Exposition of Genesis 1-11: Genesis 9:1-3

Genesis 9:1-3

Then God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2 Every living creature of the earth and every bird of the sky will be terrified of you. Everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea are under your authority. 3 You may eat any moving thing that lives. As I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
(NET Bible)

Grace opens the food supply

Even after bringing a world-wide judgment upon human sin, God grants a new start to Noah with an abundance of blessing and grace. This symbolizes a wider situation: even though each of us starts life with a measure of opportunity that may be different, we each have all we need to please him.

To whom much has been given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). How are Gods blessings to be used to greatest advantage? Whose advantage are we talking about?

When God blesses Noah and his sons in Genesis 9:1, he uses the exact words given to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28: Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Accordingly, Victor Hamilton says: Noah is a second Adam. What God told Adam he now tells Noah.[1]

Genesis 9:2
Every living creature of the earth and every bird of the sky will be terrified of you. Everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea are under your authority.

The NET Bibles translation of Genesis 9:2 smooths off a few too many rough edges; that is known as over-translation. Every living creature of the earth (NET) sounds totally comprehensive of all life forms, but that is likely not the case. The standard Hebrew lexicon says that the underlying word usually refers to animals that are not domesticated.[2] For this reason, Old Testament commentator John Walton says: It should be noticed that the word for . . . docile cattle (behema) is not included in this list. That suggests that they are not necessarily characterized by this fear.[3]

Further, the phrase are under your authority (NET) may be more literally translated Into your hand they are delivered (ESV). In the Old Testament, the latter phrase is connected to having the power of life and death (Deut. 19:12; 20:13). This is the correct meaning in context, because God is defining a new food supply for man; animal life will now become part of humankinds food (Genesis 9:3). Kenneth Mathews affirms, God has now put the life and death of the animal under the power of the human arbiter.[4]

Walton makes an interesting suggestion when he says, I tentatively propose, then, that domesticated plants and animals were always considered legitimate sources of food, while permission was granted for gathering of food growing wild (1:30) and hunting animals (9:3).[5]

Throughout Genesis it is useful to see how all the parts relate to one another. Walton says: It is likely that the permission to use animals for food should be seen as a concession of grace. If so, it is parallel to the making of skin garments for Adam and Eve and putting the mark on Cain.[6]

We have already considered examples of a general rule that seems comprehensive until God expresses a specific exception (Gen. 2:16-17 and Gen. 6:5-8). Genesis 6:2-3 gives the general rule concerning food, but in our next post we will encounter the specific exception.

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


[1] Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990) 313.

[2] L. Koehler, W. Baumgartner and J. J. Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT), translated and edited under the supervision of M. E. J. Richardson. 5 vols. (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1994-2000) ?ayyah, animal, q.v.

[3] John H. Walton, The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001) 311, fn 1.

[4] Kenneth A. Mathews, Genesis 1-11:26, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1996) 401.

[5] Walton, Genesis, 343.

[6] Walton, Genesis, 341.

NIV 2011: Craig Blomberg analyzes Philippians 2:4

Craig Blomberg, a noted New Testament scholar at Denver Seminary, has produced another fine analysis that compares NIV 2011 — which Craig calls the “updated NIV” — with other major English translations. This time his focus is on Philippians 2:4, which says, “ . . . not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Take advantage of this opportunity to understand how these English translations of the Bible compare and why Craig Blomberg believes NIV 2011 to be the best of all those now available.

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide.

Exposition of Genesis 1–11: Genesis 6:14 and 6:22

Genesis 6:14
“Make for yourself an ark of cypress wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitch inside and out.”
(NET Bible)

Keep on doing what God says

Some people trust in Jesus Christ for the simple reason that they do not want to risk going to hell. So far, so good. But a fraction of these people then put their Christianity in the closet and shut the door. The idea seems to be: “Call me when it is time for heaven!”

What is God’s opinion of faith that is expressed in an instant and then goes into dormancy? What does an extended showing of faith say about the quality of that faith?

Up to this point God has spoken only of destroying all life on earth. You know that Noah is going to be spared, but Noah has never read Genesis. He has only one hint at this point: God is still speaking to him. When Noah gets his first command, it has to be a relief.

God tells Noah to “build for yourself an ark.” What is an “ark”? The Hebrew word appears to be a derivative of an Egyptian word for “chest” or “box.” When Jerome created the Vulgate, a Latin translation of the Bible, in about 405 A.D., he used the Latin noun arca, which means “chest” or “box.” The Latin word was taken into the Geneva Bible of 1599, an early English translation of the Vulgate, as “Arke.” The translators for the King James Version adopted this word as “ark,” and we have had it ever since.

Readers of the KJV may wonder how their “ark of gopher wood” became an “ark of cypress wood” (NET). The truth is that no one knows what kind of wood was used because the word is used only here. The Hebrew word is gofer (where f and ph are just alternative spellings), so you can see how the KJV reading arose as a simple spelling of the word; they had no knowledge of the type of wood. “Cypress” is merely an educated guess by the NET Bible translators.

No one knows what kinds of ships existed prior to the flood.[1] The design God gave to Noah has roughly the shape of a rectangular box scaled to a total length of about 450 feet, a height of 45 feet, and a width of 75 feet. (This shape is approximated by imagining a shoe box that is six times longer than normal.) Johan Huibers, a Dutch contractor, has built a replica at about one-half scale.

Genesis 6:22
And Noah did all that God commanded him– he did indeed.
(NET Bible)

Genesis 6:22 stresses that Noah did exactly what God told him to do. That is beyond dispute.

More interesting is to explain why the Hebrew text uses two different forms of the verb “to do.” These forms are commonly called the “imperfect” and the “perfect.” The imperfect is often used to represent “that which occurs repeatedly or in a continuous sequence in the past.”[2] The same reference says the perfect “denotes in general that which is concluded, completed, and past.” Genesis 6:22 has first the imperfect and then the perfect. So, it could be translated, “Noah kept on doing all that God commanded him—thus he did” (my rough translation).

What is the point? For 120 years Noah faithfully carried out God’s commands (“kept on doing”). Then the author of Genesis looks back and summarizes Noah’s behavior: “thus he did.” This statement undergirds God’s declaration of Noah’s righteousness in Genesis 7:1. Noah proved his faith over and over.

Do you want to please God? If so, keep on doing what he has commanded no matter how long it takes!

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

[1] Note to landlubbers: Noah’s vessel was far too large to be called a “boat.”

[2] E. Kautzsch, ed., A.E. Cowley, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1910) 125, fn 1.