Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,1. men] Heb. ha-adam, i.e. “the man.” It is not the proper name “Adam”; nor is it “the man” as an individual as in Genesis 3:24, Genesis 4:1 : but “the man” collectively, in the sense of “the human race,” LXX οἱ ἄνθρωποι. This use of the word is different from anything in the Paradise Narrative: see Genesis 5:1.
began to multiply] No account is taken of (a) the description of the growth of the population, and of (b) the genealogies of Cainites and Sethites, which have occupied chaps. Genesis 4:17-25; Genesis 4:5.
Ch. Genesis 6:1 to Genesis 9:29. The Deluge
1–4. The sons of God and the daughters of men] This short strange passage serves as a kind of Preface to the Narrative of the Deluge. There is nothing to be found quite like it elsewhere in the O.T. It obviously is not a continuation of the previous chapter; and, except for a possible, though most disputable, allusion in the mention of the 120 years (Genesis 6:3), its contents do not presuppose the catastrophe of the Flood. In all probability, we should be right in regarding these four verses as a fragment from some quite independent source of early Hebrew tradition, most certainly distinct from the regular materials represented in J and P.
The mention of the marriages between “the sons of God” and “the daughters of men” is clearly a survival of early Hebrew mythology. It accounted for the existence of an Israelite tradition respecting a primitive race of giants. There are traces, in the literature of other countries, of a similar belief in fabulous giants, or semi-divine heroes, who lived in a far-remote age of antiquity.
The tradition preserved in this brief fragment is condensed, and the language is not free from obscurity. There are, however, allusions in other parts of the O.T. (see note on Genesis 6:4) to the race of giants which was believed not to have been extinct at the time of the occupation of Palestine by the Israelite tribes. Such a belief was incompatible with the tradition that all the primaeval dwellers in the world, except Noah and his family, perished in the waters of the Flood (Genesis 7:21-23). If, therefore, the impious unions of angels with the daughters of men were considered to account for the existence of a giant human race surviving in later times, the tradition which recorded them must have been quite distinct from, and independent of, the tradition of a universal Flood.
As an isolated survival of Hebrew mythology, it furnishes an instructive reminder, that the popular ideas of Israel concerning primaeval times may be presumed, at least originally, to have resembled those of other nations. They were pervaded by fanciful and legendary elements. We must realize that the spiritual teaching of the religion of Jehovah was responsible for an extensive purgation of the traditions which described the beginnings of the world and of the Israelite people. Polytheistic and unedifying materials were most successfully excluded in the compilation of the Hebrew sacred books. The result is simple, dignified, and elevating. We have in these four verses a glimpse of the material which for the most part was rigorously discarded.
That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.2. that the sons of God, &c.] This is one of the most disputed passages in the book. But the difficulty, in a great measure, disappears, if it is frankly recognized, that the verse must be allowed to have its literal meaning. According to the legend which it preserves, intermarriages took place between Heavenly Beings and mortal women.
Commentators have often shrunk from the admission that this piece of mythology could have a place in the Hebrew Scriptures. Accordingly, very fanciful explanations have sometimes found favour; e.g. (a) “the sons of God” are the men of the upper classes, “the daughters of men” are “the women of the lower classes”; (b) “the sons of God” are “the sons of the god-fearing,” “the daughters of men” are “the daughters of the impious”; (c) “the sons of God” are “the descendants of Seth,” “the daughters of men” are “the women of the Cainite race.”
Such interpretations may be dismissed as arbitrary and non-natural: and they furnish no explanation of the inference in Genesis 6:4, that a race of giants or heroes was the progeny of these marriages.
the sons of God] Heb. B’nê Elohim, “sons of Elohim,” i.e. beings partaking of the Divine nature. It has been pointed out above (see note on Genesis 1:26), that the Israelites believed the Almighty to be surrounded by a court of beings who were subordinate to Him in authority, office, and rank: their dwelling-place was in Heaven; their duty was to perform the tasks appointed them by the Almighty. They were “angels” or “messengers,” Heb. mal’âkhîm, Gr. ἄγγελοι. The sons of God are mentioned in Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Job 38:7, Psalm 29:1; Psalm 89:1, Daniel 3:25; Daniel 3:28.
The expression must be judged in accordance with Hebrew, not English, idiom. “The sons of the prophets” (1 Kings 20:35 : cf. Amos 7:14) are persons who belong to the guild of the prophets, members, as we should say, of the prophet’s calling. No family relationship is implied. Similarly “the sons of God” are not “sons of gods,” in the sense of being their children, but “sons of Elohim” in the sense of belonging to the class of super-natural, or heavenly, beings.
There is no reference, on the one hand, to Oriental speculations respecting emanations from the Deity; nor to actual sonship, or generation. The description is quite general. Nowhere do we find in the O.T. mention of the “sons of Jehovah” instead of the “sons of Elohim.”
of all that they chose] i.e. whomsoever they chose. The sons of God are represented as being irresistible. The sons of men could offer no effective opposition. The marriages, contracted in this way, are evidently implied to be wrong, and the result of mere unbridled passion. The men were powerless to defend their women folk.
In the later days of Judaism, this passage became the source of the strange legends respecting “fallen angels,” of which we find traces in the N.T.: 2 Peter 2:4, “for if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to Hell”; Jdg 1:6, “angels which kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation”; and in the Book of Enoch.
There is no trace, however, in the Book of Genesis of any tradition respecting either the fall, or the rebellion, of members of the angel-host. Unquestionably English ideas are profoundly affected by the influence of Milton’s Paradise Lost, and by the vague impression that a great and noble religious poem must have been founded upon literal facts.
And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.3. And the lord said] It is not evident in this verse, why the Lord should pass a sentence of condemnation upon man. In the two preceding verses, it is not man, but “the sons of God,” whose depravity has been described. Perhaps, however, the object of the words is, in view of the mixed marriages, to impose a more restricted limit upon the duration of human life. Man is warned, as in Genesis 4:22, that on earth he has no immortality. The warning is administered to the progeny of the sons of God and the daughters of men no less than to the children of men generally.
Following this line of interpretation, we obtain some clue to the meaning of a most obscure verse. Its obscurities, indeed, are such that it may well be the case, that the original text has suffered corruption in the early stages of its transmission.
1. The R.V. text may be paraphrased: “My spirit shall not for ever be contending with man; seeing that he also is carnally minded. His days are numbered: but I will not at once consume him. There shall yet be an interval of 120 years, before I bring upon mankind the catastrophe of the Deluge.” The objections to this are numerous: (a) the rendering “strive” is exceedingly doubtful; (b) the idea of the spirit of Jehovah striving with men is unsuitable; (c) the rendering, “for that he also, &c.” represents a Hebrew idiom found nowhere else in the Pentateuch, while the word “also” has no logical connexion; (d) the mention of “his days” being 120 years despite the Flood is, to say the least, strange—Noah is expressly stated in P to be 500 years old at the birth of his sons (Genesis 6:22), and 600 years old when he entered the ark (Genesis 7:6); (e) “flesh” is used in its metaphorical, not in its literal, sense.
2. R.V. marg. rule in. Better, according to many ancient versions, abide in … in their going astray they are flesh. The following paraphrase may be given: “the Spirit which I have implanted in man is not to abide in him for ever. (Still he shall not be judged too severely.) In their continual going astray men shew that they are frail flesh. Mortal life, therefore, shall be limited to 120 years (no admixture of the heavenly strain shall avail for the greater prolongation of life).”
It is objected that the lives of the patriarchs in P exceed this limit. But the passage is evidently an independent fragment from J. And it is a more serious objection that the words of the verse, taken literally, make no clear allusion to the illicit marriages, and are applicable to mankind generally.
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.4. The Nephilim] i.e. giants. It is natural to refer to Numbers 13:33, “And there we saw the Nephilim (Or, giants), the sons of Anak, which come of the Nephilim; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” The tradition that the Nephilim existed at the time of the Exodus was therefore quite strongly held. The precise meaning of the name has been lost. The passage in Numbers shews clearly that it denoted men of gigantic stature. The etymology very probably goes back to primitive times; and its origin is lost with the dialects that disappeared when the Israelites finally occupied Palestine. It was natural to connect the word with the Hebrew naphal, “to fall”; hence arose the renderings of Aquila, οἱ ἐπιπίπτοντες, “the assailants,” and of Symmachus, οἱ βιαῖοι, “the violent,” while among Patristic commentators the word was connected with “the fallen angels.” But these are merely guesses; and we must be content to leave the etymology of “the Nephilim,” like that of “the Rephaim” and “the Anakim,” unexplained.
and also after that] These words are introduced very awkwardly; and were very probably added as a gloss, in order to shew that the Nephilim existed not only in primitive ages, but also at the time of the Exodus from Egypt, as would be implied by Numbers 13:33. The continuance of the Nephilim in later times seems to contradict the account of the destruction of all the dwellers on the earth by the Flood. This contradiction is to be explained on the supposition, mentioned above, that the present passage is a fragment of a tradition in which the Flood was not recorded.
the mighty men, &c.] That is to say, “the well-known giants of old-world time,” familiar personages in Israelite folk-lore. To this class belong such names as “Nimrod,” Genesis 10:8, and “Og,” Deuteronomy 3:11.
the men of renown] Literally, “the men of name,” as in Numbers 16:2, “men of renown,” Lat. viri famosi, viz. famous for deeds of prowess and audacity.
And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.5. of man] Literally, “the man,” ha-adam, used generically, as in Genesis 6:1.
“The unity of the race is a consistent doctrine of the O.T. It was האדם, man, when created as a single individual. It spread over the earth, and was still האדם, man. It was כלבשר, ‘alt flesh,’ that had corrupted its way before the Flood. Mankind is, as a whole, corrupt; and, corresponding to this, each individual is unclean.… Probably the O.T. does not go the length of offering any rationale of the fact that each individual is sinful, beyond connecting him with a sinful whole.” (Davidson, Theology of the O.T. pp. 218, 219.)
every imagination of the thoughts of his heart] An elaborate description. The word rendered “imagination” means “form,” “formation,” or “shape,” and, as applied to the region of thought, denotes “an idea,” or “the concept of thought,” cogitatio, cf. Genesis 8:21.
continually] Literally, “all the day.” Man’s sinfulness is thus described as universal and unintermittent. The beginnings of “sin” are seen in the picture of the Fall, chap. 3, its propagation in the murderous act of Cain, chap. 4; we have reached in this passage its complete and unrestrained expansion.
The LXX translating the word for “imagination” as a verb, gives καὶ πᾶς τις διανοεῖται ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ ἐπιμελῶς ἐπὶ τὰ πονηρὰ πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας, Lat. quod … cuncta cogitatio cordis intenta esset ad malum omni tempore.
5–8. Introduction to the story of the Flood from J: Jehovah sees the sinfulness of man and resolves to annihilate the race.
Genesis 6:5 to Genesis 9:17. The Flood. (J and P.)
Here follows the Hebrew narrative of the Flood. The Flood is the one great event in the history of the world, which in the Hebrew narrative emerges out of the obscurity between the creation of man and the period of the patriarchs. It marks the close of the first era of the human race. According to the story in Genesis, it was a judgement for the depravity of mankind.
It marks also the beginning of a new era in the history of mankind. This has its origin in the mercy of God, who, in recognition of the righteousness of Noah, preserves him and his family in the general overthrow. This is a symbol of salvation. The new age opens with the renewal of promises to man, and with a covenant entailing new obligations on man’s part, in return for the assurance of Divine protection.
On the relation of the Genesis narrative to the Babylonian and other accounts of the Flood, see Special Note on the chapter comments for Genesis 8.
The present narrative is woven together out of the two distinct Israelite traditions, J and P: see Introduction. This compositeness of structure in the Flood narrative is quite unmistakable1. It accounts for the (a) repetitions, (b) discrepancies, (c) intermittent use of special words and phrases, inexplicable on the assumption of a continuous homogeneous narrative. Under the head of (a) “repetitions,” notice the duplicated account of the growing corruption of mankind in Genesis 6:5-8 (J), and in Genesis 6:9-12 (P); of the entrance of Noah and his family into the ark Genesis 7:7 (J) and Genesis 7:13 (P); of the rising of the waters of the Flood Genesis 7:17 (J) and Genesis 7:18-19 (P); of the end of all living creatures Genesis 7:21 (P) and Genesis 7:22-23 (J); and of God’s promise to Noah in Genesis 8:15-19 (P) and Genesis 8:20-22 (J).
 See Appendix C (book comments).
Under the head of (b) “discrepancies,” notice that, in P, Noah takes one pair of every kind of animal into the ark (Genesis 6:19-20, and Genesis 7:15-16), while, in J, Noah is commanded to take seven pairs of every clean animal and one pair of every unclean animal into the ark (Genesis 7:2-3); again, in P, the Flood is brought about through the outburst of the waters from the great deep both from beneath the earth and from above the firmament (Genesis 7:11, Genesis 8:2); while, in J, it is produced by the rain (Genesis 7:12, Genesis 8:2). According to P, the Flood was in progress for 150 days (Genesis 7:24, Genesis 8:3), while according to J the rain lasted for 40 days (Genesis 7:12); in J the waters were subsiding for 14 or 21 days (Genesis 8:10; Genesis 8:12), and in P the earth was dry after a year and 10 days (Genesis 8:14).
Under the head of (c), the following are examples of distinctive phraseology:
“God” (Elohim), Genesis 6:9; Genesis 6:11-13; Genesis 6:22, Genesis 7:16 a, Genesis 8:1; Genesis 8:15. “the Lord” (Jehovah), Genesis 7:1; Genesis 7:5; Genesis 7:16 b, Genesis 8:20-21.
“male and female” (zâkâr un’ḳêbâh), Genesis 6:19, Genesis 7:16. “the male and his female” (ish v’ishto), Genesis 7:2.
“destroy” (shâḥath), Genesis 6:13; Genesis 6:17. “destroy” (mâḥâh), Genesis 6:7, Genesis 7:4; Genesis 7:23.
“all flesh,” Genesis 6:12-13; Genesis 6:17, Genesis 7:21. “every living thing,” Genesis 7:4; Genesis 7:23.
“breath (ruaḥ) of life,” Genesis 7:15. “breath of (nishmath) the spirit of (ruaḥ) life,” Genesis 7:22.
“die” (gâv‘â), Genesis 7:21. “die” (mûth), Genesis 7:22.
“waters prevailed” (gâbâr), Genesis 7:18-19; Genesis 7:24. “waters increased” (râbâh), Genesis 7:17 b.
“waters abated” (ḥâsêr), Genesis 8:3 b, 5. “waters abated” (qâlal), Genesis 8:8.
Also characteristic of P is the minute description of the ark and its dimensions (Genesis 6:14-16), the varieties of animals (Genesis 6:20), the Flood’s depth (Genesis 7:20), and the members of Noah’s family (Genesis 7:13, Genesis 8:15; Genesis 8:18); while, in J, Divine action is described in anthropomorphic terms (e.g. Genesis 6:6, Genesis 7:16, Genesis 8:21), and vivid details of narrative are introduced (Genesis 8:6-12).
Roughly speaking the portions derived from P consist of Genesis 6:9-22, Genesis 7:6; Genesis 7:11; Genesis 7:13-16 a, 18–21, 24, Genesis 8:1-2 a, 3b–5, 13a, 14–19, Genesis 9:1-17 : the remainder of the narrative is derived from the J tradition, with here and there a few alterations for the purpose of harmonizing the two sources of narrative. The process of harmonizing was not difficult: for both narratives agreed in their main outlines, and differed only in the treatment of details.
And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.6. And it repented the Lord … grieved him at his heart] This is a strong instance of what is called anthropomorphism, an expression descriptive of human emotion or action ascribed to Jehovah (e.g. Genesis 3:8, Genesis 7:16, Genesis 8:21). Such expressions have often given rise to superficial criticisms, depreciatory of Holy Scripture, on the part both of those who are ignorant of Oriental literature, and of those who assume that the Books of Holy Scripture must be free from the literary characteristics of the writers’ age and nationality. In this verse Jehovah is represented as intensely grieved at the frustration of His purposes for the human race. The description is given in the childlike simplicity of the language of an early age: compare Genesis 11:5-6; Genesis 18:21.
In other passages, e.g. Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, it is asserted that Jehovah is not, like man, capable of repentance. There are two representations in Holy Scripture of the Divine Nature: one, which, as here, makes the Divine Purpose fluctuate, in reflexion, as it were, of man’s changing experiences; the other, which depicts the Divine Purpose as uniform, changeless, and unvarying, cf. James 1:17.
It was the dread of any expression being liable to the suspicion of irreverence towards the Almighty, which led to the strange renderings of this verse by the later Jews. Thus, LXX renders “repented” by ἐνεθυμήθη = “considered,” and “grieved” by διενοήθη = “purposed,” while the Targum of Onkelos renders the second clause “and spake by his word to break their strength according to his will,” and Pseudo-Jonathan, “and disputed with his word concerning them.” The object of such paraphrases is to avoid anthropomorphism. The LXX also avoids the expression of repentance as applied to God in Exodus 32:12.
The Latin rendering is quite free from any such shrinking, and is noteworthy: poenituit eum et tactus dolore cordis intrinsecus.
And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.7. destroy] R.V. marg. Heb. blot out. LXX ἀπαλείψω, Lat. delebo. A characteristic word in J, cf. Genesis 7:4; Genesis 7:23; and different from the word for “destroy” in Genesis 6:13. (LXX καταφθείρω, Lat. disperdam.)
both man, and beast, &c.] No reference is here made to any preservation of life.
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.8. But Noah] The sudden introduction of Noah’s name implies that there had been some previous account, in J, describing the contrast of Noah’s virtue with the sinfulness of his contemporaries. In the composite narrative of Genesis many features have necessarily disappeared in the process of combining the different traditions. Possibly, the passage at the beginning of this chapter (Genesis 6:1-4) was substituted for one that had introduced the mention of Noah’s piety in contrast with the wickedness of man.
found grace] This familiar expression occurs here for the first time in the Bible. For the expression “find grace” cf. Genesis 19:19, Genesis 32:5, Genesis 33:8; Genesis 33:10; Genesis 33:15. The rendering “grace” is sometimes altered to “favour,” cf. Genesis 18:3, Genesis 30:27. It is implied that the “favour” which Noah “finds” in the eyes of Jehovah is based on moral grounds. The phrase, common in J, is not found in E or P.
These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.9. These are the generations, &c.] The heading, or superscription of a new section in the narrative of P; cf. Genesis 2:4, Genesis 5:1.
a righteous man] The word “righteous” (ṣaddiq), which occupies such an important place in Biblical Theology, occurs here for the first time. The sense of “rectitude,” or “uprightness,” may be derived from a root-idea of “straightness.” It is used of Noah again in Genesis 7:1 : in Ezekiel 14:14; Ezekiel 14:20 Noah is mentioned, with Daniel and Job, as pre-eminent for “righteousness.” Cf. also Sir 44:17, “Noah was found perfect and righteous; in the season of wrath he was taken in exchange for the world,” and 2 Peter 2:5, “Noah … a preacher of righteousness.”
perfect] R.V. marg. blameless. Heb. tâmîm. The word “perfect” (LXX τέλειος, Lat. perfectus) means “without flaw.” As a ritual term used of an animal for sacrifice, “perfect” would mean “free from blemish.” Transferred to morals, it denotes “integrity,” as in the account of Job (Job 1:1).
in his generations] viz. amongst the people of his own generation, a different word in the Heb. from the one used in “these are the generations.” It denotes the members of one family, dwelling together, e.g. grandfather, father, son.
walked with God] See note on Genesis 5:22-24. The account of Noah as “righteous,” “perfect,” and “walking with God,” embraces three aspects of the good and devout character, justice, purity, holiness.
9–12. The introduction to the Story of the Flood in P. Observe that, whereas J begins with the corruption of the human race, and closes with the mention of Noah, P begins with the mention of Noah and continues with the corruption of the human race.
And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.10. And Noah begat] See Genesis 5:32.
The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.11. corrupt] The full strength of the word would rather be given by “corrupted.” LXX ἐφθάρη, Lat. corrupta est, “was marred, ruined.” “Before God,” i.e. according to the standard of His judgement. “God” is here ha-Elohim, i.e. the God, the Elohim, absolutely.
violence] The particular form of wickedness represented by this word, here and in Genesis 6:13, is doubtless meant to be impious insolence and active disregard of all law of right and wrong. LXX ἀδικίας and Lat. iniquitate miss the specific thought of “violence.”
And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.12. all flesh] Used here for “all the human race.” The phrase, which is found 13 times in the Story of the Flood, is a characteristic of P.
had corrupted his way] This expression seems to be used with the object of shewing that man was a free agent, and that his corruption was not the result of blind fate, or of any external malign influence.
And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.13–17. Noah is commanded to build the Ark
13. is come before me] viz. mentally. The intention to destroy all flesh has entered the mind of God.
Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.14. an ark] The word here used, têbâh, is only found in this passage and in Exodus 2:3-5. It is of foreign origin; according to some, an Egyptian word; according to others, derived from the Assyrian. LXX κιβωτός, Lat. arca, which our translators adopted and transliterated. The “ark” of the Covenant (e.g. Exodus 25:10) is another Heb. word, ’arôn, but unfortunately rendered also by LXX κιβωτός, Lat. arca.
gopher wood] A word only used here. “Gopher” is said to be a resinous coniferous tree, possibly the “cypress” (cuparissus), to which word it may be akin.
The versions, not realizing that it was a botanical description, made wild guesses at the meaning. Thus LXX ἐκ ξύλων τετραγώνων = “of squared beams”: so, Vet. Lat. ligna quadrata, Vulg. ligna laevigata.
rooms] The meaning is obvious. The interior of the ark was to consist of cabins, or cubicles. The sentence would be rendered literally, “nests shalt thou make the ark.” Vulg. mansiunculas.
pitch] Heb. kopher, a word only found here in the Bible, and its resemblance in pronunciation to “gopher” (see above), is, to say the least, strange. The Assyrian word for bitumen is kupru, and that word is used in the Babylonian account, in which the hero of the Flood is made to say, “Six sars of bitumen (kupru) I spread over it for caulking.” The word suggests (1) that there is some connexion of the Hebrew story with the Babylonian version, (2) that the region was the Euphrates Valley in which bitumen was freely obtainable. The word in Exodus 2:3 is not kopher, but khêmar, which is also found in Genesis 11:3; Genesis 14:10.
And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.15. The dimensions of the ark, as here given, are somewhat smaller than in the Assyrian account. Assuming that a cubit measured 1½ feet, the ark was 450 ft. long, 75 ft. broad, and 45 ft. high. It will be noticed that the breadth is exactly one-sixth, and the height exactly one-tenth, of the length. In the Assyrian account we miss these proportions. The length is not given, but the height and breadth are the same, viz. 120 cubits, or 180 ft., broad and high. Berossus, the Greek writer of Babylonian traditions, records that the ship of the Flood was 5 stadia (about ⅔ of a mile) long, and 2 stadia (about ¼ mile) broad.
A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.16. Alight] Perhaps better than a roof. The word so rendered (ṣôhar) only occurs here in the singular: in the dual it is the regular Heb. word for “noonday.” Accepting the rendering which connects it with “light,” we should probably be right in conjecturing that it means here “a window,” or “opening,” beneath the over-hanging eaves of the roof on both sides of the ark. So Latin, fenestram. In the Babylonian version, a window is mentioned. Others, connecting the word with an Arabic form, render it by roof, deeming that the roof, being of such importance to the inmates, could not have been omitted in the description. LXX ἐπισυνάγων is unintelligible, but possibly gives the idea of the converging sides of the covering.
and to a cubit, &c.] This clause is very difficult. (a) The commonest opinion is that, if the reference be to a window, it was to be a cubit high, running round the ark. This, however, would have been a mere slit, and practically inadequate for purposes of light and air. Perhaps it may mean the distance of a cubit from the top of the window to the roof. (b) The idea that it represented a little square window in Noah’s own cell is fanciful. (c) If the word rendered “light” denoted the roof, the cubit “upward,” or “from above,” might indicate the amount of slope, which, however, would be extremely small. An allusion to the “window” is the most probable explanation. The opening would have run all round the ship, with the necessary intervals of beams and supports. The description must not be judged by modern standards either of ship-building or of hygiene. It is more or less imaginative.
upward] The rendering of the margin, from above, gives a more intelligible meaning.
Gunkel, who considers that the text is corrupt, makes the strange conjectural emendation, “and on a hinge shalt thou make it revolve.”
the door] Cf. Genesis 7:16.
stories] The Babylonian account is more elaborate: “Then I built 6 decks in it so that it was divided into 7 stories. The interior (of each storey) I divided into 9 compartments.”
And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.17. And I, behold, I] The emphasis on the 1st person seems to bring out the thought of the terrible necessity of this act of universal destruction brought upon the world by its Creator.
the flood] Heb. mabbûl, a word used only of the Deluge in this passage (6–9) and in Psalm 29:10, where “the flood of waters” fails to give the meaning, which is “the Deluge (the mabbûl) of waters.”
all flesh] See Genesis 6:12. Here, however, it denotes the animals as well as mankind.
the breath of life] Lit. “the spirit (ruaḥ, LXX πνεῦμα) of life,” a different phrase from that in Genesis 2:7, “the breath (nishmath) of life” (J). Noah is commanded to enter the ark, taking with him his own family and two of all the animals. The Priestly Writer could not endorse the idea that the distinction between “clean” and “unclean” was known before the days of Moses. In J, however (Genesis 7:2-3), it is assumed that this distinction was primaeval (see note).
But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.18. I will establish my covenant] We have here the first mention of a covenant relation between God and man. In the writing of P great stress is laid upon the covenant with Noah, here and in Genesis 9:8-17, and with the patriarchs, e.g. in Genesis 17:2-14. The word “covenant” (b’rîth, LXX διαθήκη, Lat. foedus) plays an important part in O.T. theology. Its place here in relation to the manifestation of sin on the one side, and of Divine salvation on the other, is typical of its permanent significance in the history of the Chosen People. It is this relationship of covenant (διαθήκη) which is renewed by our Lord and ratified at the institution of the Lord’s Supper, Matthew 26:28. A covenant means an agreement, or compact between two parties, for the observance of which promises and pledges are given. Cf. on Genesis 9:7.
thou, and thy sons, &c.] This is the redundant style of P, cf. Genesis 7:13, Genesis 8:16; Genesis 8:18.
And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.19. two of every sort] Observe that here one pair of every kind of living creature is to be brought into the ark.
“Male and female,” as in Genesis 1:27 (P). A different phrase is used in Genesis 7:2 (J), where see note.
Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.20. Of the fowl, &c.] The order in which the animals are here mentioned is deserving of notice; first the fowls, then the cattle, and finally the creeping things. What is the reason of this order? Probably the order of the account of the Creation in chap. 1 is followed, where the creation of the fowls is recorded in Genesis 1:20-22, and of the cattle and creeping things in Genesis 1:24. The same order is maintained in Genesis 1:26.
kind] The same word as in Genesis 1:12 (P).
cattle] as in Genesis 1:24, denoting domestic animals generally. The only group of animals mentioned in Genesis 1:21; Genesis 1:24, which is here omitted, is “the beast of the earth,” i.e. “the wild beast.” Is this intentional? The LXX adds, after “every creeping thing,” καὶ ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν θηρίων = “and of every wild beast.”
creeping thing] See note on Genesis 1:24. The exact phrase “everything that creepeth upon the ground after its kind” is reproduced from Genesis 1:25.
And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.21. of all food that is eaten] Presumably vegetables, cereals, and fruit. Cf. Genesis 1:29.
Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.22. Thus did Noah] Lit. “and Noah did (it).” The words of this verse are characteristic of the style of P. We find the same formula in Exodus 7:6; Exodus 12:28; Exodus 12:50; Exodus 39:32; Exodus 39:43; Exodus 40:16, all belonging to P.