Genesis 6

 

וַיְהִי כִּי־הֵחֵל הָאָדָם לָרֹב עַל־פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה וּבָנוֹת יֻלְּדוּ לָהֶם   6:1

Gene. 6:1      Now it was, when mankind had begun to multiply over the surface of the earth, and daughters were born to them,

At this point we have a momentary digression, seemingly to set the stage for the subsequent main event – the flood.

וַיִּרְאוּ בְנֵי־הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת בְּנוֹת הָאָדָם כִּי טֹבֹת הֵנָּה וַיִּקְחוּ לָהֶם נָשִׁים מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר בָּחָרוּ   6:2

Gene. 6:2         that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair, and they took for themselves wives from whomever they chose.

All right, who are these sons of God?  There is much conjecture about this verse and the next few.  Some claim that they refer to a superior alien race that had visited the earth.  It’s also possible, though perhaps far fetched, that this verse is a reference to the rise of modern man, the Cro Magnon.  Tradition has it that they were the sons of ruling princes at the time.                                                                                       [Return to Job 1:6]

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה לֹא יָדוֹן רוּחִי בָאָדָם לְעֹלָם בְּשַׁגַּם הוּא בָשָׂר וְהָיוּ יָמָיו מֵאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה   6:3

Gene. 6:3         And the Lord said, “My ‘breath’ shall not contend so long in a man, because indeed he is flesh; therefore shall his days be a hundred and twenty years.”            [Return to Gene. 11:11]

How does this verse connect with those before and after?  It appears to be another digression.  Yet it provides important information:  The phrase yxiWr !Ady"-al starting with the third word, is usually translated as “My spirit shall not abide ....”  I have translated it as above because the Lord’s spirit is always feminine in gender while its verb in this verse is masculine.  This is a rather remarkable acknowledgment.  The spirit of God is generally assumed to be masculine.  But in reality the spirit of God and the spirit of man (including the spirit of prophesy) are treated as feminine throughout the Torah.  The term xiWr can be either masculine or feminine depending on its meaning.  When translated as breath, wind, mind, vigor, courage, etc., it is always masculine.  When translated as spirit, it is always feminine.

At the same time, the verse seems to possess a hint of God’s “disapproval” with the proceedings.

הַנְּפִלִים הָיוּ בָאָרֶץ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם וְגַם אַחֲרֵי־כֵן אֲשֶׁר יָבֹאוּ בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים אֶלבְּנוֹת הָאָדָם וְיָלְדוּ   6:4

לָהֶם הֵמָּה הַגִּבֹּרִים אֲשֶׁר מֵעוֹלָם אַנְשֵׁי הַשֵּׁם

Gene. 6:4         The Nephilim were on the earth in those days; and also after this when the sons of God came into the daughters of men, then they bore for them.  The same were the mighty men who of old were the men of renown.

A very puzzling verse indeed!  The Nephilim are thought to have been giants.  And this first part of the verse appears to be completely unconnected to the rest of the verse.  The men of renown, it would seem, were the offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of men.  Is the reference to the Nephilim intended to contrast the men of renown with them, or for comparison?  Then were the men of renown giants?  What a strange depiction of the times! 

Nephilim could also mean fallen.  Might it refer to those now of shorter lives?  That might be the connection to the previous verse.

וַיַּרְא יְהוָה כִּי רַבָּה רָעַת הָאָדָם בָּאָרֶץ וְכָל־־יֵצֶר מַחְשְׁבֹת לִבּוֹ רַק רַע כָּל הַיּוֹם   6:5

Gene. 6:5         And the Lord saw that the evil of humanity on the earth was great and every desire of the thoughts of his heart was only evil the entire day.

וַיִּנָּחֶם יְהוָה כִּי־עָשָׂה אֶת־הָאָדָם בָּאָרֶץ וַיִּתְעַצֵּב אֶל־לִבּוֹ   6:6

Gene. 6:6         So the Lord was “sorry” because He had made man on the earth and He “grieved” in His “heart.”

In this verse we are confronted with the most graphic references so far to God being like a human.  So I believe this is the ideal opportunity for us to make up our minds once and for all about what we believe.  Do we believe that God is fallible and learns about history much as we do, in the course of time, and would therefore experience the emotions of regret and grief, as if learning for the first time that He had made a mistake? 

Or do we believe that God is infallible, is omniscient, outside of time, not being surprised by events, and being beyond the resulting human emotion?

As I have stated before, I choose the latter view.  Thus I interpret this verse as conveying, as before, either the scribe’s limited viewpoint, which could have been the cultural belief of the times, or his lack of appropriate terms by which to describe God’s attributes.  Because of my belief, and as you may have already noticed, I place all human-like terms describing an aspect of God in quotation marks to delineate my view that these anthropomorphisms simply reflect a deficiency of language.

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶמְחֶה אֶת־הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָאתִי מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה מֵאָדָם עַד־בְּהֵמָה עַד־רֶמֶשׂ   6:7

וְעַד־עוֹף הַשָּׁמָיִם כִּי נִחַמְתִּי כִּי עֲשִׂיתִם

Gene. 6:7         Then the Lord said, “I will erase humanity, which I have created, from the face of the earth, from man to beast, to creeping thing, and to fowl of the air, for I am ‘sorry’ that I made them.”

Why would the Lord erase the animals along with humanity?  Does the plural suffix pronoun “them at the end of the verse refer to humanity, to both humanity and the animals, or just to the animals?  If the Lord was “disappointed” by the evil in human hearts, why erase the animals?  Would He erase the animals also because humans had dominion over them?  Perhaps the animals were also already violent.  Still, pairs of all the animals came into and stayed in the ark.  So we can’t assume that they were also violent; some of them would not have survived the stay in the ark.  Yet we also know that all the animals or humans were not erased, that there were survivors of the flood, those in the ark.  So this must be the kind of exaggeration that is resorted to from time to time by the scribe.  Perhaps this was a literary technique of the scribe to amplify his description of the Lord’s “anger.”

וְנֹחַ מָצָא חֵן בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה   6:8

Gene. 6:8         But Noah found grace in the “eyes” of the Lord.

It almost seems like vss. 6:8 and 6:9 imply that the grace that Noah received was earned by him, because v. 6:9 states that Noah was flawless in his generations.  In other words, Noah was the most righteous of all the people. However, it’s also possible that Noah was so righteous because he found grace.

אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת נֹחַנֹחַ אִישׁ צַדִּיק תָּמִים הָיָה בְּדֹרֹתָיו אֶת־הָאֱלֹהִים הִתְהַלֶּךְ־נֹחַ   6:9

Gene. 6:9         These are the generations of Noah.  Noah was a righteous man.  In his generations he was flawless; Noah walked about with He Who is God.

The first part of this verse appears to indicate that here is a digression in the narrative.  It seems that it is necessary before going on with the primary story of this chapter.  Noah is the second man to walk about with God, Enoch (Gene. 5:24) being the first.  But Noah, unlike Enoch, dies normally.  The words wytrodoB. Hyh ~ymiT, “in his generations he was flawless” do not appear again in the bible.  So Noah was unique.

וַיּוֹלֶד נֹחַ שְׁלֹשָׁה בָנִים אֶת־שֵׁם אֶת־חָם וְאֶת־יָפֶת   6:10

Gene. 6:10       And Noah had begotten three sons:  Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Now we’ve already been given this information, in the last verse of Chapter 5. Why does it have to be repeated here?  Is it simply for maintaining a smooth narrative?  If we examine the next verse, however, it appears that this verse actually breaks the flow of the narrative.  So I suspect there must be another reason for it.  Could it be that the scribe is anticipating the story again, letting us know that Noah’s sons will fit into the story?  Were Noah’s sons also favored?  We’re not told that, but by their behavior later in the narrative, it seems unlikely.

וַתִּשָּׁחֵת הָאָרֶץ לִפְנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים וַתִּמָּלֵא הָאָרֶץ חָמָס   6:11

Gene. 6:11    But the earth was corrupt before He Who is God and the earth was full of violence.

 וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאָרֶץ וְהִנֵּה נִשְׁחָתָה כִּי־הִשְׁחִית כָּל־בָּשָׂר אֶת־דַּרְכּוֹ עַל־הָאָרֶץ  6:12

Gene. 6:12       And God inspected the earth and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth.

This verse appears to regress back to v. 6:5, and continue from there, thus indicating that the intervening verses might be a digression, and we are now returning to the main thread.

וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים לְנֹחַ קֵץ כָּל־בָּשָׂר בָּא לְפָנַי כִּי־מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ חָמָס מִפְּנֵיהֶם וְהִנְנִי מַשְׁחִיתָם   6:13

 אֶת־הָאָרֶץ

Gene. 6:13      And God said to Noah, ”An end of all flesh is coming before Me, for the earth is full of violence because of them, and behold, I am destroying them with the earth.”

עֲשֵׂה לְךָ תֵּבַת עֲצֵי־גֹפֶר קִנִּים תַּעֲשֶׂה אֶת־הַתֵּבָה וְכָפַרְתָּ אֹתָהּ מִבַּיִת וּמִחוּץ בַּכֹּפֶר   6:14

Gene. 6:14      “Make for yourself an ark of Gopher wood.  You shall make rooms with the ark, and shall coat it within and without with pitch.”

וְזֶה אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶׂה אֹתָהּ שְׁלֹשׁ מֵאוֹת אַמָּה אֹרֶךְ הַתֵּבָה חֲמִשִּׁים אַמָּה רָחְבָּהּ וּשְׁלֹשִׁים   6:15

אַמָּה קוֹמָתָהּ

Gene. 6:15      “And this is what you shall make it:  Three hundred cubits the length of the ark, fifty cubits its breadth, and thirty cubits its height.”

A cubit in the context of this verse is thought to be the length of a forearm, about 18 inches.  So the ark was to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.  A monumental task!

צֹהַר תַּעֲשֶׂה לַתֵּבָה וְאֶל־אַמָּה תְּכַלֶּנָּה מִלְמַעְלָה וּפֶתַח הַתֵּבָה בְּצִדָּהּ תָּשִׂים תַּחְתִּיִּם שְׁנִיִּם   6:16

וּשְׁלִשִׁים תַּעֲשֶׂהָ

Gene. 6:16    “You shall make a skylight for the ark, and you shall finish it upward to a cubit.  And the entrance of the ark shall be set in the side.  Of lower parts, second parts, and third parts shall you make it.”

Apparently, the ark was three stories high.

וַאֲנִי הִנְנִי מֵבִיא אֶת הַמַּבּוּל מַיִם עַל־הָאָרֶץ לְשַׁחֵת כָּל־בָּשָׂר אֲשֶׁר־בּוֹ רוּחַ חַיִּים מִתַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם   6:17

כֹּל אֲשֶׁר־בָּאָרֶץ יִגְוָע

Gene. 6:17       “And I, behold, am bringing the flood of water upon the earth to destroy all flesh within which is the breath of life from under the heavens.  Everything that is on the earth shall perish.”

The phrase ~yYêIx; x;Wr, “breath of life,” is unmistakable in its translation.  It cannot be translated any other way (except perhaps as “living spirit” or “spirit of life”).  Contrast this with the phrase in Gene. 1:30 that is translated incorrectly by many as “breath of life.”  See also Gene. 2:7.

וַהֲקִמֹתִי אֶת־בְּרִיתִי אִתָּךְ וּבָאתָ אֶל־הַתֵּבָה אַתָּה וּבָנֶיךָ וְאִשְׁתְּךָ וּנְשֵׁי־בָנֶיךָ אִתָּךְ    6:18

Gene. 6:18       “And I shall establish My covenant with you, and you shall go into the ark, you and your sons and your wife and the wives of your sons with you.”

וּמִכָּל־הָחַי מִכָּל־בָּשָׂר שְׁנַיִם מִכֹּל תָּבִיא אֶל־הַתֵּבָה לְהַחֲיֹת אִתָּךְ זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה יִהְיוּ   6:19

Gene. 6:19       “And two of every sort of every living thing of all flesh shall you bring into the ark to be alive with you.  Male and female shall they be.”

מֵהָעוֹף לְמִינֵהוּ וּמִן הַבְּהֵמָה לְמִינָהּ מִכֹּל רֶמֶשׂ הָאֲדָמָה לְמִינֵהוּ שְׁנַיִם מִכֹּל יָבֹאוּ אֵלֶיךְ    6:20

לְהַחֲיוֹת

Gene. 6:20       “Of the fowl after their kind, and of the cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after their kind; two of every kind shall come to you to be alive.”

וְאַתָּה קַח־לְךָ מִכָּל־מַאֲכָל אֲשֶׁר יֵאָכֵל וְאָסַפְתָּ אֵלֶיךָ וְהָיָה לְךָ וְלָהֶם לְאָכְלָה   6:21

Gene. 6:21    “And you take to you of all food that may be eaten and gather it to you, and it shall be for you and for them for food.”

וַיַּעַשׂ נֹחַ כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה אֹתוֹ אֱלֹהִים כֵּן עָשָׂה  6:22

6:22       And Noah did.  According to all that God commanded, so he did.

 

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