“…the token of the covenant…”
God makes covenants and always keeps them. The covenant contained in this chapter is well-known, but scripture contains many covenants, all of which are kept by God. For example, He promised that those who are saved will always be saved. This is an essential promise for us to remember, for otherwise all Christians would have no joy or peace, and there would be no promise worthy of the name.
The earth was devastated by God, because its inhabitants had sinned grossly. God knew that their descendants would also sin grossly, yet He promised never again to flood the earth. This should not be taken as a promise to do nothing at all! Throughout scripture we find men and women, and whole nations, being punished, even to death, by God, for their disobedience. And, at the end of time, when time itself will no longer hold any meaning, all men and women will be judged, to heaven or to hell.
God gave us the rainbow as a sign of His promise never again to flood the earth, and this is how we now have this phenomenon… it is not there because of nature. It is there because God put it there and entered its principles into nature’s system, just as He created light before the sun ever existed. This is yet another proof of God’s divine power over all of the things He has made.
We discover that mankind can do whatever he wishes with animals and the world. This will not please ‘animal rights’ people or those who ‘fight for the planet’ (‘Greens’), but the fact is plain to see in these texts.
In this chapter we also see how personal wrong will not go unnoticed. Here we see Noah cursing his own son for seeing him naked, and, as the son is the father of a nation, the nation that was birthed through him also suffered. Noah was able to deliver the curse because He knew God. You will note that he is not himself judged for being drunk (probably because it was an error). But, his son was judged for seeing his father naked. In this we see that ‘naturism’ is a sin, as are the many modern ways of showing men and women naked or near-naked. Christians should beware of showing their bodies to others and no Christian family should walk around without clothes on, for their children to witness naked parents and older siblings!
Life on this earth has never been dull! And there has never been a time when God has not been around, and has not demanded total obedience from His creatures. When we are obedient, we are rewarded and when entire nations obey, they know great peace, stability, riches and advancement in every sphere of life. But, when they go their own ways, and especially when they worship false gods, they know the opposite under God’s wrath.
“And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.”
God blessed Noah and his family. The word for blessed, barak, also means to cause to kneel. In this blessing, then, we also see Noah’s subjection to God. He was in God’s favour if he remained faithful. The family was then ordered to be fruitful so that the earth could again be populated. All people today come from this one family.
Then comes an interesting statement of God’s intention. He told Noah that every animal, bird and fish, and every creature, was now delivered into his hands. His ‘hand’, yad, is not just his physical hand, but it means his power. God gave every creature into Noah’s keeping, to do with whatever he wished.
More than that, God used an even more interesting expression – all these creatures would live in subjection to Noah (and, by definition, to all mankind); they began to fear mankind. What does this mean? ‘Fear’, mowra, means fear, reverence and terror. It can also mean awe-inspiring deeds. ‘Dread’, chath, means fear, terror, from chathath, to be broken, scared, afraid. This is not what animal lovers wish to hear, but it is what God put upon the animals He had made. Mankind, then, has complete dominance over all creatures, even to the point of inducing fear in them. (Note: As animals have no soul or emotions, this ‘fear’ is not like human fear – it translates as an animal intuition, not an emotional response).
Before the Flood some creatures were called ‘clean’ and others ‘unclean’. Now, after the Flood, Noah is told that he can eat any creature he wished to have for food. Again, not what vegetarians and animal lovers wish to hear – but it is from God’s own mouth. There are Christians who argue that we may only eat vegetables, but this text opposes that view. God is telling us that we can eat anything, including the ‘herbs’.
The only thing we may not eat is meat which still has blood in it. Therefore, we should not eat such things as ‘black pudding’ (consisting of dried blood and fatty stuffs), or meat that is cooked ‘rare’. The ban is made because God says that blood is synonymous with life, and no man can take life. There are Christians who scorn those who obey such Old Testament laws, saying that they are past. This is not so. What we have here is an universal, all-time law that spans all ages. If God says that life is in the blood, then that is an absolute, incapable of re-interpretation. (Many later Mosaic laws are not universal but ‘local’ to Jews at a particular time. Atheists think that these local laws are the same as universal laws, but this is a novice-error to make).
Later, when God formalised His laws, the consumption of blood is absolutely prohibited for the Jews, and this is unique at that time. No other nation made such a prohibition. Hebrew scholars agree, also, that this is an universal and all-time law and not just one for the Jews. In other texts we find that blood must be drained from meat before it is eaten. Even sacrificial meat had to have its blood drained.
“And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.
Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.”
Verse 5 seems to be linked with these thoughts: “blood of your lives”. This text refers to murder. Man is made in God’s image, and so no man may kill another man in an act of deliberate murder. It is essential to specify this, for not all killing of men is punishable by God. The command in the Decalogue is very specific, too: “Thou shalt not kill” literally means “You will not commit first degree murder”. In this text the word shaphak is used, which is not a direct allusion to murder, but other texts amply state the case. To kill in self-defence is another matter, as is judicial killing as a punishment for murder, and the killing of others in just war (which can be a form of self-defence). Pacifist ideology is not a biblical notion.
The deliberate killing of another human being, without reason, is punishable by God, through the hands of human beings. In history this punishment begins with the dead man’s brothers or family, then witnesses, then the whole population. Today, this responsibility is in the hands of the ‘magistrates’ or officially designated law-keepers. Note that even animals are under this law. If, say, an animal kills a man, that animal must be put to death: whatever or whoever kills a man must be put to death, because the law is absolute. The death penalty for first-degree murder is absolute. We do not fully know what the image of God is, but we do know what to avoid so as not to offend this image. We do know that we must reflect God’s character attributes.
God then reiterates the command that Noah and his family had the responsibility of filling the earth with more people. We are not told why this had to be so, but it does not matter, for a command of God is supreme.
“And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,
And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.
And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.”
God then made a promise to Noah and to all who would follow – He would never again destroy the whole earth by flood. You will note that God’s words are always very particular. He never says anything that is superfluous or vague. In this text He is saying that he will never again kill everything in the entire world. This does not, then, preclude judgement-by-water of areas or even countries. God is merely promising never to cover the entire world with water as He did with the great Flood, and never again to kill all life with water.
This opens the way for God to punish areas and countries with floods. There are times when man himself causes floods, by wrong use of the land, and by ignoring signs of impending disaster. These are not included in the promise: God refers only to His own actions, when He commands waters to kill people as a punishment.
“And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.”
Throughout all of life, men and women, including Christians, attribute certain signs and wonders to ‘nature’, when they ought to think more deeply. Every act of science is really an act of God, for it is God Who created matter to act in a certain way. It is He who created seasons. And it is He who created the rainbow. Today it can be traced to a scientific formula, but at first it was created specifically by God for a purpose.
Thus, the rainbow is not just an effect of certain physical activities; it is the sign of God’s promise never again to flood the whole earth and kill all its people. Have you ever thought of it that way? You should. Instead of ‘ooing’ at the sight of a rainbow’s beauty, remember that it signifies a promise of God not to kill you! The rainbow, then, is a phenomenon of awe, not just of beauty!
“And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.”
The world as we now know it, is not the world as God created it. The beauty we now see in the world is nothing compared to what God first made. And, whilst Adam and Eve were the first parents of all of mankind, God reduced this blood-line to just one family, thus ‘funnelling’ mankind through the family of Noah. We can be traced primarily to Adam and Eve, but in terms of practicality, we are traced back to Noah and his family, that is, Noah, his wife, their three sons, and their three wives. We are not told if these had children before the Flood.
Again, we are told the names of the sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. It is underlined that Ham is the father of Canaan. Shem was the founder of the semitic tribes, including the Hebrews. Ham was the founder of people of the south, possibly including Egypt. He was also the father of Canaan, K@naan (‘lowland’), his fourth son and founder of the Pheonicians and other peoples of the Palestinian coastlands.
The term ‘semitic’ is not strictly a name, but is a linguistic term coined in 1781 by A. L. Schloezer, the correct name being ‘Semites’. These Semites are descendants of Shem’s five sons and their 21 descendants, and include the Assyrians and Elamites, the Lydians, Arameans and the various Arabic tribes, and between them they covered the whole of the middle-east. Shem’s descendants (the Hebrews) later overcame and subdued the people of Canaan, as was foretold by Noah, and Yahweh is called the ‘God of Shem’, from whose lineage came Abraham. However, today, ‘Semite’ is mainly reserved for Jews and Arabs, as those with ‘typical’ physical features and a similar linguistic history.
Ham appears to be the youngest of Noah’s sons and was cursed for revealing Noah’s immodesty. The curse was of Canaan – this being a judgement not just upon Ham but also on all his descendants. (Note that this is not the same as so-called ‘generational curses’ popularised by charismatics. Rather, this is a specific curse pronounced upon a specific person for a specific reason). Ham’s descendants also included some Semites, and Egypt is referred to as ‘Ham’ in Psalm 78:51.
Japheth, for covering his father in the tent, was blessed by Noah. He had seven sons and seven grandsons, who founded Indo-European peoples, including Greeks (Titan) and Indians, and is linked in history with the ‘Kafti’, Cretians.
“And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.”
After the Flood, Noah became ‘an husbandman’. The words ‘began to be’, chalal, indicate that he was ‘beginning to be’ and was not an husbandman before the Flood. An ‘husbandman’, ikkar, is a ploughman or farmer, one who works the land but does not own it. It seems that Noah had much authority and power, but did not regard the land as his own. Really, this is a right attitude to have towards possessions
As a farmer he grew vines. He planted and established a vineyard, kerem. One day he drank too much of the yayin (wine: meaning effervescence, so probably young, strong wine) and became drunk, shikkarowm, or intoxicated, shakar. We should note that this word includes the meaning ‘to make oneself drunk’. It is a fallacy that a man cannot stop becoming drunk, because he knows when he has imbibed too much alcohol. As happens when men become drunk, Noah fell asleep in his tent, and was ‘uncovered’, galah – naked.
We do not know why he entered, but Ham went into the tent and saw his father’s state, reporting it back to the other two sons outside. They entered the tent backwards, holding up a garment shoulder-high. They stopped above their sleeping father, and placed the garment over him, not once looking upon him, as a sign of their respect and honour. Note that the text places more emphasis on Noah’s nakedness than on his drunken state.
“And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.
And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.”
When the effects of the drink had worn off, Noah awoke. We are told that he knew about Ham’s indiscretion. The actual offence is difficult for us to understand, but it was an offence nevertheless. It is possible that Ham scorned his father to his brothers. Noah cursed Ham, or rather his son, Canaan (we are not sure if he existed at this time, or if Noah was being prophetic). As is often the case in scripture, a nation is subsumed in the founder, so it is likely that Noah was cursing all of Ham’s descendants and not just Canaan. In this curse he must have included Ham himself.
The curse was that Ham’s descendants would become slaves to the descendants of the other two sons. Shem was blessed by Noah, and prophesied that Japheth would be ‘enlarged’ by God, pathah: made spacious or wide, meaning wealthy and abundant. What is meant by “he shall dwell in the tents of Shem”, if Shem was blessed? It could simply mean that both would live side by side in peace, and would have the descendants of Ham as their servants or slaves. Noah lived another 350 years after the Flood, his total life span being 950 years.
It is easy to view the events and peoples of these periods as dusty relics, but in them we see momentous life-changing facts. We see the beginnings of whole nations. We see that even then people had professions and skills, and not sub-species of humans with nothing of civilisation in them. They were craftsmen and farmers, soldiers and traders, from the very earliest of times. In the texts of the bible we see no evidence of ‘evolution’ from a lower species to a higher, of lower or no skills to higher skills. Instead we find people of good intelligence, much like today.
We see, instead, people already endowed with everything needed for life. They had one language and a single set of parents, Adam and Eve. From these two came all the peoples of the world. We also see an active God, and a people who recognised God to be supreme and real. In this are no myths or vestigial beliefs.
Sadly, even Christians have fallen for the theories of men, and do not believe these accounts in Genesis as actual facts. In their error, they bow to the invented intellectual ideas of science, and fail to see that what the texts say is what really happened. That is why we can read the next chapter with open eyes; the earth was not populated with mythical characters but by real people, all named and actual.
© March 2005 (Revised January 2014)
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
Please 'Make a Donation' to support the work of Bible Theology Ministries