Part E. The Great Flood (6:1—9:29)
E7. God’s covenant with Noah (9:1-17)
E8. Noah’s drunkenness (9:18-29)
† After the Flood, the world was renewed. Mankind too was renewed. God made an important covenant with man. All seemed well. Yet, in a short time, the sinful nature of man was revealed.
9:1 be fruitful and multiply: the original blessing in Gen 1:28 was renewed. There are 5 parts in the covenant. [Noahic Covenant Part 1: transmission of life]
9:2 fear and dread: emphasize the fear by animals of being hunted by man. This is a promise that wild animals were being restrained so that they do not combine together against man.
into your hand they are delivered: As commanded by God, we have dominion over all animals. Man can use them either for service or for food. [Noahic Covenant Part 2: dominion over animals]
9:3 every moving thing: God allowed man to start eating meat probably because man’s weakened body after the Flood required proteins from both animals and plants.
9:4 shall not eat flesh with its blood: Today, Jews are still careful in cleaning all traces of blood before eating the meat. [Noahic Covenant Part 3: sustenance of life]
o God’s prohibition against meat with blood could have the following reasons: [a] It is unhealthy because the blood can carry bacteria. [b] Blood is life (v.4); blood is a gift from God to man for his atonement (Lev 17:11). [c] Not eating blood is a symbol for the respect of life (1Sa 2:6; Ps 36:9).
9:5 from every beast: The beast that kills a man must be put to death.
require a reckoning: The second prohibition is against murder. Those who murder (including man and animals) will face the judgment of God.
9:6 shall his blood be shed: As shown above, blood is life; a murderer shall be killed as the result of the reckoning. The justice principle is that the punishment must fit the crime to the same degree (Ex 21:24-25). [Noahic Covenant Part 4: protection of life]
o Note that the command here was before the Mosaic Law and was a command to all mankind. Therefore, one cannot argue that capital punishment is prescribed only in the Jewish Law.
for God made man in his own image: This is not part of God’s command but an interpretation by the author. It is clear that man is different from all animals because he was made in the image of God.
9:7 teem on the earth: to increase the population; a continuous step from the prolife viewpoint; demonstrating that God is prolife.
Summary of God’s commands (v.1-7)
Man and animal
Dominion over animals (1:28)
Animals afraid of man (9:2)
Food for man
Plants and animals without blood (9:3-4)
Image of God
Man made in the image and likeness of God (1:26-27)
Man or beast who kills the image of God shall be killed (9:5-6)
9:8 This passage (v.8-17) contains what God promised to do.
o This covenant includes: [a] never again will a flood destroy Earth; [b] as long as the Earth remains, the seasons will come as expected; [c] a rainbow is a sign to show that God will keep His promises.
9:11 never again: twice for emphasis; no more such Flood to destroy man and animals. [Noahic Covenant Part 5: continuance of life]
9:13 my bow in the cloud: the rainbow; it is related to the “covering of clouds” (literal), that is, after the storm. It is a sign of God’s grace after His judgment. The beautiful rainbow is a sign that the storm is over. It reminds us that God’s grace is always with us despite storms in our lives.
9:15 remember: God’s promise, once given, will never be broken.
9:21 became drunk: drank too much wine, excessive enjoyment. Some believe that Noah did not know the effect of the wine; however, this was probably not the first time he drank wine.
9:22 told his two brothers: Ham dishonoured his father. The tent was a private place and Ham should not have entered without permission. Ham should not have looked at Noah’s nakedness. If it happened accidentally, that would not be a sin. After he knew what happened, he should cover his father. Even worse, he told his brothers, thus publicly dishonouring his father.
9:23 walked backward: a great contrast with what Ham did. They not only would not see the naked Noah themselves, but provided that no one else might see. This is a good example for people who come to know the shortcomings of others—not dwelling on others’ shortcomings and trying to expose them (although reproach or admonition in love may sometimes be needed). It is also a good illustration of the sin of gossiping.
9:24 youngest son:
Ham was probably the youngest son of the three; Gen 10:21 mentioned Shem as the
elder brother of Japheth implying that Japheth was the next son. If this is
true, then why are the 3 sons always in the order of “Shem, Ham, Japheth” (Gen
6:10; 7:13; 9:18; 10:1)? It is possible that the order was used because the
descendants of Shem and Ham had more contact in later chapters of Genesis. On
the other hand, some believe that Ham was the 2nd son. He was described as the
youngest only because of his loss of privilege and importance for the sin he committed
9:25 It is probable that this prophecy was not uttered till near the close of Noah’s life when the prophetic spirit came upon him. This presumption is strengthened by the mention of his death immediately after.
servant of servants: the lowliest servant, the meanest and most despicable servant. Some believe that this prophecy has been fulfilled in the slavery of the Africans, the descendants of Ham.
9:27 enlarge Japheth: Japheth’s name means expansion; expansion indicates God’s blessing (Gen 26:22; Job 12:23). The descendants of Japheth are the white races. Their expansion to the whole world throughout history truly fulfilled Noah’s blessing.
in the tents of Shem: Shem would be the host and
Japheth the guest. Some see the fulfilment of the prophecy in the colonialism
† Drunkenness is dangerous and can lead to tragedy (Pr 23:29-35; 31:4-5; Isa 5:22; Ro 13:13; Eph 5:18). Even godly people can sin and their bad influence affects their families.
† One distinctive characteristics of the Chinese culture is the special honour given to the parents (filial piety). It harmonizes with God’s command.