Genesis 6-9 The Flood…Noah
Noah’s sons were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. All the people of the world are the descendants of these men and their wives.
Genesis 6:2-5-This is a difficult passage to understand. There are generally four suggestions as to who the “sons of God” were:
- the godly line of Seth;
- the ungodly kings of that day;
- demons who possessed men and women in order to accomplish their work (cf. The Genesis Record, Henry Morris, p. 169);
- fallen angels who cohabitated with human women to produce offspring (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).
The only other time in the Old Testament that the term “sons of God” is found is when it is used by Job in reference to angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). This is not a substantial enough usage to settle the question. And, this suggestion is the least likely since the Scripture clearly says that angels do not produce offspring after their own kind (Mark 12:25).
The simplest interpretation of verses 1-3 is that as the population of the world began to grow, men began to live and make their decisions more and more based on their primal (emotional, physical) drives and passions and less on their relationship with God…they did as they pleased. Verse 5 says that they were “mighty men (military men) who were of old, men of renown (wealth or power)”. The offspring of these “sons of God” began to establish themselves through force and finance…forsaking the ways of God (:5). That is why God says that His Spirit will not “strive with man forever”. He says that even as men’s lives will begin to shorten in duration and have a definite end, so shall the time shorten before He judges them for their behavior. God clearly states His intention to judge man for this behavior in verses 6-7.
Genesis 6:4-Aside from these offspring of the “sons of God” there were the “Nephilim” (the name means “to fall”, as in falling upon others to conquer them)…another group of men who sought to conquer their neighbors.
For a detailed study of the various interpretations of this passage see:
Genesis 6:8-This is the first use of the word "grace" in the Bible. Ryrie says it is "from a root word meaning 'to bend or stoop,’ thus condescending or unmerited favor of a superior person to an inferior one." Notice the difference between Noah and the other people of the earth. Noah was righteous, blameless, walked with God (6:9)...he was the only righteous man on earth (7:1). The rest of the people were flesh (6:3), wickedness, every intent of the thoughts of their heart was only evil continually (6:5), corrupt, filled with violence (6:11,13), all flesh had corrupted their way (6:12).
Genesis 6:14-16-God instructs Noah to build an Ark…giving him instructions for its construction. We do not know the exact length of a cubit at that time, however, later it was about 18 inches. That would make the ark 450 feet long, 75 feet broad, and 45 feet high. It would displace about 20,000 tons and could carry a gross tonnage of about 14,000 tons. Its carrying capacity is comparable to about 522 standard railroad stock cars (each which can carry 240 sheep…only 188 cars would be necessary to carry 45,000 pairs of sheep-sized animals, leaving 104 cars for food, Noah’s family and additional animals). Today, it is estimated that there are 17,600 species of animals…making 45,000 a likely approximation of the total number Noah might have taken on the ark (cf. Ryrie Study Bible, 6:15, footnote).
For a description of the size and shape of Noah’s ark see:
Genesis 6:17-22-God tells Noah that He is going to judge the entire world through a worldwide flood (:17).
Is there any evidence for a worldwide flood?
Noah will avoid this judgment by taking his family into the Ark. Remember, it still has not rained on the earth, so Noah is unaware of how God is going to bring this flood. What an incredible act of faith. God tells him that He is going to establish His “covenant” with him (cf. 9:9-16; 17:7). Not only is Noah to take his family into the Ark, but he is also to bring a male and female of every kind of animal on the earth, along with an adequate provision of food.
Genesis 7:2-God instructs Noah to take “of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female”. God sought to preserve the animal life on earth (:3).
7:2 “clean…not clean. Here the distinction had to do with sacrifice (cf. 8:20); later, with eating (Lev. 11; Deut. 14). by sevens. Lit., seven seven, which may mean seven pairs of the clean animals, or it may indicate three pairs plus one extra.
Ryrie Study Bible, 7:2, footnote
How could all of those animals fit on the ark? For an explanation see:
Genesis 7:4-6-For the first time God mentions “rain”…it will last for 40 days and nights…and all land life will die. Noah was 600 years old at this time.
Genesis 7:7-16-Noah’s family and the animals entered the Ark…and God closed the door (:16). “the fountains of the great deep” are the subterranean waters.
Genesis 7:17-20-Between the water in the massive cloud canopy that completely surrounded the earth and now fell in the form of rain, and these subterranean waters that flooded to the surface…the water was deep enough to completely flood the earth and rise above the mountain peaks (:19-20).
Genesis 7:21-24-Every living animal on land died. The water covered the land for 150 days.
Genesis 8:1-5-Finally, the rising water stopped and began to recede. 74 days after the water had covered the land for 150 days (224 total) the Ark came to rest on the “mountains of Ararat”. In the 10th month the tops of the mountains became visible (:5).
Genesis 8:6-7-Noah opens a window and releases a raven…a scavenger that could easily find dead food. It did not return to the ark.
Genesis 8:8-9-He then sent out a dove…but it could not find suitable food or a place to land, so it returned.
Genesis 8:10-11-Seven days later he sent out the dove. It returned, but with a “freshly picked olive leaf”.
Genesis 8:12-Seven days later he sent the dove out, again. This time it did not return.
Genesis 8:13-19-God tells Noah that his family and all of the animals are to leave the Ark. They had been on the Ark for 371 days (53 weeks).
Genesis 8:20-22-Noah built an altar and offered a sacrifice to the Lord. God then promises that never again will He judge the earth and the animals for the sin of man.
Noah built an ark for himself, and an altar for the LORD.
Prayer: Lord, how terribly sinful mankind must have been for You to pass such a severe judgment on them. I don’t know exactly what it was like then, but it seems that today we are quickly becoming more and more like it. People all across the world are denying You, refusing to believe in You. Please help me to be instrumental in spreading Your Gospel, the message of Your love, grace, and salvation around the world. We have such amazing technology available to do so. Show me how to access those resources for Your kingdom. And help me to live in a manner that is pleasing to You.