Bible Commentaries

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

Genesis 9

Verses 1-19


What did Noah do on leaving the ark (Genesis 8:20 )? How does this verse bear on Genesis 7:2 ? What indicates the acceptance of his offering, and by its acceptance that of himself (Genesis 8:21 )? What divine promise was associated with this acceptance? Of course, this does not mean that no further judgment is to be visited on the earth, as may be seen by 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 ; 2 Peter 3:10-13 , and Revelation 14:22.

Where, earlier, have we met the blessing now bestowed on Noah and his family (Genesis 9:1 )? What new power over the brute creation is now put into man’s hands (Genesis 9:2 )? If his dominion previously was that of love, of what was its nature to be henceforth? If his food previously was limited to herbs, to what is it now extended (Genesis 9:3 )? But what limitation is put upon it, and why (Genesis 9:4 )? We see here that from the times of the deluge the blood was constituted a most sacred thing, devoted exclusively to God, to make expiation on the altar of sacrifice for the sins of men (Leviticus 17:11-14 ). When the blood of the “Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world” had been shed, this prohibition ceased naturally, together with the reason for it. The apostles, nevertheless, as a concession to the scruples of the Jewish Christians, ordained its continuance (Acts 15:1-29 ), a concession which likewise of itself fell into disuse with the cessation of the occasion for it the disappearance of Judaic Christianity.

To speak further of eating meat, some regard it as a lightening of the curse in that flesh was more easily obtained than the products of the soil, but others consider it as bearing on the intercourse with the spiritual beings previously spoken of. In this connection it is in point to remark that the votaries of spiritualism, theosophy and other occultisms are denied a meat diet on the ground that it interferes with their mysterious (and sinful) affinities.

What magisterial functions not previously exercised are now conferred on man (Genesis 9:5-6 )? The death penalty has been abused in almost all the countries of the world, but this does not justify its abolition in cases of premeditated homicide; and unwillingness to apply to the criminal the pain of death ordained by God Himself, the Author of life, always tends to the increase of crime and gives loose rein to personal vengeance. The inviolability of human life means that the life of a human being is a thing so sacred that he who takes it without just cause must pay for it with his own in amends to outraged justice, both human and divine. Compare Numbers 35:33 .

What are the terms of the covenant now made with Noah (Genesis 9:8-11 )? And what token or seal does God set to it (Genesis 9:12-17 )? The rainbow may have been seen before, but God now employs it for a new purpose. And the token is not only for us, but also for every living thing, and for perpetual generations. And then, too, God looks upon it and remembers the covenant whether we do or not, our deliverance depending not on our seeing it. This calls to mind the promise of Exodus 12:13 : “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.”


(1) What was the result of the earliest civilization, morally considered?

(1) What two applications have been given to the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1-22 ?

(2) What is the Hebrew for “giants,” and what is its meaning?

(3) How might be explained the large number of animals in the ark?

(4) In what way may the ark be used as a type of Christ?

(5) In what two ways is the story of the flood corroborated?

(6) What two reasons have been given for the privilege of eating meat?

(7) What element will be employed in the next destruction of the earth?

(8) Have we biblical authority and mandate for capital punishment?

(9) What circumstances of special interest do you recall in connection with the rainbow?

Verses 18-29


NOAH’S PROPHECY (Genesis 9:18-29 )

To which of the sons of Noah is attention called at the beginning of this section, and why (Genesis 9:18 )? To what occupation did Noah apply himself after the flood (Genesis 9:18 )? Of what sin was he guilty (Genesis 9:21 )? Of what grosser sin was his son guilty (Genesis 9:22 )? What curse did Noah pronounce on the line of Ham (Genesis 9:25 )? Which particular line? Just why Canaan is selected one cannot say. We only know that his father is not once mentioned in this chapter without him, for which God must have had a reason even if it is not revealed. One reason may be to emphasize that the curse rested upon Asiatics rather than Africans. Because certain of these latter are descendants of Ham, and are black, and have served as slaves, men have associated the curse with them, but the facts of the next chapter (Genesis 10:15-19 ) are against that idea. The Hebrews or Israelites, the descendants of Shem, who were themselves slaves in Egypt for a while, afterwards enslaved the Canaanites (Joshua 9:23-27 ; 1 Kings 9:20-21 ), and this in part is a fulfillment of this prophecy. It is pertinent that the Canaanites, like others in the line of Ham, the Babylonians, Egyptians and Africans, inherited the sensuous characteristics of their progenitor for which the judgments of God fell upon them later.

Passing over the blessing upon Shem, or rather the God of Shem, mention the three things prophesied of Japheth (Genesis 9:27 ). He is enlarged in the sense that the peoples of Europe sprung out of his loins, to say nothing of the Hindus and doubtless the Mongolians. He “dwells in the tents of Shem” in the sense at least that he partakes of the blessing of their religion, that of the Bible. Canaan is his servant in the sense doubtless in which the nations and tribes descendant from him are subject to the control of Europe.

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Genesis 9". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. 1897-1910.