Exit Parallel Mode
 

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
People Become Evil
1-4The number of people on earth continued to increase. When these people had daughters, the sons of God saw how beautiful they were. So they chose the women they wanted. They married them, and the women had their children.
Then the Lord said, “People are only human. I will not let my Spirit be troubled by them forever. I will let them live only 120 years.”#6:1-4 People … 120 years Or “The spirit from me will not live in people forever, because they are flesh. They will live only 120 years.” Or “My Spirit will not judge people forever, because they will all die in 120 years.”
During this time and also later, the Nephilim people lived in the land. They have been famous as powerful soldiers since ancient times.
5The Lord saw that the people on the earth were very evil. He saw that they thought only about evil things all the time. 6The Lord was sorry that he had made people on the earth. It made him very sad in his heart. 7So the Lord said, “I will destroy all the people I created on the earth. I will destroy every person and every animal and everything that crawls on the earth. And I will destroy all the birds in the air, because I am sorry that I have made them.”
8But Noah pleased the Lord.
Noah and the Great Flood
9This is the history of Noah’s family. He was a good man all his life, and he always followed God. 10Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11-12When God looked at the earth, he saw that people had ruined it. Violence was everywhere, and it had ruined their life on earth.
13So God said to Noah, “Everyone has filled the earth with anger and violence. So I will destroy all living things. I will remove them from the earth. 14Use cypress wood#6:14 cypress wood In Hebrew, “gopher timbers.” It is uncertain what kind of wood this is. It might be a kind of tree or squared timbers. and build a boat for yourself. Make rooms in the boat and cover it with tar inside and out.
15“This is the size I want you to make the boat: 300 cubits#6:15 300 cubits 437' 1/8" (133 m) if this was the short cubit or 510' 1 13/16" (155.5 m) if it was the long cubit. long, 50 cubits#6:15 50 cubits 72' 10" (22.2 m) if this was the short cubit or 85' 5/16" (25.92 m) if it was the long cubit. wide, and 30 cubits#6:15 30 cubits 43' 8 7/16" (13.3 m) if this was the short cubit or 51' 3/16" (15.55 m) if it was the long cubit. high. 16Make a window for the boat about 1 cubit#6:16 1 cubit 17 1/2" (44.4 cm) if this was the short cubit or 20 5/8" (51.83 cm) if it was the long cubit. below the roof.#6:16 Make a window … below the roof Or “Make an opening for the boat about 18 inches tall.” Put a door in the side of the boat. Make three floors in the boat: a top deck, a middle deck, and a lower deck.
17“Understand what I am telling you. I will bring a great flood of water on the earth. I will destroy all living things that live under heaven. Everything on the earth will die. 18I will make a special agreement with you. You, your wife, your sons, and their wives will all go into the boat. 19Also, you will take two of every living thing on the earth with you into the boat. Take a male and female of every kind of animal so that they might survive with you. 20Two of every kind of bird, animal, and creeping thing will come to you so that you might keep them alive. 21Also bring every kind of food into the boat, for you and for the animals.”
22Noah did everything God commanded him.