Exposition of Genesis 1–11: Genesis 6:9–10

Genesis 6:9–10
9 This is the account of Noah. Noah was a godly man; he was blameless among his contemporaries. He walked with God.  10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
(NET Bible)

Making a difference for your children

Every society keeps score. In Jesus’ day some coveted the chief seats at the banquets and the synagogue. In our own day, money, fame, and power are popular measures. Only a small percentage “wins” the competition in the world.

Life before God is different; anyone may win. The intelligent, the beautiful, the rich, and the strong have no advantage before God. How then does a man set himself apart? What must one do to obtain a preferred destiny?

Genesis 6:9 begins another major division in the book of Genesis; it formally introduces the account of Noah. Similar divisions have been observed at Genesis 2:4 (the account of the heavens and the earth) and Genesis 5:1 (the account of Adam). We have included Gen. 6:9 with the prior verses because it explains why Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.

The punctuation of Genesis 6:9 by the NET Bible neatly reveals the divisions in the verse. The summary, “Noah was a godly man,” is explained by the following two clauses. In relation to his contemporaries, Noah was “blameless.” Noah’s relationship with God is described in the same terms that were used of Enoch (5:24): “He walked with God.”

Many translations have “Noah was a righteous man” (ESV, NASB, NIV, NLT, RSV). Gordon Wenham says: “Negatively, a righteous man avoids sin; positively, he does good to his neighbors. In short, it is the most general Hebrew term for good people. . . . Someone called ‘good’ in English would be described as ‘righteous’ in Hebrew.”[1] The NET Bible uses “godly” in place of “righteous” in Genesis 6:9.

The word translated “blameless” by NET and most other translations must be clarified by its context, a fact demonstrated by the NET Bible Notes. “Blameless” means such things as maintaining a proper relationship with God (Gen. 17:1), not participating in idolatrous practices (Josh. 24:14), and not imitating the wicked, proud or deceitful (Prov. 11:5). In our text, Noah did not get involved with the violence and evil of his generation; instead he walked with God.

Noah’s sons are mentioned in Genesis 6:10 to account for their presence in the ark. However, we must consider the question of why they will be allowed to board instead of being destroyed with the rest of humanity. Wenham provides great insight:

Noah’s sons were presumably considered righteous, as they are mentioned before the general corruption of the rest of the world in verses 11–12. Cassuto (2:51) plausibly argues this is Ezekiel’s understanding, for in [Ezek.] 14:14–20 he says that Noah, Daniel, and Job would only deliver themselves by their own righteousness and would not have saved their children.[2]

Parents should note that Noah’s sons are the only sons who escape the flood; godly parents often make the difference between heaven and hell!


Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Word Incorporated, 1987) 170.

[2] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 170.

Do you have an opinion or a different interpretation? Let me know!