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For New King James text and commentary, click here.
Genesis 8-11 Listen
We have ourselves a flood (Genesis 8:1-14)
1 And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged;
2 The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained;
3 And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.
4 And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.
5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.
6 And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:
7 And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.
8 Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;
9 But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.
10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark;
11 And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.
12 And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more.
13 And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.
14 And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.
The flood began in Genesis 7 (see notes). One year and ten days on the ark with a bunch of animals - it beats the fatal swim everyone else took. A raven and three dove flights later they get the go ahead to disembark.
|Day -7||Load the animals||Genesis 7:4|
|Day 1||Flood comes. Noah is 600 years, 2 months, 17 days old.||Genesis 7:11|
|Day 40||The rain stops||Genesis 7:12, 17|
|Day 150||The ark lands on Mount Ararat. Noah is 600 years, 7 months, 17 days old||Genesis 8:3-4|
|Day 223||The tops of other mountains are seen. Noah is 600 years, 10 months old||Genesis 8:5|
|Day 263||Noah sends out a raven and a dove (the dove returns empty beaked)||Genesis 8:6-7|
|Day 270||Noah sends out another dove (the dove returns with a twig)||Genesis 8:10|
|Day 277||Noah sends out another dove (the dove doesn't return)||Genesis 8:12|
|Day 283||Noah has his 601st birthday...on the ark. The flood waters are gone. The earth is dry.||Genesis 8:13|
|Day 370||Noah is 601 years, 2 months, 27 days old. God tells them to leave the ark.||Genesis 8:14|
Is it not interesting that Noah and his family stayed on the ark for 87 days after the land appeared dry? That, in itself, constitutes an act of faith. How many would have reasoned that if it's dry outside, why not go ahead and get out there. It is worth noting the difference in the expressions between verses 13 and 14. We are told in verse 13 that on day 283 "the face of the ground was dry." In verse 14 we are told "was the earth dried." The Hebrew word used for face there is usually a reference to a human face. It is likely that verse 13 expresses the mere appearance of the surface while verse 14 declares that all conditions are now safe. However, they waited for God's command to leave. Come to think of it, they may not have had a choice but to stay on the ark for those additional 87 days. According to Genesis 7:16 (see notes), before their 370-day odyssey began, it specifically says "and the LORD shut him in." Since God had shut them in, one might very well assume that no one leaves until God lets them out.
Off the boat (Genesis 8:15-19)
15 And God spake unto Noah, saying,
16 Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee.
17 Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.
18 And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him:
19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.
God instructs Noah to take his crowd and leave the ark. Everybody departs and touches dry land for the first time in over a year.
First order of business - an altar and sacrifice (Genesis 8:20-22)
20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
The first order of business is to make an animal sacrifice. That's why we needed the extra clean animals (verse 20) that Noah had been directed to load onto the ark back in Genesis 7:2-3 (see notes). Hmmmm...animal sacrifice...have we seen this done before? Well, notice Genesis 3:21 (see notes), "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them." I'd say that there was some sacrifice involved there, but Adam didn't do the actual sacrificing. And in Genesis 4:1-5 (see notes), it is likely (but not specified per se) that Abel placed his offering of the "firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof" on an altar before God. However, here we see Noah literally building his own altar and making a burnt offering of the clean animals. Today some would exclaim, "Hey...Noah...that's no way to treat an animal!" What was God's reaction to this slaughtering of innocent animals? There's your answer in verse 21, "And the LORD smelled a sweet savour." The Hebrew word for "burnt offering" here is "olah." This offering became a formal part of the Mosaic Law; this is the first usage of "olah" in the Old Testament.
Notice the guarantees God gives after Noah makes his burnt-offering sacrifice (verses 21-22) regarding the destruction of the earth. The guarantee from God is plain in verse 21, "... neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done." That's right...no more world-wide destruction of the earth...period. In this context, God speaks directly about the flood in 9:11-17 (see below).
The Noahic covenant (Genesis 9:1-17)
1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
2 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.
3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
5 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.
6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.
8 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,
9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
10 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.
11 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.
12 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:
13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
15 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.
16 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.
17 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.
Then it's on to establishing a covenant with Noah. This covenant begins with God's promise in verse 8:21 when he says, "...neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done." We know this as the Noahic Covenant (obvious...right?) Gen. 9:1 says, "And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth." Does that sound like a command to you? We'll see in Genesis 11 (see below) the significance of this verse as man declined to replenish the whole earth. They chose to stay in one locale instead.
Verse 6 says, "Whoso sheddeth mans blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man." Here is the foundational statement regarding capital punishment. The Mosaic Law would later add much detail upon this foundation.
Then God establishes an unconditional covenant in verses 8-17.
For perspective, let's list the provisions and requirements of the Noahic Covenant:
Regarding verses 8-17, take note of this entry found in the Jewish Study Bible:
In the Talmud, it is taught that "descendants of Noah: - that is, universal humanity - are obligated by seven commandments: (1) to establish courts of justice, (2) to refrain from blaspheming the God of Israel, as well as from (3) idolatry, (4) sexual perversion, (5) bloodshed, and (6) robbery, and (7) not to eat meat cut from a living animal (b. Sanh. 56a). Whereas Jews have hundreds of commandments in addition to these seven (traditionally, 613 altogether), Gentiles who observe the "seven commandments of the descendants of Noah" can meet with God’s full approval.
In other words, observant Jews today regard all Gentiles who observe these seven components of the "Noahide Laws" as those who meet God's approval. They fully acknowledge that the Law of Moses is for Jews - not Gentiles.
Verses 11-17 deal with the token God gave for the accompanying provision that the earth would never be destroyed by flood again. Actually, 8:21 declared that the earth would not be destroyed in its entirety by God's judgment by any means, but the immediate interest here is by flood. Hence, the rainbow becomes the token of that covenant. The rainbow wasn't just a decorative touch placed there by God as a token, there was a functional reason for it.
Consider the following with regard to the token of the rainbow:
As an aside to this discussion, you will notice that life spans began to shorten after the flood. Some have speculated that it had been the canopy of water diffusing the harmful effects of the sun on one's body that permitted extreme longevity while it was in place. Hmmmm...sounds like a viable theory to me.
An unfortunate incident (Genesis 9:18-29)
18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 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.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.
29 And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.
Noah had a little too much to drink from his vineyard. His son Ham went into Noah's tent and saw him uncovered. He went to tell his brothers, Shem and Japheth. They backed into Noah's tent and covered him up. When Noah awoke, he was outraged over what Ham had done (seen him disrobed), so he passed out some cursings and blessings - a curse on Ham's youngest son, Canaan, and blessings on Shem and Japheth in verses 25-27.
Incidentally, this curse was used as the basis for slavery in the early foundations of the United States of America by the proponents of the practice. It was taught that this curse meant that the black population of the continent of Africa (Ham's descendants) were preordained to be servants. Many slave owners in early America had a sincere, abiding faith in God and the Bible. However, their doctrinal basis for slavery was misguided - based on a skewed teaching of scripture.
Here's the real story regarding the curse Noah issued that day. Canaan was the only one of Ham's sons who was cursed according to verse 25. Why? I don't know. There was no curse on his other sons - the ones who actually migrated into Egypt and then into Africa. The land of Canaan should sound familiar to you. We see in Genesis 10:15-19 (see below) that this is where the descendants of Canaan landed after the flood. It was the land that became Israel's homeland per God's decree in Genesis 12:7 (see notes). This curse, whatever its generational reach, applied only to Canaan, not to the whole line of Ham. Perhaps it was only one generation, but if it applied to successive generations, we see in Joshua's conquest of the land of the Canaanites hundreds of years later that these descendants of Canaan became the servants of the Hebrews when they conquered the land.
One more thing, some have elaborated upon the scenario of Ham's sin in this passage to make his deeds much more sinister than stated. Was his shortcoming only that he "saw" the nakedness of his father? Was more than that involved? It is impossible to know. All we see here is that the actions of Ham are contrasted to the actions of his two brothers. Anything beyond that is mere speculation.
After 950 years, Noah died.
A chapter of genealogies (Genesis 10)
1 Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.
2 The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.
3 And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah.
4 And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.
5 By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.
6 And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.
7 And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtecha: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.
8 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.
9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.
10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,
12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.
13 And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim,
14 And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.
15 And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth,
16 And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,
17 And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,
18 And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.
19 And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.
20 These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.
21 Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.
22 The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.
23 And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash.
24 And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber.
25 And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.
26 And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah,
27 And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah,
28 And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba,
29 And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan.
30 And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east.
31 These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.
32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.
Great excitement here - a chapter devoted to genealogies. This is one of those chapters that gives us perspective - who begat whom. Let's just make a few observations. First, notice that everyone on earth is descended from one or more of Noah's three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. In verses 8-10 we see the birth of the troublemaker of chapter 11 (see below), Nimrod, the grandson of Ham through Cush. It would appear that he was a fierce fighter and exercised dominion over others.
Here's another interesting note stuck into verse 25. We are told that in one man's lifetime, the earth was divided. That man is Peleg, the great grandson of Shem. It is commonly held that, in the years following the flood, the continents of the earth were divided by the waters of the oceans. While secular scientists believe this division happened over an extended period of time, it would appear that the initial division took place while Peleg lived. It does make sense that some significant land settling must have taken place after the waters receded. I am convinced that this was the natural result of the earth's recovery from the upheaval caused by the flood. Incidentally, today's secular scientists commonly hold that the continents are still drifting in relation to each other. For more information on this subject, click here to read an article from the web site of the Institution for Creation Research. It should be noted, however, that many scholars believe that verse 23 refers to the scattering of 11:9 (see below), and not the actual drifting of the continents.
The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)
1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
God did give a command to Noah and his sons after they exited the ark back in Genesis 9:1 (see above). He told them to replenish the earth. Their descendants did not do so. They stayed together in one spot on the earth (verse 2), and they all had a common language. From chapter 10, we deduct that Nimrod, a descendant of Ham, headed up this venture to build a tower that would provide a common bond to the people and keep them together under one kingdom.
What exactly was this structure they attempted to build? Verse 4 gives us a hint, but not a clear answer when it says, "...let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven." In the KJV, the words "may reach" are italicized, indicating that they were added for the purpose of supplying a verb that does not exist in that phrase in Hebrew. In my opinion, many have read waaaaaay too much into this verse, adding their own verb combinations to make it everything from a tower that could climb up to God's abode...to a structure that displayed the signs of the zodiac on it's dome. Here's the real point: It was a city and a monument to organize a rebellion against God's command to populate the earth. Look at the last part of verse 4 to see their motivation for building the structure, "...lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." In short, God said replenish the earth; the people said, "We're staying right here!"
And...what was the name of this city? Babel, of course. The Hebrew word for "Babel" is..."Babel." As a matter of fact, it's the exact same word translated "Babylon" later in the Old Testament. And in the Book of Revelation, it's the "Babylon" (transliterated Greek word) of Revelation 18 (see notes). Since its first mention as Nimrod's base of operation in Genesis 10:10 (see above), it's always been the epitome of a city in rebellion against God - Old Testament and New Testament.
As they embarked upon this project, God confounded their language, causing them to disperse over the earth. After they gathered with people who spoke their own newly-acquired common language, the continents drifted apart to form separate land masses (remember Peleg in 10:23, see above). When we look at the genealogical record of chapters 10 and 11, we see that the descendants of Shem basically traveled east and settled on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula, the descendants of Japheth northwest into Europe and the sons of Ham southwest into Egypt and Africa. Incidentally, we're all related to at least one of the three sons of Noah. Since this continental separation took place after the confusion of tongues, it is logical to assume that intermarriage between the descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth took place prior to the continental separation. This obviously accounts for the unique physical characteristics of more than three races of people. Likewise, it stands to reason that, after the separation of the continents, certain physical traits would then be accentuated over the centuries that followed as they only married others with similar physical traits.
More genealogies (Genesis 11:10-32)
10 These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:
11 And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
12 And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah:
13 And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
14 And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber:
15 And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
16 And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg:
17 And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters.
18 And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu:
19 And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters.
20 And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug:
21 And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters.
22 And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor:
23 And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
24 And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah:
25 And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters.
26 And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.
29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.
30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.
31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.
32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.
Here's the significance of this genealogical record - the family tree of Abraham (aka Abram). As a descendant of Shem, his ancestors had settled in Ur, a city located in the southeastern part of current-day Iraq (see map). We see in this passage that his father (Terah) took the family and migrated northwest to Haran, a city close to the border of current-day Turkey and Syria. We'll see in Genesis 12 (see notes) that God led Abraham southwest from Haran to the land of Canaan. Incidentally, Abram's father, Terah, began this move to Canaan according to verse 31. They traveled along the Euphrates to get there, a trip which led them to Haran where they settled. It would not have been feasible to head directly west across the mountain range to go to Canaan. Abraham finishes the trip to Canaan from Haran in Genesis 12 (see notes). Altogether, through Haran, the trip to Canaan would have been approximately 1,500 miles. As for the religious affiliation of Terah, notice the comment Joshua makes about Terah and Abraham's ancestors in Joshua 24:2 (see notes), "And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods." Prior to Abraham, his people were polytheists. As a matter of fact, the evidence suggests that the relatives back in Haran remained polytheists when we see Laban with his idols (Rachel had lifted them) in Genesis 31 (see notes) as Jacob decides it's time to leave Laban and head back to Canaan.
One more thing...did you notice how the life spans have decreased compared to the genealogical record of Genesis 5 (see notes)? What's up with that? Well...two notable things are different at this point in contrast to Genesis 5. First of all, that canopy of water engulfing the earth disappeared after the flood (Genesis 2:5-6, see notes). Perhaps that had previously offered some protection from harsh environmental effects on the body. Secondly, their diet changed (Genesis 9:2-3, see above). However, it didn't happen immediately after the flood. It took a few hundred years of gradually-decreasing life spans before they began to fall into the range to which we are accustomed.