{15}   Gen 6:1-22  Corruption of Man


Part E. The Great Flood (6:1—9:29)

E1.       Corruption and violence (6:1-12)

E2.       Building the ark (6:13-22)

        Gen 6:5 describes that “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Human society had decayed beyond recovery. Time had come for God to start anew with one family.


6:1       began to multiply: Because of the extremely long life span, the projected population before the Flood could have reached billions.

Gen 6:1-4 is the most difficult passage in Genesis. The difficulties: [a] the identity of “sons of God” and “daughters of men”, [b] the meaning of God’s judgment, and [c] the identity of Nephilim.

6:2       the sons of God: meaning unknown, likely referring to the human rulers (aristocrats) or judges.

any they chose: implying multiple wives.

6:3       he is flesh: Some translate it as “mortal” (NIV) referring to man’s propensity to die, but it probably refers to the corrupt side of human beings which explains God’s punishment.

abide: There are 3 possible meanings: [a] meaning stay or live inside; then the sentence means that God’s breath of life would not stay with man forever. By the removal of his life-giving spirit, man’s life will be shorter. [b] meaning God’s struggle with man when the word is translated “contend with” (NIV); implying what happened in v.1-2 was displeasing to God and He would no longer allow the struggle to continue. [c] “contend” may mean judge or rule; then the sentence means that God will no longer deal with or plead on behalf of man.

120 years: 2 possible meanings: [a] a declaration that future human life span will be limited to 120 years. [b] a prophecy that there would be 120 years before the Flood, giving them time to repent.

6:4       Nephilim: sometimes translated “giants” or “titans”. These were probably men with big stature and likely of reckless ferocity; they were perhaps strong warriors. Scholars generally agree that these were wicked people who oppressed other people, and spread devastation and carnage.

mighty men (Heb. gibborim, NIV: heroes): warrior class, men of ignoble reputation for their violence and cruel tyranny.

men of renown: “Renown” is not equivalent to respect. It can simply mean good in combat. This term may refer to the same people as “mighty men of old” in this verse.

6:6       the Lord was sorry: (NIV: “grieved”; literal: “sighed”) sad for witnessing human sin, even though God knew beforehand that this would happen.

grieved (Heb. naham) him to his heart: “being sorry” was directed specifically to an event (his creation of man who became sinful) and “grieved” was an emotional response describing the overall state of the heart. The grief was possibly also for the tragic end of the human race.

6:7       blot out: including the meaning of cleaning thoroughly with water (the Flood).

6:9       blameless: (KJV: perfect) It does not mean that he was sinless, but only [a] perfect faith (with singleness of heart) in God, [b] wholeheartedly love God, and [c] sincerely obey God’s will; “blameless” in attitude toward God, “righteous” in conduct toward man (both faith and practice).

6:13     I have determined to make an end of all flesh: (literal: “the end of all flesh has come before My face”) In ancient times, new laws and legislation would come before the king for his final approval. “Come before My face” means that God now gave His final approval after which was the action. God was acting in moral outrage against sin, neither impulsively nor selfishly.

6:14     ark: literally, a box (Ex 2:3-5). A rectangular box could not be navigated and only God could guide the box; similar to the basket carrying Moses. In both cases, the salvation was from drowning. The ark is also symbolic of the salvation of Christ from death.

gopher wood: the word is a transliteration from Hebrew; unknown kind of tree. Some interpret it as cypress tree which is durable and is abounding in the Armenian mountains.

inside and out with pitch: (Heb. koper) waterproof material, possibly some petroleum product like asphalt or tar. It covered the outside, to shed off the rain, and to prevent the water from soaking in; it also covered the inside, to take away the ill smell of the beasts.

6:15     Dimension of the ark: 300 cubits (about 150 metres) by 50 cubits (about 25 metres) by 30 cubits (about 15 metres); 6 times longer than it was wide—the same ratio in modern shipbuilding.

o        A cubit is approximately the length from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow, or about 17 to 22 inches (43 to 56 centimeters). Jews use 3 different units of cubit: the “common” cubit 18 inches, the “royal” cubit 20 inches, the “long” cubit 22 inches. Most scholars believe that a cubit is 20 inches or 50 cm. However, most modern-day calculations use the common cubit of 18 inches or half a yard.

6:16     a roof…to a cubit above: literally, “skylight”… “finish it to a cubit on top”. The skylight symbolizes direct communication with God. Some take it to mean “window”.

There are different interpretations for the location and shape of the skylight:

o        [a] one window in the middle of the ark, facing to the sky, built like a box 1 cubit (18-22 inches, 46-56 cm) above the rest of the roof; or perhaps forming a gentle slope allowing the water to run off.

o        [b] one translation from Hebrew: “a skylight in the ark, within a cubit of the top”: one window facing sideways constructed near the roof.

o        [c] a series of windows 1 cubit high running around its circumference at the top; they would allow fresh air, light, and perhaps rainwater when needed, and could be used for letting out stale air and wastes.

6:17     all flesh under heaven: specified as “everything on the dry land” in Gen 7:22.

everything that is on the earth: Literal reading would mean a worldwide Flood. However, it can also be a hyperbolic or a phenomenological description based on Noah’s limited viewpoint. “Earth” can be rightly rendered “land”, thus allowing a regional Flood. This kind of language is found in Gen 41:54-57.

6:18     covenant: (Heb. berith) meaning promise, pledge, agreement, assurance. It is the original word for “testament” in Old Testament and New Testament. It is a word of security for Noah.

you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives: 8 people in the family (Heb 11:7). Chinese word for “boat” is composed of 3 different components which together mean “boat with 8 mouths”.

6:22     Noah did all: perfect obedience by Noah, faithfully and fully following God’s commands; emphasis of his obedience by the word “did” twice in this verb and again in Gen 7:5,9,16; 8:18.


        A person’s action can have more consequences than just for himself. The sin of man caused the destruction of animals. On the hand, the righteousness of one man saved the whole human race.

        When the whole world is full of evil, Noah walked with God (v.9). It is easy to be religious when religion is in fashion; but it is an evidence of strong faith to swim against the stream, and to follow God in the midst of evil. In today’s society dominated by secularism, a Christian must not be afraid to walk in God’s path and to witness for God. Such a person will please God and receive blessings.