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Genesis 6

6
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.
6
The Corruption of Mankind
1Now it happened, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2that the #This phrase has been interpreted as a reference to: (a) royalty or rulers possessed by fallen angels, (b) the descendants of Seth who called upon the Lord (see 4:26), or (c) fallen angels (cf Job 1:6).sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful and desirable; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose and desired. 3Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive and remain with man forever, because he is indeed flesh [sinful, corrupt—given over to sensual appetites]; nevertheless his days shall yet be #This may refer to the time given man to repent before the flood, or to the normative human life span after the flood.a hundred and twenty years.” 4There were Nephilim (men of stature, notorious men) on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God lived with the daughters of men, and they gave birth to their children. These were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown (great reputation, fame).
5The Lord saw that the wickedness (depravity) of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination or intent of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually. 6The Lord #The expressions of regret and grief seen here do not mean that God acknowledged the creation of man as a mistake on His part. God is omniscient, knowing all things (Ps 139:16) and He knew that mankind would come into sin and wickedness. God grieved over the sin of man because it was appropriate for Him to do so.regretted that He had made mankind on the earth, and He was [deeply] grieved in His heart. 7So the Lord said, “I will destroy (annihilate) mankind whom I have created from the surface of the earth—not only man, but the animals and the crawling things and the birds of the air—because it [deeply] grieves Me [to see mankind’s sin] and I regret that I have made them.” 8But Noah found favor and grace in the eyes of the Lord.
9These are the records of the generations (family history) of Noah. Noah was a righteous man [one who was just and had right standing with God], blameless in his [evil] generation; Noah walked (lived) [in habitual fellowship] with God. 10Now Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11The [population of the] earth was corrupt [absolutely depraved—spiritually and morally putrid] in God’s sight, and the land was filled with violence [desecration, infringement, outrage, assault, and lust for power]. 12God looked on the earth and saw how debased and degenerate it was, for all humanity had corrupted their way on the earth and lost their true direction.
13God said to Noah, “I intend to make an end of all that lives, for through men the land is filled with violence; and behold, I am about to #Enoch (the descendant of Seth, not Cain) had warned these people (Jude 14, 15); Noah had preached righteousness to them (2 Pet 2:5); and God’s Spirit had been struggling with them (Gen 6:3). Yet they had rejected God.destroy them together with the land. 14Make yourself an #The word “ark” comes from a Latin word (arca) for a box or chest. The design of the ark matched its purpose, which was not to travel through the water efficiently, but to be stable and have the greatest possible capacity for cargo. Also, such a vessel could be constructed relatively quickly, because there would be no need to form the wood used for the hull into efficient curves to maximize speed.ark of #The type of wood is unknown. The name of the wood is a transliteration—not a translation—of the Hebrew, with no connection to the English word “gopher.”gopher wood; make in it rooms (stalls, pens, coops, nests, cages, compartments) and #This prevented water from seeping into the ark through the seams between the wooden planks, and may also have served to protect the wood from becoming saturated with water. Coating the ark with pitch on the outside as well as the inside was very practical. One of the worst jobs on the old wooden ships was to re-coat the inside bottom of the hull when water had seeped in, because the crewman had to quickly pave hot pitch on the hull under the water, which cooled the pitch as he worked and made the job all the more difficult—thus the nautical saying, “the devil (referring to the seam in the hull planking) to pay (i.e. pave with pitch).” The problem was eliminated or minimized on the ark, but Noah, due to his complete inexperience with sea-going vessels, would not even have known about the potential problem himself. It was imperative for him to have absolute faith in God, and to follow God’s directions word for word.coat it inside and out with pitch (bitumen). 15This is the way you are to make it: the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits (450’ x 75’ x 45’). 16You shall make a #Or roof.window [for light and ventilation] for the ark, and finish it to at least a cubit (eighteen inches) from the top—and set the [entry] door of the ark in its side; and you shall make it with lower, second and third decks. 17For behold, I, even I, will bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy all life under the heavens in which there is the breath and spirit of life; everything that is on the land shall die. 18But I will establish My covenant (solemn promise, formal agreement) with you; and you shall come into the ark—you and your [three] sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19And of every living thing [found on land], you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. 20Of fowls and birds according to their kind, of animals according to their kind, of every crawling thing of the ground according to its kind—two of every kind shall come to you to keep them alive. 21Also take with you every kind of food that is edible, and you shall collect and store it; and it shall be food for you and for them.” 22So Noah did this; according to all that God commanded him, that is what he did.