Genesis 6:9−9:29

January 2nd, 2015| Topic: aBeLOG, Genesis | 2

Genesis 6:9−9:29

The intercession of the righteous, who themselves escape God’s judgment for sin, precludes further judgment on the world, and the empowerment of mankind to act on God’s behalf keeps ongoing sin under check.

Thus far, while God’s reaction to sin had been somewhat muted, here sin is punished and retribution visited upon all sinners with full intensity—for the first time in Scripture. This narrative, also for the first time, depicts divine choice and the salvation of a few amidst the many who perish—a recurrent theme in God’s redemptive economy.

The word “corrupt” or “destroy” echoes in 6:11–13: the earth is “corrupt” (6:11a, 12a, 12b) and God decides to “destroy” it (6:13b): all translate the same Hebrew word. So God decides to destroy what was already self-destroying. That the earth was “filled with violence” is also noted twice (6:11b, 13a). Rather than animals and mankind filling the earth, as was God’s original intention (1:22, 28), it is violence that does so. The last use of “God saw” was in 1:31 where God saw that all he had created was good; here, “God sees” (6:12) that the earth was corrupt. In the first instance, he was delighted; now he is disgusted. And God’s perfect holiness leads him to judge sin and discipline sinners. Waters from above and from below are unloosed (7:11). An allusion to the creation waters above and below the firmament is unmistakable, seeming to indicate a return of the earth to a pre-creation state— a “de-creation.”

There is no indication of how or why Noah was blameless or righteous (6:9). But one notes that he is said to have found “favor/grace” with God (6:8) before he is said to be blameless and righteous (6:9). Likely, it was God’s grace that led to his faith/obedience (“according to all that God had commanded him”—6:22; also see 7:5, 9, 16; and Heb 11:7), and thus to his God-enabled status of blamelessness/righteousness.

The centerpiece of the story details the perishing of all life, “but God remembered Noah” (Gen 8:1), the turning-point of the story. The wind passing over the earth, the receding of the waters, the appearance of dry land (8:1–2, 5–11), all describe the reversal of the deluge; the similarities with the creation account of Genesis 1 make this a “re-creation,” even with a post-re/creation blessing (1:26–30; 9:1–8).

In 8:20, Noah builds an altar and performs a sacrifice. This building of an altar is the first to be explicitly mentioned in the Bible. Noah found favor with God, walked with God, and was found righteous before God (6:8, 9; 7:1); now his sacrifice was pleasing to God (8:22) and affected God’s future attitude to mankind and its failings (8:21)—Noah’s “priestly” work was, in effect, intercessory. In sum, one might say that the intercession of the righteous (for our time, these are the ones who are in Christ and who continue to walk with God) helps influence God in his exercise of judgment upon the world today. As well, mankind was authorized by God to take action to curb sin in the world (9:4–7).

After “all [antediluvian] flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth” (6:12), one wonders if the postdiluvian humans fared any better. They did not, as the rest of the story in Genesis 9 depicts. Clearly, the account at the tail of this chapter is intended to move the reader to an immediate conclusion: not the threat and reality of a flood, not the God-pleasing work of the righteous, not the sin-suppressing efforts of mankind—nothing had succeeded in keeping sin at bay.

[For more detail on this passage see the appropriate section of Genesis: A Theological Commentary for Preachers.] 


  1. Eric January 2, 2015 at 9:33 am

    Indeed it is only by God’s grace that we are saved. Only by walking in the Spirit can we keep sin at bay.

    While on a flight last summer, I watched Noah (hard to argue with a free movie). Well, most of it was fanciful and inaccurate. But I did appreciate it trying to explain the reason behind Noah’s indiscretion after the flood. Somehow I missed how traumatic the experience must have been for him.

    Did you watch the movie? Do you think that is a reasonable explanation?

    • Abe Kuruvilla January 2, 2015 at 10:29 am

      Thanks, Eric.

      No, didn’t see the movie … yet. The Bible is silent about why the man got drunk. I have some speculations about what happened afterwards, though. (You’ll have to buy my commentary to find out!)


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