Genesis 6 through Genesis 9 details the events of the global flood including the cause, the preservation of life, and the aftermath. These chapters identify the first covenant between God and man and further illustrate the concept that the price of sin is death.
Evil of Man Before the Flood
The Sons of God and Daughters of Men
In Genesis 6, we are told that just before the flood the "sons of God" married "daughters of men" and became very evil. There is much discussion as to what is meant by the sons of God versus the daughters of men. There are people believe sons of God refer to angels even though out of the 10 times this phrase appears in the Bible only once does it refer to angels. In Matthew 22:29-30, however, Jesus tells us that angels don't marry, making it highly unlikely that in this case this is a reference to God’s angels. The only plausible chance would be if these were fallen angels, which doesn't quite make sense; why would Moses still refer to them as sons of God? The phrase sons of God is reserved for those who are righteous and follow God. If sons of God refers to fallen angels, is this something that is still occurring even today? Many believe the sons of God refers to the chosen line Seth and the daughters of men refers to the corrupt line of Cain. Regardless, we are told that the children of these matches were corrupt men with great power; they are referred to as the Nephilim, sometimes translated as giants.
That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
God Repents of Creating Man
It saddened God that man was so intent on committing acts of evil. Some have argued the fact that God repents or is sorry for creating man (Genesis 6:7) "proves" God does not know the future. However, a more logical explanation is that God’s knowledge that man would fall to this depth did not stop it from hurting Him when He saw how they behaved. A modern example would be when people go shopping on black Friday: they know it will be hectic yet they still go looking for deals—during the chaos it is likely that they regret coming, even though they knew beforehand that it would be that way, and when they return home with their majorly discounted merchandise they are happy again that they decided to go.
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
It was the evil in the hearts of man that caused God to destroy them with the flood.
In Genesis 6:3 KJV tells us that God put a limit or expiration date on mankind. The question is if this time (120 years) referred to a cap in how long man would be allowed to live (you'll notice that after the flood people live shorter lives) or if it referred to how long it would be before He destroyed the world with the flood. After the flood there are still people who live to 120 years, though if you assume God is restricting how long man can live in this passage, He does not say when He will limit the age of man. It makes sense that if He were restricting age, it would be a gradual process, as the surviving humans would need the extra time to repopulate the Earth. Supporters of this theory also argue that it is possible that the shortening of life was a trait given to Noah and his sons at the moment God spoke, which was passed down genetically (which would also take time. Currently there is a woman claiming to be 127 years old, however, she does not have proof. The Guinness Book of World Records cited the oldest human to ever live to have been 122 years old. While this is far from the 969 years of Methuselah, it is still greater than 120 years. Yet, there are still counters to explain the possibility of someone living beyond 120 years. In this passage God is speaking of His disdain for man's wickedness an inclination to follow the flesh as opposed to God. In some versions of Exodus 20:12, like the KJV, God says that your days can be prolonged by honoring your mother and father (other translations use "long" instead of "prolonged"). Thus, it is possible that those making it above 120 years were granted a prolonged life for their conduct. It is my opinion, however, that God was speaking of how long it would be until He brought about the flood—this theory has no contradictions. Plus, in Psalm 90:10 KJV, we are told the average lifespan of mankind is 70-80 years. Not only is this consistent with what we see, there is no contradiction as we are being given an estimate or an average. In Genesis 6:3, the 120 years appears absolute. It is hard to say for certain which is the correct interpretation.
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
Many legends, myths, and stories have been created for the mysterious Nephilim of Genesis 6:4 (the Nephilim also appear in Numbers 13:33). So who are they? Are they the unholy offspring of angels and mankind, like some suggest? A portion of the population that grew into giants? Neanderthals!? There are three main suggestions for who the Nephilim are: half-human/half-angel offspring of "sons of God" and "daughters of men", royalty/nobility and heroes, or giants. We know that they existed both before and after the flood, so if they were giants in the literal sense the gene to produce giant offspring must have been within Noah and his sons as well since they return after the flood. If indeed fallen angel went against their angelic nature to produce children, this would have had to occur after the flood as well (which is theoretically possible). Royalty and heroes were bound to reappear after the flood, so that is possible as well.There are arguments for and against each theory (some of the arguments for and against Nephilim being half angel, half man are discussed in the section entitled The Sons of God and Daughters of Men). An in depth argument that the Nephilim were the product of fallen angels can be found here, and brief analysis on many of the theories can be found here.
The main problem I have with the argument for Nephilim being the offspring of man and angel is the timing. In the link above the author suggests that the devil was attempting to "poison" the seed of Eve (remember Genesis 3:15) so that the Messiah could not come to defeat him. The problem with this theory is that if the devil actually believed this was possible, why wouldn't the angels have continued this behavior until the Messiah was born? Why would they only infiltrate one family (Anak)? This is a bit of a plot hole in this theory to me... Of course the devil doesn't have the power to know the future so it’s possible that he began this course and then changed his mind. Later in the Old Testament we will meet Goliath who is a literal giant (in 1 Samuel 17 he is said to be over 6 cubits tall which is more than 9 feet!), so it seems unlikely that the term "giants" was being used figuratively. It is possible that it was a trait that managed to only be viable in a subset of the population. The tallest man on record was 8ft 11in (exactly one inch shy of Goliath...), so it is possible that this gene still exists, but was simply more prevalent back then. It is hard to say for certain, though I lean towards the latter interpretation in my personal opinion.
God Chooses Noah
Even in all the chaos and evil of mankind, God is able to find one person whom He still considers righteous: Noah. Genesis 6:9 tells us that Noah was just and "perfect in his generations." Some believe perfect in his generations means that compared to those of his era or generation (already referred to as wicked men by God), Noah was very righteous. Others, who believe that the Nephilim are the children of fallen angels and humans, think “perfect in his generations” means his bloodline was uncorrupted. For whichever reason, Noah is blessed by God and his family is spared from the flood.
In Genesis 6:8 the word grace—like the grace we received upon Jesus' sacrifice—is used to describe Noah's blessing. Note also that there is a word play in the original Hebrew words for Noah and grace; both words are made of the same two consonants in reverse order.
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
Noah is instructed to build an ark and in Genesis 6:14-16 we are given the specifications of the ark. It was made of "gopher" wood which is thought to mean either pine or cypress. God tells Noah that the ark should be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits tall. A cubit is approximately 18 inches, which means the equivalent contemporary measurements would be 450ft (137.16m) long, 75ft (22.86m) wide, and 45ft (13.72m) tall. That's roughly 33,750 square feet of space on each of the three floors Noah is instructed to build in the ark. This would be a massive ship.
Parallels with Adam
There are many parallels between God's instructions for Noah when he exits the ark and God's instructions for Adam.
Genesis 1:29-30 - Can eat herbs and plants
Genesis 9:4 - Can eat both animals as well as plants
Exceptions to Dietary Instruction
Genesis 2:17 - Can't eat from the Tree of Knowledge
Genesis 9:3 - Can't eat blood
Fill the Earth
Genesis 1:28 - Be fruitful and multiply
Genesis 9:17 - Be fruitful and multiply
Punishment to the Earth
Genesis 2:17 - Cursed is the ground, it brings forth thorns and thistles
Genesis 9:2 - Animals now have fear
Man is Special
Genesis 1:26 - Man made in God's image.
Genesis 9:6 - Murders of men must receive death because man was made in God's image
The Price of Sin is Death
Genesis 2:17 - God says "You will surely die" of eating the forbidden fruit
Genesis 9:5 - Sacrifice required
Before Noah even begins building the ark, he is told by God that if he follows God's instructions God will make a covenant with him. After the flood, in Genesis 9, God makes the first covenant to man with Noah. In this covenant He promises not bring another flood to the Earth as well as promises not to punish the Earth for man's mistakes. God then sets a rainbow in the sky as a sign of this promise. Nay-sayers may suggest this is an elaborate explanation of the rainbow which always occurs after the rain, but an obvious question is: if it was made up, how did they know it wouldn't flood again and that world would never be destroyed by water? All scientific versions of the end of the world also end in fire.
Genesis 6:19 is the origins of the two by two fable; here Noah is instructed to bring two of every animal to the ark, one male and one female. Later in Genesis 7 though, Noah is told to bring clean beasts by sevens and unclean animals by twos. In Genesis 6, God was defining a pair for Noah: one male one female. God was explaining to Noah that in order to keep the species alive a pair of each species was needed. In Genesis 7 God is telling Noah an exact number to bring. In essence He said told Noah it requires 2 to say the species survived the flood, but He wanted more than two aboard the ship to continue the species after the flood. It is unclear if sevens refers to seven pairs or groups of seven. Some believe it to be seven pairs, others think three pairs with one left over for the sacrifice Noah gives God directly after the flood. Note that by referencing clean and unclean animals, we are also being told that either Noah already understood the distinction of clean and unclean animals or that this is the moment the distinction was made to God's people. Thus the notion of clean and unclean predates Judaism.
Once Noah finishes the Ark, God tells Noah the flood will begin in 7 days. We are told that the flood began on the 17th day of the second month during Noah's 600th year on the Earth. In the Jewish Calendar, Iyar is the second month which aligns with our April or May (naturally, remember, April showers bring May flowers). However, they could mean the second month after Noah's birthday, it is not clear. When the flood started, water came from both "the fountains of the deep" and from the sky. This means it not only rained but water came from out of the ground as well. This continued for 40 days and 40 nights (this could possibly mean simply 40 days as in Genesis 1 we are told night + day passed and it was the first day). The water reached a height of 15 cubits (22.5ft) which overtook the Earth for 150 days. It took another 150 days for the water to recede from the Earth. The Earth was dry on the on 27th day of Noah's 601th year (a little more that 1 year later). An in depth overview of the timeline is shown in the article Biblical Overview of the Flood.
It is common knowledge that the story flood persists throughout many cultures in the ancient world. In a future post, we'll look a some of them and discuss the significance of the global flood.
References and Footnotes
- Cramer, Guy. God's Limit on Man's Years. Trinity Consulting. 1998
- "Gopher Wood". Jewish Encyclopedia. 1906
- Holman Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg 19. 2014
- "The Jewish Month". Chadbad.org. 2008
- Li, David K. "127 Year Old Said to be the Oldest Person to Ever Live". New York Post. August 31, 2014
- Oldest Person Ever. Guinness World Records. 2015
- "The Sons of God". The Bible Study Site. 2015
- "Who Are the Sons of God?". Associates for Scriptural Knowledge. 2014
- "Who were the sons of God in Genesis 6?". GotQuestions.org. 2015
- "Tallest Man in History". Guinness World Records. 2015
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