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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Genesis 9

Verses 1-3

God Blesses Noah


Noah is on a cleansed, renewed earth (Psa 104:30b). He has made an offering. On the basis of this offering God blesses Noah and his sons. To bless is to speak good of someone, to wish someone good. God assures them of His benevolence for them and of His merciful purposes with them. All the promises of God to give the good flow from His purposes of love and the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11; Jer 29:11).

Noah is given the same command as Adam to be fruitful and to fill the earth (Gen 1:28). Just like Adam he also gets the rule over the animals (Gen 1:26; 28). But there is an additional element that was not there in the case of Adam, and that is that “fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea”. This is the result of sin.

Another new element is that humans are given animals for food. This means a spiritual lesson: The life of man is based on feeding with the death of another (Jn 6:51b). Whoever believes this has eternal life (Jn 6:54).

Whoever is a vegetarian out of conviction, that is to say who consciously shall not eat flesh in order not to have to kill an animal, (unconsciously?) adheres to a doctrine of demons: “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, [men] who forbid marriage [and advocate] abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth” (1Tim 4:1-3). Everything is good and nothing is reprehensible of what comes from the hand of God and is given to us to feed us (1Tim 4:4).

Verses 4-7

The Blood


God elaborates on the blood. He clearly states here that blood represents life: “The life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev 17:11) and to this He alone has the right. He never gives up that right. Therefore, the prohibition to eat blood – blood sausage is also covered by this prohibition! – still applies (Acts 15:29).

God also commands man to kill someone who kills another person. God thus predicts that violence will be committed again. He knows that man’s heart hasn’t changed, and He sees the deeds to which man will fall again. With a view to the bloodshed, God says that whoever does so, his blood must also flow through the hand of man. This also applies in case an animal kills a human being, which is later also written in the law (Exo 21:28).

With the commission and the right to retaliate bloodshed, God places something of Himself (Psa 9:12a; 2Chr 24:22) in the hands of – authorized – people (Rom 13:1). He does so because whoever offends against a human being, offends against His image bearer. He also does this to curb evil, so that no more situations develop as those that made the flood necessary: an earth filled with violence (Gen 6:11). Here we find the institution of the government, which gets the sword power (Rom 13:4). The most characteristic of government is the judgment of evil.

If murder as an affront and violation of the image of God in man is to be punished with death, it is clear that this punishment cannot be exercised by every random man. It is only permitted to those who represent God’s right and majesty on earth, which are the ones established by Him. These representatives are also meaningfully called “gods” (Psa 82:1-2; 6).

Now that God, because of man’s innate sinfulness, no longer threatens with a judgment of extermination, another way must be found to prevent evil. This is done through the establishment of rules and commandments, on which the government must ensure that they are maintained and where the government must punish for in case of violation.

Verses 8-11

God’s Covenant with Noah


God establishes a covenant not only with Noah, but also with all his descendants and with all creation. This covenant makes clear how great for God the value of man’s life is. Life is holy and belongs to God. It is also a general covenant, because it concerns the entire offspring of Noah and all living beings.

In this covenant there are no obligations for Noah and his descendants. God takes upon Himself all obligations to keep this covenant. It is a one-sided covenant. The foundation is the offering. When clouds appear again, man need not be afraid of a new flood (Isa 54:9).

Verses 12-17

The Sign of the Covenant


The (rain)bow in the clouds is the visible proof of God’s faithfulness to His covenant for all creation. Not only man sees the bow, but God sees it too. Then He thinks of his covenant. The bow also holds the promise that God will bless after the judgments.

Therefore we see in Revelation 4 the bow again (Rev 4:2-3). In the book of Revelation the judgments about the world, Israel and professing Christianity burst forth from Revelation 6 onwards. But for the faithful, seeing the bow at the beginning gives the promise of blessing after the judgments. That fills them with hope. So they call upon God and cry to Him: “In wrath remember mercy” (Hab 3:2b).

The bow is a picture of the Lord Jesus. Only through Him blessing is possible. Only through Him God blesses wherever and whenever. This blessing is only for those who are connected with Him by faith. Man sees the bow and God sees the bow. God wishes man to have the same thoughts when seeing the bow as He has. The bow then works fellowship between man and God.

Verses 18-23

Noah Gets Drunk – The Reaction of His Sons


The sons of Noah are named because they are the germ of the new earth. Out of them humanity develops in three directions. From them descend all future generations and peoples. One people is named by name: the Canaanites, of whom Ham is the father.

The earth has been cleansed, but man has not changed. After the blessing there is the failing of Noah. So it has always gone in the history of man. We see it with Adam in the beginning and here with Noah. Later we see it after establishing the priesthood the sons of Aaron fail (Lev 10:1-3) and after appointing a king, king Saul, he fails (1 Samuel 9-31). It has been not different with the church (Revelation 2-3).

Noah, who has been given authority over creation, has no authority over himself. He uses the blessing of the earth for his own enjoyment, the blessing takes possession of him. Isn’t that what often happens, also with us Christians? Love of drink drags the former preacher of righteousness (2Pet 2:5) into the mud. Noah cannot handle the wealth of the new earth. He indulges in it and so his nakedness becomes public.

It is like with the church of Laodicéa. She also finds herself so great and blessed. But blessing apart from God, blessing that is abused for one’s own pleasure, results in nakedness. Therefore the Lord Jesus says to that church: ‘You are naked’ (Rev 3:17).

Noah’s sin is the reason for Ham’s failure. That is a serious lesson for every father. Ham ridicules his father to his brothers. That is clear from the context. It is not a question of justifying Noah’s sin – that cannot be justified – but for the son, his father’s failure should not be a reason to mock him. This is an important principle at a time when parental authority is often undermined. Parents are not perfect, they make mistakes. Yet the Scriptures say: “Honor your father and mother” (Eph 6:2).

The other two sons treat their failing, naked father with the necessary respect. Not only do they not want to see the nakedness themselves, but they also make sure that no one else sees it. They use the garment as it were as a garment of love they throw over their father’s lack, something that is an example to us in our dealings with the evil of others (1Pet 4:8).

Verses 24-27

Curse and Blessing


Noah curses Ham in his son Canaan (Gen 10:6) and blesses Shem and Japheth. The special curse is that Canaan will be “a servant of servants” to his brothers, that is the very lowest servant. We see this fulfilled, among other things, in the victories Israel achieves over them, when they conquer the land of Canaan (Jdg 1:28; 30; 33; 35), about 800 years later.

Not Ham himself is cursed. Ham and his brothers are blessed by God (Gen 9:1), and Noah will not undo this. Here the father’s sin is visited to the children (Exo 20:5-6), although the punishment for sin is also deserved by the children themselves.

The immorality of Ham is expressed in his descendants, the Canaanites. Israel is later warned not to behave in that way: “You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes” (Lev 18:3). In the realm of peace, the curse of Canaan will find its full fulfillment (Zec 14:21b).

The prophecy of Noah contains in a few words the course of world history. In Genesis 10 we see a further fulfillment of it. There we have the generations of the sons of Noah from whom the entire world population originated (Gen 9:19).

God is called here “the God of Shem”. Never before has God been connected to a human being in this way. Later He is also called ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’. This means that Japheth and Ham will have to seek their blessing from Shem, for God is with him (Zec 8:23).

Verses 28-29

Death of Noah


Noah’s history ends with the mention of his age and the announcement of his death. Noah has seen two worlds in his life: an old world before the flood and a new world after it. Because by faith “he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Heb 11:7), he died in the faith that in the resurrection he will participate in a world better than both.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Genesis 9". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/genesis-9.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.