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Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical Lange's Commentary
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 6". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ lcc/ genesis-6.html. 1857-84.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 6". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
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The Universal Corruption in consequence of the mingling of the two lines.—The anomism (or enormity) of sins before the flood.—Predominant unbelief.—Titanic pride.—After the flood prevailing superstition
1And it came to pass when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, 2That the sons of God saw the daughters of men [looked upon them] that they were fair, and they took them wives of all which they chose 3[after their sensual choice]. And the Lord said, my spirit1 shall not always strive2 with man, for that Hebrews 3:0 also is flesh; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 4There were giants4 in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bare children to them; the same became mighty men, which were of old, men of renown. 5And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And it repented5 the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved6 him at his heart. 7And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man and beast, and the creeping thing, and 8the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. And Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
PRELIMINARY QUESTION, EXEGETICAL AND THEOLOGICAL, RESPECTING THE SONS OF GOD7
The question, what kind of beings are we to understand by the Sons of God, has been answered in different ways from the earliest times, and has lately, again, given occasion to lively theological discussions. We give here, in the first place, the statement of Kurtz, who has engaged in the question with peculiar earnestness (History of the Old Covenant, i. p. 30, 3d ed., 1864, and in a long Appendix to vol. i., under the title: Die Ehen der Söhne Gottes mit den Töchtern der Menschen, Berlin, 1857). “In respect to the Bne Elohim, we find three principal views: 1. they are filii magnatum puellas plebeias rapientes; 2. they are angels; 3. they are the pious, that is, the Sethites, in contrast with whom the “daughters of men” denote Cainitish women. The first view is found in the Samaritan, Jonathan (Targum), Onkelos (Targum), Symmachus, Aben Ezra, Rashi, Varenius, &c., and may now be regarded as exploded. The second view is most strongly represented in the old synagogue and church. It would seem to have its ground in the Septuagint. At least the manuscripts vary between υἱοὶ τοῦ θεοῦ and ἄγγελοι τοῦ θεοῦ. Very decidedly, however, it is presented (and mythically improved upon) in two old Apocryphal books, namely, the Book of Enoch, and the so-called Minor Genesis, of which Dillman in Ewald’s Year Books has given a German translation derived from the Ethiopic. It is, moreover, recognized in the Epistle of Jude (Genesis 6:6-7 ?) and in the Second Epistle of Peter (Genesis 2:4-5 ?). It was also presented by Philo, Josephus, and most of the Rabbinical writers (Eisenmenger’s “Judaism Revealed,” i. p. 380), as well as by the oldest church fathers: Justin, Clemens Alex., Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, and Lactantius. Since then it fell gradually into disfavor; Chrysostom, Augustine, and Theodoret contended zealously against it; Philastrius denounced it as downright heresy, and our old church theologians turned from it almost with abhorrence. It found also in the synagogue vehement opposers Rabbi Simeon Ben Jochai pronounced the ban against all who adhered to it. In more modern times it has been seized upon by all exegetes who regard the early history of Genesis as mythical, notwithstanding which a decided number of commentators who are believers in revelation have not allowed themselves to be deterred from deciding in its favor,—for example, Köppen (“The Bible a Work of Divine Wisdom,” i. p. 104), Fr. von Meyer (Blätter für höhere Wahrheit, xi. p. 61 ff.), Twesten (“Dogmatics,” ii. 1, p. 332), Nitzsch (“System,” p. 234 f.) Dreschler (Einheit der Genesis, p. 91), Hofmann (“Prophecy and Fulfilment,” i. p. 85, and “Scripture Proof,” i. p. 374 ff.), Baumgarten (“Commentary on the Pentateuch,” ad h. l.), Delitzsch (Comment. ad h. l.), Stier (“Epistle of Jude,” p. 42 ff.), Dietlein (“Comment. on the Second Epistle of Peter,” p. 149 ff.), Luther (“Comment. on the Epistles of Peter and Jude,” pp. 204, 341). The third view is found in Chrysostom, Cyril Alex, Theodoret, (on the special ground that Seth, on account of his piety, acquired the name θεός, and that, therefore, his descendants were named υἱοὶ τοῦ θεοῦ). It was held by almost all the later church theologians. In modern times it has been defended with special zeal by Hengstenberg (“Contributions,” ii. p. 328 ff.), Hävernik (“Introduction,” i. 2, p. 265), Dettinger (“Remarks on the Section, Genesis 4:1–Genesis 6:8,” in the Tübingen Journal of Theology, 1835, No. 1), Keil (“Luther. Periodical,” 1851, ii. p. 239), and many others.
The preceding statement has been made complete by Kurtz in his Book (“The Marriages of the Sons of God,”) Berlin, 1857, p. 12; as likewise by Keil (p. 80) by the citation of the treatise of Hengstenberg (“The Sons of God and the Daughters of Men,”) in the Evangelical Church Gazette, 1858, No. 29, and No. 35–37; in the exposition of Philippi (“Church Doctrine of the Faith,”) iii. p. 176 ff, and the controversial writings of Kurtz that have appeared against the treatises of Keil and Hengstenberg (“The Marriages of the Sons of God with the Daughters of Men),” Berlin 1857, and “The Sons of God,” in Genesis 6:1-4, and the “Sinning Angels,” in 2 Peter 2:4-5, and Jude, Genesis 6:6-7. Mitau, 1858. Engelhardt also takes the side of Kurtz (“Lutheran Periodical,” 1856, p. 404). Delitzsch appears as the latest defender of the angel hypothesis of any considerable note (“Comment.” 3d Ed., 1860, p. 230 ff.). Its latest opponent of note since Keerl (“Questions on the Apocrypha,” p. 206), is Keil (“Comment,” 1861, p. 80 ff.)
It is shown by Keil (p. 80) that the relation of our passage to the Sethites had its defenders, both among Jews and Christians, before the time of Chrysostom; since Josephus knew of this interpretation, and the critical Julius Africanus maintained it in the first half of the third century. So also did Ephraim the Syrian, to which add, among the Apocryphal writings, the Clementine Recognitions, and the oriental Book of Adam.
We take first into view the section as it lies before us, with its connection and the analogies of the Old Testament, then the relations to our passage of the New Testament, farther on, the exegetical traditions, and finally, the religious-philosophical, dogmatic, and practical significance of the question.
The Place itself in question; its Connection, and the Analogies of the Old Testament. The Sons of God. Bne Elohim. According to the angel hypothesis, angels alone are here to be understood, not-withstanding that there is no mention of angels immediately before this, to stand as its antecedent, but only of the pious race of Sethites. Chap. 5 gives us an account of pious men, of chosen men, of a wonderfully glorified man of God; but of angels, on the contrary, there is not a word, even to this place, except the mysterious language respecting the cherubim, in which we cannot at all recognize any personal angel-forms. The single apparent ground for a supposition, at first view wild and abrupt, is found in the fact, that in the later books of the Old Testament, not the pious are called בְּנֵי תָאֱלֹהִים, but the angels. It is, however, simply incorrect to say that anywhere in the historical scriptures the angels are called sons of God without anything farther; only in a few poetical places, and in one nominally prophetic (Job 1:2; Job 38:7; Psalms 29:1; Psalms 89:7 : Daniel 3:25) are they so called; and then, too, beside the poetical language, there comes into view the elucidating context. In Job 1:0 they form the council of God represented as administering government (therefore not bne Elohim, as nomen naturœ in distinction from Maleak, as nomen officii), and in fact in contrast to Satan. In the same way in chap. 2. In chap. Genesis 38:7, they hail the laying the foundation of the earth and the creation of man. Psalms 29:1, they are called upon to glorify the Lord in the thunder-storm, and in the restoration of his people. Psalms 89:7, are they thus denoted by way of contrasting their dependent state with the glory of the Lord. Daniel 3:25 hardly belongs here, but is, perhaps, to be interpreted according to chap. Genesis 7:13. In respect to this, Hengstenberg has already shown that the name bne Elohim belongs to the poetic diction.
Whilst, therefore, in the pure historical pieces the angels are never styled sons of God, there does appear the indication of a filial relation, or of a sonship, in respect to the people of Israel, to the Old Testament kings, to the pious or dependent wards of God, and that, too, in various ways, even in the legal sphere. Delitzsch remarks, that the idea of a filial relation in the Old Testament had already begun to win for itself a universal ethical significance beyond the limitation to Israel (Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 14:1)—as though this filial relation of the children of Israel, under the law, were a real step in progress in respect to Abraham and the Sethites. But the case is exactly the other way. In the Epistle to the Galatians, the patriarchal standpoint of belief in promise is a higher one than that of the Mosaic legality (Galatians 3:16). It is to be specially remarked in regard to Kurtz, that he knew not how to distinguish the different economies of the Old Testament. When, for example, the Apostle Paul tells us, that the law was given through the mipistry of angels, he concludes that the angel of the Lord that appeared to Abraham must have been a creaturely angel (History of the Old Testament, p. 152). And yet Paul brings forward this character of the angelic mediation for the express purpose of showing that the revelation of the promise was a more essential, and, also, a higher form than that of the law-giving; it could not, therefore, have been in this sense (of Kurtz) that the law-giving is referred to the mediation of angels. The explanation consists in this, that the promise was a revelation for Abraham, and, generally, for the elect patriarchs, whilst the law-giving, on the other hand, was for a whole people mingled and coarse, or at all events, greatly needing an educating culture. But as the patriarchal economy, in respect to its relationship to the form of the Gospel, had a superiority to the form of the law-giving, and in so far appears like to the New Testament, so again had the economy of the Sethites a superiority to the Abrahamic. The specific distinction is the separation between the line of the pious, and the godless, curse-loaded line of Cain. Therefore it is that that peculiar designation of Enoch’s piety: “he walked with God,” never occurs again in the later law-times of the Old Testament. In a word, the Sethic economy is a ἅπαξ λεγόμενον in the Old Testament, which has been fundamentally mistaken by the contenders for the angel hypothesis. It has a prefiguration of the New Testament state, and acknowledges, therefore, the θεοῦ, or sons of God, as is done in the New Testament in our Lord’s sermon on the mount. If the objection is made, that the redemption is not yet perfectly introduced, it is to be remarked, that the faith in redemption, in the time after Christ, is not to be measured, in its degrees, by the chronological advance; as is shown in the examples of Enoch and Abraham. Luther, moreover, knew better how to estimate the worth of this singularity in the economy of the long living so greatly exalted through the blessing of Seth, and who reflected in their life the end of time: “They are the greatest heroes that, next to Christ and John the Baptist, ever appeared in this world, and at the last day we shall behold their majesty.” Since, therefore, even the law-period, notwithstanding Israel’s servant-relation, did not exclude the idea of Israel’s sonship generally, or of the believing especially, (as the places Deuteronomy 32:5; Hosea 2:1 (therefore not poetical) and Psalms 73:15 show to us, how much more clearly must this idea have appeared, in its typical significance and beauty, among the pious descendants of Seth. In that case it has been said, they ought to have been called bne Jehovah (instead of bne Elohim); but this is not to keep clearly in view, that the Sethites represented the universal relation of humanity to God, and that they, like Melchizedek at a later time, disappeared from the stage. That the angels, however, in a physical sense, as opposed to an ethical sense, could be called sons of God,—that is, could be referred to some generation of a physical kind, is a view that has been rightly denounced by Keil (p. 11). And in this way, for the unprejudiced, the matter might seem tolerably well disposed of. But further on it occurs as a thing to be considered, that the sons of God woo the daughters of men. How, it is asked, when it is said in its general sense (Genesis 6:2) that men multiplied themselves, can we limit the expression daughters of men, Genesis 6:2, to the daughters of the Cainites? We cannot here rest upon the usual mode of stating this. There is no reason why the sons of God should have found a tempting beauty only among the daughters of the Cainites. The daughters of men may, in the first place, be women in general. In that case, however, the first contrast would consist in regarding the ethically defined sons of God as opposed to the physically defined daughters of men,—among whom the Cainitic women might be primarily understood, especially since the Sethite women too belong to the children of God. Their first transgression, however, would consist in this, that in the choice of wives they let themselves be determined by the mere charm of sensual beauty. From this follows the second transgression, that they took them wives of all whom they chose, that is, of all that pleased them. On the word מִכֹּל, therefore, rests the emphasis of the expression (out of all). Instead of looking at the spiritual kinsmanship, they had an eye only to the pleasure of sense. That was the first thing. Then there is nothing said here of any moral satisfaction in beauty. This appears from the fact that they took them wives of all that pleased them, of all that they desired. Instead of holding pure the Sethic line, they took wives indiscriminately (מִכֹּל), and that was the second and decisive transgression. By this was the dam torn down which stood between the Cainites and the Sethites,—that is, the dam which kept back the universal corruption, and which hitherto had protected the race of the blessing. Therefore is it, Genesis 6:3, that the corruption which now comes is charged upon men, and not at all upon the angels. If we look for a moment at the angel hypothesis, it is not easy to see how such amours with individual women could have had so decided an effect upon the destiny of the whole race, at a time, too, when more than now, men formed the deciding factor; and this may we say, without taking into view the fact, that in the historical style angels are never called bne Elohim, that angels do not seek nor are sought in marriage (Matthew 22:30), and that the expression: “take themselves wives,” denotes marriage-ties, not by way of unnatural amours, or romantic loves, as Kurtz pictures it in his first treatise (p. 99). But indeed, out of those demoniacal, fleshly amours, it is said, must have proceeded the נְפִלִים and גִּבֹּרִים, and thus they would bring the whole matter to a decision. In the first place, however, must we remember, that the sentence of God respecting the desperate condition of the race (Genesis 6:3) precedes this mention of the Nephilim, and it is clear that the נְפִלִים must already denote a special form of the evil, which, with its fleshly lust, stands at the same time in a position of reciprocity. According to almost all interpretations, and according to Numbers 13:33, “when the giant Anakim are reckoned among them,” the Nephilim were gigantic,—or, more accurately, the distinguished, the prominent or overpowering. According to such it is from נפל, a near form to פלא; other derivations see below. In their bodily appearance the Nephilim were not exactly what are called giants in the mythical sense, but prominent and powerful forms of men. In strength, in courage, or pride, they were Gibborim, that is, mighty men, heroes; in deeds, they were men of renown; but their deeds were especially deeds of violence חָמָם (Genesis 6:11; Genesis 6:13), unrighteousness, and oppression. The meaning is, that the fleshly nature of pride and cruelty ever associates itself with the fleshly disorder of lust. Lamech the Cainite and his song were now the general type of the human race. But as the tendency to violence came in cotemporaneously with the lust, and not as a generation for the first time descending from it, so were the Nephilim contemporaneous with these fleshly mesalliances, having been, in fact, from the days of Cain hitherto “men of renown.” The Hebrew is הָיוּ, not וַיִּהְיוּ; there were Nephilim, it is said, בימים ההם, in those same days, not there became or came to be, as Knobel translates it. Add to this the offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of men, that is, of the grossly sensual marriages of the pious, and their mingling with the Cainitic race. Thus flow together two origins of the Gibborim. In respect to the first were they men of renown, or men of old, מֵעוֹלָם—that is, the Cainites. Thus, too, in the easiest way does our section connect itself with both the preceding chapters. In the fourth chapter there is described the line of the Cainites as still divided from the line of Seth; in the fifth chapter we have the line of the Sethites in its devotedness and elevation; then, finally, in the section before us, the mingling of both lines, and the universality and flagitiousness of corruption, as, according to the programme of the Cainitic Lamech, it culminates in the two fundamental features of carnality and cruelty. Whoever reads Genesis, to the passage before us, without any prejudice derived from opinions alien to it, would never think of understanding by the bne Elohim anything else than the pious Sethites, and by their connection with the daughters of men anything else than a corruption of marriage and a mingling with the Cainites. This would especially appear from the fact, that in this section the sharp contrast between the two lines, which is so prominent in the previous chapter, wholly disappears. If we read further we find, too, that not the Cainites alone perished in the flood, but both lines together, with the exception of Noah and his house. Further on, Ishmael, who is a “wild man,” and whose “hand is against every man,” appears as the offspring of Abraham and “the maid,” a copy, as it were, giving us a clear idea of the Gibborim, and of the way in which they originated, although the connection of the patriarch was from a purer motive, and more excusable. Hence the traditional and legal abhorrence of untheocratic marriages in the theocratic race; as we find it in Genesis 24:3; Genesis 26:34-35; Genesis 27:46; Genesis 34:9; Deuteronomy 7:3; Joshua 23:12; Judges 3:6; 1 Kings 11:1; Ezra 9:2; Nehemiah 10:30. The falling away of the Israelites in the desert came not from any amour between angels and the daughters of men, but from an unlawful intercourse between the Israelites and the women of Midian (Numbers 25:0). So the apostasies of Israel in the time of the Judges were derived from the mingling of the Israelites with the daughters of the Canaanites (Judges 3:6). The fall of Solomon, and the falling away of the people that followed it, came from Solomon’s connection with foreign wives (1 Kings 11:1). So the ten tribes sunk into the worship of Baal in consequence of the connection of Ahab with the Sidonian Jezebel, whose horrible significance goes on even to the Apocalypse (1 Kings 16:31; Revelation 2:20); and so, too, Ezra and Nehemiah, after the great visitation, know no other way to secure their people against a new degeneracy, than by contending earnestly against foreign marriages. Thus again and again do the theocratic mesalliances of one section reflect themselves in the Israelitish history, without the angels playing any part therein. For the first time, in the apocryphal Tobit (Tob 6:15), does there meet us a demoniac interest in human females, and this is characteristic for the origin of the angel-hypothesis. Here, too, it must be remarked, that marriage with the heathen was not absolutely forbidden to the Israelites. When the principle was secured, that the believing party might make holy the unbelieving (1 Corinthians 7:0), such marriages appear sometimes even in a favorable light. It was only union with the Canaanites that was absolutely forbidden, since they, as well as the Cainites, were sunk in incurable corruption; and Hengstenberg has rightly supposed that our history here was given for the purpose of warning the Israelites against such marriages.
2. The relations of the New Testament to the passage before us. There is the passage of the Epistle of Jude, Genesis 6:6, which, in fact, we regard as the original in its relation to the kindred passage, 2 Peter 2:4. Here, too, Kurtz reasons from the mode of speaking, but not happily: “Both epistles designate the actors who are punished as simply ἄγγελοι. When we interrogate the biblical style of speech it shows us at once that this word is never thus nakedly used of spiritsἐν� who have fallen. These are ever called δαίμονες, and their head διάβολος or σατανᾶς.” We will give presently the simple solution of this objected difficulty. Wherever there is mention of the actual existence of Satan’s kingdom it is naturally and generally of Satan, of the demons, etc., although variations occur, as Ephesians 6:12, et al. Here, however, when the original fall itself of the demons is mentioned, they must be denoted according to their original state as angels. Otherwise it would mean that the devil had sinned, and thereby became a devil. In that case our catechisms would have to be corrected where they speak of fallen angels. When it is said, however, that there is here no special mention of Satan, or that the sins of the angels cannot be particularly described, or that the fall of Satan is nowhere designated as a leaving his habitation, all such assertions we must hold as having no significance at all.
The Epistle of Jude is a prophetical word of warning against the beginning of antinomianism. Here the Israelites who fell in the wilderness are the first example. In respect to these it is confessed that they did not fall in the wilderness merely on account of sins of sensuality. Then are there named the angels who kept not their dominion (ἀρχή) but for-sook their own proper habitation—that is, their sphere of life. The contrast in the guilt of these angels is made clear by that which precedes. The Jews in the wilderness kept not their salvation, but gave themselves up to unbelief and fell. The angels kept not their dominion, but lost their station and fell. To this corresponds the third example: Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities are presented in a similar manner with these (τούτοις), that is, the angels and the Israelites, as an example of such as are exposed to the judgment of the eternal fire, and this on the special ground of their excessive sensuality, and their degenerate going after strange flesh. The words ὄμοιον τρόπον τούτοις stand in relation to πρόκεινται δεῖγμα, and the parenthetical ἐκπορνεύσασα has its special interpretation as referring to the Sodomites. The Israelites in the wilderness furnish an example of a lost condition, as μὴ πιστεύσαντες, the angels as μὴ τηρήσαντες, &c., Sodom and Gomorrah as ἐκπορνεύσασαι, &c. The forms of antinomianism are different, the judgment upon it is throughout the same. The distinction, however, in antinomianism is this, that the Israelites sinned through unbelief in the word of revelation; the angels sinned against the divine ordinance, assigning their position, and in striving, beyond their sphere, after a limitless dominion; the Sodomites sinned against the natural law of the sexual relations, established as a moral foundation of life itself. The antinomists, against whom Jude contended, resemble the before-named in this, that like the Sodomites they pollute the flesh; like the fallen angels they contemn authority; like the unbelieving Israelites they speak evil of δόξας, glories (rendered dignities—visible proofs of the revelation of God in Israel). So, too, in the second chapter of the second Epistle of Peter, the ground-idea is the inexorability of the divine judgment against an obdurate anomism, without giving the special form of that anomism. Of the angels it is merely said that they sinned. God spared them not although they were angels. And so he spared not the whole old world (Genesis 6:0), on whom there is here no other charge imputed than ἀσέβεια (impiety). So, too, Sodom and Gomorrah are here denoted as having incurred judgment solely under the same point of view. Clearly, however, has the second Epistle of Peter distinguished, in addition, the judgment of the fallen angels from the judgment upon the old world (Genesis 6:0). The judgment against the angels, the judgment against the old world, and the judgment upon Sodom, are three judgment periods. And these places, it is pretended, exactly confirm the angel-hypothesis! Compare also Fronmüller on the respective places, in the Bible-work.
3. The exegetical tradition. The first interpretation, in which the bne Elohim were sons of the magnates, or great ones, who wooed the daughters of the low-born, Keil denotes as the interpretation of orthodox Judaism. More correctly, however, may it be denoted as the interpretation of the Hebraistic or Palestinian Judaism, in its dry story-telling tendency as represented in the Talmud. The second interpretation Keil rightly describes as that of the ethnizing, cabbalistical Judaism; however zealous Kurtz may be on its behalf (Part i. p. 8). It is not without significance that the first trace of this interpretation appears in single codices of the Septuagint. It is sufficiently acknowledged that the Alexandrian Jews took pains in every way to throw a bridge between the Old Testament and the Greek tradition. Here now appears a fair probable occasion to introduce into the biblical text an analogous story of Sons of God and of divine begettings. Thereupon present themselves two apocryphal books as the first defenders of the angel-hypothesis: the Book of Enoch and the Lesser Genesis. Without doubt Philo found it already in existence, and it suited entirely well with his system; whilst it is acknowledged, too, by the more hebraistic Josephus. That Christian theologians of the Alexandrian school, like Clemens Alexandrinus, uncritical fathers like Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, should find the angel-hypothesis suited to their peculiar notions, is nothing to be wondered at. The fact that from the fourth even to the eighteenth century, with some isolated exceptions, the taste of the church discovered in the angel-hypothesis a suspicious theosophic savor, cannot be set aside.
4. The religious, philosophical, dogmatic, and practical significance of our question. In its relation to the philosophy of religion the angel-hypothesis would have the effect of confounding all the ground conceptions of revelation, and of obliterating its distinctions. It authenticates a fact which perfectly destroys all distinction between revelation and mythology, between a divine miracle and magic, between the biblical conception of nature, as conformity to law, and the wild apocryphal stories. “We stand here,” says Delitzsch, “at the fountain of heathen mythology with its legends, but this primitive golden age, to take it in the sense of heathenism, is divested of all its apotheosizing gaudiness.” Rather may it be said, if we take that view, that an evident myth was implanted in the garden of the primitive religious history; it is therefore not to be wondered at, that all theologians who maintain the mythical character of Genesis, like Knobel for example, should go in most earnestly for the angel-interpretation. “And no less,” adds Delitzsch, “do we stand here, at the fountain of a dark magic that carries us back, if not to a sexual, yet still to an unnatural intercourse with the demons.” We stand rather by the troubled waters of a paganistic apocryphal superstition, where the siren of an apparent theosophic profundity would allure us to plunge into the dark floods of “baseless paradox.” With what sort of superstition this angel-interpretation had already connected itself in early times we may learn from the twenty-second chapter of Tertullian’s Apologetic. When we regard it in its dogmatic relation we find the most wonderful things proceeding from the view in question when fully carried out. There would be a double fall into sin, one in the human, the other in the angelic, family.
The effects of the second fall must be destroyed by a flood, whilst those of the first remain through and after it. The gnosticizing darkening of this place has for a consequence that there should be gradually drawn from it series after series of similar deductions, according to the tenor of its biblical dogmatic process of idealless, anecdotical inventiveness; for example, what is said on the passage (1 Peter 3:19-20) respecting Christ’s preaching to the spirits in prison.
Instead of this, we hold that the derivation of the angel-interpretation from an ethnizing, apocryphal, gnostico-cabbalistical tendency in Judaism (as we find it shown in Keil) is the correct one. We hold, too, that Hengstenberg had grounds for the affirmation, when he said: The next thing is, that in the maintaining of this supposed remarkable fact, men are led into uncouth theories, which violate the limits that separate the church’s theology from the chimerical ideas of Jews and Mohammedans, and that one such distortion of a sound theological comprehension may possibly have for its consequence an extensive process of disorder. In like manner does the objection appear well grounded, that the angel-interpretation robs our narrative of all significance and practical applicability. The same practical significance which is exhibited in the history of the Israelites in the wilderness (Numbers 25:0), and in the time of the Judges in the history of Solomon, in the history also of Ahab, in the history of Herod Antipas—that same significance, though in a more powerful and original way, is presented in the history that lies before us. We may, therefore, with Cyril of Alexandria, reckon the angel-interpretation among the ἀτοπώτατα, things most strange and absurd.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1.Genesis 6:1-3. When men began.—The increase of men under a physical point of view; especially, too, an increase of daughters.—The Sons of God, that is, the Sethites especially, as sons of Elohim, not of Jehovah, because their relation to God was more universal than that of the later theocracy, and because the Sethic religion had no contrast of the Elohistic, as the later Abrahamic had, since the opposing Cainitic line was not Elohistically pious, but lived an utterly lawless life.—The daughters of men.—Usually taken as the daughters of the other race, that is, the Cainites. But they are the daughters of men wholly in the physical sense, and therefore, too, according to the conception of the natural man, in contrast with the sons of God in the ethical sense, only that the thought is mainly upon the Cainites, in proportion to their greater multiplication.—Saw that they were fair [Lange’s translation: They looked upon them, how fair they were].—We must not reduce the force of the expression by rendering: “they saw that they were fair.” The sensual beauty captivated them.—Took them wives of all.—The phrase לָקַח אִשָּׁה means, everywhere in the Old Testament, to take in marriage, but never occurs in the sense of mere scortatory intermarryings (from which also we must distinguish the sense, to take as concubines).—Which they chose.—The emphasis is on מִכֹּל (of all). From this it follows that the sons of God let themselves be determined by the charm of sense to form connections also with the Cainite women, and so to rend asunder the protecting limits which hitherto had guarded their race from the corruptive contagion. Moreover, the prevalence of polygamy is clearly presented in the expression.—My Spirit shall not always strive with man.—We cannot understand רוּחַ here of the Spirit of God as the spirit of life, but of the Spirit of God in an ethical sense, as it belongs to its office to judge and to punish sinful men. Von Gerlach says, indeed: “the contrast of spirit and flesh in the moral understanding, as in the Epistles of Paul, does not occur in the Old Testament.” But, what is meant here by saying, my spirit shall not tarry in man as spirit of life, for he is flesh? The flesh as flesh does not hinder the life-spirit, but the flesh as corruption repels the Spirit of God (Psalms 139:7; Psalms 143:10). We take יָדוֹן here in its simplest and most obvious sense, not as the ruling of the life-spirit, nor as the continuance of the same in man (Septuagint), nor as its degradation or depression. In the sinner who is yet capable of salvation the Spirit of God exercises its judicial office. But, when man has become wholly obdurate, God withdraws from him his judging spirit, and thereby he falls into the condemnation of corruption. The circumstance is here incidentally introduced. This is shown by the addition, בְשַׁגָּם, in their erring (which, without any necessity, is turned into a conjunction: בִּאֲשֶׁר גַּם, eo quod; Knobel and Delitzsch), and the emphatic expression: he is flesh, that is, the whole species, like one man, is sunk in its flesh. Still, there is the expression: “My spirit shall not always strive in him;” which means that there is yet a respite appointed for the race, and this is explained by, and explains, what follows: And his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. According to Philo, Josephus, and others, along with Knobel, it means that henceforth the period of human life shall be reduced to one hundred and twenty years. (See in Knobel a series of quotations from the views of the ancients respecting the life-endurance of man, p. 83). According to the Targums, Luther, and many others, as well as Delitzsch and Keil, God appoints a reprieve of grace for one hundred and twenty years, which is yet to be granted to men. Beyond a doubt this is the correct view; since the age of the first patriarchs after the flood extends much beyond one hundred and twenty years. Another reason is, that the supposed shortening of life would be no countervailing rule bearing a proportion to the obduracy of the race, whilst the time-reckoning agrees with the other hypothesis, if we assume that Noah received this revelation twenty years before the time given, Genesis 5:32, in order that he might announce it as a threatening of judgment to his contemporaries.
[Note on the Spirit and the Flesh: Genesis 6:3.—The various interpretations of רוּחִי here must be tested by their harmony with words in the context. “The life that I have given shall not always rule (or abide) in man.” This does not seem to suit well with לעולם. Shall not long rule, &c., would have been consistent. The word forever makes it the same with the original sentence of death pronounced upon man: he shall not live forever—he shall die. “My spirit shall not strive with man” (morally) makes a good sense in itself, but has little congruity with the reason given: “because he is flesh,” or is inclined to the flesh, whether we take the old or the later interpretation of בשגם. That alone would seem to be a reason why it should continue to strive; since man had been flesh, or inclined to be flesh, ever since the fall. Unless we take it, as Pareus does, as denoting a feeling of hopelessness, ratio ab inutili:it is of no use; but this would be a form of the anthropopathism the least acceptable of all that are presented; unless it be that of some of the Jewish interpreters: “My own mind, or thought, shall no longer be occupied or troubled with him”—I will have no more care about him.
There is another view that may be offered, and which would seem to harmonize these difficulties. Some of the Jewish interpreters approach it, but do not come fully up to it. “My spirit,” meaning man’s spirit (the spirit that I have given him), but in the higher sense of πνεῦμα as distinguished from ψυχή, according to the trichotomic view. The reason, wherein appears the image of God, the spirit in man as something higher than the animal nature, the φρόνημα πνεύματος as distinguished from the φρόνημα σαρκός, may, with a high propriety, be called “my spirit,” as nearest to the divine, or, that in man through which, or in which, the Holy Spirit strives, or comes in connection with the human. It is not always easy, even in the New Testament, to determine whether πνεῦμα, in certain passages, means the rational spirit of man, or the Spirit of God, or both in one joint communion. Von Gerlach has no right to say that “the contrast of spirit and flesh in the moral understanding, as in the Epistles of Paul, does not occur in the Old Testament,” unless it can be shown that this is not a clear case of it.
When רוח is thus regarded as the spiritual, or rational, in man, in distinction from the carnal, the sentence becomes a prediction, instead of a declaration of judgment—a sorrowing prediction, we may say, if we keep in view the predominant aspect or feeling of the passage. The spirit, the reason, that which is most divine in man, will not always rule in him. It has, as yet, maintained a feeble power, and interposed a feeble resistance, but it is in danger of being wholly overpowered. It will not hold out forever; it will not always maintain its supremacy. And then the reason given suits exactly with such a prediction: He is becoming flesh, wholly carnal or animal. If allowed to continue he will become utterly dehumanized, or that worst of all creatures, an animal with a reason, but wholly fleshly in its ends and exercises, or with a reason which is but the servant of the flesh, making him worse than the most ferocious wild beast—a very demon—a brutal nature with a fiend’s subtlety only employed to gratify such brutality. Man has the supernatural, and this makes the awful peril of his state. By losing it, or rather by its becoming degraded to be a servant instead of a lord, he falls wholly into nature, where he cannot remain stationary, like the animal who does not “leave the habitation to which God first appointed him.” The higher being, thus utterly fallen, must sink into the demonic, where evil becomes his god, if not, as Milton says, his good. In this sense of the reason in man, or the φρόνημα πνεύματος, ruling over the flesh, there is a most appropriate significance in ידון, as denoting the judicial power of the conscience, or of the reason as the imperative, the commanding faculty. On these deeper aspects of humanity, consult that most profound psychologist, John Bunyan, in his Holy War, or his History of the Town of Mansoul, its revolt from King Shaddai, its surrender to Diabolus, and its recovery by Prince Immanuel. Bunyan was Bible-taught in these matters, and that is the reason why his knowledge of man goes so far beyond that of Locke, or Kant, or Cousin.
The whole aspect of the passage gives the impression of something like an apprehension that a great change was coming over the race—something so awful and so irreparable, if not speedily remedied, that it would be better that it should be blotted out of earthly existence, all but a remnant in whom the spiritual, or the divine in man, might yet be preserved. Thus regarded, too, as a prediction, it is the ground of the judgment rather than a sentence of judgment itself. It is in mercy to prevent a greater catastrophe; like the language used in reference to the tree of life (see page 241, and note). Men, left to themselves, might have realized upon earth the irrecoverable state of lost spirits, or that combination of the brutal with an utterly degraded reason that makes the demon. In this view, too, the divine sorrow appears heightened in such a way that we can better understand what is meant by God’s “grieving,” and being “pained in heart.” A generation of men is to be removed to prevent the utter dehumanizing of the race. It was this necessity that made the intensity of the sorrow.
Delitzsch has a similar view, but it is strange that he did not see how it is in conflict with his angel-hypothesis. According to that, the deangelizing, if we may use the term, and the consequent dehumanizing, was confined to these higher beings and some of the daughters of men. And yet they are not mentioned as having any part in the catastrophe, or in the immediate evil that occasioned it. Men alone are involved in it, and they because of an excessive sensuality that had made it inevitable. This, however, was purely human; it was man that was in danger of becoming wholly flesh, and it was man for whom God grieved with a divine sorrow. It was man who was in danger of descending into a lower grade of being, even as the ante-Adamic angels who kept not their first estate. The antediluvians were drowned for the salvation of a race, but for some of them, at least, 1 Peter 3:19-20, gives us the glimpse of a hope that their condition was not wholly irrecoverable.—T. L.]
2.Genesis 6:4. There were giants.—The נְפִלִים, from נָפִיל, used only in the plural, Numbers 13:33. All the old interpretations take the word as denoting giants, γίγαντες. If we put out of view the monstrous popular representations, there are simply meant by it stately and powerful men. In this sense Tuch explains the word as mentioned before, namely, the distinguished. Keil understands by the word, invaders, according to Aquila (ἐπιπίπτοντες), Symmachus (βιαῖοι), Luther (tyrants). Delitzsch, nevertheless, together with Hofmann, prefers to explain it as the fallen, namely, from heaven, because begotten by heavenly beings. Here from to falt, would he make to fall from, and from this again, to fall from heaven; then this is made to mean begotten of heavenly beings! The sense, cadentes, defectores, apostatœ (see Gesenius), would be more near the truth. “There were giants” (הָיוּ), not, there became giants, which would have required וַיִּהְיוּ for its expression (see Keil). These giants, or powerful men, are already in near cotemporaneity with the transgression of these mesalliances (in those very same days), and this warrants the conclusion of Luther, that these powerful men were doers of violent deeds.—And also after that [Lange renders: and especially after that].—Keil shows that Kurtz makes trial of three mutually inconsistent explanations of this verse, all of which, too, offend against the law of language (p. 89, note). We take גַּם as denoting a climax to the fact already stated. “There were giants in those days, and moreover,” etc. Here it comes nearly to the same thing, whether we render אחרי־כן אשר posteaquam (2 Samuel 24:10) or postea quum; the fact remains established that the Nephilim were already before the mesalliances.—Came in unto: an euphemistic phrase.—Mighty men [Lange renders it heroes].—A designation, not merely of offspring from the mismarriages, but referring also to the Nephilim who are earlier introduced, as it appears from the appended clause. The author reports things from his own standpoint, and so the expression: “they were of old, men of renown,” affirms their previous existence down to that time. Of these men of old, men of renown, Cain was the first. But now there are added to the Cainites the Cainitic degenerate off-spring of these sensual mesalliances. It was true then, as it has been in all other periods of the world’s history, the men of violent deeds were the men of renown, very much the same whether called famous or infamous. Knobel will have it that there are described here postdiluvian races of giants.
3.Genesis 6:5-8. And God saw [Lange correctly: And Jehovah saw].—This increase and universal predominance of evil through the mismarriages gives occasion now for a more decided sentence of Jehovah upon the incurably lost race. The wickedness of man in deeds had not only become great, but the thinkings of the purposes (the phantasies or imaged deeds) of his heart, were wholly evil all the day. Judging from the singular לִבּוֹ, we hold here, as intended, a concentration of the sentence against man. For this reason is it singular.
[Note on the Doctrine of Total Depravity. Genesis 6:5.—Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart, כָּל יֵצֶר מַחְשְׁבוֹת לִבּוֹ. The Scriptures, it is said, were not given to teach us mental philosophy, nor do they affect a philosophical language, but here is certainly a psychological scala going down as deeply into the human soul as was ever done by any scholastic treatise. Here are the three stages of the great original evil: the fashioned purpose, the thought out of which it is born, the feeling, or deep mother heart, the state of soul, lying below all, and giving moral character to all. Or, to reverse the order of the statement, there Isaiah , 1. the tohu vabohu, the formless abyss of evil, 2. the thought (the ἔννοια, see Hebrews 4:12), by which this rises into generic form, 3. the imaged or specific purpose (ἐνθύμησις), through which, again, this thought makes itself manifest in the objective sphere of the active life. In other words, as the thought is the form of the feeling, so is the shaped purpose, or what is here called the imagination, the form of the evil thought. Our Saviour gives the same gradations, Matthew 15:19 : “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts” (διαλογισμοὶ πονηροὶ, evil thinkings, reasonings, subjective, not yet shaped into outward intent), and then follows the awful brood of the later born, φόνοι, μοιχεῖαι, κλοπαὶ, βλασφημίαι, “murders, adulteries, thefts, blasphemies.” They are all in the thought; they are all in the mother-heart, that deep seat of moral character that lies below the formative consciousness—that is, the conscious thought and still more conscious purpose. Take the worst one apparently of these hideous births; a man may not have formed the purpose of murder, fear may have kept him from this extreme stage; he may never have entertained the thought consciously, the habitual educating power of law, or other influences of a social or of a gracious kind, may have prevented even this objective form of evil from rising in his soul; but it may lie in his heart nevertheless, and even be active there, for this dark place is not a mere blank capacity, or receptacle, but has its processes, its choosings, its willings, and even its unconscious reasonings. Our Saviour declares neither more nor less than this when he makes it the procreative source of evil thoughts (διαλογισμοὶ), and so does the Apostle, 1 John 3:15 : “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.” This idea of the unconscious heart, as underlying all moral character, is deeply grounded in the Hebrew language. Hence the peculiar expression עלה על לב, to ascend, come up, in the heart, or above the heart. See Jeremiah 3:16; 2 Samuel 11:20, with other places. One of the most striking is in Ezekiel 11:5 : “Thus shall ye say to the house of Israel, מַעֲלוֹת רוּהֲכֶם אֲנִי יְדַעְתִּיהָ, the upgoings of your spirit, I know every one of them,”—implying how deeply unknown they might be in their source, even to those who were the subjects of them.
רַק רַע כָּל הַיּוֹם: Only evil, nothing but evil, all the day—every day, and every moment of every day. If this is not total depravity, how can language express it? There is an intense aversion to the phrase in some minds. It is shared by many who would admit that human depravity is taught in the Bible, and that it is great. This term, however, of our older and more exact theologians, shocks them. The feeling comes, in some measure, from a misapprehension of its true meaning. It is a term of extensity, rather than of intensity. It is opposed to partial, to the idea that man is sinful in one moment, and innocent, or sinless, in another, or sinful in some acts and pure in others. It affirms that he is all wrong, in all things, and all the time. It does not mean that man is as bad as the devils, or that every man is as bad as every other, or that any man is as bad as he possibly may be, or may become. That is, there are degrees of intensity, but no limit to the universality or extent of the evil in the soul. So say the Scriptures, and so says the awakened conscience.
There seems to be an allusion to the psychological division of Genesis 6:5, in Hebrews 4:12. The extent and depth of human sinfulness are kept from the objective consciousness by the ignorance or denial of the threefold distinction here conveyed—the purposes, the thoughts, and the heart. According to the Apostle, it is the office of “the living word (ὁ λόγός ζῶν καὶ ἐνεργὴς, vivid and inworking), sharper than a two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing (the division line) of soul and spirit” (πνεῦμα and ψυχὴ) to make these distinctions, and bring them home to the human conscience. Hence it is called κριτικὸς ἐνθυμήσεων καὶ ἐννοιῶν καρδίας—“a critical discerner (and exposer) of the purposes and the thinkings of the heart.” In this language ἐνθύμησις corresponds locally to יֵצֶר, and ἔννοιαι to מַחְשְׁבוֹת. The terms are no mere redundant tautology, any more than those used above for soul and spirit. The bare dichotomic view fails to explain the language of the Scripture, whether as given in its Greek or Hebrew terms. The Greek words, however, are less precise than the Hebrew, since both ἔννοια and ἐνθύμησις may be used for the purpose or the thought.—T. L.]
And it repented the Lord.—Most truly, as Keil rightly remarks, is this sentence so pronounced on man alone, directly against the angel-interpretation. On that hypothesis the angels must have been the original authors of the corruption; and so in consistency with Genesis 3:0, where the serpent is first sentenced, ought the first doom here to have been pronounced upon the sinning angels.—It repented Jehovah.—A peculiarly strong anthropopathic expression, which, however, presents the truth that God, in consistency with his immutability, assumes a changed position in respect to changed man (Psalms 18:27), and that, as against the impenitent man who identifies himself with the sin, he must assume the appearance of hating the sinner in the sin, even as he hates the sin in the sinner. But that Jehovah, notwithstanding, did not begin to hate man, is shown in the touching anthropomorphism that follows, “and it grieved him in his heart.” The first kind of language is explained in the flood, the second in the revelation of Peter, 1 Peter 3:19-20, and Genesis 4:6. Against the corruption of man, though extending even to the depths of his heart, there is placed in contrast God’s deep “grieving in his heart.” But as the repentance of God does not take away his unchangeableness and his counsel, but rightly establishes them, so neither does God’s grieving detract from his immutability in blessedness, but shows, rather, God’s deep feeling of the distance between the blessedness to which man was appointed and his painful perdition. Delitzsch does indeed maintain it, as most real or actual truth, that God feels repentance, and he does not equate this position with the doctrine of God’s unchangeableness, unless it be with the mere remark that the pain and purpose of the divine wrath are only moments in an everlasting plan of redemption, which cannot become outward in its efficacy without a movement in the Godhead. And yet movement is not change.—I will destroy man.—To man in the wider sense pertains the human sphere of life; therefore it is said that the beasts too shall be destroyed. Of any corruption that had entered into the animal there is no mention (see Genesis 6:12). The perishing of the beasts, therefore, can only have meaning as a sharing in the atonement for human sins (Jeremiah 12:4; Jeremiah 14:5; Hosea 4:3; Joel 1:18; Zephaniah 1:3. Knobel). It is rather as a consequence of the dependence of the animal world upon man that it is joined with him in joy and sorrow. We are not to think of it as something personified together with man, but as the symbolic impersonal extension of his organism.—But Noah found grace.—“In these words there breaks forth from the dark cloud of wrath the mercy which gives security for the preservation and restoration of humanity.” Keil.
[Note on the Divine Repenting, Genesis 6:6.—We do not gain much by attempts to explain philosophically such states or movements of the divine mind. They are strictly ά̓ῤῥητα—ineffable. So the Scripture itself represents them: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, saith the Lord; as the heavens are high above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts,”—that is, my thinking, my mode of thinking, above your thinking. And then these same Scriptures, so far transcending all philosophy in the abstract declaration of the ineffable difference, furnish us helps by means of finite conceptions, human representations, anthropopathisms, as we learnedly call them, condescensions, “accommodations.” Let us not vainly attempt to get above them, as though they were made for lower minds, whilst we, from some higher position, as it were, can look over them, or see through them, and are thus enabled to dispense with their aid. If they are accommodations, let us be accommodated by them; since here all human minds are very much on a par. Our right feeling is much more concerned in this than our right understanding. We cannot rise to God, and we should reverently adore the effort, if we may so call it, which he makes to come down to us, to enter into the sphere of the finite, to think our thinking, and thus to converse with us in our own language. Without this there can be no intercourse between the infinite and the finite mind. God’s putting himself in the place of man is the idea and the key of all revelation. In this sense, even nature itself has an anthropopathic language. We must put our feet upon the lower rounds of this ladder thus let down to us,—in other words, we must use these accommodations, use them reverently, honestly, thankfully, or have in the mind a total blank in respect to all those conceptions of God that most concern us as moral beings. Talk as we will of impassibility, we must think of God as having πάθη, affections, something connecting him with the human, and, therefore, human in some aspect or measure of agreement. We must either have in our thoughts a blank intellectuality making only an intellectual difference between good and evil (if that can be called any difference at all), or we are compelled to bring in something emotional, and that, too, with a measure of intensity corresponding to other differences by which the divine exceeds the human. Without this, the highest form of scientific or philosophic theism has no more of religion than the blankest atheism. We could as well worship a system of mathematics as such a theistic indifference. The emotional in view of the true and the right, the evil and the false, is a higher thing than the intellectual perception of them, even could we suppose such separable cognition. We do not rightly see the true, or truly see the right, unless we love it; we do not truly see the evil or the false, unless we have the opposite affection. It belongs to the very essence or being of the ideas. Such emotional is the highest thing in man, and is it rational to suppose that all this is a blank in the higher being of God? Reason may sometimes go safely in affirming what it cannot define, and reconcile with other and lower affirmations. Thus here, an intellectual and a moral necessity may compel us to say that the idea of the emotional in the divine has a veritable existence, though the conception utterly fails to reach it; just as reason truly affirms the infinite in mathematics, and with as clear a certainty as that of any finite ratio, though sense and imagination are both transcended by it. It may know that a thing is, that it must be, though not how it is. So here, a moral necessity compels us to hold that there is such a region of the divine emotional, most intensely real,—more real, if we may make degrees, than knowledge or intellectuality—the very ground, in fact, of the divine personal being.
If we would carefully examine, too, our own feelings, we would find that it is not alone a supposed repugnance to reason that is the ground of the difficulty. We do not raise the objection of anthropopathism when love is ascribed to God, and yet it is as strictly anthropopathic as the divine indignation, or the divine sorrow. An unemotional love is utterly inconceivable. It is inseparable, too, from the other elements. Love for the good has no meaning except as involving displeasure at the evil; and sorrow, to speak humanly, is but the blending of the two emotions in view of the loss or marring of the lovely, and the predominance of the unloved. And in this we have the thought so fearful, whilst so attractive and sublime: the intensity of the one must be the measure of the intensity of the other. Depart in the least from the idea of indifferentism, and we have no limit but infinity. God either cares nothing about what we call good and evil—or, as the heaven of heavens is high above the earth, so far do his love for the good, and his hatred of evil, exceed, in their intensity, any corresponding human affection.
The great business, therefore, of the interpreter of Scripture is to determine philologically the nature of the emotion expressed by these words, and then the theologian is to take them in their highest intensity, and in such a way as shall not be in contradiction with other divine attributes, whether given to us by clear reason, or revealed to us in the Scriptures. Thus it will be found that this word, נִחַם, rendered in Niphal to repent, has a dual relation, the first and primary to the feeling, the second to the purpose. The first connects itself with what may be called the onomatepic significance, to sigh, to draw the breath; hence ingemuit, doluit, as Gesenius gives it. Hence pœnituit eum, it repented him, in the sense of sorrow. The anthropopathism thus expressed is the more touching form, and the whole context shows that it is the one predominantly intended here. It is no change of purpose, no confession of mistake, but a most affecting representation of the divine pity and tenderness. The language following shows this: “and he was grieved at the heart,” when he saw how this fair world, which he had once pronounced “good, exceeding good,” had become marred and full of evil. In the course of its applications the word naturally gets also the other or more secondary, yet quite common sense of change of purpose. It is thus used, 1 Samuel 15:29 : “God will not lie, neither does he repent; he is not man that he should repent”—literally, “man to repent,”—that is, he does not repent like man with change of plan or purpose. The other, and more primary idea, comes also in this very passage relating to Saul, as appears Gen 6:35; unless, contrary to all rules of criticism, we would bring the writer in immediate and palpable contradiction with himself. See also Psalms 110:4. The repenting of sorrow is the anthropopathism that is always to be supposed when the language is applied directly to Deity; as Psalms 106:45, יַיְנָחֵם כּרֹב הַסְדּו, “and he repented according to the greatness of his mercy;” Psalms 90:13, “Return Jehovah—how long!—and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.”
As an instance of the way in which words branch out into various meanings, till they sometimes get almost a reverse sense, it may be noted how this word, in this very conjugation, gets the meaning of revenging, or rather of avenging. It comes from the primary idea of breathing, finding relief from the letting out of pent-up indignation. When thus applied to Deity the anthropopathism is terrific, and yet the context always shows that no other term could so express the vehemency of the indignation; as in Isaiah 1:24אֶגּחֵם מִצָּרַי, well rendered, to the letter, “I will ease me of mine adversaries;” yet even here there is something touching in the anthropopathism, from the greatness of the long-suffering that appears in the verses preceding. Compare Ezekiel 5:13; Ezekiel 31:16; Ezekiel 32:31. More nearly allied, however, both to the primary, and to the sense we have traced in Genesis 6:0 is the Piel idea of consolation. It is the sympathizing sorrow, as in Genesis 50:21, where Joseph comforts his brethren by palliating their guilt. Its primary sense, as well as its tenderness, appears in what is immediately added, וַיְנַחֵם אוֹתָם וַיְדַבֵּר עַל לִבָּם, “and he soothed them, and spake to their heart.” Compare Isaiah 40:1, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,” and especially Psalms 23:4, where it expresses the soothing care of the shepherd for the wearied, panting sheep. It is this sense of sympathizing sorrow that makes the exquisite beauty of its tenderness.—T. L.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The character of the Alexandrian Judaism, as inclined to the Gnostic and the apocryphal, needs to be recognized in order that we may estimate its influence upon the old and traditional exegesis of this passage, and on the passage itself as given in the codices of the Septuagint.
2. There is a difference between the biblical and apocryphal measure of the doctrine respecting the demons, analogous to the difference between faith and superstition, or the difference between the sensus communis of a sound theology and the hankering taste of a mere theosophy.
3. The Scripture distinguishes between corrupting mixed-marriages of the pious and the godless, which, according to their point of departure (that is, sensual satisfaction), draw down the nobler part into community with the base, and unlike marriages among those of different religious communions, which may draw up those of lower standing to the stand-point of the more elevated. It is because there lies originally at the ground of the latter a moral motive. To the first class belong, next to our history, the marriage of Esau, the Midianitic connections (Numbers 25:0, yet only in conditional measure, since, in this case, there is mention only of licentious amours), the marriages of the Israelites with the Canaanitish women (Judges 3:0), the Delilah of Samson, the foreign wives of Solomon, Jezebel in Israel, Athaliah in Judah (both having a fearful efficacy for the corruption of the people), the daughters of Sanballat (Nehemiah 13:28), who gave occasion for the false worship on Gerizim. To these, if we regard the essence of the matter, we may add the case of Herodias in the New Testament, and connect with them analogous examples in the history of the church and of the world, even to our own day. To the other class belong such cases as that of Thamar, the marriage or the marriages of Moses, the case of Rahab, the marriages of the sons of Naomi (see Book of Ruth), the cases mentioned by Paul, 1 Corinthians 7:13, the case of Eunice, 2 Timothy 1:5, and many examples from old church history, where Christian princesses have been the means of converting heathen husbands, and, through them, of the conversion of whole nations. From this contrast it appears that a mere zeal in the abstract against mixed marriages is not grounded on the Bible, but that it depends on this whether the motive for the contraction of marriage is the instruction of the one who occupies the lower position, or a religious apostasy of the higher. And so, too, the political and civic conception of mesalliances is to be determined by fundamental positions of a moral and religious kind. In the universal treatment of this question, there comes also into consideration the moral predominance and the social priority of the man, as well as the great religious influence of the wife, especially of the zealous, or of the bigoted wife.
4. Between the moral and ennobling satisfaction in female beauty, as, for example, in the love of Jacob and Rachel, and the satisfaction of sensual desire, there is a specific difference. Beyond a doubt, a satisfaction of the latter kind is meant in our text, as plainly appears from the expression: “they took them wives of all (that is, without exception) that pleased them.” Such a wide choice is unknown to the moral love. The language appears, too, to hint at a Cainite polygamy. The expression טֹבוֹת, as used of the daughters of men, is to be thus determined.
5. The Bible conception of whoredom, as it becomes a symbolical designation of a falling away from God into idolatry, determines itself—not solely by the outward mark, that is, as lacking the ritual of marriage—but also by the inward evidence as to whether the spirit-life sinks into sensuality through the sensual connection. And such a sexual life is here evidently intended. As the true marriage becomes a symbol of the connection between Jehovah and his people, because in its looking to the eternal it coheres with it in the generic bridal idea, so does the impure sexual connection become a symbol of apostasy, because it has in common with it the characteristic feature of unspirituality and carnality. It lies, therefore, in the very nature of the thing, that the first kind of sexual intercourse conducts to lawful marriage (the marriage-law), and conforms to the true and faithful in the chastity of the spirit, whilst the latter hates chastity and loves change.
6. Lust and cruelty are psychologically twin-forms, like despotism and mesalliance, or the harem life in all its forms. Jezebel, Athaliah, Herodias, are world-historical types. Women like these have shown themselves to be murderesses of the prophets. So, too, the authoress of Nero’s persecutions had to be his wife Poppæa, a bigoted Jewish proselyte (see Lehman: “Studies in the History of Apostolic Times.” Greifswald, 1856). In this tendency of lust can we explain the common disobedience of degenerate sons towards their pious parents, the disowning of modest Sethite maidens in favor of Cainite beauties, the existence of polygamy and licentious disorder, and, everywhere, what is called “the emancipation of the flesh.” Therefore is it that this race is a prefiguring example of the antinomists of “the last time” (Matthew 24:0; Epistle of Jude; 2 Peter 2:0) From the violence of action, moreover, can we explain the oppression of the weak and miserable, and the spreading of infinite sorrow.
7. A physiologist might find it very conceivable, that the offspring of such unbridled lust, as exhibited in the intercourse of the hitherto unimpaired Sethites with the Cainite women, might be a race in whom bodily strength would present itself in an unusual degree, in connection with spiritual savageness. This, however, is doubted by Kurtz (Part 1, p. 82).
8. The first mention of the divine judicial office of the Spirit of God, Genesis 6:3.
9. The first mention of worldly favor in instructive and warning significance, Genesis 6:4.
10. In respect to God’s repentance, see above (comp. Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29). A well-known school does not hesitate to bring into the idea of the divine being the conception of mutability, even in its relation to other questions (for example, the doctrine of Communicatio idiomatum). We should, however, always distinguish between symbolic and dogmatic anthropopathism. Besides, we must not confound the judgment of God, Genesis 6:5, with the judgment of God, Genesis 8:21.
11. Noah found grace. As innocent children died in the flood, and as, moreover, there may have been always individuals less guilty who nevertheless fell under the judgment, so does the grace in the exception of the pious Noah become still more conspicuous. But in Noah, moreover, the kernel, or root-stem of humanity, still remaining comparatively sound, was the subject of the divine mercy. The חֵן, the gracious, fair, and saving condescension, appears here for the first time in full distinctness. This showing grace to Noah in this world casts a ray of light upon the destiny of the innocent infant-world that sunk with the guilty, and of the race generally, as judged in the other world (see 1 Peter 3:19; Genesis 4:6).
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The fall and perdition of the first human race in its detail: 1. Ungodly lust; 2. wanton deeds of violence; 3. the lawless commingling of the pious with the godless; 4. disdain of all warnings from the Holy Spirit, and impenitent obduracy in their sensual course.—How the warnings of God die away unheard in a sinking race.—The higher the stand-point the deeper the fall.—The sanctifying of the true feeling of beauty in contrast with the wanton disposition.—The sanctifying of the true hero-power in contrast with the wanton love of violence.—The deep connection between carnality and cruelty.—The sanctifying of marriage. The corrupting effects of unchastity. The contagious power of evil, especially of lust and injustice.—God’s beholding it at all times.—How the divine repenting reflects itself in the heart of the pious Noah.—The godly mourning of the pious over the corruption of these times; its high significance: 1. as an animating sign of the divine compassion; 2. as a terrifying sign of the divine judgment.—How man draws with him, in his doom, the surrounding nature—even in his corruption.—The sufferings of children on account of their parents.—The sufferings of the animal world on account of man.—Noah the chosen of God: 1. As the prophet of the divine spirit and of its judgment upon the earth; 2. as the priest of his house and of a new humanity; 3. as a kingly hero in his steadfastness against a whole race.—The grace of God, how it excepted one man, Noah, out of the common judgment.—Grace for the one, in its effect grace for the many, that is, for the whole coming human race.—The second ancestor a child of grace in the most special sense.—The grace in its first manifestation, how all-powerful, and how wondrously saving.—Noah found grace; therefore he must have sought it, as it sought and found him.—“In his eyes;” consciousness of the grace of the all-knowing God as ever beholding him; this through his communion with God.
Starke: Genesis 6:2. Luther: It is a great mercy when the Holy Spirit through its word punishes, and strives with, men; on the contrary, the highest disfavor and punishment when it is withdrawn and leaves the world unpunished.
Genesis 6:3 : After the time God gave also to the Amorites four hundred years (Genesis 15:16), to the Jews also, after the death of Christ, forty years, to Nebuchadnezzar one year (Daniel 4:29), and to Ninevah forty days, for repentance.
Genesis 6:4 : The security and carnality of men is a sign of God’s judgments drawing nigh (Matthew 24:33-38).—Evil examples (Book of Wis 4:12; Sir 13:1). Reckless and unlike marriages draw after them only clear perdition.—The contempt of the divine word is the most grievous sin, for from it all others have their origin. How great the patience and long-suffering of God! The oppression of the poor and wretched is a great sin, and draws God’s judgment after it.
Genesis 6:7 : Though the little ones are comprehended in the calamity, we must not, on that account, charge God with unrighteousness (he might have foreseen that they would tread in the footsteps of their parents, or he may have taken them without prejudice to their soul’s blessedness).
Genesis 6:8. Luther: This way of speaking excludes merit and extols faith.—Schröder: The fall first begins its course in the sphere of Adam and Eve’s single personality, then, by and with Cain it enters into the family life, thence showing itself in the members of a whole line, it now reaches its last stage of antediluvian development; it advances to the fall of a world.
Genesis 6:1-2. Herder: The more intimate they are, the nearer they live together, the more do they infect each other with their breath, and defile each other with their disease; each becomes to the other the instrument of a more multiplied and subtle evil. All great kingdoms, states, and cities are still mournful evidences of this fact.—Calvin: By such a title of honor (sons of God) Moses upbraids them with their unthankfulness, in that, forsaking their heavenly father, they become outcasts, as it were, and expose themselves to ruin.—Luther: The flood comes not on this account merely, that the race of Cain was corrupt and evil, but because the race of the righteous, who had believed God, had fallen into idolatry. So God does not hasten the last day because heathen, Jews, and Turks are godless, but because, by means of the Pope, and the fanatics, the church itself has become full of errors.—From all, that is, whom they loved, took they to themselves wives. That would be the love of diversity. Or, before all, namely, that to them the female race (the sex without discrimination) had become everything. The worth or unworthiness of the person came not into consideration. Probably it was incest; it was certainly polygamy. Luther: They disdained the simplicity, seriousness, and modest deportment of their young women, which had attracted the holy patriarchs, not amorously, but chastely, and suffered themselves to be pleased with the fondlings, the adorning, and the wantoning that proceeded from the latter (that is, the Cainite) race.
Genesis 6:3. Calvin: Moses represents God himself as speaking; thereby would it become more certain that that punishment was as righteous as it was fearful.—Luther: (The judging (or striving) of the spirit relates to a public office in the church, or the preaching of the truth, perhaps to a censure pronounced by Methuselah or Lamech). They are the words of an anxious heart; according to the language of Scripture, God is troubled, that is, the heart of the holy people which is full of love to every man. Such sorrow is properly the sorrow of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).—The same: When the spirit of doctrine is gone there departs also the spirit of prayer.—Calvin: As long as God holds back punishment he contends, to a certain extent, with men, especially if he would draw them to repentance by threatenings, or with light chastenings by way of example. Now he declares, as though in weariness, that he desires no longer to contend.—Berlenburger Bible: Where the Spirit of God is, there it condemns sin. His presence and his discipline are inseparable (Book of Wisdom 12)—The same: Let no one believe that he can do without such a chastening of the Almighty. We see it in little children.—Calvin: This contempt of God gave birth to pride, and, pride full blown, they began to break every yoke. They glorified themselves in their deeds of shame, and became robbers of renown, so called.—The same: That was the first nobility in the world; so that no one might please himself with a longer or more renowned series of ancestors.—The same: There is nothing in itself to be condemned in the desire of celebrity, it is useful that rank should have place in the world; yet, as inordinate ambition ever deserves blame, so, when there is added to it the tyrannical cruelty of the more powerful, in their scorn of the weak, it becomes an intolerable evil.
Genesis 6:5-7. Roos: Before, the flood of sins; after it, the sin-flood. Without a doubt has God impressed this feeling upon his saints, though no one in a human way is capable of it, according to its true divine nature. Wrath is proper for a king and a magistrate, but pain (for sin) is peculiar to the Creator, who has love for his creature, and before whose eyes that creature stands as one utterly corrupt, unthankful, and apostate.—The same: A destruction of man and beast must be their end. But, whether this destruction is to be through water or through fire, God has not yet in these words revealed.
Gerlach: The Sethites are here presented as a warning to the Israelites. God allows no one of his greater judgments to take place without giving a respite for repentance after its announcement. Luther’s interpretation takes the repentance and the grieving as the same with that which precedes in the genuine children of God. (Examples which Luther presents: Abraham’s prayer for Sodom; Samuel’s sorrow for Saul; Christ’s weeping over Jerusalem.)
Lisco: Flesh; that is, a people wholly sunk in sin. Despise not thy day of grace.
Calver (Manual): When members of the true church become degenerate, the judgments of God are not distant.—The Nephilim: Despising God above; exercising violence and oppression towards their brethren below. Now are these names unknown, like the names of many others who have sought for empty fame. In the heathen world there are such people as heroes, men honored as demigods; and truly there lie in these and other early indications of Moses, the fountains of many of the heathen legends concerning the gods. (The demigods of the heathen are, in fact, the heroes of humanity, such as Hercules, for example; but they have, doubtless, an original national origin for the most part which does not go back beyond the flood.)—Noah, the one righteous man in an entire corrupt world.—The eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear him.—Taube (p. 48): The judgment of God upon the first world a warning example for our time: 1. In respect to the first world being ripe for judgment; 2. in respect to the manner in which God executed this sentence.—Michow: This is the very climax of corruption, when men will not suffer themselves to be reproved by the spirit of God. The repenting of God (see Numbers 23:19). It denotes God’s dealing with men, which, though at all times just, must correspond to the behavior of men.
[Genesis 6:3.—רוּחִי. Of this there have been nearly as many interpretations as of ידון. It may mean the spirit of God generally, as the mind of God; it may mean the Holy Spirit as a power or influence, or, in the New Testament sense, as a person. It has been interpreted as the spirit or life of man, which God calls רוחי (my spirit), because given by him (as in Psalms 104:0 and Ecclesiastes 12:0, before referred to). This latter view may have two modifications: 1. as the life generally, or רוח taken for נפש or ψυχή; or, 2. in the higher sense of πνεῦμα, according to the trichotomy—the higher or rational power in man, and more nearly allied to the divine—the reason as distinguished from the sense, and from the mere inductive intellect judging by sense, and for the sense. The decision between these depends on the context, on the force of לְעוֹלָם, and the true meaning of בשגם הוא בשר; also, on the question whether, taken as a whole, it is the language of a judgment or of a prediction on which the judgment is grounded. On this see the Exegetical and Notes.—T. L.]
[Genesis 6:3.—לאֹ יָדוֹן. This word has given rise to a great variety of interpretations. The most unsatisfactory, as well as the farthest from the Hebrew usage, is that of Gesenius, who renders it, non humiliabitur, my spirit shall not be humbled, or become vile, in man, regarding it as cognate with the Arabic )دون( دان. There is not a trace of such a sense anywhere else in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is directly opposed to the strong sense of power, superiority, as it appears in the frequent אָדוֹן, lord, master, מָדוֹן, judicial conflict, and the name of Deity, אֲדֹנָי, Dominus. Compare also דּוּן, Job 19:29, judicium. The other form דין, if it is not rather an abbreviated Hiphil of דון, has always this ruling judicial sense, and corresponds to the other Arabic verb )دين( دان. The Arabic verb دون may have come from this by acquiring a modified passive sense. It may be said, too, that the view of Gesenius is out of harmony with the whole spirit of the Scriptures. There is no such thought in the Bible as God’s spirit being humbled by dwelling or striving with men. Its philosophy is all the other way: God’s “strength is made perfect in our weakness.” The LXX. have rendered it, οὐ μὴ καταμείνῃ, shall not remain; the Vulgate the same, non permanebit; the Syriac in like manner, ܐܐ ܬܠܘܠܝܼ, shall not dwell. The LXX. and the Syriac were probably influenced by some early Jewish Targum, since Onkelos gives it substantially the same sense, לֹא יתקים, though he paraphrases the passage. The interpretation of ידון has been much influenced by the interpreters’ view of רוחי following, as denoting the natural life, the spirit or soul which God had given men (see Psalms 104:29-30; Ecclesiastes 12:7), and they have accordingly given ידון any general sense that, whilst harmonizing with such view, would not be opposed to the radical idea of ruling judicially. Hence we need not regard these old interpreters as having read ידום or ילון, as some have supposed. Another view which is found in some of the Jewish commentators would refer רוחי to the spirit, mind, or disposition of God generally, represented as occupied with the care of man, and, as it were, wearied with it. So Rashi: my spirit within me shall not be disturbed on account of man. Another very strange one mentioned by Aben Ezra connects ידון with the rare noun נדנה, meaning a sheath (1 Chronicles 21:27), as though the body were the sheath of the spirit—shall not always be insheathed, or insheath itself—from the root נדן and they refer to the Aramaic of Daniel 7:15, “my spirit was grieved, בְּגוֹ נִדְנֶה, within my body”—literally, within the sheath. But this interpretation, besides being etymologically false, is too far-fetched and inconsistent with the simplicity of the early language. The Arabic translation (Arabs Erpenii) renders itتضٌ غ, to be wholly occupied with, according to the view of Rashi above.—T. L.]
[Genesis 6:3.—בְּשַׁגַּם. All the old authorities, versions, commentaries, etc., take this, as it is rendered in E. V., as equivalent to בַּאֲשֶׁר גַּם, in that also, or because also. Thus the LXX., διὰ τὸ; Vulg., quia; Syriac, ܘܶܠܠܛܠܽ; Onkelos, בְּדִיל דְּ; Jonath. מִן בִּגְלַל. The Arabic of the Polyglotts, لاذهم بثر ير ن Arabs Erpenii, .صن اجل. So also the modern versions until very lately. The excellent Arabic version made by our American missionaries, and lately printed, has followed the most modern commentaries and lexicographers, (rashly, we think,) and rendered it لز يفا ذه دصو بثس, “because of his declination, or straying, he is flesh.” The objection made by Gesenius and Rosenmüller to the abbreviation שׁ for אשר, that it belongs to the later Hebrew, has little weight. There are examples in the oldest books, and the conformity of the writing to the pronunciation is rather a mark of earlier orthography, though it may be afterwards imitated, for brevity, in the later Rabbinical writings. There can hardly be a doubt that בְּשַׁגַּם or בַּשּׁגַּם, basshaggam, would give about the actual pronunciation (especially if rapid) of בַּאֲשֶׁר גּם if written in full—baashergam, basshargam—in which the semi-vowel sound of ר would become very feeble and disappear, as is the case with נ in other combinations, so that shargam would become shaggam; the duplication by the dagesh compensating for the lost ר. And this would answer the question why it is not more frequent in the early books. It is not the settled use of שׁ for אשר (which is a mere orthographical abbreviation of אשר becoming constant in later and Rabbinical writing), but only a following the pronunciation in a peculiarly harsh combination that seldom occurs. The patach in place of the segol (שֶׁ) is explained by the Jewish grammarians, who, as their rich phonetic system clearly shows, understood these matters as well as the modern philologists. The last syllable is lengthened by the tone, and the compensating dagesh requires the sharpening of the preceding one. An objection to the view of Gesenius and others is, that such a use of the infinitive of שׁגג (if it can be regarded as an infinitive) is unexampled in the Hebrew. Besides, this verb or noun, as employed elsewhere, is always used of the more venial errors, or trespasses, and is, therefore, unsuited to the greatness and malignity of the sins here denounced. It may be said, moreover, that הוא, with the plural third person pronoun immediately preceding, is an ungrammatical anomaly.—T. L.]
[Genesis 6:4.—נְפִלִים, Nephilim. The derivation of this word from נפל, to fall, cannot be sustained, either in the sense of fallen (from heaven), or in that of invaders (ἐπιπίπτοντες, those who fall on—irruentes). It is evidently the ancient name they took to themselves, and that would not be, in the beginning, a name either of degeneracy or reproach. Its connection with פלא ,פלה, is much more clear and consistent. Compare the Niphal, Psalms 139:14, נִפְלֶה, and נִפְלָאִים (contracted נִפְלִים); also Exodus 33:16, וְנִפְלִינוּ אֲנִי וְעַמְּךָ מִכָּל הָעָם, “and I and thy people shall be distinguished above all people.” When it became a proper name, נִפְלָאִים or נִפְלִים (Niphlim) would easily be changed to נְפִלִים (Nephilim), the shewa becoming movable in the frequent use. Thus viewed, we may regard the expression at the end of the verse, אַנְשֵׁי הַשֵּׁם, as the intended exegesis of the word itself—נפלים, distinguished men; נפלאים, wonderful men—men of name—men of renown. That the same name should have been given afterwards to gigantic robbers, as in Numbers 13:33, is very natural, whether regarded as applied from a tradition of these wonderful men of old or from inherent fitness. וְגַם אַהֵרֵי כֵן, and also afterwards—clearly intimating that some of these Nephilim, or wondrous men of violence, had existed before this event, or from of old (a time comparatively ancient, going back to the days of old Cain), and that after these mesalliances, whatever they may be, there was an increase of such persons.—T. L.]
[Genesis 6:6.—יַיִּנָּחֶם. LXX., ἐνεθυμήθη; Vulg., Pœnituit eum. The Syriac and Arabic make it the repentance of grief; the Samaritan version strangely renders it אתנפח, iratus fuit, he was fiercely enraged, making it the repentance of anger. Both the Targums say: וְתָב יְיָ, and Jehovah repented, but qualify it by בְּמֵימְרֵהּ following—that is, in his word, or by his word. What they meant by this is not very clear, but it is one of the methods they take of avoiding the seeming anthropopathisms of the Old Testament, of which the Jewish translators, paraphrasts, and commentators, seem to have been more afraid than the Christian. Farther, see Exegetical and Notes.—T. L.]
[Genesis 6:6.—וַיִּתְעַצֵּב אֶל לִבּוֹ. The LXX. give no translation of this, or they have softened it into διενοήθη. The Targums also leave it out, and put in its place a mere paraphrastic repetition of what follows. Among the Jewish commentators Aben Ezra worthily calls attention to its contrast with the language Genesis 1:31. It is the opposite, he says, of God’s rejoicing in his works, now that evil has so grossly come in and marred it all. See Exegetical and Notes.—T. L.]
This Discussion has been somewhat abridged by the Translator.
THE GENESIS OF THE WORLD’s JUDGMENT AND OF THE WORLD’s RENEWING BY MEANS OF THE FLOOD. THE FLOOD AND THE DROWNED RACE. THE ARK AND THE SAVED HUMANITY. (THE ARK AS A TYPE OF THE PIOUS FAMILY, OF THE PIOUS STATE, AND OF THE CHURCH). (Genesis 6:9 to Genesis 8:19.)
The Calling of Noah. The Ark
Genesis 6:9 to Genesis 7:9
9These are the generations [tholedoth] of Noah; Noah was a just8 man and perfect in his generations [in his times], and Noah walked with God. 10And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. 11The earth also was corrupt9 before God [in relation to God], and the earth was filled with violence [in relation to men]. 12And God looked10 upon the earth and behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted3 his way [walk or conduct] upon the earth. 13And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh11 is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through4 them [before them]; and behold I will destroy4 them with the earth. 14Make thee an ark of gopher-wood [cypress—a resinous wood12]; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. 15And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of; the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, 16the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window [a sky-light] shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above [downward—not above on the side, but from the top surface downwards through the different stories]; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second and third stories shalt thou make it. 17And behold I, even I, do bring a flood13 of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherever is the breath of life under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die [expire-yield the breath]: 18But with thee will I establish my covenant14; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. 19And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. 20Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. 21And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee [for a store], and it shall be for food for thee and for them. 22Thus did Noah according to all that God commanded him.
See Genesis 7:1 ff for DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL, HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL, and EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL.
[Genesis 6:9.—צַדִּיק, primary sense, fidelity, truthfulness. תָּמִים, primary sense, soundness, integrity. That the terms are comparative is shown by the qualifying word that follows, בְּדוֹרותָיו, in his generations. The language gives no countenance to the opinion of Knobel, that Noah is represented as a man of spotless innocence, and that the author of this account knew nothing of any fall. So the Jewish interpreters take it, some of whom, as Rashi and Maimonides both tell us, go so far as to say that he would not have been so called in comparison with Abraham. אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים הִתְהַלֶּךְ: see remarks on this phrase as used in the account of Enoch.—T. L.]
[Genesis 6:11.—יַתִּשָּׁחֵת, primary sense, depression, sinking down. Hence, corruption, destruction.—T. L.].
[Genesis 6:12.—וַיַּרְא. “And God saw the earth”—looked at the earth, and lo. Some would render: “saw that the earth was;” but the other mode is the more literal, as well as the more expressive. It may be called anthropopathic, as expressing something like surprise, but it is all the more striking on that very account. “Had corrupted its way.” הִשְׁחִית אֶת דַּרְכּוֹ. This may be taken physically as well as morally. דַּרְכּוֹ, its way, its mode of life. Men were becoming monsters, sinking down into brutality—becoming dehumanized through lust and cruelty, כָּל בָּשָׂר, all flesh. Dr. Murphy well remarks, that “this, should teach us to beware of applying an inflexible literality to such terms as all when thus used; since the mention of the whole race “does not preclude the exception of Noah and his family.” Commentary on Gen. p. 210.—T. L.]
[Genesis 6:13.—קֵץ כָּל בָֹּשָׂר. “The end of all flesh is come up, לְפָנַי, before me (to my face).” Or it may be rendered in the present, comes up before me, giving it more the sense of a prediction (or an event seen to be inevitable unless prevented soon) than of a threatened judgment. The language is remarkably graphic; as though the events of time, as it moves on, or the roll unfolds itself, come up before the immovable, unchanging God, and the last periods of a long series were drawing nigh in their development. In this view, כָּל of Genesis 6:13 would be taken in its universality. Through human wickedness and corruption there will be an end of man (of the whole human race without exception) unless means are taken for the preservation of a sound humanity, in the destruction of these who are becoming dehumanized. מִפְנֵיהֶם, another most graphic expression—filled with violence before the face of them. Wherever they spread, violence and corruption goes with them, and before them. Compare the description of Leviathan, Job 41:14, לְפָנָיו תָּדוּץ דְּאָבָה, “terror moves swiftly before him.” “Lo, I am destroying them (with) the earth” מַשְׁחִיתָם אֶת־האָרֶץ. Another view takes אֶת־חַאָרֶץ as in apposition with the preceding pronoun, and as explanatory of it. It sounds harsh in rendering, but is somewhat favored grammatically by the fact that אֶת, where it is occasionally to be rendered with, always denotes the closest and most essential union, and, on this ground, it is that it comes to denote the nearest and most direct object of the verb—“will destroy them, the very earth,” as the means of their destruction. Other renderings are, upon the earth (אֶת for עַל), with reference to 1 Kings 9:25; Psalms 67:2; and from the earth (אֶת for מֵאֵת), 2 Kings 23:35; but the examples cited for these fail to bear out the interpretation. See Rosenmüller. It may be offered as a conjecture entitled to some attention, that the Hiphil participle מַשְׁחִית may have the permissive sense which sometimes belongs to it (see Deuteronomy 2:28; Genesis 24:17; Genesis 25:30; Isaiah 63:15 et al.; Glassii Phil., p. 836), instead of the causative, and then it would be a case of double government: “And lo I am suffering them to corrupt the earth;” in which case את would have its usual sense of the direct object, and there would be no need of the sudden change in משחית from the sense of corrupting to that of destroying, although they are nearly allied; as though it were a reason for the interposition instead of a threatening of it. Lo I am letting them ruin the earth, if they are permitted thus to have their way. The interpretations generally are against this, but it may be grammatically supported, and has some grounds in the context as giving the merciful and remedial aspect of the passage the predominance over the retributive. It may at least be offered as a conjecture. The השחית of Genesis 6:12 seems to be against it, but even that may be rendered, “all flesh is letting its way become corrupt upon earth.”—T. L.]
[Genesis 6:14.—עֲצֵי גֹפֵר, Rendered gopher-wood. The word occurs but once in the Scriptures. It is, however, etymologically the same with the Greek κυπάρισσος (cypress, the same radical consonants, g p r—k p r), and may also be regarded as related to the Latin juniperus (g (n) p r). It may denote any resinous wood which is at the same time light and firm.—T.L.].
[Genesis 6:17.—חַמַּבּוּל: used only of the Great Deluge, except Psalms 29:10, where it comes in as a hyperbole in the description of a great storm and inundation. Lange, Gesenius, and others, derive it from יָבַל, to which they give the sense fluxit, though it occurs only in some noun derivatives, the Hiphil sense being remotely secondary. The sense of flowing, however, in יבל, if it has it at all, is quite different from the conception we have of the deluge. It is the flowing of streams, rivers, rivulets, as seen in the derivative יָבָל, flumen, rivus. Aben Ezra gives us the views of the older Jewish grammarians. One class of these make it from נבל, comparing it with Isaiah 24:4, אָבְלָח נָבְלָה הָאָרֶץ, “in mourning and desolate is the earth,”—giving to נבל the sense of ruin and wasteness. This accounts for the dagesh in ב. It is dagesh compensative, they say, for the swallowed נ, or מַבּוּל for מַנְבּוּל, just as מַבּועַ (from נבע) for מַנְבּוּע. It is certainly much easier, etymologically, to account for it in this way, than by making it from יבל, which would rather give the form מוֹבָל. Others make it from בלל confundit, and regard it as equal to מַבְלוּל, the dagesh arising from the swallowing, as the Jewish grammarians call it, of the first ל following. They compare it, in its full form, to מַסְלוּל from סלל, Isaiah 35:8, or שִׁבְלוּל, Psalms 58:9. Either of these conceptions of ruin, desolation, and confusion, suits better with the idea of the great catastrophe than simply that of flowing, especially regarded as the flowing of a river. And then, according to these acute authorities, we have a reason for the addition of מַיִם, “the mabbul of waters,” which would be a mere tautology, and, in this case, a feeble tautology, if the word simply meant flowing. It was a wasteness, a ruin, a desolation, a confusion, or mingling together of all things (בלול), by means of waters. Hence the special descriptive term used only of this great event, and intended to show that it was sui generis, so that it comes to be used like a proper name.—T. L.]
[Genesis 6:18.–בְּרִית. Lange makes it from ברת, a root not found; and the metathesis from בתר is harsh and unexampled. The Jewish grammarians and lexicographers make it from ברא = ברה, primary sense, to cut, referring to the severance of the victim in sacrifice on the making of a covenant. See Psalms 1:5, כֹּרְתֵּי בְריתי עֲלֵי זָבַח “who have made (cut) a covenant (with me) by sacrifice.” Further on this word and idea, see Exegetical and Notes.—T. L.]