Exposition of Genesis 1–11: Genesis 5:29 and 6:1–2

Genesis 5:29
He named him Noah, saying, “This one will bring us comfort from our labor and from the painful toil of our hands because of the ground that the LORD has cursed.”
(NET Bible)

Descent into greater depravity

Even though we live in an affluent nation, most of us have wished for better days to come. In our best moments we see pockets of hardship and wish they could have a remedy; we observe death and despair and wish things were otherwise.

Wishing for a better world falls far short of working for the kingdom of God. This world is on track to be destroyed, but we still must act as our world’s stewards and show the love of Christ to its needy masses. How might we work for God’s kingdom as our way of making a better world? What can we do to help some survive this world to live with God forever?

Lamech named his son Noah (Gen. 5:29), which may be related to the Hebrew word . . . (NUA?, ‘to rest’); that unfamiliar symbol “?” is pronounced like the final two letters in the Scottish word “loch.” Such word associations are lost on us because they are based on similar sound. When Lamech says, “This one will bring us comfort” (Gen. 5:29a, emphasis added), he uses a verb that shares some of the same letters and sounds of Noah’s name. This verb (? N?M) plays a powerful role in the events that will unfold in Genesis 6.

The summary of what has been said is that Lamech names Noah based on an expectation that Noah will bring comfort. That expectation will turn out to be correct but not in the way that Lamech expects.

Gordon Wenham says:

Chap. 4 [of Genesis] described the growing power of sin from Adam via Cain, culminating in the viciousness of Lamech. It also traced early developments in culture and technology but suggested that all were tainted by the effects of human sin. Chap. 5 on the other hand records God’s blessing of mankind; man multiplies, “fathering sons and daughters.”[1]

If Genesis 4 demonstrates the penetration of sin within humanity by human actions, Genesis 6 opens with a disturbing account of angelic interaction with human women during the pre-flood years.

When you look into ancient literature outside the Bible, you find distorted parallels to what is found in Genesis. Wenham says, “Marriages between men and the gods are a well-known feature of Greek, Egyptian, Ugaritic [a Syrian port, powerful in ancient times], Hurrian [an ancient people in the region of Turkey], and Mesopotamian theology.”[2] In other words, this idea seems strange to us but was well-known in ancient times. The Bible reveals some of the truth about the history.

Genesis 6:2
the sons of God saw that the daughters of humankind were beautiful. Thus they took wives for themselves from any they chose.
(NET Bible) 

In summarizing Genesis 6:1–4, Victor Hamilton says, “Here the divine or angelic world illegitimately impinges on the human world.”[3] The phrase “sons of God” has received a lot of discussion for centuries. The most likely explanation is that the phrase refers to “nonhuman godlike beings such as angels, demons, or spirits.”[4] It certainly refers to such entities in Job 1:6 and Ps. 29:1. Bruce Waltke offers the clarification that: “Angels are called ‘sons of God’ because they belong to the world of [God], although not in a mythological, physical, or genealogical sense.”[5]

In describing the sin of the angelic beings, Waltke says: “The Hebrew reads literally: ‘saw . . . good . . . took.’ Their sin repeats the pattern (‘saw . . . good . . . took’) of the original sin in 3:6.”[6] Whatever women they liked, they took for wives. The women and their parents were culpable for not refusing the pairings. God had declared that all reproduction was “according to its kind” (Gen. 1:24). But in a world where sin was running rampant, God’s limits were ignored.

As we will see in the next post, this is a prescription for disaster!

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

[1] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 125.

[2] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Word Incorporated, 1987) 138.

[3] 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) 263.

[4] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 139.

[5] Bruce K. Waltke with Cathi J. Fredricks, Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001) 116, fn 19.

[6] Waltke, Genesis, 117.