These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)THE GENERATIONS OF NOAH (Genesis 6:9; Genesis 9:28).
(9) Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations.—“Just” is, literally, righteous, one whose actions were sufficiently upright to exempt him from the punishment inflicted upon the rest of mankind. “Perfect” means sound, healthy, and conveys no idea of sinlessness. It answers to the Latin integer, whence our word integrity, and not to perfectus.
Generations (dôrôth) is not the same word as at the beginning of the verse (tôldôth), but simply means his contemporaries. And this he was because—
Noah walked with God.—See Note on Genesis 5:22.
THE SAINT AMONG SINNERS
Genesis 6:9 - Genesis 6:22.
1. Notice here, first, the solitary saint. Noah stands alone ‘in his generations’ like some single tree, green and erect, in a forest of blasted and fallen pines. ‘Among the faithless, faithful only he.’ His character is described, so to speak, from the outside inwards. He is ‘righteous,’ or discharging all the obligations of law and of his various relationships. He is ‘perfect.’ His whole nature is developed, and all in due symmetry and proportion; no beauty wanting, no grace cultivated at the expense of others. He is a full man; not a one-sided and therefore a distorted one. Of course we do not take these words to imply sinlessness. They express a relative, not an absolute, completeness. Hence we may learn both a lesson of stimulus and of hope. We are not to rest satisfied with partial goodness, but to seek to attain an all-round perfectness, even in regard to the graces least natural to our dispositions. And we can rejoice to believe that God is generous in His acceptance and praise. He does not grudge commendation, but takes account of the deepest desires and main tendencies of a life, and sees the germ as a full-blown flower, and the bud as a fruit.
Learn, too, that solitary goodness is possible. Noah stood uninfected by the universal contagion; and, as is always the case, the evil around, which he did not share, drove him to a more rigid abstinence from it. A Christian who is alone ‘in his generations,’ like a lily among nettles, has to be, and usually is, a more earnest Christian than if he were among like-minded men. The saints in ‘Caesar’s household’ needed to be very unmistakable saints, if they were not to be swept away by the torrent of godlessness. It is hard, but it is possible, for a boy at school, or a young man in an office, or a soldier in a barrack, to stand alone, and be Christlike; but only on condition that he yields to no temptation to drop his conduct to the level around him, and is never guilty of compromise. Once yield, and all is over. Flowers grow on a dunghill, and the very reeking rottenness may make the bloom finer.
Learn, too, that the true place for the saint is ‘in his generations.’ If the mass is corrupt, so much the more need to rub the salt well in. Disgust and cowardice, and the love of congenial society, keep Christian people from mixing with the world, which they must do if they are to do Christ’s work in it. There is a great deal too much union with the world, and a great deal too much separation from it, nowadays, and both are of the wrong sort. We cannot keep too far away from it, by abstinence from living by its maxims, and tampering with its pleasures. We cannot mix too much with it if we take our Christianity with us, and remember our vocation to be its light.
Notice, again, the companion of the solitary saint. What beauty there is in that description of the isolated man, passing lonely amid his contemporaries, like a stream of pure water flowing through some foul liquid, and untouched by it, and yet not alone in his loneliness, because ‘he walked with God!’ The less he found congenial companionship on earth, the more he realised God as by his side. The remarkable phrase, used only of Enoch and of Noah, implies a closer relation than the other expression, ‘To walk before God.’ Communion, the habitual occupation of mind and heart with God, the happy sense of His presence making every wilderness and solitary place glad because of Him. the child’s clasping the father’s hand with his tiny fingers, and so being held up and lifted over many a rough place, are all implied. Are we lonely in outward reality? Here is our unfailing companion. Have we to stand single among companions, who laugh at us and our religion? One man, with God to back him, is always in the majority. Though surrounded by friends, have we found that, after all, we live and suffer, and must die alone? Here is the all-sufficient Friend, if we have fellowship with whom our hearts will be lonely no more.
Observe that this communion is the foundation of all righteousness in conduct. Because Noah walked with God, he was ‘just’ and ‘perfect.’ If we live habitually in the holy of holies, our faces will shine when we come forth. If we desire to be good and pure, we must dwell with God, and His Spirit will pass into our hearts, and we shall bear the fragrance of his presence wherever we go. Learn, also, that communion with God is not possible unless we are fighting against our sin, and have some measure of holiness. We begin communion with Him, indeed, not by holiness, but by faith. But it is not kept up without the cultivation of purity. Sin makes fellowship with God impossible. ‘Can two walk together, except they be agreed?’ ‘What communion hath light with darkness?’ The delicate bond which unites us in happy communion with God shrivels up, as if scorched, at the touch of sin. ‘If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie.’
2. Notice the universal apostasy. Two points are brought out in the sombre description. The first is moral corruption; the second, violence. Bad men are cruel men. When the bonds which knit society to God are relaxed, selfishness soon becomes furious, and forcibly seizes what it lusts after, regardless of others’ rights. Sin saps the very foundations of social life, and makes men into tigers, more destructive to each other than wild beasts. All our grand modern schemes for the reformation of society will fail unless they begin with the reformation of the individual. To walk with God is the true way to make men gentle and pitying.
Learn from this dark outline that God gazes in silence on the evil. That is a grand, solemn expression, ‘Corrupt before God.’ All this mad riot of pollution and violence is holding its carnival of lust and blood under the very eye of God, and He says never a word. So is it ever. Like some band of conspirators in a dark corner, bad men do deeds of darkness, and fancy they are unseen, and that God forgets them, because they forget God; and all the while His eye is fixed on them, and the darkness is light about them. Then comes a further expression of the same thought: ‘God looked upon the earth.’ As a sudden beam of sunshine out of a thunder-cloud, His eye flashes down, not as if He then began to know, but that His knowledge then began, as it were, to act.
3. What does the stern sentence on the rotten world teach us? A very profound truth, not only of the certain divine retribution, but of the indissoluble connection of sin with destruction. The same word is thrice employed in Genesis 6:11 - Genesis 6:12 to express ‘corruption’ and in Genesis 6:13 to express ‘destruction.’ A similar usage is found in 1 Corinthians 3:17, where the same Greek word is translated ‘defile’ and ‘destroy.’ This teaches us that, in deepest reality, corruption is destruction, that sin is death, that every sinner is a suicide. God’s act in punishment corresponds to, and is the inevitable outcome of, our act in transgression. So fatal is all evil, that one word serves to describe both the poison-secreting root and the poisoned fruit. Sin is death in the making; death is sin finished.
The promise of deliverance, which comes side by side with the stern sentence, illustrates the blessed truth that God’s darkest threatenings are accompanied with a revelation of the way of escape. The ark is always shown along with the flood. Zoar is pointed out when God foretells Sodom’s ruin. We are no sooner warned of the penalties of sin, than we are bid to hear the message of mercy in Christ. The brazen serpent is ever reared where the venomous snakes bite and burn.
4. We pass by the details of the construction of the ark to draw the final lesson from the exact obedience of Noah. We have the statement twice over, He did ‘according to all that God commanded him.’ It was no easy thing for him to build the ark, amidst the scoffing of his generations. Smart witticisms fell around him like hail. All the ‘practical men’ thought him a dreamy fool, wasting his time, while they prospered and made something of life. The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us the secret of his obedience: ‘By faith, Noah,’ etc. He realised the distant unseen, because he believed Him who warned him of it. The immediate object of his faith was ‘the things not seen as yet’; but the real, deepest object was God, whose word showed him these. So faith is always trust in a divine Person, whether it lays hold of the past sacrifice, the present indwelling Spirit, or the future heaven.
Noah’s example teaches us the practical effects of faith. ‘Moved with godly fear,’ says Hebrews; by which is meant, not a mere dread of personal evil, for Noah was assured of safety-but that godly reverence and happy fear which dwells with faith, and secures precise obedience. Learn that a faith which does not work on the feelings is a very poor thing. Some Christian people have a great horror of emotional religion. Unemotional religion is a great deal worse. The road by which faith gets at the hands is through the heart. And he who believes but feels nothing, will do exactly as much as he feels, and probably does not really believe much more.
So after Noah’s emotion followed his action. He was bid to prepare his ark, we have only to take refuge in the ark which God has prepared in Christ; but the principle of Noah’s obedience applies to us all. He realised so perfectly that future, with its double prospect of destruction and deliverance, that his whole life was moulded by the conduct which should lead to his escape. The far-off flood was more real to him than the shows of life around him. Therefore he could stand all the gibes, and gave himself to a course of life which was sheer folly unless that future was real. Perhaps a hundred and twenty years passed between the warning and the flood; and for all that time he held on his way, nor faltered in his faith. Does our faith realise that which lies before us with anything like similar clearness? Do we see that future shining through all the trivial, fleeting present? Does it possess weight and solidity enough to shape our lives? Noah’s creed was much shorter than ours; but I fear his faith was as much stronger.
5. We may think, finally, of the vindication of his faith. For a hundred and twenty years the wits laughed, and the ‘common-sense’ people wondered, and the patient saint went on hammering and pitching at his ark. But one morning it began to rain; and by degrees, somehow, Noah did not seem quite such a fool. The jests would look rather different when the water was up to the knees of the jesters; and their sarcasms would stick in their throats as they drowned. So is it always. So it will be at the last great day. The men who lived for the future, by faith in Christ, will be found out to have been the wise men when the future has become the present, and the present has become the past, and is gone for ever; while they who had no aims beyond the things of time, which are now sunk beneath the dreary horizon, will awake too late to the conviction that they are outside the ark of safety, and that their truest epitaph is ‘Thou fool!’Genesis 6:9. Noah was a just man — Justified before God by faith in the promised Seed; for he was an heir of the righteousness which is by faith, Hebrews 11:7. He was sanctified, and had right principles and dispositions implanted in him; and he was righteous in his conversation, one that made conscience of rendering to all their due, to God his due, and to men theirs. And he walked with God, as Enoch had done before him: in his generation — Even in that corrupt, degenerate age. It is easy to be religious when religion is in fashion; but it is an evidence of strong faith to swim against the stream, and to appear for God when no one else appears for him: so Noah did, and it is upon record to his immortal honour.
- XXIII. The Ark
9. דור dôr "age, time from birth to death," applied either to an individual or the whole contemporary race, running parallel with some leading individual. Hence, the "race" or "generation" living during that time.
14. תבה tēbâh "chest, ark." It is used only of this vessel of Noah's construction, and of the little vessel in which Moses was put Exodus 2:3, Exodus 2:5. The root, according to Furst, means "to be hollow." אבה 'ēbeh a cognate word, signifies "a reed;" κιβωτός kibōtos Septuagint. גפר goper α. λ., perhaps "fir, cypress, resinous wood." קן qēn "nest, room; related: prepare, rear up."
16. צהר tsohar "shining, light;" not the same as the חלון chalôn Genesis 8:6, or the aperture through which Noah let out the raven.
18. ברית berı̂yt "covenant; related: cut, eat, choose, decide."
The close of the preceding document introduces the opening topic of this one. The same rule applies to all that have gone before. The generations of the skies and the land Genesis 2:4 are introduced by the finishing of the skies and the land Genesis 2:1; the generations of man in the line of Sheth Genesis 5:1, by the birth of Sheth Genesis 4:25; and now the generations of Noah, by the notice that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. The narrative here also, as usual, reverts to a point of time before the stage of affairs described in the close of the preceding passage. Yet there is nothing here that seems to indicate a new author. The previous paragraph is historical, and closely connected with the end of the fourth chapter; and it suitably prepares for the proceedings of Noah, under the divine direction, on the eye of the deluge. We have now a recapitulation of the agent and the occasion, and then the divine commission and its execution.
Here are the man and the occasion.
The generations of Noah. - In the third document we had the generations of man; now we are limited to Noah, because he is himself at peace with God, and is now the head and representative of those who are in the same blessed relation. The narrative, therefore, for the first time, formally confines itself to the portion of the human family in communion with God, Noah is here characterized by two new and important epithets - "just" and "perfect." It is to be remembered that he had already found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Adam was created good; but by disobedience he became guilty, and all his race, Noah among the rest, became involved in that guilt. To be just is to be right in point of law, and thereby entitled to all the blessings of the acquitted and justified. When applied to the guilty, this epithet implies pardon of sin among other benefits of grace. It also presupposes that spiritual change by which the soul returns from estrangement to reconciliation with God. Hence, Noah is not only just, but perfect. This attribute of character imports not only the turning from darkness to light, from error to truth, from wrong to right, but the stability of moral determination which arises from the struggle, the trial, the victory of good over evil, therein involved. The just is the right in law; the perfect is the tested in holiness. "In his ages;" among the men of his age. This phrase indicates the contrast between Noah and the men of his day. It is probable, moreover, that he was of pure descent, and in that respect also distinguished from his contemporaries who were the offspring of promiscuous intermarriage between the godly and the ungodly. "Noah walked with God," like Henok. This is the native consequence of his victory over sin, and his acceptance with God. His sons are mentioned, as they are essentially connected with the following events.The generations of Noah; either,
1. Properly the posterity of Noah, as the word is commonly used, and as it is explained Genesis 6:10. So the rest of this verse comes in by way of parenthesis, which is frequent. Or,
2. The events or occurrences which befell Noah and his family, as the word is taken, Genesis 37:2 Proverbs 27:1.
A just man, and perfect. These words are to be taken either,
1. Jointly, q.d. he was righteous, not only in appearance, or in part, but perfectly, in all respects, towards God and men; or sincerely and truly. Or,
2. Distinctly, q.d. he was for his state and condition just before God, which was by faith, Hebrews 11:7, by which every just man lives, Romans 1:17, and perfect, i.e. upright and unblamable in the course of his life among the men of his age, as it follows;
in his generations. This is spoken either,
1. Diminutively; he was so comparatively to the men that then lived, who were very bad; though otherwise even Noah had many infirmities, so that he also had not been saved but for God’s grace and mercy, Genesis 6:8. Or,
2. By way of amplification and commendation; he was good in bad times, in spite of all evil counsels or examples. He saith
generations, in the plural number, to show that as he lived in two generations, one before the flood, and another after it, so he continued uncorrupted in both of them.
Noah walked with God. See Poole on "Genesis 5:22". Genesis 5:1 so the old world ending at the flood, the genealogy of the new world begins with Noah: though Aben Ezra and Ben Gersome interpret the word "events", things which days bring forth, Proverbs 27:1 these are the events or the things which befell Noah, of which an account is given in this and some following chapters, whose character is next observed:
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.These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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.Verse 9. - These are the generations of Noah. "Novi capitis initium = "haec est historia Noachi (Rosenmüller; cf. Genesis 5:1). Noah (vide Genesis 5:29) was a just man. צַדִּיק: not of spotless innocence (Knobel); but upright, honest, virtuous, pious (vir probus); from צָדַּק, to be straight, hence to be just; Piel to render just or righteous (Eccl. Lat., justificare), to declare any one just or innocent (Gesenius); better "justified" or declared righteous, being derived from the Piel form of the verb (Furst). "Evidently the righteousness here meant is that which represents him as justified in view of the judgment of the Flood, by reason of his faith, Hebrews 11:7" (Lange). "To be just is to be right in point of law, and thereby entitled to all the blessings of the acquitted and justified. When applied to the guilty this epithet implies pardon of sin among other benefits of grace" (Murphy). And perfect. תָּמִים: complete, whole (τέλειος, integer); i.e. perfect in the sense not of sinlessness, but of moral integrity (Gesenius, Calvin). It describes "completeness of parts rather than of degrees in the renewed character" (Bush). "The just is the right in law, the perfect is the tested in holiness" (Murphy). If, however, the term is equivalent to the τελείωσις of the Christian system (1 Corinthians 2:6; Hebrews 7:11), it denotes that complete readjustment of the being of a sinful man to the law of God, both legally and morally, which is effected by the whole work of Christ for man and in man; it is "the establishment of complete, unclouded, and enduring communion with God, and the full realization of a state of peace with him which, founded on a true and ever valid remission of sins, has for its consummation eternal glory" (Delitzsch on Hebrews 7:11). In his generations. בְּדְֹּרֹתַיו, from דּוּר, to go in a circle; hence a circuit of years; an age or generation (generatio, seeulum) of men. The clause marks not simply the sphere of Noah's virtue, among his contemporaries, or only the duration of his piety, throughout his lifetime, but likewise the constancy of his religion, which, when surrounded by the filth of iniquity on every side, contracted no contagion (Calvin). "It is probable, moreover, that he was of pure descent, and in that respect also distinguished from his contemporaries, who were the offspring of promiscuous marriages between the godly and the ungodly" (Murphy). And Noah walked with God. The special form in which his just and perfect character revealed itself amongst his sinful contemporaries. For the import of the phrase see on Genesis 5:22. Noah was also a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), and probably announced to the wicked age in which -he lived the coming of the Flood (Hebrews 11:7). Genesis 6:9-12 contain a description of Noah and his contemporaries; Genesis 6:13-22, the announcement of the purpose of God with reference to the flood.
"Noah, a righteous man, was blameless among his generations:" righteous in his moral relation to God; blameless (τέλειος, integer) in his character and conduct. דּרות, γενεαί, were the generations or families "which passed by Noah, the Nestor of his time." His righteousness and integrity were manifested in his walking with God, in which he resembled Enoch (Genesis 5:22).
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