Genesis 9: God’s Covenant With Noah

1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered.

-I did not bring it up in my Genesis 3 study but its interesting to realize the parallel between what Adam and Eve are told when leaving the garden and what we as Christians were told when Jesus left Earth. We are told to “be fruitful and multiply” in both cases. Adam and Eve and now Noah and his sons families are told to multiply in the physical sense and Jesus tells us to multiply in the spiritual sense and make disciples. This commanded is repeated to show that despite everything that has changed about the earth, the command and mans purpose still applies.

3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

-Here we see the first mention of eating meat. There’s reason to believe that mankind were all vegetarian before the flood and this is when eating meat began. Noah was commanded to bring “every kind” of food on the ark but that does not mean any of those clean animals were consumed. If there is no mention, we can’t assume. Given mankind’s sinfulness, it is hard for me to believe people didn’t try eating meat like the animals but this might be the first time it was not considered ungodly to do so and righteous individuals like Enoch and Noah may not have desiring to walk with God.

4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

-Now its saying don’t eat meat? No, God is saying, “cook your food before you eat it!” There are certainly many health reasons to do this.

5 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. 6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.

-These two verses seem to be saying, whether it is a person or an animal, anyone or anything that kills a man will suffer consequences. The word “reckoning” in English essentially means “pay back” or “eye for an eye” and this is how it is written in Hebrew. Whoever sheds blood, their blood shall be shed. Some have taken these verses to mean God’s condoning of capital punishment. We find out later in the bible particularly Romans 13 when Paul writes that God has given governments authority on earth so this would seem to be a reasonable argument. Regardless, there are certainly consequences to sin and there seem to be more severe consequences to murder, death, and war than any other sins which is why it is often regarded as “the worse” sin. All sins are equally 100% offensive to God and this is no degree; however, there does seem to be a difference in the effects and God is saying the effects of this sin, even to animals, is more severe on this Earth.

7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.”

-Whenever something is repeated in scripture, its important. This is our reason for being. Being fruitful or “successful” in life which recall God measures success by our willingness to submit to him not acquiring wealth and abundance (Remember Cain’s misunderstanding?), and having children. This is of course a general command and you are not sinning by not having children, but it is God’s greater desire for all mankind as a whole.

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

-This is repeated because Moses is essentially saying, “Remember how I just said God made a promise not to do this again? Well when He said that He also did this that I did not mention earlier:”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

As children, we probably recall a picture of a rainbow and think that God made a pretty, peaceful symbol to show this bad thing would not happened again. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that and that may well be part of it but what this passage is actually saying is God “hung up His bow”. A bow is a weapon, for firing arrows. God is essentially saying that He will not go to war with mankind in this way again. God has established a “ceasefire”. Does this mean that before this there were no rainbows in the sky? A rainbow is a refraction of light and its hard to believe the very law of physics changed and there wouldn’t have been small rainbows seen in the mist that came up to water the earth. The only other explanation would be if somehow this water layer in the sky that was there effected how light came down to earth to where rainbows would not happen. Regardless, giant rainbows in the sky would not have happened until this because it had not rained. The bible is clear that there was no rainfall before the flood so no rainbows in the sky. Because not much is known about what this water layer in the sky must have been like, its difficult to answer whether literally no one had ever seen a small refraction of life before and it could not be produced until after the flood.

Noah’s Descendants

18 The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.

-We will learn all about the Canaanites later but we find out here that they descend from Noah’s son Ham. The name Canaan means “lowlands” in Hebrew or could possibly mean “humiliated” and is a word used for a merchant or trader. In history, we know the Phoenician people are descendants of Canaan.

20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent.

-Many have interpreted that the atmosphere of Earth changed so much that there was no fermentation and therefore no way to get drunk before the flood. So it is claimed here that Noah simply drank to much “grape juice” not knowing it would make him drunk. If there truly was no fermentation before the flood, its still an assumption to say Noah “accidentally” got drunk. Noah may have discovered this and he felt good so he kept drinking it, so why not? There was no law or even concept of drunkenness and what the consequences of it could be. The term “planted a vineyard” suggests he knew what it was and what it was going to be when he planted it instead of simply experimenting with grapes. In the end, it is too easy to make assumptions so I believe it is wiser to simply read the story as it is written. The account just says that this happened. Noah planted a vineyard, drank to much wine, and became drunk. This is all we need to know at this time. Whether it was intentional or an accident, we know Noah, while righteous in God’s sight, was not perfect and inclined to sin just as all of us are. I do know that if I just spent a year on a smelly boat with animals and in-laws, I’d probably feel like celebrating being free of it myself. Archaeological findings have actually discovered signs of a vineyard dated possibly near this time near Mt. Ararat: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/biblical-archaeology-places/did-this-winery-get-noah-drunk/

22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

-It seems Ham was what we would call “immature”. He saw his father in this state and must have found it quite the hilarious site. If this truly was the first case of drunkenness I can only imagine. But with Shem and Japheth we see something truly beautiful. We see them showing their father the utmost respect and they never even laid eyes on their father while covering him and taking care of him. Shem and Japheth had been raised well and most likely tried to live righteously like their father. Ham was more carnal and of the world. There are some commentators that have tried to imply Ham as having some kind of homosexual tendencies but that is a lot to assume from a single sentence in the bible. We are not told anything like that and so cannot assume something like this. It just says Ham saw him. It doesn’t say “curious” or “filled with delight”. The lesson is obvious that one should show respect for their father especially in a time of need instead of humiliating and make fun of someone else, especially your own father, for one’s own pleasure.

24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.”

-Many have grossly misinterpreted this passage as an explanation for why (and I’m quoting here) “black people are slaves”. This is so utterly idiotic that I feel dirty just bringing it up. Only in American and European counties in a specific period of time have “black people” been slaves. Not only that, there is an assumption that Ham or at least Canaan had darker skin given where it states Hamitic people settled. We are never told what any of these people looked like and what their genetic traits were like and skin color may have actually changed over time given the warmer regions they were traveling through. We know and can prove the concept of “micro-evolution” as fact which is simply the change in variation of a species over time. Perhaps in certain cultures, more black or more white was considered desirable and so this trait was bread depending on the culture whether intentional or not. Not only this but the Canaanites that are dealt with in the bible were more likely olive-skinned anyway and not black. Throughout all of world history, it was standard practice to enslave people that were conquered and this was considered normal. It did not matter who these people are or what they looked like, if you conquered a nation they become your slaves. When the more developed technologically Americans and Europeans went to Africa, they took the tribal people as slaves simply because they considered themselves better given their technology and education. It would not have mattered what these African people looked like. This very discussion about appearance is worldly and physical. This is part of the reason God destroyed life with a flood to begin with, because we were thinking in these terms. If what Noah stated to Ham truly was a prophesy about Canaan and his descendants then it was only that the Israelites, which are considered to be descendants of Shem, will conquerer the land of Canaan and take many of these people as slaves. It could simply be that just as Ham, Noah’s son, dishonored his father, Noah could have been cursing Canaan as one day dishonoring his father in the same way. In other words, “Like father, like son”. What kind of example was Ham setting for his son in not honoring his own father? It’s thought that descendants of Jepheth may be where “white people”come from given where his descendants settled and so its argued that’s what “enlarged” means in terms of technological success. But this has only been true more recently in world history. Babylon and Persia were the first two great empires more likely made up of descendants of Shem and we know ancient Chine had many wonders and advancements and Asians are considered more likely to be descendants of Ham. To assume this is a prophecy that Europeans would enjoy blessings in life is a stretch at best.

28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died.

-Noah living an additional 350 years after the flood is one of the reasons why I don’t interpret Genesis 6:3 as God declaring mankind would only live 120 years in total from now on. Otherwise, Noah would have lived a much shorter time afterwards. Being 600 years old when the oldest person lived to 969 would probably be the equivalent of Noah being 55-60 years old at the time of the flood at the youngest. So if suddenly lifespans were like they are today, Noah probably would have only lived 30 more years after the flood at most and died at 630 years old. This is why it seems more likely mankind itself was more genetically “perfect” and because of our genes lived a lot longer and it has degraded over time to the point of the oldest people only living to about 100 and very rarely beyond this today. It makes sense that we had much longer lifespans at this time so that we get multiply more and get a population on earth going much quicker. The differences with the planet before the flood still could have effected our height and other factors as well though.

Spanish words:

temor = fear
movar = to move
entregar = to deliver
legumbre = vegetable
derramar = to spill, pour
arco = arch, rainbow
señal = signal, sign
nube = cloud
embriagar = to get drunk, enebriated
hombro = shoulder

Genesis 4: Cain and Abel

1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.”

-The Hebrew word translated as “know” is “yada” which really does mean “to know, gain knowledge”. In Hebrew, they describe sexual relations in this way. When you are intimate with someone, you really know them in ways you know no one else. The name Cain means “spear” or “possession” in Hebrew.

2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.

-Why did God like Abel’s offering but not Cain’s? There are 3 reasons I can discern:

1) Abel gave the “first-fruits” or the best of what he had while it just says Cain gave an offering, period, perhaps not the first-fruits, maybe just the leftovers.

2) Cain gave an offering from the ground while Abel’s offering was a blood sacrifice of animals. Abel’s offering was the shedding of blood which we just learned last chapter is necessary for the covering of sin. We as man have absolutely no standing before God and have no “right” to come before Him nor does He have any obligation to answer to us. Who are we that God should answer us? The reason being because of our sin. But if we have covered over our sin, then God may be more inclined to answer us. This is why He paid Cain no regard, working the fields and producing a harvest does nothing for his sin problem. This is why in prayer, we must ask for our sins to be forgiven. God does not regard simply doing tasks even if its for the church or for the poor. We can do all the best deeds in the world and live a life of toil for His sake but if we do nothing about our sin problem, then we still deserve hell. God cares that we turn to Him, not that we impress Him with our good deeds.

3) Going by Cain’s reaction after the fact, it would seem Cain did not have the right heart motivation in coming to God. Cain was looking for acceptance and perhaps even reward for what he offered yet he received nothing and he became angry. This means in his heart, he felt that he deserved something from God. This is never the right attitude to have when coming before God yet we so often do this. I myself have come before God essentially saying “look what I have done, can you reward me now with something I want?”. Small wonder I have not received it. Hebrews 11:4 tells us that Abel was considered righteous because of his faith. So Abel must have had the right heart-motivation when coming before God which is why God showed favor on him. Perhaps he did not expect a reward but saw his sacrifice as payment which is exactly what a sacrifice is. Later in Israel, it is established that all first-fruits belong to God. In actuality, all belongs to God yet He graciously allows us to keep the rest. It is the same with tithing, God owns 100% of what we have yet He only asks of Israel that they give 10%. It’s a pretty good deal if you ask me.

6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

-God seems to be telling Cain that if he tries hard enough he will be accepted. That the reason his offering was not received well was because he did not harvest enough food and put in as much work. But that is not what God is saying. We as man define doing well in this way in terms of financial and worldly success. This is never how God defines doing well. He tells us in the next sentence that sin crouches at our door when we are not doing well. “Doing well” to God is having faith and turning to Him. God is telling Cain that if he has faith and turns to Him, he will be accepted no matter what. But Cain sees it as God being unfair because of how much physical work he did. Because Cain is dwelling on physical things, sin is crouching at the door. He is not doing well. We see the horrible results of what that sin does in a few verses.

8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

-What attitude! Cain is displaying a defensiveness for what he’s done. He is definitely not doing well because he has let sin in and completely take control of him. How could Cain not know that God would find out? His anger must have been so great that he killed Abel without even thinking. I can picture Cain after the fact crossing his fingers, hoping that somehow God doesn’t find out what he did.

10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.

-Abel is not only the first man to ever die or be murdered, he was also the first martyr. Abel was killed because he was a faithful follower of God and God showed favor on him. Cain persecuted him. We see throughout the bible that God seems to give special regard for martyrs. There is an interesting parallel in the Book of Revelation where those who were martyred during the tribulation cry out for vengeance and ask when the time will come and they are told to wait just a little longer. These martyrs are rewarded by getting to be resurrected and repopulate the Earth during the millennium along with the 144,000 Jews.

11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”

-Didn’t God already curse the ground? God seems to be literally stripping Cain’s passion of farming away from him as opposed to just making it harder like he did with Adam and all mankind. Since Cain is no longer a farmer, there is no reason for him to settle anywhere and he becomes a wonderer. It has been proposed that because he was somehow unable to farm, this is where the idea of cities eventually came from.

13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

-Who would kill him? Is he talking about his parents? It seems reasonable to assume that by this time Adam and Eve have had other sons and daughters that are younger but maybe even fully grown by now. It stands to reason they would all hate Cain because he killed their brother and want to take vengeance themselves.

15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.

-Here is yet another example of God’s grace. Cain certainly deserves to die on the spot for what he did. Instead, God gives him a promise of protection ensuring he won’t be killed. Why would God do this? Why not let him fend for himself? This is God’s loving nature, the same nature we saw in the life of Jesus being seen out of the Father now.

16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

-Didn’t Cain just get done lamenting that he would be a wanderer and a fugitive? Now it says he settled in some placed called “Nod”. In Hebrew the word “Nowd” actually means wander. So this verse is saying he went East and wandered. The phrase “settled in Nod” actually has come to mean a person who wanders around and doesn’t actually settle. In English, “the land of nod” has a double meaning as being wandering and nodding off as in going to sleep. So if someone tells you they are “going off to the land of nod” then that means they are going to sleep.

17a Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch.

-Wait, what wife? You mean he married a sister? Ewwww… There was nothing wrong in fact it was the way God designed us. One of the greatest physical proofs of the biblical account of one original man and woman we all descend from is the fact that over time we have witnessed a genetic degradation. Over time, we must be less and less related to each other or else there are diseases and complications due to a lack of genetic diversity. Or, we cannot conceive at all. This is true even amongst the animals. When Adam and Eve were created they were created as perfect humans with all the variations of human beings within their genetic makeup which eventually lead to the great diversity we see all over the world today. Different skin tones, facial features, metabolisms, body types, all of that was in the genetic code of our early ancestors but over time has degraded with every new generation. Brothers and sisters cannot have kids at least not with severe complications and even first cousins is a great risk.

17b When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.

-We aren’t given the information but there are a lot of reasonable conclusions we can draw from this. There would be no need of a city if not for the fact that there would have needed to be a lot of people living in an area and interacting for there to be a need of one. We don’t know how long Cain lived but its stands to reason he lived hundreds and hundreds of years like his contemporaries did. He may have had hundreds of descendants in this time and others from his brother Seth’s line may have joined his society. If the ground was truly cursed and Cain could not work the land, building a city was actually an ingenious idea to have others farm the land for him and he can specialize in another area and trade. It’s important to remember that God was not the one who said Cain will wander forever, that was not the curse. Cain is the one who said he would wander and be a fugitive. At some point, it appears Cain did eventually settle and build this city and an entire society that he was the patriarch of. This Enoch is not the same Enoch that was a descendant of Seth who walked with God but had the same name. The name “Enoch” in Hebrew means “dedicated”.

18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech.

-The name Irad means “to sequester or fugitive” in Hebrew, the name Mehujael means “smitten by God” in Hebrew, the name Methushael means “who is of God” in Hebrew, and the name Lamech means “powerful” in Hebrew.

19 And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. 20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.

-The first instance of polygamy in the bible. Adah means “ornament” and Zillah means “shade” in Hebrew. Jabal means “steam of water” and Jubal means “stream” in Hebrew.

22 Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

-Tubal-cain means “offspring of Cain” and Naamah means “loveliness” in Hebrew.

23 Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. 24 If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”

-We can see in Lamech’s declaration and decision to take more than one wife that Cain’s descendants became more and more decadent. Lamech decides that he needs two wives when no one else did and then he decides he will declare a curse 11 times stronger than the one God had placed on Cain. Not only that but he was the one who killed the younger man for “wounding him”. It doesn’t even sound like an attack, it sounds like it might have even been an accident on the young man’s part. What gives Lamech the idea that he can declare this even if he was attacked unfairly? It is as if Lamech sees himself as God. We are not told but it may be reasonably concluded that God chose not to have direct interaction with Cain’s descendants and so Lamech and others probably never got to “meet” God in the same way Cain had had interaction before his wandering. Since it is not in scripture, God placing the mark on Cain may have been the last interaction by God to Cain or any of his descendants. Lamech obviously did not know God to be living the life that he did.

25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.”

-Even though this verse is after Cain’s line this likely did not happen after multiple generations of Cain’s line but some time shortly after Cain began his wandering. The name Seth means “compensation” or “substitution” in Hebrew.

26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.

-The name Enosh means “man” in Hebrew. As stated last chapter, there are 4 different words in Hebrew that mean “man” in English: adam, ish, enosh, and geber. Adam refers to the origin of man, ish refers to a “male” in gender, enosh is a man in the mortal sense, and geber is a man in the masculine, strong sense. When it says that men began to call upon the name of the Lord it means that men of Seth’s line sought after God. To “call” the name of the Lord doesn’t just mean to say His name but to actively seek him. Romans 10:13 says “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” but this doesn’t just mean whoever asks to be saved will, but rather those who seek Him actively will. This verse is saying that while Cain’s line turned away from God and became decadent, many of Seth’s line were actively pursuing God.

Spanish words:

oveja = sheep
acontecer = to happen, occur
primogénito = firstborn
agrado = pleasure, liking, agreeable
ensañar = to enrage
decaer = to decline, wane
semblante = countenance, demeanor, face
enaltecer = to praise
pecado = sin
voz = voice
sangre = blood
boca = mouth
errante = wandering
extranjero = stranger, foreigner
soportar = to stand
haller = to find
castigar = to punish, castigate

Notes:

1) Some of the meanings of names are not entirely clear but there are many who believe there is a code hidden in the meaning of names. For Cain’s line, the names could be translated into the following: “Man brought forth a teacher of the fugitive. The one smitten by God is a mighty man of God. A river flows forth, O’ descendants of Cain.” Whether this has any meaning is open to interpretation.

2) For an excellent sermon by one of the greatest preachers in the last two centuries click here: http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols10-12/chs708.pdf