And you, be you fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
The first law promulgated in Scripture was that between Creator and creature. If the creature refuse to the Creator the obedience due, he forfeits all the Creator has given him, and, therefore, his life. Hence, when Cain murdered his brother, he only displayed a new development of that sin which was in him, and, being already condemned to the extreme penalty under the first transgression, had only a minor punishment annexed to his personal crime. And so it continued to be in the antediluvian world. No civil law is on record for the restriction of crime. Cain, indeed, feared the natural vengeance which his conscience told him his sin deserved. But it was not competent in equity for the private individual to undertake the enforcement of the penalties of natural law. So long as the law was between Creator and creature, God himself was not only the sole legislator, but the sole administrator of law.
The second law is that between creature and creature, which is here introduced on the occasion of giving permission to partake of animal food, as the first was published on that of granting the use of vegetable diet. In the former case, God is the administrator of the law, as he is the immediate and sovereign party in the legal compact. In the latter case, man is, by the express appointment of the Lord of all, constituted the executive agent. "By man shall his blood be shed." Here, then, is the formal institution of civil government. Here the civil sword is committed to the charge of man. The judgment of death by the executioner is solemnly delegated to man in vindication of human life. This trust is conveyed in the most general terms. "By man." The divine legislator does not name the sovereign, define his powers, or determine the law of succession. All these practical conditions of a stable government are left open questions.
The emphasis is laid solely on "man." On man is impressively laid the obligation of instituting a civil constitution suited to his present fallen condition. On the nation as a body it is an incumbent duty to select the sovereign, to form the civil compact between prince and people, to settle the prerogative of the sovereign and the rights of the subjects, to fix the order of succession, to constitute the legislative, judicial, and administrative bodies, and to render due submission to the constituted authorities. And all these arrangements are to be made according to the principles of Scripture and the light of nature.
The reason why retribution is exacted in the case of man is here also given. "For in the image of God has he made man." This points on the one hand to the function of the magistrate, and on the other to the claims of the violated law; and in both respects illustrates the meaning of being created in the image of God. Man resembles God in this, that he is a moral being, judging of right and wrong, endowed with reason and will, and capable of holding and exercising rights. Hence, he is in the first place competent to rule, and on his creation authorized to exercise a mild and moral sway over the inferior creatures. His capacity to govern even among his fellow-men is now recognized. The function of self-government in civil things is now conferred upon man. When duly called to the office, he is declared to be at liberty to discharge the part of a ruler among his fellow-men, and is entitled on the ground of this divine arrangement to claim the obedience of those who are under his sway. He must rule in the Lord, and they must obey in the Lord.
However, in the next place, man is capable of, and has been actually endowed with, rights of property in himself, his children, his industrial products, his purchases, his receipts in the way of gift, and his claims by covenant or promise. He can also recognize such rights in another. When, therefore, he is deprived of anything belonging to him, he is sensible of being wronged, and feels that the wrongdoer is bound to make reparation by giving back what he has taken away, or an equivalent in its place. This is the law of requital, which is the universal principle of justice between the wrongdoer and the wrong-sufferer. Hence, the blood of him who sheds blood is to be shed. And, in setting up a system of human government, the most natural and obvious case is given, according to the manner of Scripture, as a sample of the law by which punishment is to be inflicted on the transgressor in proportion to his crime. The case in point accordingly arises necessarily out of the permission to use animal food, which requires to be guarded on the one hand by a provision against cruelty to animals, and, on the other, by an enactment forbidding the taking away of human life, on the pain of death, by order of the civil magistrate. This case, then, turns out to be the most heinous crime which man can commit against his fellow-man, and strikingly exemplifies the great common principle of retributive justice.
The brute is not a moral being, and has, therefore, no proper rights in itself. Its blood may therefore be shed with impunity. Nevertheless, man, because he is a moral being, owes a certain negative duty to the brute animal, because it is capable of pain. He is not to inflict gratuitous or unnecessary suffering on a being susceptible of such torture. Hence, the propriety of the blood being shed before the flesh is used for food. Life, and therefore the sense of pain, is extinguished when the blood is withdrawn from the veins.Genesis 1:28, but do hereby renew it to you, and your seed after you.
bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein; that the whole earth might be overspread with men, and repeopled sufficiently, as it was by the sons of Noah, see Genesis 9:19.And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 7. - And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. Vide on ver. 1.
Leviticus 17:11, Leviticus 17:14); so that from this point of view sacrifice denotes the surrender of one's own inmost life, of the very essence of life, to God" (Ziegler). Allusion is made to the first again in the still further limitation given in Genesis 9:5 : "and only (ואך) your blood, with regard to your souls (ל indicative of reference to an individual object, Ewald, 310a), will I seek (demand or avenge, cf. Psalm 9:13) from the hand of every beast, and from the hand of man, from the hand of every one, his brother;" i.e., from every man, whoever he may be, because he is his (the slain man's) brother, inasmuch as all men are brethren. The life of man was thus made secure against animals as well as men. God would avenge or inflict punishment for every murder, - not directly, however, as He promised to do in the case of Cain, but indirectly by giving the command, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed," and thus placing in the hand of man His own judicial power. "This was the first command," says Luther, "having reference to the temporal sword. By these words temporal government was established, and the sword placed in its hand by God." It is true the punishment of the murderer is enjoined upon "man" universally; but as all the judicial relations and ordinances of the increasing race were rooted in those of the family, and grew by a natural process out of that, the family relations furnished of themselves the norm for the closer definition of the expression "man." Hence the command does not sanction revenge, but lays the foundation for the judicial rights of the divinely appointed "powers that be" (Romans 13:1). This is evident from the reason appended: "for in the image of God made He man." If murder was to be punished with death because it destroyed the image of God in man, it is evident that the infliction of the punishment was not to be left to the caprice of individuals, but belonged to those alone who represent the authority and majesty of God, i.e., the divinely appointed rulers, who for that very reason are called Elohim in Psalm 82:6. This command then laid the foundation for all civil government,
(Note: Hic igitur fons est, ex quo manat totum just civile et just gentium. Nam si Deus concedit homini potestatem super vitam et mortem, profecto etiam concedit potestatem super id, quod minus est, ut sunt fortunae, familia, uxor, liberi, servi, agri; Haec omnia vult certorum hominum potestati esse obnoxia Deus, ut reos puniant. Luther.)
and formed a necessary complement to that unalterable continuance of the order of nature which had been promised to the human race for its further development. If God on account of the innate sinfulness of man would no more bring an exterminating judgment upon the earthly creation, it was necessary that by commands and authorities He should erect a barrier against the supremacy of evil, and thus lay the foundation for a well-ordered civil development of humanity, in accordance with the words of the blessing, which are repeated in Genesis 9:7, as showing the intention and goal of this new historical beginning.
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