Genesis 6:3 MEANING

Genesis 6:3
(3) And the Lord said.--As the Sethites are now the fallen race, it is their covenant Jehovah who determines to reduce the extreme duration of human life to that which, under the most favourable sanitary influences, might still be its normal length.

My spirit shall not always strive with man.--The meaning of this much-contested clause is really settled by the main purpose and context of the verse, which is the Divine determination to shorten human life. Whether, then, God's spirit be the animating breath spoken of in Genesis 2:7; Genesis 7:22, whereby human life is sustained, or the spiritual part of man, his conscience and moral sense--God's best gift to him--in opposition to his flesh, the struggle henceforward is not to be indefinitely prolonged. In the first case, the struggle spoken of is that between the elements of life and death in the body; in the second, it refers to the moral probation to which man is subject. The versions generally take the former meaning, and translate "shall not dwell," or "abide "; but there is much in favour of the rendering "shall strive," though the verb more exactly means to rule, preside over, sit as judge. Literally, then, it signifies that the Divine gift of life shall not rule in man "for ever;" that is, for a period so protracted as was antediluvian life. (Comp. Deuteronomy 15:17, &c.)

With man.--Heb., with the adam: spoken with especial reference to the Sethites.

For that he also is flesh.--So all the versions; but many commentators, to avoid an Aramaism which does not occur again till the later Psalms, translate, "in their erring he is (= they are) flesh." But no reason for shortening human life can be found in this commonplace assertion; and if Abraham brought these records with him from Ur, we have an explanation of the acknowledged fact that Aramaisms do occur in the earlier portions of the Bible. Man, then, is "also" flesh, that is, his body is of the same nature as those of the animals, and in spite of his noble gifts and precedence, he must submit to a life of the same moderate duration as that allotted them.

Verse 3. - And the Lord - Jehovah; not because due to the Jehovist (Tuch, Bleek, Colenso), but because the sin above specified was a direct violation of the footing of grace on which the Sethites stood - said, - to himself, i.e. purposed, - My spirit - neither "ira, seu rigida Dei justitia" (Venema), nor "the Divine spirit of life bestowed upon man, the principle of physical and ethical, natural and spiritual life" (Keil); but the Holy Ghost, the Ruach Elohim of Genesis 1:2 - shall not always strive. London: -

1. Shall not dwell (LXX., οὐ μὴ καταμείνη; Vulgate, non permanebit; Syriac, Onkelos).

2. Shall not be humbled, i.e. by dwelling in men (Gesenius, Tuch).

3. More probably, shall not rule (De Wette, Delitzsch, Kalisch, Furst), or shall not judge (οὐ κρίνει), as the consequence of ruling (Symmachus, Rosenmüller, Keil), or shall not contend in judgment (arguere, reprehendere; cf. Ecclesiastes 6:10), i.e. strive with a man by moral force (Calvin, Michaelis, Dathe, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Murphy, Bush). With man, for that he also - beshaggam. Either be, shaggam, inf. of shagag, to wander, with pron. surf. = "in their wandering" (Gesenius, Tuch, Keil) - the meaning being that men by their straying had proved themselves to be flesh, though a plural suffix with a singular pronoun following is inadmissible in Hebrew (Kalisch); or be, sh (contracted from asher), and gain (also) = quoniam. Cf. Judges 5:7; Judges 6:17; Song of Solomon 1:7 (A.V.). Though an Aramaic particle, "it must never be forgotten that Aramaisms are to be expected either in the most modern or in the most ancient portions of Scripture" ('Speaker's Commentary) - is flesh, not "transitory beings" (Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Tuch), or corporeal beings (Kalisch), but sinful beings; bashar being already employed in its ethical signification, like σάρξ in the New Testament, to denote "man's materiality as rendered ungodly by sin" (Keil). "The doctrine of the carnal mind (Romans 8.) is merely the outgrowth, of the thought expressed in this passage ' (Murphy). Yet his days - not the individual's (Kalisch), which were not immediately curtailed to the limit mentioned, and, even after the Flood, extended far beyond it (vide Genesis 11.); but the races, which were only to be prolonged in gracious respite (Calvin) - shall be an hundred and twenty years. Tuch, Colenso, and others, supposing this to have been said by God in Noah's 500th year, find a respite only of 100 years, instead of 120; but the historian does not assert that it was then God either formed or announced this determination.

6:1-7 The most remarkable thing concerning the old world, is the destroying of it by the deluge, or flood. We are told of the abounding iniquity of that wicked world: God's just wrath, and his holy resolution to punish it. In all ages there has been a peculiar curse of God upon marriages between professors of true religion and its avowed enemies. The evil example of the ungodly party corrupts or greatly hurts the other. Family religion is put an end to, and the children are trained up according to the worldly maxims of that parent who is without the fear of God. If we profess to be the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty, we must not marry without his consent. He will never give his blessing, if we prefer beauty, wit, wealth, or worldly honours, to faith and holiness. The Spirit of God strove with men, by sending Enoch, Noah, and perhaps others, to preach to them; by waiting to be gracious, notwithstanding their rebellions; and by exciting alarm and convictions in their consciences. But the Lord declared that his Spirit should not thus strive with men always; he would leave them to be hardened in sin, and ripened for destruction. This he determined on, because man was flesh: not only frail and feeble, but carnal and depraved; having misused the noble powers of his soul to gratify his corrupt inclinations. God sees all the wickedness that is among the children of men; it cannot be hid from him now; and if it be not repented of, it shall be made known by him shortly. The wickedness of a people is great indeed, when noted sinners are men renowned among them. Very much sin was committed in all places, by all sorts of people. Any one might see that the wickedness of man was great: but God saw that every imagination, or purpose, of the thoughts of man's heart, was only evil continually. This was the bitter root, the corrupt spring. The heart was deceitful and desperately wicked; the principles were corrupt; the habits and dispositions evil. Their designs and devices were wicked. They did evil deliberately, contriving how to do mischief. There was no good among them. God saw man's wickedness as one injured and wronged by it. He saw it as a tender father sees the folly and stubbornness of a rebellious and disobedient child, which grieves him, and makes him wish he had been childless. The words here used are remarkable; they are used after the manner of men, and do not mean that God can change, or be unhappy. Does God thus hate our sin? And shall not we be grieved to the heart for it? Oh that we may look on Him whom we have grieved, and mourn! God repented that he had made man; but we never find him repent that he redeemed man. God resolves to destroy man: the original word is very striking, 'I will wipe off man from the earth,' as dirt or filth is wiped off from a place which should be clean, and is thrown to the dunghill, the proper place for it. God speaks of man as his own creature, when he resolves upon his punishment. Those forfeit their lives who do not answer the end of their living. God speaks of resolution concerning men, after his Spirit had been long striving with them in vain. None are punished by the justice of God, but those who hate to be reformed by the grace of God.And the Lord said,.... Not to Noah, as in Genesis 6:13 for, as yet, he is not taken notice of, or any discourse addressed to him; but rather to or within himself, he said what follows, or thus concluded, and resolved on in his own mind:

my Spirit shall not always strive with man; meaning either the soul of man, called the Spirit of God, Job 27:3 because of his creation, and is what he breathes and puts into men, and therefore is styled the Father of spirits; and which is in man, as some in Aben Ezra observe to be the sense the word used, as a sword in the scabbard; and so the meaning is, it shall not always abide there, but be unsheathed and drawn out; man shall not live always, since he is corrupt, and given to carnal lusts: or else, as Jarchi thinks, God himself is meant, and that the sense is, my Spirit shall not always contend within myself; or there shall not always be contention within me concerning man, whether I shall destroy him, or have mercy on him; I am at a point to punish him, since he is wholly carnal: or rather this is to be understood of the Holy Spirit of God, as the Targum of Jonathan, which agrees with 1 Peter 3:18 and to be thus interpreted; that the Spirit of God, which had been litigating and reasoning the point, as men do in a court of judicature, as the word signifies, with these men in the court, and at the bar of their own consciences, by one providence or by one minister or another, particularly by Noah, a preacher of righteousness, in vain, and to no purpose; therefore, he determines to proceed no longer in this way, but pass and execute the sentence of condemnation on them:

for that he also is flesh; not only carnal and corrupt, but sadly corrupted, and wholly given up to and immersed in sensual lusts and carnal pleasures, so as not to be restrained nor reformed; even the posterity of Seth, professors of religion also, as well as the profane world and posterity of Cain:

yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years: meaning not the term of man's life, reduced to this from the length of time he lived before the flood; but this designs the space that God would give for repentance, before he proceeded to execute his vengeance on him; this is that "longsuffering of God" the apostle speaks of in the afore mentioned place, "that waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing"; and so both the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan interpret it of a space of an hundred and twenty years given them to repent: now whereas it was but an hundred years from the birth of Japheth to the flood, some think the space was shortened twenty years, because of their impenitence; but it is more probable what Jarchi observes, that this decree was made and given out twenty years before his birth, though here related, by a figure called "hysteron proteron", frequent in the Scriptures.

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