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Genesis 6

6
The Corruption of Mankind
1Now it came about, when mankind began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2that the sons of God saw that the daughters of mankind were #Lit goodbeautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. 3Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not #Or rule in; or strive with; meaning uncertainremain with man forever, #Or in his going astray he is fleshbecause he is also flesh; #Or thereforenevertheless his days shall be 120 years.” 4The #Lit fallen ones; LXX giantsNephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of mankind, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
5Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of mankind was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of #Lit his hearttheir hearts was only evil continually. 6So the Lord was sorry that He had made mankind on the earth, and He was grieved #Lit toin His heart. 7Then the Lord said, “I will wipe out mankind whom I have created from the face of the land; mankind, and animals as well, and crawling things, and the birds of the sky. For I am sorry that I have made them.” 8But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
9These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, #Lit complete, perfect; or having integrityblameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10And Noah fathered three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12And God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for #Lit all fleshhumanity had corrupted its way upon the earth.
13Then God said to Noah, “The end of #Lit all fleshhumanity has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of #Lit thempeople; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. 14Make for yourself an ark of #I.e., Unknown species of treegopher wood; you shall make the ark with compartments, and #Or pitchcover it inside and out with pitch. 15This is how you shall make it: the length of the ark shall be #About 450 ft. long, 75 ft. wide, and 45 ft. high or 135 m, 23 m, and 14 mthree hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16You shall make a #Or roofwindow for the ark, and finish it to a #One cubit is about 18 in. or 45 cmcubit from #Lit abovethe top; and put the door of the ark on the side; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17Now behold, I Myself am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which there is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. 18But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. 20Of the birds according to their kind, and of the animals according to their kind, of every crawling thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive. 21As for you, take for yourself some of every food that is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and them.” 22So Noah did these things; according to everything that God had commanded him, so he did.
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Origin of the Nephilim.#These enigmatic verses are a transition between the expansion of the human race illustrated in the genealogy of chap. 5 and the flood depicted in chaps. 6–9. The text, apparently alluding to an old legend, shares a common ancient view that the heavenly world was populated by a multitude of beings, some of whom were wicked and rebellious. It is incorporated here, not only in order to account for the prehistoric giants, whom the Israelites called the Nephilim, but also to introduce the story of the flood with a moral orientation—the constantly increasing wickedness of humanity. This increasing wickedness leads God to reduce the human life span imposed on the first couple. As the ages in the preceding genealogy show, life spans had been exceptionally long in the early period, but God further reduces them to something near the ordinary life span. 1When human beings began to grow numerous on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2the sons of God#The sons of God: other heavenly beings. See note on 1:26. saw how beautiful the daughters of human beings were, and so they took for their wives whomever they pleased.#Mt 24:38; Lk 17:26–27. 3Then the Lord said: My spirit shall not remain in human beings forever, because they are only flesh. Their days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years.
4The Nephilim appeared on earth in those days, as well as later,#As well as later: the belief was common that human beings of gigantic stature once lived on earth. In some cultures, such heroes could make positive contributions, but the Bible generally regards them in a negative light (cf. Nm 13:33; Ez 32:27). The point here is that even these heroes, filled with vitality from their semi-divine origin, come under God’s decree in v. 3. after the sons of God had intercourse with the daughters of human beings, who bore them sons. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown.#Wis 14:6; Bar 3:26.
Warning of the Flood. 5#6:5–8:22] The story of the great flood is commonly regarded as a composite narrative based on separate sources woven together. To the Yahwist source, with some later editorial additions, are usually assigned 6:5–8; 7:1–5, 7–10, 12, 16b, 17b, 22–23; 8:2b–3a, 6–12, 13b, 20–22. The other sections are usually attributed to the Priestly writer. There are differences between the two sources: the Priestly source has two pairs of every animal, whereas the Yahwist source has seven pairs of clean animals and two pairs of unclean; the floodwater in the Priestly source is the waters under and over the earth that burst forth, whereas in the Yahwist source the floodwater is the rain lasting forty days and nights. In spite of many obvious discrepancies in these two sources, one should read the story as a coherent narrative. The biblical story ultimately draws upon an ancient Mesopotamian tradition of a great flood, preserved in the Sumerian flood story, the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic, and (embedded in a longer creation story) the Atrahasis Epic. When the Lord saw how great the wickedness of human beings was on earth, and how every desire that their heart conceived was always nothing but evil,#Ps 14:2–3. 6the Lord regretted making human beings on the earth, and his heart was grieved.#His heart was grieved: the expression can be misleading in English, for “heart” in Hebrew is the seat of memory and judgment rather than emotion. The phrase is actually parallel to the first half of the sentence (“the Lord regretted…”).
7So the Lord said: I will wipe out from the earth the human beings I have created, and not only the human beings, but also the animals and the crawling things and the birds of the air, for I regret that I made them.#Human beings are an essential part of their environment, which includes all living things. In the new beginning after the flood, God makes a covenant with human beings and every living creature (9:9–10). The same close link between human beings and nature is found elsewhere in the Bible; e.g., in Is 35, God’s healing transforms human beings along with their physical environment, and in Rom 8:19–23, all creation, not merely human beings, groans in labor pains awaiting the salvation of God. 8But Noah found favor with the Lord.
9These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man and blameless in his generation;#Wis 10:4; Sir 44:17. Noah walked with God. 10Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11But the earth was corrupt#Corrupt: God does not punish arbitrarily but simply brings to its completion the corruption initiated by human beings. in the view of God and full of lawlessness.#Jb 22:15–17. 12When God saw how corrupt the earth had become, since all mortals had corrupted their ways on earth,#Ps 14:2. 13God said to Noah: I see that the end of all mortals has come, for the earth is full of lawlessness because of them. So I am going to destroy them with the earth.#Sir 40:9–10; 44:17; Mt 24:37–39.
Preparation for the Flood. 14Make yourself an ark of gopherwood,#Gopherwood: an unidentified wood mentioned only in connection with the ark. It may be the wood of the cypress, which in Hebrew sounds like “gopher” and was widely used in antiquity for shipbuilding. equip the ark with various compartments, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15This is how you shall build it: the length of the ark will be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.#Hebrew “cubit,” lit., “forearm,” is the distance from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, about eighteen inches (a foot and a half). The dimensions of Noah’s ark were approximately 440 × 73 × 44 feet. The ark of the Babylonian flood story was an exact cube, 120 cubits (180 feet) in length, width, and height. 16Make an opening for daylight#Opening for daylight: a conjectural rendering of the Hebrew word sohar, occurring only here. The reference is probably to an open space on all sides near the top of the ark to admit light and air. The ark also had a window or hatch, which could be opened and closed (8:6). and finish the ark a cubit above it. Put the ark’s entrance on its side; you will make it with bottom, second and third decks. 17I, on my part, am about to bring the flood waters on the earth, to destroy all creatures under the sky in which there is the breath of life; everything on earth shall perish.#Gn 7:4, 21; 2 Pt 2:5. 18I will establish my covenant with you. You shall go into the ark, you and your sons, your wife and your sons’ wives with you.#Gn 9:9; Wis 14:6; Heb 11:7; 1 Pt 3:20. 19Of all living creatures you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, one male and one female,#You shall bring two of every kind…, one male and one female: For the Priestly source (P), there is no distinction between clean and unclean animals until Sinai (Lv 11), no altars or sacrifice until Sinai, and all diet is vegetarian (Gn 1:29–30); even after the flood P has no distinction between clean and unclean, since “any living creature that moves about” may be eaten (9:3). Thus P has Noah take the minimum to preserve all species, one pair of each, without distinction between clean and unclean, but he must also take on provisions for food (6:21). The Yahwist source (J), which assumes the clean-unclean distinction always existed but knows no other restriction on eating meat (Abel was a shepherd and offered meat as a sacrifice), requires additional clean animals (“seven pairs”) for food and sacrifice (7:2–3; 8:20). to keep them alive along with you. 20Of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal, and of every kind of thing that crawls on the ground, two of each will come to you, that you may keep them alive. 21Moreover, you are to provide yourself with all the food that is to be eaten, and store it away, that it may serve as provisions for you and for them. 22Noah complied; he did just as God had commanded him.#Just as God had commanded him: as in the creation of the world in chap. 1 and in the building of the tabernacle in Ex 25–31, 35–40 (all from the Priestly source), everything takes place by the command of God. In this passage and in Exodus, the commands of God are carried out to the letter by human agents, Noah and Moses. Divine speech is important. God speaks to Noah seven times in the flood story.