{8}           Gen 7:1-24  Coming of the Flood洪水來臨7:1-24


Part E. The Great Flood (6:1—9:29)

E3.       Entering the ark (7:1-10)

E4.       The coming of the Flood (7:11-24)

        After a long period of preparation of perhaps 50-120 years, the ark was finally completed. During the whole period when the extraordinary activity of building a huge wooden box was continuing, Noah preached the message of repentence to the whole world (Heb 11:7; 2Pe 2:5). But no one outside his family believed. The time for God’s world-changing action finally arrived.

o        Sibylline Oracles recorded that Noah was a stalwart preacher forewarning doom, but the people “sneered at him, each one, calling him demented, a man gone mad.” Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews envisioned him felt threatened for his life. Luther in his Lectures on Genesis imagined that “more than one miracle was necessary to prevent the ungodly from surrounding and killing him.”



7:1       for (Heb. ki; NIV: because): God explained why Noah’s family was saved; just like He explained in Gen 6:13 why He “determined to make an end of all flesh, for (Heb. ki) the earth is filled with violence.”

I have seen: Noah’s righteous behaviour was described in Gen 6:9; here is God’s recognition.

righteous before me: God’s judgment of Noah corresponds with the author’s description of Noah in Gen 6:9.

7:2       clean animals: These do not refer to the clean animals specified in Mosaic Law about food (Lev 11; Dt 14). No one used animals as food before the Flood. There were also no specifications about which animals were clean. Cleanliness, therefore, refers to fitness for sacrificial use. These animals were used in the burnt offerings after the Flood.

7 pairs: (literal: seven by seven; NIV: seven of every kind) additional details to the command in Gen 6:19-20; clean animals and birds were to be used as burnt offerings. Because the original Hebrew did not clearly specified 7 pairs, some commentators (such as Wesley and Jamieson) believe that it means 7 of each kind, 3 pairs (totalling 6) plus one (the 7th) reserved for the sacrifice after the Flood.

o        Jewish interpretation: “Seven by seven” is a detail not mentioned earlier in Genesis 6:19. Earlier, when the Torah uses God’s name Elohim, which denotes justice, only two animals are mentioned. Here, Yahweh, the name denoting mercy, is used for God’s name and extra animals are required for sacrifice. Accepting a sacrifice is an act of mercy.

7:3       7 pairs of the birds: It appears that all birds are grouped as clean animals. However, as indicated in Gen 8:20, birds are also separated into clean and unclean kinds.

7:4       7 days: They had 7 days to complete the work of moving the animals, birds, insects into the ark. God apparently intervened in some way to send the birds and animals to Noah. Of course, this also meant 7 more days for the people to repent.

I will send rain: The Hebrew uses a participal form indicating an action virtually on the point of beginning.

7:5       the Lord: God was called “the Lord” (Heb. Yahweh) in Gen 7:1-5 when God was the main character. When the focus shifted to man starting from Gen 7:6, God was called “God” (Heb. Elohim).

Noah did all: again describing Noah’s perfect obedience to God’s commands (again in v.9).

7:6       600 years old: 100 years after Noah got his children (Gen 5:32).

flood: The word “Flood” (Heb. mabbul) is a technical term for Noah’s Flood, occurring only in Gen 6—9 and Ps 29:10, different from the normal Hebrew word for flood.

o        Some say that the word mabbul comes from the root naval, denoting death. Others maintain that it comes from the roots balah (to wear out, grind down), balbal (to confuse, mix up), or yaval (to transport). It is also related to the root balal, to mix or stir.

7:7       went into the ark: v.1 was the command that they needed to go into the ark bringing the animals; v.7-9 describe the actual entry into the ark.

to escape the waters: Hebrew is “because of” or “in the face of” the waters.

7:8       everything that creeps on the ground: all crawlers are considered ritually unclean.

7:9       two and two: (literal: two by two) the orderly entrance clearly indicated divine interference. The number of species to be contained in the ark varies greatly in different estimates: from 300 to 50,000.

7:10     after 7 days: The Flood came precisely on the day that God spoke about in v.4.

o        According to Jewish midrash, the 7-day interval was a period of mourning for the death of Methuselah. It is also explained as a period for God’s own grief for the world.

One puzzling question is the duplication of information in this chapter. The entry of Noah’s family is described in v.7 and again in v.13. The entry of the animals is described in v.8-9 and again in v.14-16. One explanation is that the repetitions are structural overlays which help to highlight the information. Another explanation is that v.1-10 focuses on Noah’s entry while v.11-16 focuses on the animals’ entry.

7:11     2nd month 17th day: (Day 1) October or November in the Hebrew calendar, the beginning of the rainy season in the Middle East.

o        In Jewish tradition, there are two ways to decide the beginning of the year. In the Talmud, there is a dispute as to whether the months are counted from the month of Tishrei, or from Nissan. Most Jews support the first way and calculate the date to be October 27, 2106 BC.

Jewish calendar has lunar months (like the Chinese) of 29-30 days. [Length of months in order: 30,29,30, 29,30,29, 30,29-30,29-30, 29,30,29; plus a leap month=30] A year of 12 months will have 354 days. 7 leap months (adding just between 11th and 12th months) are added every 19 years. [Leap years: 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, 19th]. A leap year of 13 months will have 384 days.

fountains of the great deep: bursting of springs and fountains from below.

windows of the heavens: torrential rainfall from above. Continuous flow of water from above and from below likely caused a complete transformation of the landscape.

7:12     40 days and 40 nights: continuous rain day and night; corresponding to the escalating Flood described in v.17.

7:13     on the very same day: They completed the 7-day work and entered the ark.

The list puts males before females, a reflection of the male dominant society of the author Moses.

Even though polygamy was practised after Lamech (Gen 4:19) or maybe even earlier, Noah’s family still practised monogamy which was what God planned.

While Noah’s family prepared for the Flood, the rest of mankind were still carrying on with the normal affairs of their lives— “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (Mt 24:37-39). They were indifferent to the gathering clouds above.



7:16     the Lord shut him in: a contrast to the expulsion of Adam; literally, “covered him round about,” indicating God’s care and protection of Noah as the representative of his family. The shut door produced 2 results: [a] God secured the ark from the raging Flood water; [b] God secured the ark from intruders who wished to escape the Flood.

7:17     the Flood continued 40 days: the Hebrew for “continued” is the word “multiplied” used in Gen 1:28; there, it was the proliferation of life; here, it is the proliferation of destruction. The Flood caused by the springs and rainfall continued to increase for 40 days. After it reached the maximum depth, the Flood water stayed for another 110 days (v.24).

o        Besides the number “7”, “40” is an important number marking events in Israel. Both Isaac and Esau were 40 years of age when they married (Gen 25:20; 26:34). Moses remained on the mountain 40 days and nights to receive the Law (Ex 24:18; 34:28; Dt 9:11,18-25). Moses’ life was divided into periods of 40 years (Ac 7:23,30,36). Israel’s spies were in Canaan for 40 days. Upon their disobedience, God sentenced the Israelites to 40 years in the wilderness. Also the 40 days have been explained as a period of atonement. The importance of the number extended to the NT.

7:18     prevailed (literal: became strong): repeated 4 times (v.18,19,20,24). The word was used to describe victory against the enemy in battles (Ex 17:11); here it refers to the irresistibility of the Flood waters.

floated: The ark as a box could not be navigated by man but the floating was under God’s control.

7:19     so mightily (Heb. meod meod, literal: “greatly greatly” or “very very much”): doubling of the word “greatly” in v.18; emphasizing the escalating waters.

7:20     15 cubits deep: 7 metres above the top of the mountains.

7:21     all (3 times)…everything: These words correspond to “all” and “every” in Gen 6:5 which describe the universality and pervasiveness of human wickedness. This linkage shows the causal relationship between sin of man and the consequential Flood.

7:22     the breath of life: (Hebrew mishmat ruah hayim) literally, “the breath of the breath of life” with the doubling terms used probably as an intensifier, underlining the physical exhalation of breath from the nostrils that is the sign of life.

o        Jewish translation: “Everything on dry land whose life was sustained by breathing died.”

7:23     v.21-23 are 3-time repetitions of the death of all man and animals: v.21 emphasizes “all flesh”; v.22 emphasizes “breath of life”; v.23 emphasizes “He blotted out”. The idea is: All living things, created by God with the breath of life, were destroyed by God.

o        In Hebrew, the words “all” or “every” occur 8 times in v.19-23. Even if the meaning of the passage is hyperbolic, all that Noah and his generation knew were swallowed up by the Flood. No other human being survived.

blotted out: obliterated, fulfilling God’s plan announced in Gen 6:7.

only Noah was left: It points to the righteous remnant. “Remnant” is derived from the verb “remain, left over”. Theologically, the idea of remnant depicts the future hope of God’s people as a holy, regathered people (Isa 4:3; 10:20-23; Jer 23:3; Ro 9:27-28).

The passage (v.21-23) sounds like an elegy (funeral song) mourning the complete destruction of life.

7:24     150 days: The period included the 40-day rain.



        God waited a long long time for man’s repentence but eventually the Flood came. Today, God gave numerous opportunities for each one to repent and accept salvation. But there comes a time when the door of grace will be closed, either by the individual’s death or by the second coming of Christ. It is important to grab the opportunity now, both for the non-believers (to accept salvation) and for the believers (to spread the gospel).

        In the days of Noah, the end of human race came when there was no outward indication of it. (Mt 24:37-39) The Second Coming of Christ will be the same. That is why we are commanded to be watchful. Today, we are possibly very near to the Second Coming and just like the days of Noah, it will happen at an unlike time.

        Many have wondered how Noah and his sons could round up all the animals and birds. The job was impossible for man and only God could achieve the results. Noah’s job was to build the ark and God took care of all other details. Often we do just the opposite of Noah. We worry about details over which we have no control, while neglecting specific areas (such as attitudes, relationships, responsibilities) that are under our control. Like Noah, concentrate on what God has given you to do, and leave the rest to God.


{9}           Gen 8:1-22  End of the Flood洪水結束8:1-22


Part E. The Great Flood (6:1—9:29)

E5.       The receding of the Flood (8:1-14)

E6.       Leaving the ark (8:15-22)

        The elegy in Gen 7:21-23 describes the horrific scene of the Flood on Earth wiping out all living creatures reminds us about the equally horrific scene at end times when an angel proclaims in a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth.” (Rev 8:13) Here, nothing can be seen except the boundless flood water which seems to symbolize the overflowing wrath of God’s judgment; yet, above this floats a gigantic box where the hope of all mankind lies.



8:1       God remembered: This simple phrase completely reverses the flow of the previous narrative, as if a spark of light suddenly appears amidst the darkest night. Remembering does not mean that God had forgotten but suddenly remembered. It means that God was concerned. When God remembers, God acts and blesses (Gen 19:29; 30:22; Ex 2:24; 6:5).

o        Jewish translation: God gave special thought to Noah.

all the beasts: Noah was the one God remembered and he brought blessing to those near him.

wind: same word as “Spirit” in Gen 1:2; the Spirit created the original Earth and here the wind renewed the Earth.


8:3       abated: diminished, can be translated “began to evaporate.”

8:4       7th month 17th day: (about 150th day after the beginning of the 40-day rain, Jewish calculation: May 23) The Flood subsided enough to let the ark stop on Ararat Mountains, before the mountain tops were seen. According to some calculations, the ark drew about 11 cubits of water (about one-third of the ark was below the water level).

mountains: The word is plural, meaning that the ark stopped in the mountain region, not necessary the peak of today’s Mount Ararat (in northeastern Turkey near the border of Armenia). It is a scenic volcanic cone dominating the skyline of the Armenian capital Yerevan. The entire Ararat range extends towards north and east of the peak all the way down to the foothills north of the Mesopotamia plain, with a total area of 250,000 square km.

o        The dove that Noah released came back with a leaf from an olive tree (v.11). As olive trees do not grow at high altitudes, the ark must have stopped at a place not far from an area of low elevation.

o        Josephus believes that Ararat is a mountain in Armenia. He also writes that the Armenians called that place Apobaterion, ‘the place of descent.’ He notes that Berosus the Chaldean (330-250 BC) mentions that parts of this ship still exist in the Cordyne Mountains in Armenia, and that people carry off pieces for good luck. It is significant to note that Mt. Ararat is very close to the Murat River, which is one of the headwaters of the Euphrates. This may indicate that Noah had not been carried very far from where he started out.

Question: Can we find the Noah’s ark?

Answer: There have been many expeditions searching for Noah’s ark in areas around Mount Ararat. Two sites have been picked as possible remains of the ark: Ararat anomaly and Durupinar site. There is no definitive confirmation that either one is the ark.

o        [1] Ararat anomaly: It is an interesting feature located on the northwest corner of the Western Plateau of Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey, 2.2 km west of the summit, at the edge of a steep downward slope. It is a ship-shaped feature, including what resembles a ship’s superstructure in the right spot. It measured at 309 meters (1,015 feet) long, as large as today’s largest aircraft carriers. It has been photographed since 1949 and even as late as 2000. The anomaly has yet to be explored. An expedition in July 2004 led by businessman Daniel McGivern was called off when permission was refused by the Turkish authorities since the area is within a restricted military zone. The US Defence Intelligence Agency has analysed satellite photos and reported the anomaly as “linear façades in the glacial ice underlying more recently accumulated ice and snow.”

o        [2] Durupinar site: It is a large boat-shaped structure in the Tenderuk mountains of eastern Turkey. The site is 11 km south of the Greater Mount Ararat summit. The striking size of the rock structure  and its even more striking symmetry have strong resemblance to the hull of a gigantic ship. It measured at 254 metres, close to the 300 cubits of the Bible if the long cubit of 22 inches is used. The feature was first reported in 1948. Archaeologist and explorer Ron Wyatt led a team exploring it in 1985 but could not reach any definitive proof one way or another.

o        [3] No ark left: There is a more likely probability that we would never recover the ark. The possible final location of the ark could be anywhere in the Ararat mountain range covering 250,000 square km. More importantly, the gigantic ark made of gopher wood would have provided an important source of valuable construction materials after the Flood. The ark was probably pulled apart shortly after the Flood. On top of this, all of the ancient Mesopotamian cities were burned to the ground more than once. It is therefore unlikely that archaeologists can found wood positively identified as part of the ark.

8:5       10th month 1st day: (about 220th day, Jewish calculation: July 5) Tops of mountains could be seen.

8:6       at the end of the 40 days: (about 260th day, Jewish calculation: August 14)

window of the ark: located at the top of the ark (perhaps facing the sky), symbolizing communication with and reliance on God; probably not easy to reach and could not be used to see the condition of the land around the ark so that Noah needed to use the birds to test the condition of the land.

8:7       raven: The raven is a stronger bird than the dove and can fly for a more extensive period. Ravens can also consume decomposed meat, perhaps from the floating carcasses. Apparently, the raven did not return to the ark. It is also possible that the raven stopped on the roof of the ark to rest but did not go back inside.

o        The raven symbolizes an unclean bird, unfit for sacrifices. It is also unfit for consumption (Lev 11:15; Dt 14:14). According to rabbinic tradition, the raven was released first as expendable.

8:8       sent forth a dove: The dove needs plants as food and would return if the land was not totally dry. Noah sent out a dove 3 different times, in 7 day intervals.

o        The dove conveys the opposite meaning to the raven. It was commonly found in the sacrificial legislation for rites of purification (Lev 12:6,8) and was appropriate for burnt offering and sin offering among the poor (Lev 1:14; 5:7; 14:22). The dove was noted for the beauty of its eyes (SS 1:15) and remembered for its wings of flight, perching peacefully among the cliffs (Ps 55:6; Jer 48:28).

It is possible that the raven was sent out 7 days before the dove was sent out. If this is the case, this is the 267th day of the Flood.


8:10     another seven days: possibly the 274th day.

8:11     olive leaf: The olive branch as well as the dove are commonly used today as emblems of peace. Olive trees do not grow in high areas. In the time of Moses, olive was connected with the tabernacle where olive oil fuelled the menorah in the tabernacle (Ex 27:20; Lev 24:2-4); it was added to the mixture of perfumed oil for anointing tabernacle and furnishings (Ex 30:24-29). It was obviously something that pleased God.

8:12     another seven days: possibly the 281st day.

the dove did not return: The dove lives in low-lying areas. Its not returning indicated that even low areas were not covered with water.

8:13     1st month 1st day: (about 310th day, Jewish calculation: September 2, Hebrew New Year) the ground was no longer covered with water but was still wet. The date symbolizes the beginning of the new creation.

removed the covering: canopy for window was removed so that Noah could get to the top of the ark and observed; some believe that part of the roof was removed.

8:14     2nd month 27th day: (about 365th day) The ground dried out, and Noah left the ark. Jewish calculation puts this day on October 27, exactly one solar year (not the Jewish calendar year) after the Flood had begun.

o        Many commentaries describe the period of the Flood as 1 year plus 11 days (inclusive) or 376 days because it started on the 17th day of the 2nd month and ended on the 27th day of the 2nd month one year later. The calculation is based on the presumption that one calendar year is 365 days. However, the lunar Hebrew calendar has only 354 days in a year. Therefore the total is 365 days, not 376 days.

8:15     Then God said to Noah: God’s command came almost 2 months after Noah saw that the land was dry. His perfect obedience was again demonstrated by his patience during the long waiting period.


8:17     be fruitful and multiply: same command as Gen 1:28, for the renewed world.


8:19     went out by families: importance of families to start anew. The word “families” is the Hebrew word meaning “kind” (mispaha) but is different from “according to its kind” (Heb. min) when they entered the ark. It is used typically for human “families”. The use of this word possibly implies that new animals were born in the ark.

8:20     built an altar: first altar in the Bible. This was the first action after leaving the ark, indicating that Noah remembered God, just as God remembered Noah (Gen 7:1).

every clean animal and every clean bird: Sacrificial animals were selected from every (meaning all) type of clean animals and clean birds.

burnt offerings: literally, offerings that ascend, since the entire offering ascends when it is burned. In the time of Moses, the burnt offering was a blood offering with 2 meanings: [a] as a voluntary offering for sin (Lev 1:4; 5:10; 9:7) and also [b] as an act of thanksgiving in worship. Perhaps Noah’s sacrifice also had a double meaning: an offering of thanksgiving for God’s salvation and guidance during the Flood, and an appeasement in behalf of all postdiluvian humanity.

8:21     smelled the pleasing aroma: The Hebrew word for aroma (nihoah) sounds like Noah, meaning relief and comfort. Others translate it as “pleasant fragrance” or “scent of satisfaction”. Obviously, God was pleased with the sacrifice as well as with the worshipper. God felt comfortable accepting the burnt offerings from Noah. Noah provided relief to God because the world would begin anew and God’s plan of salvation was still on track.

o        The aroma from the slaughtering and burning of animals is not humanly pleasing, as those who have experience observing around a real altar can tell you. But for God, the aroma points not to the objective smell around the altar but to the subjective worshipping and thanksgiving spirit of the offerers.

the Lord said in his heart: an oath to Himself. Isa 54:9: “this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.” God made two related vows by using the phrase “never again” in each vow.

never again cursed the ground: [a] first decision of God: no additional curse besides the one already handed out in Gen 3:17. There is no alleviation of the curse brought on by Adam’s sin but God would desist from imposing any further affliction on the already-burdened ground.

neither will I ever strike down: [b] second decision of God: He will never use the Flood to destroy mankind (Gen 9:11). This does not preclude God’s destruction of the world by fire at the end of time.

o        The word here for “strike down” (Heb. naka) is different from the word “destroy” before the Flood (Gen 6:7, maha; Gen 6:13,17, sahat).

for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth: The destruction of mankind by the Flood could not change the sinful tendency of man. Despite this, God decided not to again curse the ground.

o        There are 2 possible interpretations of this clause: [a] The reason God will not mount curse upon curse is the human disposition toward transgression. It might be taken that God admitted regretably that man’s condition is irreversible. [b] The better reading is that the clause is a concession “even though” or explanatory “for”, meaning that despite warrant for another judgment God will exercise clemency.

8:22     while the earth remains: until the day when time shall be no more, when the Earth will be burnt up (2Pe 3:5-7,10). The Earth will be blessed with the regularity of predictable environmental patterns. The condition established here inferred that the present Earth will someday cease.

shall not cease: God in recreating the Earth reestablished its order and its permanency. Nature will not act capriciously but will be timely and predictable, giving security to the world and its inhabitants. The permanent order includes: [a] farming, man’s work (seedtime and harvest), [b] temperature (cold and heat), [c] seasons (summer and winter), [d] time (day and night).



        Noah’s first action out of the ark was to build an altar to thank God for His mercy and blessing. What is our first action after we received a blessing?

        Countless times throughout the Bible we see God showing His love and patience toward man in order to save them. Although their hearts are evil, God continues to try to reach them. Today, the world is rebelling against God. Atheists and secularists want to expel God out of our society, out of our world. Yet God is still patient because He has promised never again to destroy everything on Earth until the Judgment Day.

        Noah is a model for us. He distinguished himself from the surrounding corrupt world, not following sinful culture and sinful customs. He obeyed all commands of God to the letter (building the ark, storing the food, leading his family and the animals into the ark, waiting for God’s command to leave the ark).


{10}     Gen 9:1-29  After the Flood洪水之後9:1-29


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. Now, only the family of the righteous Noah was left. Furthermore, God made an important covenant with man. All seemed well. Yet, in a short time, the sinful nature of man was revealed, just as what God declared: “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” (Gen 8:21)



9:1       be fruitful and multiply: the original blessing in Gen 1:28 was renewed. This passage describes the details of God’s covenant which was anticipated in Gen 6:18. There are 5 parts in the covenant. [Noahic Covenant Part 1: transmission of life]

o        Children are the universal evidence of God’s creation blessing.

fill the earth: occupy the whole Earth, not just one part.

9:2       fear and dread: 2 words to emphasize the fear by animals toward man, the fear of being hunted by man. It is used to describe the soldier’s fear against the enemy during a battle (Dt 11:25). This fear is beneficial in 2 ways: [a] Wild animals were being restrained so that they do not combine together to rise up in rebellion against man. Calvin describes this as “a secret bridle to restrain their violence.” [b] Because of this fear, animals would escape from man and therefore will not be completely annihilated as man began to hunt them as food.

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: [a] man’s weakened body after the Flood required proteins from both animals and plants, [b] the cursed ground could not produce sufficient food (although the productivity of the ground increased with human ingenuity).

9:4       shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood: In Eden, God prohibited the eating of the fruit from the tree of knowledge; here, God prohibited the eating of animals with their blood. This first one of 2 prohibitions was introduced by a strong adversative “but” (Heb. ’ak). In Mosaic Law, the prohibition extended to the eating of blood (Lev 3:17; Dt 12:15-16). Today, Jews are still careful in cleaning all traces of blood before eating the meat. [Noahic Covenant Part 3: sustenance of life]

o        God did not prohibit the eating of meat and it is possible that man ate meat before this point in time. In any case, the permission to eat meat was formally given here.

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), representative of the life force; 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 which is under the sovereignty of God (1Sa 2:6; Ps 36:9).

Question: Can Christians eat rare steak (which contains not fully cooked blood)? What about consuming cooked animal blood?


[a]   Literally, the phrase is “flesh whose blood is in its soul” or “flesh with its life breath, its blood.” According to Jewish interpretation, as long as an animal is alive, its blood is seen as being attached to its soul (Dt 12:23). That is why some interpret this verse as only prohibiting the consumption of flesh from a living animal. If this is true, then there is no prohibition eating a rare steak or cooked blood. However, such an interpretation describes a situation which almost never occurs.

[b]   The objectives of the prohibition is because of sanitary reason (blood containing bacteria) and attitudinal reason (respect for life). According to this interpretation, if we are satisfied that the meat is clean and we have a proper respect for life, then consuming a rare steak is permissible.

[c]   The prohibition possibly refers to uncooked blood because all beef (as well as other red meats) contains some blood. According to this interpretation, consuming food with fully cooked blood such as a welldone steak is permissible. Otherwise, all red meats will be prohibited. [Even OT Jews consumed beef.]

[d]   If the consumption of a rare steak (or any other food) violates our conscience, then it should be avoided (Ro 14:23).

9:5       for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: Some Jews believe that this is a commandment against suicide. The verse is again introduced by the strong word “but” or “surely” (Heb. ’ak).

from every beast: The beast that kills a man must be put to death. This was confirmed by the law of Moses (Ex 21:28).

require a reckoning: The second prohibition is against murder. Those who murder (including man and animals) will face the judgment of God.

o        The word “reckoning” or literally “accounting” (Heb. daras) is repeated 3 times in this verse. It indicates an exacting or calculation and is found in the sense of vengeance.

from his fellow man: Hebrew for “brother”, reminding about the murder of Abel by his brother. It also implies that all human beings are to some degree brothers and sisters.


ESV: From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.

NIV: And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.

Literal: At the hand of man’s brother will I seek out the life breath of the man.


o        The reckoning is before God and before man.

o        The two prohibitions are similar in the respect for life.

9:6       sheds the blood of man: emphatic play on blood (Heb. dam) and man (Heb. adam). “Shedding blood” is used of premeditated murder (Gen 37:22; 1Ki 2:31; Eze 22:4).

by man: Man in the form of human institutions is God’s instrument of retribution against the criminal. NT interpreted capital punishment as a necessary function of society, where the state is defined as the divinely-designated “servant” that administers retribution (Ro 13:1-5; 1Pe 2:13-14). In our contemporary justice system, the prosecutor represents the people of the State.

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.

o        The long-standing principle of jurisprudence, known as lex talionis (Latin meaning “an eye for an eye”), insures that the punishment is equivalent with the weight of the crime.

for God made man in his own image: This is not part of God’s command but an interpretation by the author [because God will not call Himself “God”]. It is clear that man is different from all animals because he was made in the image of God. Animals can be killed for food (v.2) but the murder of a man deserves death.

o        The statement explains why murder (killing one made in God’s image) deserves the ultimate punishment. Murder is an offense against God. To take human life unlawfully is to usurp God’s sovereignty over life and death.

o        The statement also implies that the Fall of man had injured but did not wipe out the image of God. Today, man is still in God’s image.

9:7       teem on the earth: to increase the population (not wealth); a continuous step from the prolife viewpoint; demonstrating that God is prolife.

Summary of God’s commands (v.1-7)


Creation (1:26-30)

Renewal (9:2-6)

Man and animal

Dominion over animals (1:28)

Animals afraid of man (9:2)

Food for man

Plants (1:29-30)

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. The previous passage v.1-7 contains the commands of God so some commentators take only this part as the covenant. [However, the exposition here takes v.1-17 as the entire covenant.] There are 2 other covenants in Genesis (Gen 12:1-3; 15:17-20). The other two were for Abraham concerning God’s chosen people while this one is for the whole world.

o        In the OT, there were 2 kinds of covenants between God and man: [a] Royal Grant Covenant without conditions: this is in fact a promise by God (also called promissory covenant); God alone is under compulsion by oath to uphold this promise to the favoured party; this present covenant called Noahic Covenant and the first and the second Abrahamic Covenant belong to this kind; [b] Suzerain-Vassal (dependant) Covenant with conditions: the covenant will only be fulfilled if the vassal completes some conditions, such as loyalty and obedience (Ex 19:5-8; 24:3; 34:10-28); the Mosaic Covenant belongs to this kind.

o        In addition to these two, there was a third kind between men of equals, called parity covenant (Gen 21:27).

o        This present covenant includes: [a] never again will a flood do such destruction; [b] as long as the Earth remains, the seasons will always come as expected; [c] a rainbow will be a visible sign to show that God will keep His promises.

9:9       I establish my covenant: The terms “establish” (Heb. qum) and “covenant” (Heb. berit) occur 3 times and 7 times respectively in this passage.

o        The 3 words “establish” are in different tenses: “I now establish” in v.9 is in imminent future tense; “I establish” in v.11 is in present tense; “I have established” in v.17 is in present perfect tense. They indicate that God initiates, sustains, and completes the covenant.

you and your offspring: God promised to not destroy the world by flood again. This promise is directed to all mankind as represented by Noah and his descendants (v.9), every living creature (v.10), Noah (v.11), Noah and every living creature (v.12), all future generations (v.12), the Earth (v.13), Noah and every living creature of all flesh (v.15), every living creature and all flesh that is on the Earth (v.16), all flesh that is on the Earth (v.17). God’s protection is a universal one.


9:11     never again: twice for emphasis; no more such Flood to destroy man and animals. [Noahic Covenant Part 5: continuance of life]

9:12     for all future generations: the eternal nature of the covenant; referring to all peoples of every era.

9:13     sign of the covenant: This is the first covenant sign in the Bible. The other two covenant signs are circumcision (Gen 17:11) which signifies that Abraham was chosen by God, and the Sabbath Day (Ex 31:16-17) which signifies God’s creation of the universe.

o        The sign guarantees the parties of the covenant of its perpetual validity.

my bow in the cloud: the rainbow; it is related to the “covering of clouds” (literal), that is, after the storm; here it is a sign of God’s grace after His judgment. The incomparably 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. It should stir in us both awe and thanksgiving.

o        Delitzch describes: “Stretched between heaven and earth, it is a bond of peace between both, and spanning the horizon, it points to the all-embracing universality of the Divine mercy.”

o        The word “cloud(s)” is associated with the bow 3 times as the brightly coloured rainbow appears to dispel the darkness of the storm clouds.

the earth: God’s promise that God will not destroy the Earth with the flood (v.11).


9:15     remember: God’s promise, once given, will never be broken. Although the sign was primarily for God, it was also reassurances to man.

9:16     everlasting covenant: like v.15, emphasizing its permanent nature.

9:17     said to Noah: In v.16, the appearance of the rainbow is directed to God. Here, the rainbow is for man to see and to remember God’s promise.

9:18     Similarities between Adam and Noah: [a] both were farmers, [b] both were in an incident involving the consumption of some fruits, [c] both sins ended with curses, [d] both were covered up after the sin, [e] both had 2 good sons and 1 bad son, [f] the bad son committed a more serious sin than his father (Adam’s disobedience vs Cain’s murder, Noah’s drunkenness vs Ham’s disrespect).

father of Canaan: Canaan’s name is mentioned here because Noah’s curse was later directed to him.

9:19     from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed: Noah’s 3 sons were the origin of all the people on the whole Earth.

9:20     man of the soil: farmer, perhaps a reminder that Noah was also a corruptible man made from the dust.

vineyard: alternate reading: the first to plant a vineyard.

9:21     became drunk: drank too much wine, excessive enjoyment of a product of his own work. Some commentators believe that Noah did not know the effect of the wine; however, this was probably not the first time he drank wine.

lay uncovered: In the Bible, being naked usually has a negative connotation (Ex 20:26; 2Sa 6:16), and nakedness is often the result of drunkenness (Lam 4:21; Hab 2:15). Noah possibly stripped himself and passed out in the tent naked.

9:22     told his two brothers: Ham’s action 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 and involuntarily, that would not be a sin. After he knew what happened, he bore the responsibility of covering his father. Even worse, he told his brothers, probably delighting at his father’s disgraceful condition, thus publicly dishonouring and insulting his father.

o        In Mosaic Law, insulting one’s parents was a serious offense that warranted death penalty (Ex 21:15,17; Dt 21:18-21).

9:23     garment: a long coat (covering the shoulders of both sons) that could be used as a blanket (Ex 22:26). It was used not only to cover Noah’s nakedness but also to protect him from the weather.

laid it on both their shoulders: to blind their peripheral vision.

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)? In Hebrew custom, the order may not reflect the age, e.g. Isaac was named before Ishmael (Gen 25:9). Sometimes, the order reflects the importance of the persons. Here, 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 (see Edom’s humiliation in Jer 49:15; Oba 1:2).

9:25     These are the first words of Noah recorded in the Bible.

It is probable that there is a long interval between v.24 and v.25 and that this prophecy, like that of Jacob on his sons, 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.

Canaan: name meaning humiliated, an appropriate description for a lowly servant.

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.

his brothers: can also refer to relatives (Gen 16:12; 27:29).

9:26     the God of Shem: a blessing for Shem’s descendants (similar to Ex 3:15). The prophecy would be fulfilled in Abraham who would be chosen to carry God’s blessing to the whole world.

let Canaan be his servant: The prophecy was fulfilled in the time of Joshua (Jos 9:23), the judges (Jdg 1:28), David and Solomon (1Ki 5:13-18; 9:21).

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.

dwell in the tents of Shem: indicating that Shem and Japheth (and their descendants) had better relationships than with Ham (and his descendants), and that Shem would be the host and Japheth the guest. Some see the fulfilment of the prophecy in European imperialism and the colonialization of India and southeast Asia.

let Canaan be his servant: The prophecy was fulfilled in the Greek era.

9:28     These 2 verses are the continuing of the Sethite genealogy in Gen 5:1-29.

9:29     950 years: Noah had the third longest life recorded, behind Enoch’s son Methuselah (969) (Gen 5:27) and Enoch’s father Jered (962) (Gen 5:20).



        As Ham’s sinful action led to Canaan’s curse, our sins can affect our descendants.

        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.