sight.

4. The provisions of redemption are embodied in an ark, which is the symbol of Divine ordinances and the associated life of believers.

5. The salvation of man is the real end and aim of all judgments.

6. With the redeemed human race there is a redeemed earth—creatures kept alive in the ark to commence, with the family of God, a new life.

7. While we must not push the symbology of the Flood too far, still it is impossible to overlook the figure which the Apostle Peter saw in the ark floating on the waters—the Church of Christ as washed by the Holy Ghost in those waters, which represent not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.—R.

HOMILIES BY J.F. MONTGOMERY

Genesis 6:14

The way of safety.

Prediction of deluge and way of escape were alike trials of faith; beyond reach of foresight; rejected or neglected by the world. Key to the typical meaning, 1 Peter 3:20, 1 Peter 3:21. Baptism the initial seal of the Christian covenant. Text therefore sets forth salvation through Christ.

I. "Make thee an ark." Why? BECAUSE SENTENCE OF DEATH RESTS UPON ALL MEN (Romans 5:12). As in the destruction of first-born (Exodus 11:5). No exceptions. Covenant people saved only by the blood; so here (cf. Job 9:30). Men, even now, are slow to believe this. Maxims of society contradict it. From childhood trained to live as if no danger, as if many things more important than salvation. And when preacher proclaims (Acts 2:40), men listen and approve and go on as before. Yet this is the first step towards salvation, the first work of the Holy Spirit—to convince careless (Matthew 16:26) and well-living people that they cannot save themselves. Until this is done Christ has no attractiveness (Isaiah 53:2). Who would shut himself up in the ark if no deluge coming? Who would trust it if another way would afford safety?

II. "Make thee an ark." IT IS GOD'S APPOINTED WAY OF SAFETY. "The Lord hath made known his salvation." As surely as the deluge is according to his word, so surely is the way of deliverance (Romans 5:20). But mark the way. Can you trust that which seems so frail? At the root of sin lies unbelief of God's truth. This caused the fall. God says, Will you trust me? One will say, I live a good life; is not that the main thing? (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:11). Another, I pray that God would love me, and be reconciled to me. Does he not love thee? (Titus 3:4). Is he not longing for thee? (Isaiah 1:18). And is not this unbelief of what God says? Thou needest indeed to pray that the Holy Spirit should open thine eyes to what God has done. But that thy prayer may be answered there must be the will to be taught (Psalms 85:8).

III. "Make thee an ark." THE TEST OF FAITH. There is a faith which does nothing, which merely- accepts a doctrine. Such was not that of Noah. His life's work was to act on what he believed. The object of our faith is Jesus Christ, the personal, living, loving Savior; not merely the doctrine that he died and rose again. "Make thee an ark" is more than knowledge that he is the Deliverer. It is taking refuge in him, and walking in his steps.—M.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Genesis 6:4". The Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/genesis-6.html. 1897.

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