and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth; not together, but one after another; and since Ham was the younger son, see Genesis 9:24 and Shem was an hundred years old two years after the flood, Genesis 11:10 he must be born in the five hundred and second year of his father's age; so that it seems most probable that Japheth was the eldest son, and born in the five hundred and first year of his age; though Shem is usually mentioned first, because of his superior dignity and excellency, God being in an eminent manner the God of Shem, Genesis 9:26 and from whom the Messiah was to spring, and in whose line the church of God was to be continued in future ages. The name of Japheth is retained in Greek and Latin authors, as Hesiod (g) Horace (h), and others (i), by whom he is called Japetos and Japetus.
(f) "filius quingentorum annorum", Pagninus, Montanus, &c. (g) "Theogonia prope principium et passim". (h) Carmin. l. 1. Ode 3.((i) Apollodorus de Deorum Orig. l. 1. p. 2, 4. Ovid. Metamorph. l. 1. Fab. 2.
INTRODUCTION TO Genesis 6
This chapter gives an account of the wickedness of the old world, both among the profane and the professors of religion, which was taken notice of and resented by God, upon which he determined the destruction of it, Genesis 6:1 only one man, Noah, is excepted, who found favour with God, and whose character is given, Genesis 6:8 and to whom was observed by God the general corruption of the earth, Genesis 6:11 and to whom he gave orders and directions for the building an ark for himself, and his family, being determined to destroy the earth with a flood, and all creatures in it, Genesis 6:14 only he would preserve him and his wife, his three sons and their wives, and two of every living creature, for which, and for himself and his family, he was to take food into the ark when built, Genesis 6:18 and the chapter is concluded with observing, that Noah did as he was commanded, Genesis 6:22.
and daughters were born unto them; not daughters only, but sons also, though it may be more daughters than sons, or it may denote remarkable ones, for their beauty or immodesty, or both; and chiefly this is observed for the sake of what follows.
and they took them wives of all that they chose; not by force, as Aben Ezra and Ben Gersom interpret, for the Cainites being more numerous and powerful than they, it can hardly be thought that the one would attempt it, or the other suffer it; but they intermarried with them, which the Cainites might not be averse unto; they took to them wives as they fancied, which were pleasing to the flesh, without regard to their moral and civil character, and without the advice and consent of their parents, and without consulting God and his will in the matter; or they took women as they pleased, and were to their liking, and committed fornication, to which the Cainites were addicted; for they spent their time in singing and dancing, and in uncleanness, whereby the posterity of Seth or sons of God were allured to come down and join them, and commit fornication with them, as the Arabic writers (m) relate.
(k) Sept, "bonae" Cocceius. (l) Elmacinus, Patricides apud Hottinger. Smegma, l. 1. c. viii. p. 226, 227, 228. (m) Elmacinus, Patricides apud Hottinger. Smegma, l. 1. c. viii. p. 232, 235, 236, 242, 247.
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.
and also after that, which shows that the preceding clause respects giants in former times:
when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, came into their houses and chambers, and lay with them:
and they bare children unto them, or giants unto them, as may be supplied from the former clause; for the sense is, as there were giants before this general defection, so there were at this time, when there was a mixture of the Cainites and Sethites; which were the offspring of the sons of God, or posterity of Seth, mixing with the daughters of men, or the posterity of Cain; for this is not to be understood after the flood, as Aben Ezra, Ben Melech; and so they are described in the following words:
the same became mighty men; for tallness and strength, for power and dominion, for tyranny and oppression:
which were of old: like those that were of old before; or who in after times were spoken of, as in the days of old:
men of renown, or "of name" (o); whose names were often made mention of, both for their size and for their wickedness; they were much talked of, and extolled for their exploits, and even wicked ones: they were famous men, or rather infamous; for some men get a name in the world, not for their goodness, but for their greatness, and sometimes for their great wickedness; which sense is countenanced by what follows: that there were giants in these early times is confirmed by the testimony of many Heathen writers; such were the Titans that made war against Saturn, begotten by Ouranus, who were not only of bulky bodies, but of invincible strength, as Apollodorus (p) relates, and Berosus (q) speaks of a city about Lebanon, called Enos, which was a city of giants, who were men of vast bodies, and of great strength, inventors of arms and music, were cannibals, and exceedingly debauched.
(n) Elmacinus & Patricides apud Hottinger, p. 235, 236. (o) "viri nominis", Montanus. (p) De Origine Deorum, l. 1. p. 14. (q) Antiqu. l. 1. fol. 5. 2. vid. Horat. Carmin, l. 2. Ode. 19. Ovid Metamorph. l. 1. Fab. 1.
and that, every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually: the heart of man is evil and wicked, desperately wicked, yea, wickedness itself, a fountain of iniquity, out of which abundance of evil flows, by which it may be known in some measure what is in it, and how wicked it is; but God, that sees it, only knows perfectly all the wickedness of it, and the evil that is in it: the "thoughts" of his heart are evil; evil thoughts are formed in the heart, and proceed from it; they are vain, foolish, and sinful, and abominable in the sight of God, by whom they are seen, known, and understood afar off: the "imagination" of his thoughts is evil, the formation of them; they were evil while forming, the substratum of thought, the very beginning of it, the first motion to it, yea, "every" such one was evil, and "only" so; not one good among them, not one good thing in their hearts, no one good thought there, nor one good imagination of the thought; and so it was "continually" from their birth, from their youth upwards, throughout the whole of their lives, and all the days of their lives, night and day, and day after day, without intermission: this respects the original corruption of human nature, and shows it to be universal; for this was not only true of the men of the old world, but of all mankind; the same is said of men after the flood as before, and of all men in general without any exception, Genesis 8:21. Hence appears the necessity of regeneration, and proves that the new creature is not an improvement of the old principles of corrupt nature, since there is no good thing in man but what is put into him; also the disability of man to do that which is good, even to think a good thought, or do a good action; therefore the works of unregenerate men are not properly good works, since they cannot flow from a right principle, or be directed to a right end.
(r) "augescere", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "multiplicaretur", Schmidt.
and it grieved him at his heart; this is to be understood by the same figure as before, for there can, no more be any uneasiness in his mind than a change in it; for God is a simple Being, uncompounded, and not subject to any passions and affections. This is said to observe his great hatred to sin, and abhorrence of it.
I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth; though he is my creature, the work of my hands, I have made him out of the earth, and made him lord of it; I am now determined to show my detestation of his wickedness, and for the honour of my justice to destroy him from off it; just as a potter takes a vessel he dislikes, when he has made it, and dashes it to pieces: or "I will wipe men off of the earth" (s); like so much dust; man was made of the dust of the earth, he is dust, yea, sinful dust and ashes; and God resolved to send a flood of waters on the earth, which should wash off man from it, like so much dust upon it, just as dust is carried off by a flood of water, see 2 Kings 21:13 or "I will blot out man" (t), as most render the words; that is, out of the book of the living, he shall no longer live upon the earth; out of the book of creation, or of the creatures, he shall have no more a being, or be seen among them, any more than what is blotted out of a book:
both man and beast; or "from man to beast" (u); even every living creature upon the earth, from man to beast, one as well as another, and one for the sake of the other, the beasts for the sake of man; these were made for his use and benefit, but he sinning against God, and abusing his mercies, they are to be taken away, and destroyed for his sake, and as a punishment for his sins:
and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air; not the creeping things in the great and wide sea, for the fishes died not in the deluge, but the creeping things on the earth, Genesis 6:20.
for it repenteth me that I have made them; man, male and female, whom he created; Adam and Eve, and their posterity, and particularly the present inhabitants of the earth: but though it may respect men principally, yet is not to be restrained to them, but takes in all the creatures before mentioned, made for the use of man; and the ends not being answered by them, God repented that he had made them, as well as man. Some think the repentance, attributed to God in this and the preceding verse, is not to be understood of him in himself, but of his Spirit in good men, particularly Noah, producing grief, sorrow, and repentance in him, who wished that man had never been, than to be so wicked as he was; but for such a sense there seems to be no manner of foundation in the text.
(s) "abstergam; verbum Hebraeum" "significat aqua aliquid extergere", Pareus. (t) Delebo, V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, &c. (u) "ab homine usque ad jumentum", Pagninus, Montanus, &c.
Noah was a just man; not only before men, but in the sight of God; and not by his own works of righteousness, for no man is just by them before God, but by the righteousness of the promised seed, the Messiah; for he "became heir of the righteousness which is by faith", Hebrews 11:7 the righteousness which was to be brought in by the Son of God, and which was revealed to him from faith to faith; and which by faith he received and lived upon, as every just man does, and believed in as his justifying righteousness before God; though he also lived a holy and righteous conversation before men, which may rather be intended in the next part of his character:
and perfect in his generations; not that he was perfectly holy, or free from sin, but was a partaker of the true grace of God; was sincere and upright in heart and life; lived an unblemished life and conversation, untainted with the gross corruptions of that age he lived in, which he escaped through the knowledge, grace, and fear of God; and therefore it is added, that he was holy, upright, and blameless "in his generations": among the men of the several generations he lived in, as in the generation before the flood, which was very corrupt indeed, and which corruption was the cause of that; and in the generation after the flood: or "in his ages" (w), in the several stages of his life, in youth and in old age; he was throughout the whole course of his life a holy good man.
And Noah walked with God: walked according to his will, in the ways of truth and righteousness; walked in a manner well pleasing to him, and enjoyed much communion with him, as Enoch had done before him, Genesis 5:22.
(w) "in aetatibus suis", Drusius, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius.
and the earth was filled with violence; with doing injury to the persons and properties of men; with oppression and cruelty, by tyrannical decrees and unrighteous judgments; or with rapines and robberies, as the Targums and Jarchi; and with rapes, as Aben Ezra adds: the account that Lucian (x) gives from tradition agrees with this; that the present race of men is not the first, they totally perished by a flood; and those men were very insolent and addicted to unjust actions; for they neither kept their oaths, nor were hospitable to strangers, nor gave ear to suppliants, for which reason they were destroyed.
(x) De Dea Syria.
for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth: that is, all men, excepting Noah; who were flesh, carnal and unregenerate persons; these had corrupted the way of God, the true religion, with their idolatries: and they had corrupted their own way, their manners, their life and conversation with their uncleanness and wickedness of various sorts: the Arabic writers (y) say, that after Enoch was taken away, the children of Seth and of Cain worshipped idols, everyone as he pleased, and were immersed in wickedness, and gave their right hands to each other, and joined in fellowship in committing sin and vice; and that in the times of Noah, none were left in the holy mount but he and his wife, and his three sons and their wives; all went down below and mixed with the daughters of Cain, and were immersed in sins, and worshipped strange gods, and so the earth was corrupted and filled with lasciviousness. The Jewish writers also observe (z), that the generations of Cain were guilty of uncleanness, men and women, like beasts, and defiled themselves with all kind of fornication and incest, everyone with his mother, and with his own sister, and with his brother's wife, and that openly, and in the streets: and Sanchoniatho (a), the Heathen historian, the writer of the history of Cain's line, says of the fifth generation before the flood, that the women of those times, without shame, lay with any man they could meet with.
(y) Elmacinus & Patricides, apud Hottinger. Smegma Oriental. l. 1. c. 8. p. 242, 247. (z) Pirke Eliezer, c. 22. (a) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 1. p. 34, 35.
the end of all flesh is come before me; that is, it was determined to put an end to the lives of all men, and of all cattle, and fowl and creeping things on the earth; all which are included in the phrase, "all flesh", even every living substance on the earth:
for the earth is filled with violence through them; that is, through men, for they are principally intended in the preceding clause, though not only; and it was through them, and not through other creatures, that the earth was filled with violence, in the sense in which it is explained in See Gill on Genesis 6:11,
and behold, I will destroy them with the earth; meaning, that he would destroy all men, together with the cattle and creeping things of the earth, the trees, and herbs, and plants in it, yea, that itself, for that is said to perish by the flood, 2 Peter 3:6. Some render it, "out of the earth" (b); that is, would destroy them from it, that they should be no more on it.
(b) "e terra", Cartwright; some in Vatablus; so Ar. vers. Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Ben Gersom & Ben Melech.
rooms shalt thou make in the ark; or "nests" (o); little apartments, and many of them for the several creatures, and for their provisions, as well as for Noah and his family. The Targum of Jonathan gives us the number of them, paraphrasing the words thus,"one hundred and fifty cells shalt thou make for the ark on the left hand, and ten apartments in the middle to put food in, and five cabins on the right, and five on the left:"
and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch; it was pitched without to keep out the waters, and that they might more easily slide off, and to preserve the ark from being eat with worms, or hurt with the wind and sun; and it was pitched within, to take off the ill smell that might arise from the several creatures, as well as for the better security of the ark. Some take it to be bitumen, a sort of clay or slime like pitch, such as was used at the building of Babel, and of the walls of Babylon. De Dieu conjectures it was that kind of bitumen which the Arabs calls Kaphura, which agrees in sound with the word here used; but why not the pitch of the pine tree, or the rosin of the cypress tree, and especially the latter, if the ark was made of the wood of it (p)?
(c) De Dea Syria. (d) Miscellan. Sacr. l. 4. c. 5. (e) Phaleg. l. 1. c. 4. Colossians 22, 23. (f) Vid. Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 1. p. 35. (g) Geograph, l. 16. p. 510. (h) Ut supra. (Phaleg. l. 1. c. 4. Colossians 22, 23.) (i) Ib. p. 508. (k) Pirke Eliezer, c. 23. (l) Elmacinus, p. 11. apud Hottinger, Smegma, l. 1. c. 8. p. 249. (m) Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 1, 2.((n) "tibi", Pagninus, Montanus, &c. (o) "nidos", Pagninus, Montanus. (p) Vid. Scheuchzer. p. 35.
the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits; which some interpret of geometrical cubits, each of which contained six ordinary cubits; others of sacred cubits, which were larger by an hand's breadth than the common cubit; but the general opinion of learned men now is, that they were common cubits of eighteen inches long; and by the geometrical calculations made by them it is found, that the ark of such dimensions was abundantly sufficient to contain Noah, and his family, and the various creatures, and all necessary provisions for them (q). But if the Jewish and Egyptian cubit, the cubit of the Scriptures, as Dr. Cumberland (r) has shown it to be, consisted of twenty one inches and upwards, the ark according to them must be very near twice as great, and so more convenient for all the ends to which it was designed; for, as he observes, the cube of such a cubit is very near double to the cube of eighteen inches, and therefore so must the capacity be. (Noah's Ark was the largest sea-going vessel ever built, until, the late nineteenth century when giant metal ships were first constructed. The Ark was approximately 450 feet by seventy five feet; but as late as 1858"the largest vessel of her type in the world was the P&O liner, "Himalaya", 240 feet by thirty five feet...''In that year, Isambard K. Brunel produced the "Great Eastern", 692 feet by 83 feet by 30 feet of approximately 19000 tons ... five times the tonnage of any ship then afloat. So vast was Brunel's leap that even forty years later in an age of fierce competition the largest liners being built were still smaller than the "Great Eastern" ... (s). Editor.)
(q) Vid. Buteonem de Area Noe, Hostum in fabricam Areae Noc, & Poli Synopsin. Scheuchzer, ut supra, (Physic. Sacr. vol. 1.) pp. 37, 38. (r) Of Scripture Weights and Measures, ch. 2. p. 56, 57. (s) The World that Perished, John C. Witcomb, published by Baker Book House, 1988, p. 22.
and in a cubit shall thou finish it above; not the window, as some think, which they place at top of the ark, and suppose to be a cubit in length, but the ark itself, which was finished with a roof raised up a cubit high in the middle:
and the door of the ark shall thou set in the side thereof; on which it is not said; an Arabic writer (u) places it on the east side of it, on which side he supposes Noah and his sons dwelt, and on the west side his wife and his sons' wives. How large this door was is not said; it is reasonably supposed (w) to be ten cubits high and eight broad, that there might be room enough for an elephant to enter in by it; and it seems it was so large, that Noah, and those with him, could not shut it, but it was done by the Lord, Genesis 7:16.
with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it: the above Arabic writer (x) makes the lower story to be for the beasts, the second for the birds, and the third for Noah and his children; and with him agrees a Jewish writer (y): but as by this distribution no place is left for provisions, they seem most correct who place the beasts in the lower story, and the birds with Noah and his family in the uppermost, and the provisions for all in the middle. This ark was a type of the church of God. As to the form and pattern of it, it was of God, so the separation of men from the world in a church state is of God; it is by his appointment, and it is his will, that when any numbers of men are converted in a place, that they should be incorporated together in a church state, the form of which is given by him, its officers appointed, and the laws and ordinances of it fixed by him: and as to the matter of it, "Gopher wood", a lasting and incorruptible wood, denoting the duration of the church; God ever had, and ever will have a church in the world: as to the parts of it, and rooms in it, the rooms may point at particular churches, of which there have been many; or may signify, that there is always room enough in the church of God to receive saints. The ark had three stories in it, as the tabernacle and temple had three divisions, which were types of the same also; and may have respect to the visible church, consisting of believers and unbelievers, the invisible church, or general assembly of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven, and the church triumphant. The door into the ark may signify Christ, who, and faith in him, may be said to be the door into the church, and to all the ordinances of it: the window may either typify the glorious light of the Gospel, held forth in the church, or the ordinances of it, to which sensible souls betake themselves, as doves to their windows, Isaiah 60:8. Into this ark not only Noah and his family, but creatures of all sorts were admitted, as sinners of all sorts called by grace, and become peaceable, are received into the church of God; yea, even good and bad have a place here, though the latter under the notion and character of the former, but are hypocrites in Zion: here also were plenty of provisions for all in it, as there are in the church of God fulness of spiritual provisions for all the people of God. The ark was of the use of a ship, and was the means of saving a few men, even Noah and his family; so the church of God has the nature and use of a ship, of which Christ is the pilot, and conducts it through the sea of this world, in which it is often tossed with tempests, and distressed; but at last brought to its haven, in which a few are saved, not as the cause, which alone is Christ, but as the means. The Apostle Peter makes baptism its antitype, 1 Peter 3:21 which is God's ordinance, and not man's, of his appointing; as to the form and manner of it, is the object of the world's scorn, when rightly administered, as Noah's ark was; represents a burial, as that did when Noah entered into it; and was an emblem of Christ's resurrection and ours, when he came out of it: it was a type of baptism in its salutary effect, it saves by water, as that does by leading to the resurrection of Christ; it saves not as a cause, but as a means of directing to Christ, the author of salvation; and saves not all in the water, only those that are in the ark, that is, truly and rightly in the church, and real members of it, or that are in Christ; and so many make the ark also a type of Christ.
(s) Targum Jonathan in loc. Pirke Eliezer, c. 23. (t) Dickinson. Physic. vet & vera, c. 20. p. 324, 325. (u) Patricides, apud Hottinger. p. 248, 250. (w) Scbeuchzer. Physica Sacra, vol. 1. p. 40. (x) Patricides, apud Hottinger. p. 248, 250. (y) Pirke Eliezer, c. 23.
to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; every living creature, men and women, the beasts and cattle of the earth, and every creeping thing on it, and the fowls of the heaven, man principally, and these for his sake.
And everything that is in the earth shall die; but not what was in the waters, the fishes of the sea, which could live in the flood.
(z) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 3. sect. 6. (a) Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 12, 19. (b) De Dea Syria. (c) Metamorph. l. 1. Fab. 7. (d) In Timaeo, & de Iside & Osir. (e) Sinic. Hist. l. 1. p. 3, 26. (f) See Bishop Patrick, in loc. (g) Miscellanea Curiosa, vol. 8. p. 261, 262. (h) "cecidit". (i) "consumpsit, vel" "confudit, miscuit".
and thou shalt come into the ark; when the covenant would begin more clearly to be established, and more plainly to be fulfilling; Noah on the one hand being obedient to the divine will, having built an ark, and entering into it; and on the other, God giving him leave, and an order to enter into it, and shutting him up in it to preserve him:
thou and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee; that is, Noah and his wife, and his sons and their wives, in all eight persons; and eight only, as the Apostle Peter observes, 1 Peter 3:20 by this it appears that Noah's three sons were married before the flood, but as yet had no children. Jarchi concludes, from the mode of expression used, that the men and women were to be separate; that they entered the ark in this manner, and continued so, the use of the marriage bed being forbidden them while in the ark.
to keep them alive with thee; to be fed and nourished by him in the ark, while others perished by the flood, that so they might propagate their own species, and be continued, for which reason it is further ordered:
they shall be male and female; not any two, but one male and one female, for the end before mentioned.
two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive; that is, they shall come of themselves, as Jarchi and Aben Ezra observe, the providence of God so directing and impelling them, just as the creatures came to Adam; so that there was no need for Noah to take any pains by hunting or hawking to get such a number together: the Targum of Jonathan is,"they shall come unto thee by the hand of an angel, who shall take and cause them to come.''So says another Jewish (l) writer, that they were collected by the angels who presided over each species; in which, except the notion of angels presiding over every kind of creature, there is no incongruity, as Bishop Patrick observes; and two of every sort were to come to the ark, to be preserved alive there, that they might propagate their species. So Lucian says (m), that swine, and horses, and lions, and serpents, and all other creatures which were on the earth, entered into the ark "by pairs".
(k) Vid. Bedford's Scripture Chronology, c. 12. p. 155. (l) Pirke Eliezer, c. 23. (m) De Dea Syria.
and thou shall gather it to thee; to lay up in the ark:
and it shall be for food for thee, and for them: during the flood, a quantity sufficient for them: and according to the calculation of learned men (n), well versed in mathematics, there was room enough in the ark, and to spare, to put food for them all during the time the flood was on the earth.
(n) Buteo de Area Noe, Wilkins's Essay towards a real Character, Bedford's Chronology, &c.