Genesis 9:9
And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
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(9) I, behold, I establish my covenant . . . The covenant between God and man is thus solemnly introduced as Elohim’s personal act. No covenant is mentioned as existing between Elohim and the antediluvian world; but distinctly now there is a step onward in all respects, and man, in the renovated earth after the flood, is brought nearer to God by being admitted into covenant with Him. And not only is man included in the covenant, but, first, those animals which had been with Noah in the ark; and, secondly, those which had not been admitted there. For the words of Genesis 9:10 are: “From all that go out of the ark unto every beast of the earth” (the larger world). To such straits are those reduced who hold to the theory of a universal deluge, that Kalisch argues that it means the fish, as if fishes would be destroyed by a second flood any more than they were by the first. Plainly, the words imply the existence of a larger world-sphere than that in connection with Noah, and give the assurance that not only those now providentially preserved, but the animals everywhere, shall never again be in danger of a similar extinction.

Genesis 9:9. Behold, I establish my covenant, &c. — We have here the general establishment of God’s covenant with this new world, and the extent of that covenant.

9:8-17 As the old world was ruined, to be a monument of justice, so this world remains to this day a monument of mercy. But sin, that drowned the old world, will burn this. Articles of agreement among men are sealed, that what is promised may be the more solemn, and the doing of what is covenanted the more sure to mutual satisfaction. The seal of this covenant was the rainbow, which, it is likely, was seen in the clouds before, but was never a seal of the covenant till now it was made so. The rainbow appears when we have most reason to fear the rain prevailing; God then shows this seal of the promise, that it shall not prevail. The thicker the cloud, the brighter the bow in the cloud. Thus, as threatening afflictions abound, encouraging consolations much more abound. The rainbow is the reflection of the beams of the sun shining upon or through the drops of rain: all the glory of the seals of the covenant are derived from Christ, the Sun of righteousness. And he will shed a glory on the tears of his saints. A bow speaks terror, but this has neither string nor arrow; and a bow alone will do little hurt. It is a bow, but it is directed upward, not toward the earth; for the seals of the covenant were intended to comfort, not to terrify. As God looks upon the bow, that he may remember the covenant, so should we, that we may be mindful of the covenant with faith and thankfulness. Without revelation this gracious assurance could not be known; and without faith it can be of no use to us; and thus it is as to the still greater dangers to which all are exposed, and as to the new covenant with its blessings.The party with whom God now enters into covenant is here fully described. "You and your seed after you, and every breathing living thing;" the latter merely "on account of the former." The animals are specially mentioned because they partake in the special benefit of preservation from a flood, which is guaranteed in this covenant. There is a remarkable expression employed here - "From all that come out of the ark, to every beast of the land." It seems to imply that the beast of the land, or the wild beast, was not among those that came out of the ark, and, therefore, not among those that went in. This coincides with the view we have given of the inmates of the ark.Ge 9:8-29. Rainbow. i.e. My promise, for the beasts included in this covenant, Genesis 9:10, are not capable of a covenant properly so called. And the word

covenant is oft used for a simple promise, as we shall see hereafter.

With your seed, i.e. your posterity, as that word is frequently taken, as Genesis 12:7 Exodus 28:43, &c.

And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you,.... Not the covenant of grace in Christ, but of the preservation of the creatures in common, a promise that they should not be destroyed any more by a flood; to which promise it seems an oath was annexed, as appears from Isaiah 54:9 which passage refers to this covenant, as Aben Ezra on the place observes; and both to raise attention to what is here affirmed, and to show the certainty of it, the word "behold" is prefixed to it; nor is it amiss what Jarchi observes, that this follows upon the direction and exhortation to procreation of children, and is an encouragement to it; since it is assured that posterity should be no more cut off in the manner it had been; for this covenant was made and established not only with Noah, and his sons, but with all their succeeding offspring, as follows:

and with your seed after you; with all their posterity to the end of the world; so that this covenant was made with all the world, and all the individuals in it, from Noah's time to the end of it; for from him and his sons sprung the whole race of men that peopled the world, and still continue to inhabit it; hence here is nothing in it peculiar to the seed of believers.

And I, behold, I establish my {h} covenant with you, and with your {i} seed after you;

(h) To assure you that the world will never again be destroyed by a flood.

(i) The children which are not yet born, are comprehended in God's covenant with their fathers.

8–17b. The Covenant with Noah

9. I, behold, I] Cf. Genesis 6:17, “I, behold, I do bring the flood of waters.” The same personal emphasis is expressed in proclaiming the mercy of the covenant as previously in the sentence of doom.

establish my covenant] See Genesis 6:18. The Pentateuch mentions three covenants between God and man: (1) with Noah, and its token is the rainbow; (2) with Abraham, 15 and 17, and its token is circumcision, chap. 17; (3) with the people of Israel at Mt Sinai, and its tokens are “the blood of the covenant,” the Tabernacle, and the Levitical system (Exodus 24, 25.).

In a covenant between God and man, God makes the promise and lays down the conditions. Man accepts the terms unconditionally, while God “establishes,” or ratifies, them.

There is no equality of relationship as in a covenant agreement between men. Man is pledged to obedience on the strength of God’s promise of blessing. An outward sign is the “sacrament” of the relation.

Verse 9. - And I, behold, I establish - literally, am causing to rise up or stand; ἀνίστημι (LXX.) - my covenant (cf. Genesis 6:18) with you, and with your seed after you. I.e. the covenant contemplated all subsequent posterity in its provisions, and, along with the human family, the entire animal creation. Genesis 9:9To give Noah and his sons a firm assurance of the prosperous continuance of the human race, God condescended to establish a covenant with them and their descendants, and to confirm this covenant by a visible sign for all generations. בּרית הקים is not equivalent to בּרית כּרת; it does not denote the formal conclusion of an actual covenant, but the "setting up of a covenant," or the giving of a promise possessing the nature of a covenant. In summing up the animals in Genesis 9:10, the prepositions are accumulated: first בּ embracing the whole, then the partitive מן restricting the enumeration to those which went out of the ark, and lastly ל yl, "with regard to," extending it again to every individual. There was a correspondence between the covenant (Genesis 9:11) and the sign which was to keep it before the sight of men (Genesis 9:12): "I give (set) My bow in the cloud" (Genesis 9:13). When God gathers (ענן Genesis 9:14, lit., clouds) clouds over the earth, "the bow shall be seen in the cloud," and that not for man only, but for God also, who will look at the bow, "to remember His everlasting covenant." An "everlasting covenant" is a covenant "for perpetual generations," i.e., one which shall extend to all ages, even to the end of the world. The fact that God Himself would look at the bow and remember His covenant, was "a glorious and living expression of the great truth, that God's covenant signs, in which He has put His promises, are real vehicles of His grace, that they have power and essential worth not only with men, but also before God" (O. v. Gerlach). The establishment of the rainbow as a covenant sign of the promise that there should be no flood again, presupposes that it appeared then for the first time in the vault and clouds of heaven. From this it may be inferred, not that it did not rain before the flood, which could hardly be reconciled with Genesis 2:5, but that the atmosphere was differently constituted; a supposition in perfect harmony with the facts of natural history, which point to differences in the climate of the earth's surface before and after the flood. The fact that the rainbow, that "coloured splendour thrown by the bursting forth of the sun upon the departing clouds," is the result of the reciprocal action of light, and air, and water, is no disproof of the origin and design recorded here. For the laws of nature are ordained by God, and have their ultimate ground and purpose in the divine plan of the universe which links together both nature and grace. "Springing as it does from the effect of the sun upon the dark mass of clouds, it typifies the readiness of the heavenly to pervade the earthly; spread out as it is between heaven and earth, it proclaims peace between God and man; and whilst spanning the whole horizon, it teaches the all-embracing universality of the covenant of grace" (Delitzsch).
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