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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
Bible Study Resources
Nave's Topical Bible - Giants; Holy Spirit; Ship; Scofield Reference Index - Sons; Thompson Chain Reference - Giants;
Verse Genesis 6:4. There were giants in the earth — נפלים nephilim, from נפל naphal, "he fell." Those who had apostatized or fallen from the true religion. The Septuagint translate the original word by γιγαντες, which literally signifies earth-born, and which we, following them, term giants, without having any reference to the meaning of the word, which we generally conceive to signify persons of enormous stature. But the word when properly understood makes a very just distinction between the sons of men and the sons of God; those were the nephilim, the fallen earth-born men, with the animal and devilish mind. These were the sons of God, who were born from above; children of the kingdom, because children of God. Hence we may suppose originated the different appellatives given to sinners and saints; the former were termed γιγαντες, earth-born, and the latter, αγιοι, i.e. saints, persons not of the earth, or separated from the earth.
The same became mighty men - men of renown.] גברים gibborim, which we render mighty men, signifies properly conquerors, heroes, from גבר gabar, "he prevailed, was victorious." and אנשי השם anshey hashshem, "men of the name," ανθρωποι ονομαστπι, Septuagint; the same as we render men of renown, renominati, twice named, as the word implies, having one name which they derived from their fathers, and another which they acquired by their daring exploits and enterprises.
It may be necessary to remark here that our translators have rendered seven different Hebrew words by the one term giants, viz., nephilim, gibborim, enachim, rephaim, emim, and zamzummim; by which appellatives are probably meant in general persons of great knowledge, piety, courage, wickedness, &c., and not men of enormous stature, as is generally conjectured.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Genesis 6:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/genesis-6.html. 1832.
6:1-9:29 REBELLION AND JUDGMENT
The wickedness of human society (6:1-8)
As the population grew and societies developed, people again showed the tendency to want to exist independently of God. Like their original ancestors, they wanted to be as God and live for ever (cf. 3:5,22).
It seems that certain angels (the probable meaning of ‘sons of God’ in this story; cf. Job 1:6; Job 38:7; Daniel 3:25) had, in rebellion against God, taken human form and co-operated with ambitious people in trying to produce a race of ‘super-humans’ who would be unconquerable and immortal. In response God reminded his human creatures that they were mortal, kept alive only by his spirit within them. In punishment he reduced the human life span from its former length to approximately 120 years (6:1-4). (God’s punishment of the angels is possibly referred to in 1 Peter 3:19-20 and Jude 1:6.)
People, however, did not heed God’s warning. Their wickedness continued to increase, till God decided that the only thing to do was to destroy them (5-8).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Genesis 6:4". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/genesis-6.html. 2005.
"The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them; the same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown."
"The Nephilim were in the earth in those days ..." This is a citation of the time when the unlawful marriages proliferated and represents those marriages as "an event that followed the appearance of the Nephilim." We must therefore disagree with Willis who thought that the context here "suggests that the Nephilim were the children born to the sons of God and the daughters of men, and who became the mighty men of old." On the other hand, the Nephilim existed before and after the sinful marriages came into view.
"The mighty men that were of old ..." Some of the older versions render this word as "giants" instead of mighty men. Although it is likely that the men in view were men of great physical stature, the thought appears to pertain more to their exploits of daring and violent deeds. This could be a reference to the Nephilim already mentioned, but Keil and others thought that the reference is to the sons of the mixed marriages. In neither case, is there any reference to angelic or superhuman progenitors of these mighty men. Such views are due solely to the error of "commentators who have been obliged to insert them here to save their angelic marriages!" As to the meaning of "mighty men," the most probable interpretation "is that which understands them as men of violence, roving, lawless gallants." "The term in Hebrew implies not so much the idea of great stature as of reckless ferocity, impious, and daring characters, who spread devastation and carnage far and wide." The current century has witnessed the appearance of the same type of "mighty men": Kaiser Wilhelm, Benito Mussolini (Il Duce), Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, etc. Such men were referred to in this verse as "men of renown"! Some dependable exegetes believe that the teaching here indicates that these (or at least some of them) were posterity produced by the mixed marriages, but, if that is the understanding of the place, there could have been no connection between these "men of renown" and the Nephilim, already mentioned as existing when those marriages occurred. In any case, the alleged union between supernatural and human beings is absolutely foreign to everything in the Bible, and particularly to this passage.
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Genesis 6:4". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/genesis-6.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
- The Growth of Sin
3. דון dı̂yn “be down, strive, subdue, judge.” בשׁגם bāshagām “inasmuch, as also.” The rendering “in their error” requires the pointing בשׁגם beshāgām, and the plural form of the following pronoun. It is also unknown to the Septuagint.
4. נפילים nepı̂lı̂ym “assailants, fellers, men of violence, tyrants.”
Having traced the line of descent from Adam through Sheth, the seed of God, to Noah, the author proceeds to describe the general spread and growth of moral evil in the race of man, and the determination of the Lord to wipe it away from the face of the earth.
There are two stages of evil set forth in Genesis 6:1-4 - the one contained in the present four verses, and the other in the following. The former refers to the apostasy of the descendants of Sheth, and the cause and consequences of it. When man began to multiply, the separate families of Cain and Sheth would come into contact. The daughters of the stirring Cainites, distinguished by the graces of nature, the embellishments of art, and the charms of music and song, even though destitute of the loftier qualities of likemindedness with God, would attract attention and prompt to unholy alliances. The phrase “sons of God,” means an order of intelligent beings who “retain the purity of moral character” originally communicated, or subsequently restored, by their Creator. They are called the sons of God, because they have his spirit or disposition. The sons of God mentioned in Job 38:7, are an order of rational beings existing before the creation of man, and joining in the symphony of the universe, when the earth and all things were called into being. Then all were holy, for all are styled the sons of God. Such, however, are not meant in the present passage. For they were not created as a race, have no distinction of sex, and therefore no sexual desire; they “neither marry nor are given in marriage” Matthew 22:30. It is contrary to the law of nature for different species even on earth to cohabit in a carnal way; much more for those in the body, and those who have not a body of flesh. Moreover, we are here in the region of humanity, and not in the sphere of superhuman spirits; and the historian has not given the slightest intimation of the existence of spiritual beings different from man.
The sons of God, therefore, are those who are on the Lord’s side, who approach him with duly significant offerings, who call upon him by his proper name, and who walk with God in their daily conversation. The figurative use of the word “son” to denote a variety of relations incidental, and moral as well as natural, was not unfamiliar to the early speaker. Thus, Noah is called “the son of five hundred years” Genesis 5:32. Abraham calls Eliezer בן־בותי ben-bēytı̂y, “son of my house” Genesis 15:3. The dying Rachel names her son Ben-oni, “son of my sorrow,” while his father called him Benjamin, “son of thy right hand” Genesis 35:18. An obvious parallel to the moral application is presented in the phrases “the seed of the woman” and “the seed of the serpent.” The word “generations” תולדות tôledot, Genesis 5:1) exhibits a similar freedom and elasticity of meaning, being applied to the whole doings of a rational being, and even to the physical changes of the material world Genesis 2:4. The occasion for the present designation is furnished in the remark of Eve on the birth of Sheth. God hath given me another seed instead of Habel. Her son Sheth she therefore regarded as the son of God. Accordingly, about the birth of his son Enosh, was begun the custom calling upon the name of the Lord, no doubt in the family circle of Adam, with whom Sheth continued to dwell. And Enok, the seventh from Adam in the same line, exhibited the first striking example of a true believer walking with God in all the intercourse of life. These descendants of Sheth, among whom were also Lamek who spoke of the Lord, and Noah who walked with God, are therefore by a natural transition called the sons of God, the godlike in a moral sense, being born of the Spirit, and walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit Psalms 82:6; Hosea 2:1.
Some take “the daughters of man” to be the daughters of the Cainites only. But it is sufficient to understand by this phrase, the daughters of man in general, without any distinction of a moral or spiritual kind, and therefore including both Cainite and Shethite females. “And they took them wives of all whom they chose.” The evil here described is that of promiscuous intermarriage, without regard to spiritual character. The godly took them wives of all; that is, of the ungodly as well as the godly families, without any discrimination. “Whom they chose,” not for the godliness of their lives, but for the goodliness of their looks. Ungodly mothers will not train up children in the way they should go; and husbands who have taken the wrong step of marrying ungodly wives cannot prove to be very exemplary or authoritative fathers. Up to this time they may have been consistent as the sons of God in their outward conduct. But a laxity of choice proves a corresponding laxity of principle. The first inlet of sin prepares the way for the flood-gates of iniquity. It is easy to see that now the degeneracy of the whole race will go on at a rapid pace.
My Spirit - , in contradistinction to the spirit of disobedience which, by the fall, obtained entrance into the soul of man. “Shall not strive with man forever.” To strive דון dı̂yn is to keep down, rule, judge, or strive with a man by moral force. From this passage we learn that the Lord by his Spirit strives with man up to a certain point. In this little negative sentence streams out the bright light of God’s free and tender mercy to the apostate race of man. He sends his Spirit to irradiate the darkened mind, to expostulate with the conscience, to prompt and strengthen holy resolve, and to bring back the heart, the confidence, the affection to God. He effects the blessed result of repentance toward God in some, who are thus proved to be born of God. But it is a solemn thought that with others he will not strive perpetually. There is a certain point beyond which he will not go, for sufficient reasons known fully to himself, partly to us. Two of these we are to notice for our instruction: First, he will not touch the free agency of his rational creatures. He can put no force on the volitions of men. An involuntary or compulsory faith, hope, love, obedience, is a contradiction in terms; and anything that could bear the name can have no moral validity whatsoever. Secondly, after giving ample warning, instruction, and invitation, he will, as a just judgment on the unbelieving and the impenitent, withdraw his Spirit and let them alone. The antediluvian world was fast approaching to this point of final perversity and abandonment.
Inasmuch as he is also flesh - , in contradistinction to spirit, the breath of life which the Almighty breathed Into his nostrils. These two parts of man’s complex being were originally in true and happy adjustment, the corporeal being the fit organ and complement of the spiritual as it is in him. But now by the fall the flesh has gained the upper hand, and the spirit is in the bondage of corruption. The fact that he is flesh also as well as spirit, has therefore come out into sad prominence. The doctrine of the carnal mind in the Epistle to the Romans Romans 8:0 is merely the outgrowth of the thought expressed in this passage.
His days shall be an hundred and twenty years. - “His days” are the days of man, not the individual, but the race, with whom the Lord still strives. Hence, they refer to the duration, not of the life of an individual, but of the existence of the race. From this we learn that the narrative here reverts to a point of time before the birth of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, recorded in the close of the preceding passage as there were only a hundred years from their birth to the deluge. This is according to the now well-known method of Scripture, when it has two lines of events to carry on. The former narrative refers to the godly portion of mankind; this to the ungodly remnant.
Not forever will the Lord strive with man; but his longsuffering will still continue for one hundred and twenty years. Meanwhile he does not leave himself or his clemency without a witness. He sent Noah with the message of warning, who preached by his voice, by his walking with God, and also by his long labor and perseverance in the building of the ark. The doomed race, however, filled up the measure of their iniquity, and when the set number of years was accomplished, the overwhelming flood came.
Two classes of men, with strong hand and strong will, are here described. “The giants,” the well-known men of great stature, physical force, and violent will, who were enabled by these qualities to claim and secure the supremacy over their fellow-men. “Had been in the land in those days.” In the days when those intermarriages were beginning to take place, the warriors were asserting the claim of might. Violence and rapine were becoming rampant in the land. “And after that.” The progeny of the mixed marriages were the second and subsequent class of leading men. “The sons of God” are here contradistinguished from the “nephilim, or giants,” who appear therefore to have belonged to the Cainites. The offspring of these unhallowed unions were the heroes, the gallants, the mighty men, the men of renown. They were probably more refined in manners and exalted in thought than their predecessors of pure Cainite descent. “Men of name,” whose names are often in men’s mouths, because they either deserved or required to be named frequently on account of their influential or representative character. Being distinguished from the common herd by prominent qualities or memorable exploits, they were also frequently marked out by a special name or surname, derived from such trait of character or deed of notoriety. “Of old” (מעולם mē'ôlām). This has been sometimes explained “of the world,” in the sense of αἰών aiōn; but the meaning is too late for the present passage. The phrase uniformly means “of old,” covering a more or less extensive length of time. This note of time implies a writer probably after the deluge, who could speak of antediluvian affairs, as happening of old.
It is remarkable that we have no hint of any kind of government in the antediluvian world. It is open to us to suppose that the patriarchal polity would make its appearance, as it is an order based upon natural relations. But it is possible that God himself, being still present and manifest, was recognized as the governor. To him offerings were brought, and he deals with Cain on his first and second transgression. In that case the lawless violence of the strong and willful is to be regarded as rebellion, not only against the patriarchal rule, but the divine supremacy. A notice of civil law and government would not of course affect the authority of the book. But the absence of such notice is in favor of its divine origin. It is obvious that higher things than these have the attention of the sacred writer.
In these verse we are to conceive the 120 years of respite to be at an end. The iniquity of the race is now full, and the determination of the Lord is therefore announced, with a statement of the grounds on which it rests, and a glance at the individual to be excepted from the general destruction.
And God saw. - The course of the primeval world was a great experiment going on before the eye of God, and of all intelligent observers, and manifesting the thorough depravity and full-grown degeneracy of the fallen race, when left to the bent of its perverted inclinations. “Every imagination” (יצר yētser). Here the object of thought is distinguished from the thought itself. This is a distinction not generally or constantly recognized by the mental philosopher, though of essential importance in the theory of the mind. The thought itself is a real phase or attitude of mind; the form, idea, species, object of thought may have matter, real content, or it may not. “Only evil every day.” This is an unlimited condemnation of the state and process of the carnal man. The reason is obvious. Homage to God, to truth, to right, to love, does not reign in his heart; and the imaginations or purposes that are not regulated by this, however excellent and praiseworthy in other respects, are destitute of the first the essential principle of moral good. This is now made palpable to the eye of observation by the almost universal predominance of the ungodly spirit. This accordingly forms the ground of the divine procedure.
And it repented the Lord - that he had made man. The Scripture is frank and unreserved; some people would say, imprudent or regardless of misconstruction, in its statements of truth. Repentance ascribed to the Lord seems to imply wavering or change of purpose in the Eternal Self-existent One. But the sublime dictate of the inspired word is, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken and shall he not make it good?” Numbers 23:19. In sooth, every act here recorded - the observation, the resolve, the exception - seems equally with the repentance to jar with the unchangeableness of God. To go to the root of the matter, every act of the divine will, of creative power, or of interference with the order of nature, seems at variance with inflexibility of purpose. But, in the first place, man has a finite mind and a limited sphere of observation, and therefore is not able to conceive or express thoughts or acts exactly as they are in God, but only as they are in himself. Secondly, God is a spirit, and therefore has the attributes of personality, freedom, and holiness; and the passage before us is designed to set forth these in all the reality of their action, and thereby to distinguish the freedom of the eternal mind from the fatalism of inert matter. Hence, thirdly, these statements represent real processes of the Divine Spirit, analogous at least to those of the human. And, lastly, to verify this representation, it is not necessary that we should be able to comprehend or construe to ourselves in all its practical detail that sublime harmony which subsists between the liberty and the immutability of God. That change of state which is essential to will, liberty, and activity, may be, for aught we know, and from what we know must be, in profound unison with the eternity of the divine purpose.
I will wipe away man from the face of the soil. - The resolve is made to sweep away the existing race of man. Heretofore, individuals had departed this life. Adam himself had long since paid the debt of nature. These solemn testimonies to the universal doom had not made any salutary or lasting impression on the survivors. But now a general and violent destruction is to overtake the whole race - a standing monument of the divine wrath against sin, to all future generations of the only family saved.
From man to cattle, creeper and fowl of the sky. - These classes of animated nature being mingled up with man are involved in the same ruin with him. This is of a piece with the curse laid upon the serpent, which was the unconscious organ of the tempter. It is an instance of a law which runs through the whole course of nature, as we observe that it is the method of the divine government to allow for the time the suffering inflicted on an inferior animal, or even on a fellow-creature, by selfish passion. It has an appearance to some minds of harshness and unfairness. But we must remember that these animated creatures are not moral, and, therefore, the violent termination of their organic life is not a punishment; that the pain incidental to this, being apart from guilt, is in itself a beneficial provision for the conservation of life; and that it was not intended that the life of animals should be perpetual. The return of the land to a state of desolation by the destruction of animal and vegetable life, however, has its lesson for man, for whom ultimately all of this beauty and fertility were designed, and from whom it is now withdrawn, along with all the glories it foreshadows, as part of the punishment of his guilt. The tenant has become unworthy of the tabernacle, and accordingly he is dispossessed, and it is taken down and removed.
And Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. - Noah and his family are the only exceptions to this sweeping destruction. Hitherto we have met with distant and indirect intimations of the divine favor, and significant deeds of regard and acceptance. Now for the first time grace itself finds a tongue to express its name. Grace has its fountain in the divine breast. The stream has been flowing forth to Adam, Eve, Habel, Henok, and others, we hope, unknown to fame. By the time it reaches Noah it has found a name, by which it is recognized among people to this day. It is opposed to works as a source of blessing. Whither grace comes there merit cannot be. Hence, we learn even from the case of Noah that original sin asserts its presence in the whole race of Adam. This completes the circle of saving doctrine in regard to God that comes down from the antediluvian times. He intimates that the seed of the woman, an individual pre-eminently so called, will bruise the serpent’s head. He clothes our first parents with coats of skin - an earnest and an emblem of the better, the moral clothing of the soul. He regards Habel and his offering. He accepts him that in faith does well. He translates Enok, who walked with him. His Spirit, we learn, has been striving with antediluvian man. Here are the Spirit of God and the seed of the woman. Here are clothing, regarding, accepting, translating. Here, then, is salvation provided and applied, begun, continued, and completed. And last, though not least, grace comes out to view, the eternal fountain of the whole. On the part of man, also, we have repenting, believing, confessing, offering, calling on the name of the Lord, and walking with God.
The two parts of the document which is now closed are as distinct from each other as it is from the following one. They combine, in fact, to form the needful preliminary to the fourth document. The genealogy brings us to the leading agent in the succeeding narrative; the description of the corruption of the human race furnishes the occasion for his agency. The third is therefore the prologue, as the fifth is the epilogue, to the fourth document, in which the main action lies.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Genesis 6:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/genesis-6.html. 1870.
4. There were giants in the earth. Among the innumerable kinds of corruptions with which the earth was filled, Moses especially records one in this place; namely that giants practiced great violence and tyranny. I do not, however, suppose, that he speaks of all the men of this age; but of certain individuals, who, being stronger than the rest, and relying on their own might and power, exalted themselves unlawfully, and without measure. As to the Hebrew noun, נפלים ( nefilim,) its origin is known to be from the verb נפל ( naphal,) which is to fall; but grammarians do not agree concerning its etymology. Some think that they were so called because they exceeded the common stature; (264) others, because the countenance of men fell at the sight of them, on account of the enormous size of their body; or, because all fell prostrate through terror of their magnitude. To me there seems more truth in the opinion of those who say, that a similitude is taken from a torrent, or an impetuous tempest; for as a storm and torrent, violently falling, lays waste and destroys the fields, so these robbers brought destruction and desolation into the world. (265) Moses does not indeed say, that they were of extraordinary stature, but only that they were robust. Elsewhere, I acknowledge, the same word denotes vastness of stature, which was formidable to those who explored the land of Canaan, (Joshua 13:33.) But Moses does not distinguish those of whom he speaks in this place, from other men, so much by the size of their bodies, as by their robberies and their lust of dominion. In the context, the particle וגם ( vegam,) which is interposed, is emphatical. Jerome, after whom certain other interpreters have blundered, has rendered this passage in the worst possible manner. (266) For it is literally rendered thus, ‘And even after the sons of God had gone in to the daughters of men;’ as if he had said, Moreover, or, ‘And at this time.’ For in the first place, Moses relates that there were giants; then he subjoins, that there were also others from among that promiscuous offspring, which was produced when the sons of God mingled themselves with the daughters of men. It would not have been wonderful if such outrage had prevailed among the posterity of Cain; but the universal pollution is more clearly evident from this, that the holy seed was defiled by the same corruption. That a contagion so great should have spread through the few families which ought to have constituted the sanctuary of God, is no slight aggravation of the evil. The giants, then, had a prior origin; but afterwards those who were born of promiscuous marriages imitated their example.
The same became mighty men which were of old (267) The word ‘age’ is commonly understood to mean antiquity: as if Moses had said, that they who first exercised tyranny or power in the world, together with an excessive licentiousness and an unbridled lust of dominion, had begun from this race. Yet there are those who expound the expression, ‘from the age,’ to mean, in the presence of the world: for the Hebrew word עולם ( olam,) has also this signification. (268) Some think that this was spoken proverbially; because the age immediately posterior to the deluge had produced none like them. The first exposition is the more simple; the sum of the whole, however, is, that they were ferocious tyrants, who separated themselves from the common rank. Their first fault was pride; because, relying on their own strength, they arrogated to themselves more than was due. Pride produced contempt of God, because, being inflated by arrogance, they began to shake off every yoke. At the same time, they were also disdainful and cruel towards men; because it is not possible that they, who would not bear to yield obedience to God, should have acted with moderation towards men. Moses adds they were “men of renown;” by which he intimates that they boasted of their wickedness, and were what are called, honorable robbers. Nor is it to be doubted, that they had something more excellent than the common people, which procured for them favor and glory in the world. Nevertheless, under the magnificent title of heroes, they cruelly exercised dominion, and acquired power and fame for themselves, by injuring and oppressing their brethren. And this was the first nobility of the world. Lest any one should too greatly delight himself in a long and dingy line of ancestry; this, I repeat, was the nobility, which raised itself on high, by pouring contempt and disgrace on others. Celebrity of name is not in itself condemned; since it is necessary that they whom the Lord has adorned with peculiar gifts should be preeminent among others; and it is advantageous that there should be distinction of ranks in the world. But as ambition is always vicious and more especially so when joined with a tyrannical ferocity, which causes the more powerful to insult the weak, the evil becomes intolerable. It is, however, much worse, when wicked men gain honor by their crimes; and when, the more audacious any one is in doing injury, the more insolently he boasts of the empty smoke of titles. Moreover, as Satan is an ingenious contriver of falsehoods, by which he would corrupt the truth of God, and in this manner render it suspected, the poets have invented many fables concerning the giants; who are called by them the sons of the Earth, for this reason, as it appears to me, because they rushed forward to acquire dominions without any example of their ancestors.
(264) “ Quia excidissent a communi statura;” a misprint, undoubtedly, for excedissent. — Ed.
(265) “ Vatablus in Poli Synopsi.” — Ed.
(266) “ Gigantes autem erant super terram in diebus illis. Postquam enim ingressi sunt,” etc. There were giants on the earth in those days. For after the sons of God, etc. — Vulgate. The words which the Vulgate translates, ‘for after,’ — plainly accounting for the birth of the giants from the intercourse alluded to in the next clause, — are translated in the Septuagint, καὶ μετ ἐκεῖνο, “and after this;” which favors the interpretation of Calvin, with which also the English version corresponds. — Ed
(267) “ Ipsi potentes a saeculo.” ‘They were mighty men from the age’; or, from the old time. — Ed.
(268) Vide Schindler’s Lexicon, sub voce עלם
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Genesis 6:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/genesis-6.html. 1840-57.
It came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took unto them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit will not always strive with man, in that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years ( Genesis 6:1-3 ).
So we're coming now to a time in which God is going to drastically alter man's lifespan. By the time they were getting nine hundred years old they were getting so wicked. God says I'm not going to leave them around that long; cut them down to a hundred and twenty years. So drastic altering after the flood of man's lifespan which could easily be explained by the loss of the protective blanket around the earth, allowing much greater cosmic radiation which causes the mutations of the cells which causes the aging process in man. There's no way by which you can protect yourself from these little neutrinos, these little cosmic rays that bombard the earth and pass right through the thing like it wasn't even there. The earth is under this constant bombardment.
Actually, we are protected much by our atmosphere. There is a certain danger to too much high-altitude flying. You get up above the protective blanket and your ultra-violet ray radiation gets much greater, in that the airlines have found that they can only -you can say pilots really have it made, you know, they only fly once a week. All that's because of the fact that it is a hazardous thing you're getting up above much of our protective blanket when you get up thirty-eight to thirty-nine thousand feet. And so they limit their exposure. We're learning more and more about that.
Who are the sons of God? Now there are those who will make the sons of God the descendants of Shem. So they are Shemites, say some. The daughters of men were the Cainites, the descendants of Cain, according to the theory. And that the godly line of Shem began to intermarry with the ungodly line of Cain. And the product -it's hard to explain how it was giants, but that's the theory.
The term "sons of God" in the Old Testament is used elsewhere but only of angels, never of man. In Job, the sons of God were presenting themselves to God and Satan also came with them, angels. It would appear that these are angels here in Genesis, that they actually began to intermingle and intermarry. You say but wait a minute. Jesus said the angels neither marry nor are given in marriage in heaven. That is true. But Jesus did not say that they were sexless; He just said there was no marriage nor given in marriage. And it is interesting that always angels are referred to in a masculine form.
There are difficulties with this verse, if you try to make it the godly line of Seth and the ungodly line of Cain. There are also difficulties if you try to make it angels intermarrying with man. But in verse four.
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown ( Genesis 6:4 ).
Some kind of a super race of giant men as a result of this.
In the New Testament, we read that those angels, which kept not their first estate are reserved in the chains of Tartarus awaiting the day of judgment ( Jude 1:6 ). It seems that there were certain angels, perhaps, that did not keep the first principle or first estate. Maybe they were these angels who came down and began to intermingle and intermarry with men. There are a lot of interesting things that we don't know all of the answers to, this being one of them.
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and the eyes and that every imagination and the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And 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 the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them ( Genesis 6:5-7 ).
Now whenever we get to this statement that it repented God, we find that it is again a difficult statement to handle because the Scripture clearly teaches that "God is not a man, that he should repent, or that He should lie; nor the son of man, that he should repent" ( Numbers 23:19 ). In other words, God being omniscient knew from the beginning what was going to be. Then what does this scripture mean? "It repented God" and God said, I, you know, "I'm sorry that I've made man." That it repented God that He had made man.
It is extremely difficult to talk about God in human terms because we are limited to human terminology. Therefore, there are certain actions of God that I must describe but how am I going to describe them except with language that we understand? So this is one of those areas where you run into the difficulty, because you're trying to explain an action of God, but the only words that you have to explain, that action, are words that are significant to man but not at all in the category of God. So trying to explain it in a way that man would understand from the human level this action of God, I am bound to the human terms. And thus, I attribute unto God a human capacity, though in reality, the repentance of God is not at all as I would repent or I would be sorry for a thing. But I cannot understand the action of God because "His ways are above my ways and beyond my finding out" ( Romans 11:33 ).
So God knew from the beginning all things. God knew that men would be corrupted. God knew that there would be violence. God knew that men would bring self-destruction upon himself. And so we describe the action of God in human terms. But yet the Scripture declares that "God is not a man that he should lie nor the son of man that he should repent." But I have no other words to describe the action of God, so I describe it in human terms. Though it is not at all repentance as man would turn or man would change.
God said, "Behold, I am the Lord God, I change not" ( Malachi 3:6 ). He doesn't have to change. He is God. So God declares His destruction of the earth.
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. And these are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God ( Genesis 6:8-9 ).
In the midst of an evil and corrupt world, with the wickedness and the corruption and every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart evil continually, there is one man down on earth walking in harmony with God, in fellowship with God. Noah walked with God. What a testimony and what a witness.
The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked upon the earth, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and thou shalt pitch it or cover it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits ( Genesis 6:11-15 ).
Now a cubit is about eighteen inches long which means that this ark was four hundred and fifty feet long, one hundred and fifty feet wide, and forty-five feet tall. It was to be three stories, fifteen feet each. Pretty big boat, really, it has a cubit footage of about one million, four hundred thousand cubit feet, equivalent to about five hundred and twenty-two cattle cars of a train. So if you had a train with five hundred and twenty-two cattle cars, you could carry quite a few animals. The ark was no just little boat. It was something like man had never seen up to that point.
It is interesting that it is six times as long as it is wide, which, of course, we have discovered today as the ideal ratio for a ship its length to its width. And most of our Navy ships are just about the same ratio, about six times to our, four hundred and fifty by seventy-five, about six to one.
Now a lot of times people have difficulty with this story of the flood, the story of the ark, the story of the animals coming in, the story of the preservation of man and animals, but there have been some excellent books written on the subject. Dr. Whitcam and Dr. Morris have combined together in a book called "The Genesis Flood" which is perhaps one of the most scholarly of all of the books that have been written on the subject. But there has been of late recent interest in the flood and in the ark because there are continuing reports of a large ship up encased in the ice on Mount Ararat. And these go back to the time of Marco Polo who reports this great boat up there in the ice as the people in the area talk about it.
In 1917 there was a report of a Russian flyer who spotted, in a particularly hot summer and long summer, as he was flying in the area of Mount Ararat, he spotted this great boat down there in the ice. According to his story, an expedition was formed and at the time that they were coming out with the evidence was when the Bolshevik revolution took over, and all, and the evidence was destroyed. This flyer later came to Canada and told his story which caused others to try to find or locate this boat. And one of these being a French explorer by the name of Navarro, who has brought back wood from this object, that he found high above the timberline encased in the ice and described it in his book, "Noah's Ark, I Touched It", by Francis Navarro.
There are attempts at expeditions now, but the Turkish government being Moslem controlled, has really not allowed any recent kind of expeditions. There are men of science who would like to go up and settle the issue once and for all but the Turkish government right now is opposed to it.
Even as the government of Syria has been reluctant to allow any more excavations where they found the Ebla Tablets. Because if the Ebla Tablets, proving the fact that Abraham did exist, David did exist, and so forth, and they're upset with this because it does give to the Israeli a claim and a right to the land. And so the Syrian government has asked them not to do anymore excavations in the area of the Ebla Tablets and are cutting off any further scientific expeditions there because of the adverse effect upon it, also a Moslem state.
And if the ark could be discovered, then of course, it would create an interesting problem for the scientist is how did that boat get up there so high? How did they carry the lumber up there to build that thing? And the whole thing, it would be, of course, very interesting. Jesus said, "Blessed are they who see and believe; more blessed are they who believe without seeing" ( John 20:29 ). And if it would take the ark's discovery to make a believer out of you, I feel sorry for you. But I hope that they will discover it so you will become a believer.
But there is other interesting evidence that the world did experience a worldwide flood. Of course, the idea of a worldwide flood is opposed to the Uniformitarian theory upon which evolution is based, and it is interesting that scientists are not always honest. In fact, there's a lot of dishonesty in the scientific field. They like to come off as men of science, but most of them have certain theories that they have sworn by and thus to change would be to discredit themselves, and their pride won't allow them to do it. And anyone who says anything other than what they have already accepted as fact, any evidence that is brought forth that would destroy one of their theories that they accept as scientific fact, they immediately reject, crucify the individual, reject his work.
Emmanuel Villakoski first came out with his book, Ages or "Worlds in Collision" and it was first published by McMillan. Now McMillan publishes a lot of school textbooks. And the professors were so angry at the fact that Emmanuel Villakoski came out with in his book, "Worlds in Collision", showing the impossibility of Uniformitarianism, disproving it, that they raised such a ruckus that McMillan Company had to quit publishing the book. And Doubleday picked up the rights and began to publish it, but they were determined to not allow the book to come to the public. And when it was delivered to the public, there was a great furor and a quick retraction of the things that he said before the book was ever published. Before people had full copies of the book, they were already writing rebuttals, not even knowing for sure what he said.
Scientists are not dishonest. I mean, they are not honest. When it comes to a destroying of one of their pet little theories, there they will lie, they will connive and everything else in order to keep their theory alive, and their pet theory is that man exists by an evolutionary process. And the reason why they love that theory so much is because it is able to exclude God from the system. And anxious to exclude God from their system, they tenaciously, religiously hold to the evolutionary theory. Though much evidence is being uncovered that would really make the theory quite incredible.
Emmanuel Villakoski has written a new book, "Earth in Upheaval". Now let me say this concerning Emmanuel Villakoski. Number one, he doesn't really believe that the Bible is the Word of God. In fact, there are parts of the Bible that he completely rejects. He's not a Christian; he's a Jewish scientist. But he looks at the Bible as a history book, and he takes the things that happened or that the Bible declares happens.
And he seeks to use them as historic facts to prove his theory which is that the planet Venus was introduced to our solar system and became fixed in its own orbit at about the time of Joshua. And the long day of Joshua is explained by this near pass of the planet Venus. That the plagues in Egypt at the time of Moses are explained by an earlier pass of the planet Venus. That there were several passes until it became fixed in its own orbit around the sun. There were several near misses. And that there was a change in the orbital pattern of Mars and Venus, and that Venus was introduced actually into our planetary solar system within the last five thousand years causing major upheavals upon the earth. Now that's his theory and he seeks to prove his theory. But in so doing, he amasses a great deal of evidence.
But some of this evidence that he has amassed is very interesting to me. For instance, in this book "Earth's in Upheaval", he tells about the bones of whales that have been found four hundred and forty feet above sea level north of Lake Ontario. A skeleton of another whale was discovered in Vermont more than five hundred feet above sea level and still another in Montreal, Quebec area about six hundred feet above sea level; the skeletons of whales. Now people don't carry the carcass of a whale five hundred feet up the mountain and several miles from the ocean. So the question is how did the whales get there?
Now he has his own theory of the upper, you know, the thrusting upward of mountain ranges and that is what he is seeking to prove in this book "Earth's in Upheaval" that the mountain ranges have all been thrust upward in very recent history. I mean, you talk about recent history, you're talking about in something less than seven thousand years.
But rather than the mountains being thrust upwards, what about the water being thrust upwards and covering the area and the whales swimming there, until the waters receded and happened to get caught and was left floundering as the waters receded off of the face of the earth? That's just as plausible as his upward thrust theory, a little more scriptural.
He also points out that Joseph Prestwich, the professor of geology at Oxford, 1874-1888, an acknowledged authority in the quantinery glaciate. Recent age in England was struck by a numerous phenomena, all of which led him to the belief that south of England, the south of England had been submerged to a depth of not less than a thousand feet between the glacial and post-glacial, or in the recent Neolithic late stone period. In a spasmodic movement of terrain, the coast in the land masses in southern England were submerged to such a depth that points to a thousand feet high were below sea level in England.
And then they show, or they talk about how that they found these cliffs in the various strata, various widths, and with the bones of animals-mammoth, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, horse, polar bear, bison-the bones are broken into innumerable fragments. No skeleton is found entire. The separate bones, in fact, have been dispersed in the most irregular manner and without any bearing to their relative position in the skeleton. Neither did they show any wear nor have they been gnawed by beast of prey, though they occur with the bones of hyena, wolf, bear and lion.
In other places in Devonshire, and Pembrook in Wales, the ossiferous breccia or conglomerates of broken bones and stones in the fissures and limestones consist of angular rock fragments and broken and splintered bones with sharp fractured edges and a fresh state and in splendid conditions showing no traces of gnawing.
And it tells about in there are so many areas around the world where in caves or in cliffs, in fissures, they have found these bones like they have been thrown in the various animals, which are actually predatory to each other but thrown in at the same time smashed and then covered with silt, as if by some violent tidal wave action or force submerged to a thousand feet. Now you might again use that to prove an upward thrust theory but it would also provide very interesting proof of a violent flood, which I opt for.
Now it goes on to tell about the covered Cumberland cavern in Maine or Maryland, when workmen were cutting the way for a railroad with dynamite and a steam shovel came upon a cavern or a closed fissure, with a peculiar assemblage of animals. Many of the species are comparable to forms now living in the vicinity of the cave, but others are distinctly northern in their affinities and some are related to species peculiar to the southern or lower astral region.
Thus wrote J.W. Gidley and C.L. Gaston of the United States National Museum: A crocodile and taper are representative of the southern climate. A wolf or lemming are distinctly northern. It seems highly improbable that they co-existed in one place. The usual assumption was made that the cave received the animal remains in a glacial and interglacial period. However, the scientists to explore the cavern for the Smithsonian Institute, as soon as it was discovered and to return there the following years for closer investigation, J.W. Gidley contended that the animals were contemporaneous; that is, they lived at the same time. The position of the bones excluded any other explanation. This strange assemblage of fossil remains occurs hopelessly intermingled.
Now of course, the climactic condition prior to the flood was different around the earth. The animals could have been co-mingling and existing together in the same area, thrown in by the violent force of the flood. The great waters of the deep being broken and thrown in and broken the bones, broken and then covered there in the cavern with silt.
Now one further thing in the book is he talks about the Himalayas. Scientists of the nineteenth century were dismayed to find that as high as they climbed in the Himalayas, the rocks of the mass sifts yield skeletons of marine animals, fish that swim in the ocean and the shells of mollusks. This was evidence that the Himalayas had risen from beneath the sea or evidence that the Himalayas were covered by water. Same thing down in South America there in the Andean Mountains, and so forth. All evidence that at one time covered by water.
So God has left evidence. Men are misinterpreting quite often the evidence that God has left. But there is not one good reason to believe other than these remains were left by a great flood. That these areas were indeed covered with water that covered the earth unto fifteen feet above the highest mountains, just like the Scriptures declared.
You might pick up this little book, "Earth in Upheaval", or "Earth in Upheaval" by Villakoski. It certainly destroys the theory of Uniformitarianism and shows the real documentation of cataclysmic changes in the earth. Also I was intrigued by his books, "World in Collision", his book, "World in Collision", too. I find it very interesting.
There are many evidences of a great flood. There are some areas where the silt deposits are so thick, hundreds of feet thick, and for silt to be deposited in such a thick deposit would necessitate several thousand feet of water for silt deposits that large.
Now the evolutionists seek to use the geological column as the basis of proof for the evolutionary theory. There are many problems with the use of the geological column as the basis of proof for the evolutionary theory, not the least of being the fact that the geological columns are totally lacking in any evidence of any transition forms from one species to another; not one single evidence of a transitional form of species, which of course is a vital part of the evolutionary theory.
But this total lack of evidence in the geological column of any transitory form of species caused a professor at Stanford University to come up with the Hopeful Monster Theory to prove the change or to explain the changes of species for which the geological column is so absolutely silent. And so according to the Hopeful Monster Theory, the snake laid its eggs in the sand and when they hatched the birds flew out. He may call it the Hopeful Monster Theory but as far as I'm concerned, it's for the birds. Because you've had to have two birds flying out in order the thing might continue a new chain, develop a new species.
The geological column is interesting. Of course, it's a thing that is involved in circular reasoning. For how do they age, how do they date the various geological formations? They age them by the type of fossil found in it. Now how do they age the fossils found in the various formations? The fossils are aged by the type of formation they are found in.
In other words, there is no accurate way of aging. They are dated upon the assumption of the truth of the evolutionary theory that all things have evolved from a lesser form to a higher form. But there are areas where there is a total reversal of the geological column, where some of the older columns are over the top of the new for several hundred, and in some places several thousand square miles.
And so they have developed, of course, they're never lost for an idea or a theory and they develop this whole flip-flop pancake theory that somehow the whole thing got flipped over several thousand miles, just square miles flipped over, inverting the columns. Of course, how one tree was able to grow through several of the various forms of these, of the geological column rocks and so forth covering several millions of years is a little bit harder for them to explain. But if you believe in the flood, you have no problem with the geological column at all. Everything was made after its own species just like God said.
Now it would stand to reason that the low order form of life would be the first that would just be lost in the flood and drowned at the lower levels. And as the sediment would build up, you would have the higher forms of life, some that would be able to get higher in the -on the cliff or be able to swim maybe a bit and would be planted higher, so the more complex forms would be higher in the geological column, but all of them being placed there by the flood.
And the flood really is a far more plausible explanation of the geological column and is in total harmony with the model that you would set by creation by God of species after their own kind and all, because then you would not expect to have any transitional forms between species. So the flood itself gives to us a very plausible explanation of the whole geological column, and the geological column actually again a proof that the flood did exist.
But Peter, though he wrote two thousand years ago, seemed to nail the thing right on the head. For he said, "In the last days scoffers would come saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For all things continue as from the beginning since our fathers have fallen asleep" ( 2 Peter 3:3 ). That's the doctrine or the theory of Uniformitarianism. Everything is continuing as it was from the beginning.
So Peter foresaw this theory of Uniformitarianism by the scoffers who would be mocking at the Bible and the promises of the coming of Jesus Christ. All things continue as they were from the beginning, Peter said they would be saying or the doctrine or the theory of Uniformitarianism. But Peter said, "Of these they are willingly ignorant, that God destroyed the world with a flood" ( 2 Peter 3:5 ). The one thing that would account for all of the evidences, they are willingly ignorant of that fact. Peter nailed it way in advance, foreseeing it by the Spirit of God. So again the Bible is well ahead of man.
So God gave to Noah the dimensions of the ark. Now it was to have a window of about eighteen inches, and I feel that this window was all the way around the top. In other words, there was this opening all the way around the top to give air and ventilation. Of course, man with all those animals for that much time, you'd really want to ventilate it to some extent. And so eighteen inches,
A cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side; with the lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee. And 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. Of the fowls after their kind, the cattle after their kind, the creeping things of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them. Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he ( Genesis 6:16-22 ).
Now, of course, when Noah brought them in it was all after their kind. In other words, he didn't have to bring in dachshund and collies and spaniels and Samoyeds and all different kinds, he could bring in one pair of dogs. And there are mutant strains that do exist. And there's definitely evolutionary processes that take place on a horizontal plane within a family, within a species. There are the changes, the mutant changes that can take place within species. So he didn't have to bring in all kinds of cats, Persian, Siamese, et cetera. Just one pair of cats would do. And so the variations that have come within species, there's no problem with that.
So the ark, you know, wouldn't have to bring one of every variety within a species, just the major species head for each species that he brought in and allowing evolutionary changes within a species. Where you cannot find evidence for evolutionary changes is in the vertical, the transition from one species to another. That's where the evidence is lacking.
Sure you can show that a monkey at one period had, you know, eighteen teeth and another and during the different periods, you know, there were mutant strains and so forth and more teeth and less teeth, et cetera, changes of facial parts and so forth. Sure, you can have mutants in a horizontal change, but you don't have vertical changes from one species to another. And this, of course, is where the theory of evolution fails in proof of any transitional forms in the changing from one species to another species.
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Genesis 6:4". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/genesis-6.html. 2014.
The sins of the sons of God 6:1-4
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2. God’s sorrow over man’s wickedness 6:1-8
As wickedness increased on the earth God determined to destroy the human race with the exception of those few people to whom He extended grace.
"Stories of a great flood sent in primeval times by gods to destroy mankind followed by some form of new creation are so common to so many peoples in different parts of the world, between whom no kind of historical contact seems possible, that the notion seems almost to be a universal feature of the human imagination." [Note: Whybray, p. 45.]
There were two major reasons for the flood: the sins of the sons of God (Genesis 6:1-4) and the sins of humankind generally (Genesis 6:5-8).
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The "nephilim" were on the earth before and after the marriages of the "sons of God" with the "daughters of men." They were literally "fallen ones" or "tyrants." They were "mighty . . . men of renown." That is, they were powerful individuals, probably military leaders. Moses later described the giants in Canaan as "nephilim" (Numbers 13:33).
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There were giants in the earth in those days,.... That is, in the days before the sons of God took the daughters of men for wives, in such a general manner as before declared, or before the declension and apostasy became so universal; even in the times of Jared, as the Arabic writers n understand it, who say that these giants were begotten on the daughters of Cain by the children of Seth, who went down from the mountain to them in the days of Jared, see Genesis 5:20 the word "Nephilim" comes from a word which signifies to fall; and these might be so called, either because they made their fear to fall upon men, or men, through fear, to fall before them, because of their height and strength; or rather because they fell and rushed on men with great violence, and oppressed them in a cruel and tyrannical manner; or, as some think, because they fell off and were apostates from the true religion, which is much better than to understand them of apostate angels, whom the Targum of Jonathan mentions by name, and calls them Schanchazai and Uziel, who fell from heaven, and were in the earth in those days:
and also after that, which shows that the preceding clause respects giants in former times,
when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, came into their houses and chambers, and lay with them:
and they bare [children] unto them, or giants unto them, as may be supplied from the former clause; for the sense is, as there were giants before this general defection, so there were at this time, when there was a mixture of the Cainites and Sethites; which were the offspring of the sons of God, or posterity of Seth, mixing with the daughters of men, or the posterity of Cain; for this is not to be understood after the flood, as Aben Ezra, Ben Melech; and so they are described in the following words,
the same [became] mighty men; for tallness and strength, for power and dominion, for tyranny and oppression:
which [were] of old: like those that were of old before; or who in after times were spoken of, as in the days of old:
men of renown, or "of name" o; whose names were often made mention of, both for their size and for their wickedness; they were much talked of, and extolled for their exploits, and even wicked ones: they were famous men, or rather infamous; for some men get a name in the world, not for their goodness, but for their greatness, and sometimes for their great wickedness; which sense is countenanced by what follows: that there were giants in these early times is confirmed by the testimony of many Heathen writers; such were the Titans that made war against Saturn, begotten by Ouranus, who were not only of bulky bodies, but of invincible strength, as Apollodorus p relates, and Berosus q speaks of a city about Lebanon, called Enos, which was a city of giants, who were men of vast bodies, and of great strength, inventors of arms and music, were cannibals, and exceedingly debauched.
n Elmacinus & Patricides apud Hottinger, p. 235, 236. o אנשי השם "viri nominis", Montanus. p De Origine Deorum, l. 1. p. 14. q Antiqu. l. 1. fol. 5. 2. vid. Horat. Carmin, l. 2. Ode. 19. Ovid Metamorph. l. 1. Fab. 1.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Genesis 6:4". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/genesis-6.html. 1999.
4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. 5 And 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.
We have here a further account of the corruption of the old world. When the sons of God had matched with the daughters of men, though it was very displeasing to God, yet he did not immediately cut them off, but waited to see what would be the issue of these marriages, and which side the children would take after; and it proved (as usually it does), that they took after the worst side. Here is,
I. The temptation they were under to oppress and do violence. They were giants, and they were men of renown; they became too hard for all about them, and carried all before them, 1. With their great bulk, as the sons of Anak, Numbers 13:33. 2. With their great name, as the king of Assyria, Isaiah 37:11. These made them the terror of the mighty in the land of the living; and, thus armed, they daringly insulted the rights of all their neighbours and trampled upon all that is just and sacred. Note, Those that have so much power over others as to be able to oppress them have seldom so much power over themselves as not to oppress; great might is a very great snare to many. This degenerate race slighted the honour their ancestors had obtained by virtue and religion, and made themselves a great name by that which was the perpetual ruin of their good name.
II. The charge exhibited and proved against them, Genesis 6:5; Genesis 6:5. The evidence produced was incontestable. God saw it, and that was instead of a thousand witnesses. God sees all the wickedness that is among the children of men; it cannot be concealed from him now, and, if it be not repented of, it shall not be concealed by him shortly. Now what did God take notice of? 1. He observed that the streams of sin that flowed along in men's lives, and the breadth and depth of those streams: He saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth. Observe the connection of this with what goes before: the oppressors were mighty men and men of renown; and, then, God saw that the wickedness of man was great. Note, The wickedness of a people is great indeed when the most notorious sinners are men of renown among them. Things are bad when bad men are not only honoured notwithstanding their wickedness, but honoured for their wickedness, and the vilest men exalted. Wickedness is then great when great men are wicked. Their wickedness was great, that is, abundance of sin was committed in all places, by all sorts of people; and such sin as was in its own nature most gross, and heinous, and provoking; it was committed daringly, and with a defiance of heaven, nor was any care taken by those that had power in their hands to restrain and punish it. This God saw. Note, All the sins of sinners are known to God the Judge. Those that are most conversant in the world, though they see much wickedness in it, yet they see but little of that which is; but God sees all, and judges aright concerning it, how great it is, nor can he be deceived in his judgment. 2. He observed the fountain of sin that was in men's hearts. Any one might see that the wickedness of man was great, for they declared their sin as Sodom; but God's eye went further: He saw that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually--a sad sight, and very offensive to God's holy eye! This was the bitter root, the corrupt spring: all the violence and oppression, all the luxury and wantonness, that were in the world, proceeded from the corruption of nature; lust conceived them, James 1:15. See Matthew 15:19. (1.) The heart was naught; it was deceitful and desperately wicked. The principles were corrupt, and the habits and dispositions evil. (2.) The thoughts of the heart were so. Thought is sometimes taken for the settled judgment or opinion, and this was bribed, and biased, and misled; sometimes it signifies the workings of the fancy, and these were always either vain or vile, either weaving the spider's web or hatching the cockatrice's egg. (3.) The imagination of the thoughts of the heart was so, that is, their designs and devices were wicked. They did not do evil through mere carelessness, as those that walk at all adventures, not heeding what they do; but they did evil deliberately and designedly, contriving how to do mischief. It was bad indeed; for it was only evil, continually evil, and every imagination was so. There was no good to be found among them, no, not at any time: the stream of sin was full, and strong, and constant; and God saw it; see Psalms 14:1-3.
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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Genesis 6:4". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/genesis-6.html. 1706.
There is one characteristic of divine revelation to which attention may be profitably called as a starting point. We have to do with facts. The Bible alone is a revelation of facts, and, we can add (not from the Old Testament, but from the New), of a person. This is of immense importance. In all pretended revelations it is not so. They give you notions ideas; they can furnish nothing better, and very often nothing worse. But they cannot produce facts, for they have none. They may indulge in speculations of the mind, or visions of the imagination a substitute for what is real, and a cheat of the enemy. God, and God alone, can communicate the truth. Thus it is that whether it be the Old Testament or New, one half (speaking now in a general way) consists of history. Undoubtedly there is teaching of the Spirit of God founded on the facts of revelation. In the New Testament these unfoldings have the profoundest character, but everywhere they are divine; for there is no difference, whether it be the Old or the New, in the absolutely divine character of the written word. But still it is well to take note that we have thus a grand basis of things as they really are a divine communication to us of facts of the utmost moment, and, at the same time, of the deepest interest to the children of God. In this too God's own glory is brought before us, and so much the more because there is not the smallest effort. The simple statement of the facts is that which is worthy of God.
Take, for instance, the way in which the book of Genesis opens. If man had been writing it, if he had attempted to give that which pretended to be a revelation, we could understand a flourish of trumpets, pompous prolegomena, some elaborate means or other of setting forth who and what God is, an attempt by fancy to project His image out of man's mind, or by subtle à priori reasoning to justify all that might follow. The highest, the holiest, the only suitable way, once it is laid before us, evidently is what God Himself has employed in His word. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Not only is the method the most worthy, but the truth with which the book opens is one that nobody ever did really discover before it was revealed. You cannot, as a rule, anticipate facts; you cannot discern the truth beforehand. You may form opinions; but for the truth, and even for such facts as the world's history before man had an existence in it facts as to which there can be no testimony from the creature on the earth, we find the need of His word who knew and wrought all from the beginning. But God does communicate in such a way as at once meets the heart, and mind, and conscience. Man feels that this is exactly what is appropriate to God.
So here God states the great truth of creation; for what is more important, short of redemption, always excepting the manifestation of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God? Creation and redemption bear witness to His glory, instead of communicating aught of His own dignity. But short of Christ's person and work, there is nothing more characteristic of God than creation. And in the manner in which creation is here presented what unspeakable grandeur! all the more because of the chaste simplicity of the style and words. How suited to the true God, who perfectly knew the truth and would make it known to man!
"In the beginning God created." In the beginning matter did not co-exist with God. I warn every person solemnly against a notion found in both ancient and modern times, that there was in the beginning a quantity of what may be called crude matter for God to work on. Another notion still more general, and only less gross, though certainly not so serious in what it involves, is that God created matter in the beginning according to verse 2, in a state of confusion or "chaos," as men say. But this is not the meaning of verses 1 and 2. I have no hesitation in saying that it is a mistaken interpretation, however prevalent. Nor indeed is such dealing according to the revealed nature of God. Where is anything like it in all the known ways of God? That either matter existed crude or God created it in disorder has not, I believe, the smallest foundation in the word of God. What scripture gives here or elsewhere seems to me altogether at variance with such a thought. The introductory declarations of Genesis are altogether in unison with the glory of God Himself, and with His character; more than that, they are in perfect harmony with itself. There is no statement, from beginning to end of scripture, as far as I am aware, which in the smallest degree modifies or takes away from the force of the words with which the Bible opens "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
Some have found a difficulty (which I simply touch on in passing) from the conjunction with which verse 2 commences. They have conceived that, coupling the second verse with the first, it suggests the notion that when God created the earth it was in the state described in the second verse. Now not only is it not too strong to deny that there is the least ground for such an inference, but one may go farther and affirm that the simplest and surest means of guarding against it, according to the style of the writer, and indeed propriety of language, was afforded by here inserting the word "and." In short, if the word had not been here, it might have been supposed that the writer meant us to conclude that the original condition of the earth was the shapeless mass of confusion which verse 2 describes with such terse and graphic brevity. But, as it is, scripture means nothing of the sort. We have first the great announcement that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. There is next the associated fact of an utter desolation which befell not the heavens, but the earth. The insertion of the substantive verb, as has been remarked, expresses no doubt a condition past as compared with what follows, but pointedly not said to be contemporaneous with what preceded, as would have been implied in its omission; but what interval lay between, or why such a desolation ensued, is not stated. For God passes rapidly over the early account and history of the globe I might almost say, hastening to that condition of the earth in which it was to be made the habitation of mankind; whereon also God was to display His moral dealings, and finally His own Son, with the fruitful consequences of that stupendous event, whether in rejection or in redemption.
Had the copulative not been here, the first verse might have been regarded as a kind of summary of the chapter. Its insertion forbids the thought, and to speak plainly, convicts those who so understand it either of ignorance, or at the least of inattention. Not only the Hebrew idiom forbids it, but our own, and no doubt every other language. The first verse is not a summary. When a compendious statement of what follows is intended, the "and" is never put. This you can, if you will, verify in various occasions where scripture furnishes examples of the summary; as, for instance, in the beginning of Genesis 5:1-32, "This is the book of the generations of Adam." There it is plain that the writer gives a summary. But there is no word coupling the introductory statement of verse 1 with what follows. "This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man." It is not "And in the day." The copulative would render it improper, and impossible to bear the character of a general introduction. For a summary gives in a few words that which is opened out afterwards; whereas the conjunction "and" introduced in the second verse excludes necessarily all notion of a summary here. It is another statement added to what had just preceded, and by the Hebrew idiom not connected with it in time.
First of all there was the creation by God both of the heavens and of the earth. Then we have the further fact stated of the state into which the earth was plunged to which it was reduced. Why this was, how it was, God has not here explained. It was not necessary nor wise to reveal it by Moses. If man can discover such facts by other means, be it so. They have no small interest; but men are apt to be hasty and short-sighted. I advise none to embark too confidently in the pursuit of such studies. Those who enter on them had better be cautious, and well weigh alleged facts, and above all their own conclusions, or those of other men. But the perfectness of scripture is, I am bold to say, unimpeachable. The truth affirmed by Moses remains in all its majesty and simplicity withal.
In the beginning God created everything the heavens and the earth. Then the earth is described as void and waste, and (not as succeeding, but accompanying it) darkness upon the face of the deep, contemporaneously with which the Spirit of God broods upon the face of the waters. All this is an added account. The real and only force of the "and" is another fact; not at all as if it implied that the first and second verses spoke of the same time, any more than they decide the question of the length of the interval. The phraseology employed perfectly agrees with and confirms the analogy of revelation, that the first verse speaks of an original condition which God was pleased to bring into being; the second, of a desolation afterwards brought in; but how long the first lasted what changes may have intervened, when or by what means the ruin came to pass, is not the subject-matter of the inspired record, but open to the ways and means of human research, if indeed man has sufficient facts on which to ground a sure conclusion. It is false that scripture does not leave room for his investigation.
We saw at the close of verse 2 the introduction of the Spirit of God on the scene. "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." He appears most consistently and in season, when man's earth is about to be brought before us. In the previous description, which had not to do with man, there was silence about the Spirit of God; but, as the divine wisdom is shown inProverbs 8:1-36; Proverbs 8:1-36 to rejoice in the habitable parts of the earth, so the Spirit of God is always brought before us as the immediate agent in the Deity whenever man is to be introduced. Hence, therefore, as closing all the previous state of things, where man was not spoken of, preparing the way for the Adamic earth, the Spirit of God is seen brooding upon the face of the waters.
Now comes the first mention of evening and morning, and of days. Let me particularly ask those who have not duly considered the matter to weigh God's word. The first and second verses make allusion to these well-known measures of time. They leave room consequently for a state or states of the earth long before either man or time, as man measures it. The days that follow I see no ground for interpreting save in their simple and natural import. Undoubtedly "day" may be used, as it often is, in a figurative sense. No solid reason whatever appears why it should be so used here. There is not the slightest necessity for it. The strict import of the term is that which to my mind is most suitable to the context; the week in which God made the heaven and earth for man seems alone appropriate in introducing the revelation of God. I can understand, when all is clear, a word used figuratively; but nothing would be so likely to let elements of difficulty into the subject, as at once giving us in tropical language what elsewhere is put in the simplest possible forms.
Hence we may see how fitting it is that, as man is about to be introduced on the earth for the first time, as the previous state had nothing whatever to do with his being here below, and indeed was altogether unfit for his dwelling on it, besides the fact that he was not yet created, days should appear only when it was a question of making the heavens and the earth as they are. It will be found, if scripture be searched, that there is the most careful guard on this subject. If the Holy Spirit, as in Exodus 20:11, refers to heaven and earth made in six days, it always avoids the expression "creation." God made heaven and earth in six days: it is never said He created heaven and earth in six days. When it is no question of these, creating, making, and forming may be freely used, as in Isaiah 45:18. The reason is plain when we look at Genesis 1:1-31. He created the heaven and earth at the beginning. Then another state of things is mentioned in verse 2, not for the heaven, but for the earth. "The earth was without form and void." The heavens were in no such state of chaos: the earth was. As to how, when, and why it was, there is silence. Others have spoken spoken rashly and wrongly. The wisdom of the inspired writer's silence will be evident to a spiritual mind, and the more, the more it is reflected on. On the six days which follow I shall not dwell: the subject was before many of us not long ago.
But we have on the first day light, and a most remarkable fact it is (I may in passing just say) that the inspired historian should have named it. No one would have done so naturally. It is plain, had Moses merely formed a probable opinion as men do, that no one would have introduced the mention of light, apart from, and before all distinct notice of, the heavenly orbs. The sun, moon, and stars, would certainly have been first introduced, had man simply pursued the workings of his own mind, or those of observation and experience. The Spirit of God has acted quite otherwise. He, knowing the truth, could afford to state the truth as it is, leaving men to find out at another day the certainty of all` He has said, and leaving them, alas! to their unbelief if they choose to despise or resist the word of God meanwhile. We might with interest pass through the account of the various days, and mark the wisdom of God in each; but I forbear to dwell on such details now, saying a word here and there on the goodness of God apparent throughout.
First of all (verse 3) light is caused to be or act. Next the day is reckoned from "the evening and the morning" a statement of great importance for other parts of scripture, never forgotten by the Spirit of God, but almost invariably let slip by moderns; which forgetfulness has been a great source of the difficulties that have encumbered harmonies of the Gospels. It may be well to glance at it just to show the importance of heeding the word of God, and all His word. The reason why persons have found such perplexities, for instance) in relation to our Lord's, as compared with the Jews taking the passover and with the crucifixion, is owing to their forgetting that the evening and the morning were the first day, the second day, or any other. Even scholars bring in their western notions from the familiar habit of counting the day from the morning to the evening It is the same thing with the account of the resurrection. The difficulty could never arise had they seen and remembered what is stated in the very first chapter of Genesis, and the indelible habit graven thereby on the Jew.
We find then light caused to be a remarkable expression, and, be assured, profoundly true. But what man would have thought it, or said it, if he had not been inspired? For it is much more exactly true than any expression that has been invented by the most scientific of men; yet there is no science in it. It is the beauty and the blessedness of scripture that it is as much above man's science as above his ignorance. It is the truth, and in such a form and depth as man himself could not have discerned. Being the truth, whatever man discovers that is true will never clash with it.
On the first day light is. Next a firmament is separated in the midst of the waters to divide the waters from the waters. Thirdly the dry land appears, and the earth bringing forth grass, and herb, and fruit-tree. There is the provision of God, not merely for the need of man, but for His own glory; and this in the smallest things as in the greatest. On the fourth day we hear of lights in the firmament. The utmost possible care appears in the statement. They are not said to be created then; but God made two great lights (it is no question of their mass, but of their capacity as light bearers,) for the Adamic earth the stars also. Then we find the waters caused to bring forth abundantly "the moving creature that hath life." Vegetable life was before, animal life now a very weighty truth, and of the greatest moment too. Life is not the matter out of which animals were formed; nor is it true that matter produces life. God produces life, whether it be for the fish that people the sea, for the birds of the air, or for the beasts, cattle, or reptiles, on the dry land. It is God that does all, whether it be for the earth, the air, or the waters. And here in a secondary sense of the word is the propriety of the phrase "created" in verse 21; and we shall see it also when a new action comes before us in imparting not animal life but a rational soul. (Verse 27.) For as we have on the sixth day the lower creation for the earth, so finally man himself the crown of all.
But here comes a striking difference. God speaks with the peculiar appropriateness which suits the new occasion, in contradistinction from what we have seen elsewhere. "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." It is man as the head of creation. It is not man placed in his moral relationships, but man the head of this kingdom of creation, as they say; but still even so with remarkable dignity. "Let us make man in our image." He was to represent God here below; besides this he was to be like God. There was to be a mind in him, a spirit capable of the knowledge of God with the absence of all evil. Such was the condition in which man was formed. "And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon earth." God created man in His own image: in the image of God created He him. In conclusion, the Sabbath day, which God* sanctified, closes the great week of God's forming the earth for man, the lord of it. (Genesis 2:1-3)
*Jehovah here, rather than Elohim, would have spoilt the beauty of the divine account. No doubt afterwards God did as the Jehovah of Israel impose the remembrance of the Sabbath every seventh day of the week on His people. But it was important to show its ground in the facts of creation, apart from special relationship, and that made Elohim alone appropriate in this place.
Then, fromGenesis 2:4; Genesis 2:4, we have the subject from another point of view, not a repetition of the account of creation, but what was even more necessary to be brought here before us, the place of relationship in which God set the creation He had formed, not mutually alone, but above all, in reference to Himself. Hence it is here that Eden is first spoken of. We should not have known anything of paradise from the first chapter. The reason is evident. Eden was to be the scene of the moral trial of man.
From the fourth verse of Genesis 2:1-25, therefore, we first meet with a new title of God. To the end of the third verse of that chapter it was always God (Elohim) as such. It was the name of the divine nature, as such, in contrast with man or the creature; not the special manner in which God may reveal Himself at a particular time, or deal in exceptional ways, but the general and what you may call historical name of God, "God" as such.
For this, as for other reasons, it is manifest that Genesis 2:1-25 ought to begin with the verse which stands fourth in the common English Bible. God is here styled Jehovah-Elohim; and so uniformly to the end of the chapter.
I must be permitted here to say a word on a subject which, if it has called out enormous discussion, betrays in its course, I am sorry to say, no small amount of evident infidelity. It has been gathered from the varying names of God, etc., by speculative minds that there must have been different documents joined together in this book. Now there is not really the very least ground for such an assumption. On the contrary, supposing there was but one writer of the book of Genesis, as I am persuaded is the truth of the case, it would not have borne the stamp of a divine communication if he had used either the name of Jehovah-Elohim in 1-2: 3, or the name of "Elohim" only in Genesis 2:4-25. The change of designation springs from distinct truths, not from different fabulists and a sorry compiler who could not even assimilate them. Accepting the whole as an inspired writing, I maintain that the same writer must have used this distinctive way of speaking of God in Genesis 1:1-31; Genesis 2:1-25, and that the notion of there being two or three writers is merely a want of real intelligence in scripture. If it were the same writer, and he an inspired one, it was proper in the highest degree to use the simple term "Elohim" in chapters 1, 2: 3, then the compound "Jehovah-Elohim" from verse 4 and onward through Genesis 2:1-25. A mere historian, like Josephus of old a mere commentator, like Ewald now might have used either the one or the other without sensible loss to his readers through both chapters. An inspired author could not have expressed himself differently from Moses without impairing the perfect beauty and accuracy of the truth.* If the book were in each of these different subjects written according to that most perfect keeping which pervades scripture, and which only God is capable of producing by His chosen instruments, I am convinced that, as Elohim simply in Genesis 2:1-25, so "Jehovah-Elohim" in Genesis 1:1-31, would have been wholly out of place with their respective positions in 1 and 2. As they stand, they are in exact harmony. The first chapter does not speak of special relationships, does not treat of any peculiar dealings of God with the creature. It is the Creator originating what is around us; consequently it is God, Elohim, who alone could be spoken of as such in ch. Genesis 2:1-3; Genesis 2:1-3, taking the Sabbath as the necessary complement of the week, and therefore going on with the preceding six days, not with what follows. But inGenesis 2:1-25; Genesis 2:1-25, beginning with verse 4, where we have special position and moral responsibility coming to view for the first time, the compound term which expresses the Supreme putting Himself in relation with man, and morally dealing with him here below, is first used, and with the most striking appropriateness.
*We may judge how little the LXX. can claim credit for accuracy from their inattention to this difference in the Greek version. Holmes and Parsons show, however, the omission of κύριος supplied in not a few MSS., whether by the translators or by their copyists may be a question.
So far is the book of Genesis, therefore, from indicating a mere clumsy compiler, who strung together documents which had neither cohesion nor distinctive propriety, instead of there being merely two or three sets of traditions edited by another party, there is really the perfect statement of the truth of God, the expression of one mind, as is found in no writings outside the Bible. The difference in the divine titles is due to a distinctness of object, not of authorship; and it runs through the Psalms and the Prophets as well as the Law, so as to convict of ignorance and temerity the learned men who vaunt so loudly of the document hypothesis as applied to the Pentateuch.
Here accordingly we find in Genesis 2:1-25, with a fulness and precision given nowhere else, God's entering into relationship with man, and man's relation to Eden, to the animal realm, and to woman specially. Hence, when notice is here taken of man's formation, it is described (as all else is) in a manner quite distinct from that of Genesis 1:1-31; but that distinctiveness self-evidently is because of the moral relationship which the Spirit of God is here bringing before the reader. Every subject that comes before us is dealt with in a new point of view suitably to the new name given to God the name of God as a moral governor, no longer simply as a creator. Could any person have conceived such wisdom beforehand? On the contrary, we have all read these chapters in the Bible, and we may have read them as believers too, without seeing their immense scope and profound accuracy all at once. But when God's word is humbly and prayerfully studied, the evidence will not be long withheld by the Spirit of God, that there is a divine depth in that word which no mere man put into it. Then what confirmation of one's faith! What joy and delight in the Scriptures! If men, and men too of ability and learning, have tortured the signs of its very perfection into proofs of defective and clashing documents, ridiculously combined by a man who did not perceive that he was editing not fables only but inconsistent fables, what can believers do but wonder at human blindness, and adore divine grace ' For themselves, with glowing gratitude they receive it as the precious word of God, where His love and goodness and truth shine in a way beyond all comparison, and yet meeting the mind and heart in the least, no less than in the most serious, wants that each day brings here below. In every way it proves itself the word not of men, but as it is in truth of God, which effectually works in them that believe.
In this new section accordingly it is written, "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created [going up to the first], in the day* [here the writer comes down] that Jehovah-Elohim made the earth and the heavens." It is not in this connection "created," it will be observed, but "made" them. The language is invariably used in the most perfect manner. "And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew; for Jehovah-Elohim had not caused it to rain upon the earth; and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.** And Jehovah-Elohim formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul."
*Is it not the more captiousness of criticism to set the general phrase "the day," etc., against the precision of the six days in the previous section? It is unfounded to say that in the second narrative the present world is supposed to be brought forth at once. The history is in Genesis 1:2-3 from verse 4 to the end ofGenesis 2:1-25; Genesis 2:1-25 is not so much a history of creation as a statement of the relations of creation, and especially of man, its centre and head. Genesis 2:1-25. assumes Genesis 1:1-31, but adds moral elements of the utmost importance and interest.
*It seems almost too trivial to notice what Dr. Davidson and Bishop Colenso (or their German sources) say of Genesis 2:5-6, as if inconsistent with Genesis 1:9-10. If divine power separated the earth from the waters, why should it remain saturated? InGenesis 1:1-31; Genesis 1:1-31 it is said that "the dry land" was called earth; in the others, that though no rain yet fell, a mist went up. What can be more consistent?
Here we learn that man did not become a living soul in the way that every other animal did. The others were caused to live by the simple fact that God organized them according to His own will; but in man's case there was this essential difference, that he alone became a living soul by the inbreathing of Jehovah-Elohim. Man alone therefore has what is commonly called an immortal soul. His body only is ever said to be mortal. Man alone, as deriving that which gave him the breath of life not from his body but from the breath of Jehovah-Elohim, gives an account to God. Man will rise and live again. Not merely with the elements of his body will he reappear, which is quite true, but besides he will reappear bodily in connection with a soul that never died. It is the soul which gives the unity, and which accounts for the personal identity. All other ways of explaining it are feeble, if not mere trash. But this divine statement, in connection with man's moral relationship with God, here calmly and clearly stated, is the true key. When men reason instead of receiving the revealed light of the Bible, I care not who or what they may be, they only mistake God and even man. They speculate; they give you ideas and very foolish ideas they often are. The word of God presents to the simplest Christian the perfect account of the matter.
This elementary truth is of immense importance at the present moment. For it is a day when all things are in question, even the surest. It is not as if it were a new thing for man to deny the immortality of his own soul. At first it sounds strange that a day of human self-exaltation should be equally characterised by as strong a desire to deny the special breath of God for his soul, and degrade him to the pedigree of an ape! But it is an old story in this world, though a new thing for professing members and ministers of Christ, to take pride in putting scorn on divine revelation. Infidelity takes increasingly an apostate form, and those that used to revere both Old Testament and New are abandoning the truth of God for the dreamy but mischievous romances of so-called modern science. Never was there a moment when man was verging more evidently towards apostacy from the truth, and that not merely as to redemption, but even as to creation, as to himself, and above all as to his relationship with God. Give up the immortality of the soul, and you deny the ground of that relationship, man's special moral responsibility to God.
But there is more than this, though this be of exceeding interest; because we see with equal certainty and clearness why Jehovah-Elohim is introduced not before but here, and why man's becoming a living soul by the inbreathing of God was said here and not in the first chapter. Neither would have suited the chapter; both are perfectly in season in Genesis 2:1-25. Further, we now hear of the garden that was planted by Jehovah-Elohim eastward in Eden, where He put the man whom He had formed. And here we find the solemn truth, that not only did Jehovah-Elohim cause to grow every tree that is pleasant and good for food, but "the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
I call your attention for a moment to this. It is often a difficulty with souls that God should have made the moral history of the world to turn on touching that tree or eating of that fruit. The mere. mind of man thinks it a mighty difficulty that what appears to be so small a matter should be pregnant with such awful results. Do you not understand that this was the very essence of the trial? It was the essential feature that the trial should be simply a question of God's authority in prohibition, not one of grave moral evil. There was the whole matter. When God made man, when Jehovah-Elohim breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, man had no knowledge of things as right or wrong in themselves. This was acquired (have you never known, or have you forgotten, the solemn fact?) by the fall. An innocent man could not have had the knowledge of good and evil; it pertains necessarily to a fallen one. He who is innocent a man absolutely without any evil either in himself or in that which was around him, where all was from God (and this is the revealed account of things), how could he have a knowledge of evil? How possibly have that discrimination which decides morally between what is good and what is evil? How perfect therefore is the intimation of scripture! Yet none did or could anticipate it.
The condition of man was altogether different then from what it became immediately after. All is consistent in revelation, and nowhere else. Men, the wisest those of whom the world has most boasted, never had even the least adequate thought of such a state of things; yet enough of tradition remained even among heathens to witness to the truth. Nay, more, now that it is clearly revealed, they have no competency to appreciate it never take in its force; and for this simple reason, that man invariably judges from himself and from his own experience, instead of submitting to God and His word. It is only faith that really accepts what comes from God; and faith alone gives the clue to what is around us now, but then it guides us through all present entanglements by believing God whether as to what He once made or what He will yet do. Philosophy believes neither, in a vain effort to account for all by what is, or rather appears; for it knows nothing, not even the present, as it ought to know. Consequently the attempt of man's mind by what is now to judge of what was then always ends in the merest confusion and total failure. In truth only God is competent to pronounce; and this He has done.
Hence the believer finds not the slightest difficulty. He may not be able perhaps to meet objections. That is another matter, and by ho means of such consequence as many suppose. The great point, my brethren, is to hold fast the truth. It is all well, and a desirable service of love, if a Christian can happily and with God-given wisdom meet the difficulties of others; but hold you the truth yourselves. Such is the power and simplicity of faith. Adversaries may no doubt try to embarrass you: if they will, let them do so. Do not be troubled if you cannot answer their questions and dispose of their cavils; you may regret it in charity for injured or misled souls. But, after all, it is the positive truth of God which it is the all-important business to hold, and this God has put in the heart of the simplest child who believes in Jesus.
I affirm then that, when God thus made man, when He put him in Eden, the actual test was the interdict not of a thing which was in itself evil, but simply and prescriptively wrong for man because God had forbidden it. Such is the very essence of a test for an innocent man. In fact any other thought (such as the law) is not only contrary to scripture, but when you closely and seriously think of it as a believer, it will be seen to be an impossible state of things then. Consequently a moral test such as the wise and prudent would introduce here, and count a worthier reason why there should be so vast a ruin for the world ensuing, is out of the question. No, it was the simple question whether God was really Jehovah-Elohim, whether He was a moral governor or not, whether man was to be independent of God or not. This was decided not by some grave and mighty matter, of which man could reason and see the consequences, but simply by doing or not doing the will of God. Thus we see how the simple truth is after all the deepest wisdom.
It is of great interest and importance to observe that God distinguished from the first between responsibility on the one hand, and life-giving on the other, in the two trees (verse 9). Even for Adam, innocent as he was, life did not depend on abstinence from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Death followed if he disobeyed God in eating of this tree (verse 17); but, walking in obedience, he was free to eat of the tree of life. He fell in partaking of the forbidden fruit; and God took care that he should not eat of the tree of life. But the two trees, representing the two principles, which man is ever confounding or obliterating one for the other, are in the scripture as in truth wholly distinct.
Observe another thing too. We have the description of the garden of Eden. I do not consider that its locality is so very difficult to ascertain in a general way as has been often imagined. Scripture describes it, and mentions two rivers which unquestionably exist at the present day. There can be no doubt that the Euphrates and the Tigris or Hiddekel, here named, are the same two rivers similarly called to this moment. It appears to me beyond reasonable doubt that the other two rivers are by no means impossible to trace; and it is remarkable, as showing that the Spirit of God takes an interest, and furnishes a thread to help us in the fact, that the two less notorious rivers are described more fully than the rivers which are so commonly known.* We are therefore warranted in supposing that they are described just because they might have been less easily discerned. It is said that the name of the first river is the Pison, and of the other the Gihon. Now without wishing to press my individual judgment of such a matter, I may state the conviction that the Pison and the Gihon, here described, are two rivers on the north of the site of Eden, one running into the Black Sea, the other into the Caspian. I believe that they are what are called, or used to be called in ancient times at any rate, the Phasis and the Aras or Araxes.
* This, not to speak of other reasons, appears conclusive against the claim of the Pison to be the Ganges! set up by Josephus and a crowd of Greek and Latin fathers, the Nile according to Jarchi and other Rabbis, the Indus of late reasserted by Ewald, more than one of the fathers considering it to be the Danube! Caesarius and Epiphanius held it to be the Danube, the Ganges, and the Indus, and that after an extraordinary course in the south it joined the ocean near Cadiz! Those who made the Pison to be the Ganges regarded the Gihon as the Nile. Those who embrace the theory that Eden lay on the Shat-el-Arab consider the Pison and the Gihon as mere branches of the stream formed by the blending of the Euphrates and the Tigris (or Hiddekel). But this seems to me indefensible, though there may be difficulty in reconciling what I regard as the truth with an unusual force of one or two words.
However this is merely by the way, for it is evidently a matter of no great importance in itself, save that we should hold the entire account of Paradise to be historical in the strictest and fullest sense. And, more than that, the position of these rivers seems to me to explain what has often been a difficulty to many the account that is given us here, that "a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from thence it was parted and became into four heads;" because if the garden of Eden lay in that quarter (that is to say in Armenia), in the part of it where are found the springs or watershed of these rivers, they would be all within a certain circumscribed quarter, as surrounding this garden. It is however possible that God may have allowed a certain change as to the distribution of these waters around the garden. I do not venture on any opinion as to this. Scripture does not say more, and we must hold to scripture. But these remarks are merely thrown out to show that there seems to be no insuperable difficulty in the way of arriving at a satisfactory solution of this vexed question. As for the transfer of the site of the garden lower down in the plain of Shinar, it appears to me altogether untenable. It is impossible thus to connect Eden with the fountainhead or sources of these rivers. It is not hard to conceive both that they had a common source before they parted, and that the garden of Eden may have been of considerable extent. Let this suffice: I do not wish to speculate about the matter.
The grand question to be tried we have afterwards. "Jehovah-Elohim took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." Not a word of this is in the first chapter. "And Jehovah-Elohim commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day," etc. Not a word of this again occurs in the previous chapter. Why? Because moral responsibility in relationship to Jehovah-Elohim comes in exactly where it should. Had it been spoken of in the first chapter, there might have been grave exception taken whether such an account could have been inspired; but, coming in as it does, it is exactly as it ought to be.
Then the various species of land animals and birds are brought forward to see what Adam would call them; not when Eve was formed, but before. The beautiful type of creation belonging to Christ is thus admirably preserved.* Creation does not in the first instance belong to the church at all, whose place is purely one of grace. The Heir of all things is the Second man, and not the bride. If she possesses all along with Him, it is because of her union with Him, not intrinsically. This, it is observable, is kept up strikingly here, for Adam has these creatures brought before him by Jehovah- Elohim, and gives names to them all, showing clearly not alone his title as lord, but the power of appropriate language imparted by God from the first. The notion that intelligible speech is a mere growth from the gradual putting together of elements is a dream of ingenious speculation, which may exercise men's wits, but has no foundation whatever. Adam on the very first day of his life, even before Eve was formed, gave the animals their names, and God Himself sanctioned what their head uttered. Such was his relation to the creature; he was put in that place by God.
*This moral and typical bearing is the true key to the record in Genesis 2:4-25, and truly accounts for the differences from 1 - 2: 3, which ignorance and unbelief pervert into the discrepancies of two separate and inconsistent writers. It is not the fact that Genesis 2:7; Genesis 2:19, represents man as created first of all living creatures before the birds and beasts; any more than that man created in God's image (Genesis 1:27) contradicts the statement ofGenesis 2:7; Genesis 2:7, that he was formed of the dust of the ground. It is not said in Genesis 1:27 that man and woman were created together; or that the woman was created directly, and not formed out of one of the man's ribs.
But this made the want so much the more evident, of which Jehovah-Elohim takes notice, of a partner for Adam's affections and life, one that might be before him, as it is said: "And Jehovah-Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam.'' The creation of the woman apart from the man (as no doubt every other male and female were made separately) would have been a sterile and unimpressive fact. As it is, God reserves the striking detail for the scene of moral relationship. And may I not put it to the conscience of every soul whether such an event is not exactly where it should be, according to the internal and distinctive features ofGenesis 1:1-31; Genesis 1:1-31; Genesis 2:1-25? We all know how apt man has been to forget the truth how often might takes advantage of right! God at least was pleased to form woman, as well as to reveal her formation in a way that ought to make ashamed him who recognises her as his own flesh and bone, yet slights or misuses a relationship so intimate. "And he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib which Jehovah-Elohim had taken from man made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh."
The primitive condition is described too. "They were both naked the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." It was a state altogether different from that of man fallen; however suitable then, it was such as man as he is could never have conceived of with propriety. Yet we cannot but feel how suitable it was for innocence, in which condition God made man and woman. Could He have made them otherwise consistently with His own character? Could they so made have carried themselves otherwise than is here described? Man's present experience would have suggested neither; yet his heart and conscience, unless rebellious, feel how right and becoming all is in such a state of things none other so good.
The next chapter (Genesis 3:1-24) shows us the result of the test which we have seen laid down by Jehovah-Elohim. It was soon brought to issue. And here is another fact that I desire to bring before you. We see introduced, without more delay upon the scene, one too well and yet too little known, the active, audacious, most subtle adversary of God and man, the serpent from whom sin and misery result, as the Bible witnesses from the beginning to the end who is here first brought in a few quiet words before us. Who would have done this but God? In any other book, in a book written by mere man, (need one hesitate to say?) we should have had a long introduction, and a full history of his origin and his designs and his doings. God could introduce him, and could leave the heart to feel the rightness of saying no more about him than was necessary. The fact declares itself. If in the first chapter the true God shows Himself in creative power and glory, and in the perfect beneficence which marks too that which He had made; if in the second special relations display yet more His moral way and will, so the serpent does not fail to manifest his actual condition and aim not of course the condition in which he was made, but that to which sin had reduced him. "The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which Jehovah-Elohim had made."
The third chapter is indeed a continuation of the second properly enough made into a separate chapter, but still its sequel simply. It is the issue of that probationary trial which was proposed there. And here the effort of the enemy was first to breathe suspicion on the goodness of God as well as on His truth, in short, on God Himself. Human lusts and passions were not yet in question, but they soon followed the desire of having what God had forbidden. First, however, it was an insinuation infused and allowed against the true God. All evil is due to this as its spring; it begins with God as the object attacked or undermined. "And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God* said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" So it was that the serpent envenomed morally the heart of the woman first, and then of the man. I need not dwell on the sad history which we all know more or less. She listened, she looked, she took of the fruit; she ate, and was fallen. And man eat too, not deceived, but with open eyes, and therefore so much the more guilty swayed, no doubt, by his affections; bold, however, in yielding to them, for he ought rather to have been her guard and guide, certainly not to have followed her, even if he had failed to keep her safely in the path of good. Alas! he followed her, as he has often since, into the broad way of evil. Adam did not preserve the place in which God had set him.
*Some have wondered why the serpent and Eve should be represented as saying Elohim ("God") in the temptation, seeing that everywhere else in the section the name employed is Jehovah-Elohim. Now, not only may it be the simple fact that Elohim alone was used, but, further, on account of it, the historian would not introduce here the name of special relationship which the enemy was above all anxious to have if possible forgotten, and which the woman in fact did soon forget when she allowed one to work on her mind whose first aim was to sow distrust of God. To me it appears that all is in perfect keeping; and that the omission of Jehovah here is equally natural on the part of the serpent and Eve, as it is appropriate to the inspired history of the transaction.
Both fallen, they were both ashamed. "They knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." And they heard the voice of Jehovah-Elohim walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves. The victims of sin knew shame, now fear. Departed from God, they hid themselves, and He had but to utter those solemn and searching words to Adam, "Where art thou?" He was gone from God. Forced to discover himself, Adam tells the humiliating tale: "I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself." The evil is traced home at last to its source, and the serpent is brought fully out. Each severally the man, the woman, the serpent stand evidently convicted by the presence of Jehovah-Elohim. Yet, wonderful to say, in the very announcement of judgment on the serpent, God, who had by the light of His presence compelled the guilty pair to come forth out of the darkness in which they had hid, or rather sought to hide God held out the first bright light of mercy, but mercy in the judgment of him who was the root of the evil. May one not say again who beforehand would have thought of ways so truly and self-evidently divine? But it is the word of God, and nothing can be more suitable to God, gracious to man, or just to the enemy.
Believers have constantly called it a "promise;" but it is not uninstructive to see that scripture never does. There was a revelation of an infinite blessing for man unquestionably, but hardly what is called a promise. It was addressed to the serpent. If a promise to any, it was to the woman's Seed, the last Adam, not to the first, who was just sentenced with Eve. Abraham, not Adam, is the depository of promise: so speaks scripture, as far as I know, invariably. We see why that ought to be. Was it a time for a promise? Was it a state for a promise? Was it a person for a promise? one that had ruined the glory of God, as far as it rested upon him. No, but in judging the serpent there comes out the revealed purpose of God, not a promise to Adam in sin, but the revelation of One who would crush the serpent's head the first sinner and too successful tempter to sin. The Second man, not the first, is the object of promise. This indeed is the invariable truth of scripture, and runs through it to the last.
Observe, in the beginning of the word of God, the sources of all things. As we saw God Himself the Creator and the moral Governor, so further we find the enemy of God and of man in exact accordance with the latest word that God speaks. Again, let us note the confronting of the serpent, not with man, who always falls under Satan's power, but with Christ, who always conquers. Such is the way in which God puts His truth, and this in the earliest part of His word. No later revelation in the smallest degree corrects the very first. Scripture is divine from first to last. But along with this we find no haste to reveal: all is in season. Not a word is heard about eternal life yet that must wait for His appearing who was such with the Father; not a word yet about the exhaustless riches of grace which were afterwards to abound. A person is held out the Seed of the woman; for the manner most expressly bespeaks the tender mercy of God. If the woman was the one first of all to yield, she is the destined mother of Him that would defeat the devil and deliver man. But what came in immediately, and what is traced throughout the Bible, it may be noted, is the present consequence in the government of God.* Consequently we find that as man had hearkened to the voice of the siren, and had eaten of the tree of which he was commanded not to eat, the ground was cursed for him. It is the present result. So again the woman has her portion, of which we need not say more than to point out what a clue it is to her lot in the history of the race. Both unite in this, that, as they were made of dust, to the dust they must return.
*How this agrees with the dispensational dealings of God with Israel needs no argument. They were chosen to be the public vessel of divine government on the earth. We have had their failure under law; we look for their stability under Messiah and the new covenant. But it is and will be of the deepest interest to trace these ways of God in earthly government from the first.
Notwithstanding in the midst of the scene of desolation we hear Adam calling his wife's name "Eve" (ver. Genesis 3:20; Genesis 3:20). To me it is perfectly clear how speedy was the fall after the creation of man. He had not before given his wife this her full and proper name. He had described what she was rather than who; it was only when sin had come in, and when others, had there been any, would have called her naturally the parent of death, that Adam (by what seems to be the guidance of God in faith) calls her rather the mother of the living. His soul, I cannot doubt, laid hold of the word that God had pronounced in judging the devil. And God here too beautifully marks His feeling. For (ver. Genesis 3:21) we are told, that "to Adam also and to his wife did Jehovah-Elohim make coats of skins and clothed them." The insufficiency of their resources had been proved. Now comes in the shadow of what God would do fully another day.
Nevertheless present consequences take their course, and in a certain sense mercy too is mingled with them, as is the case habitually, I think, in the government of God; for man as he is is just so much the less happy as he knows not what it is to labour in such a world as this. It is not only what he is doomed to, but the wisely ordered place for fallen man here below. There is no one more miserable than the man who has no object before him. I grant that in an unfallen condition there was another state of things. Where all was bright and good around man in innocency the scope for labour would not have its place. I only speak of what is good for man out of Paradise, and how God meets with and ministers to his state in His infinite grace. On this however we need not say more than that He "drove out the man," lest he should perpetuate the condition of ruin into which he had passed.*
*It is deplorable but wholesome to see how superstition and rationalism agree in the grossest ignorance of man's condition before the fall and through it. The doctrine in systematic theology is that God's image within became corrupted and defiled; yet that even then he was not altogether forsaken; and that the course of his history declares by what means it has pleased God to renew, in some measure, His lost image, etc. Another divine, but an infidel, regards the knowledge of good and evil as the image of God by creation. This last is often misunderstood. Scripture is plain and profoundly true: "And Jehovah-Elohim said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore Jehovah- Elohim sent him forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."
In his original estate man was created in God's image, but he had not the knowledge of good and evil. This he acquired by the fall. After this he could estimate and know things himself as good or evil; whilst innocent this could not be. A holy being might and does so know, i.e., a being who, while knowing, has an intrinsic nature that repels the evil and cleaves to the good. But this was not Adam's state, but simply made upright, with absence and ignorance of evil. When fallen he acquired the internal capacity of knowing right from wrong, apart from a law to inform or forbid; and in this respect became like God at the very time when he lost God and intercourse with Him as an innocent creature. We thus learn the compatibility of these two things, which in fact were true of man a fall from the relationship of innocence, in which he was originally set with God, and a rise in moral capacity, which, without faith, entails immense misery, but which is of the utmost value when one is brought to God by our Lord Jesus.
Then (Genesis 4:1-26) we have a new scene, which opens with a change in the name of God. It is no longer the test of creation, as God made it, and this accordingly is marked here. He is called "Jehovah;" He is not designated by the former mingled or compound term "Jehovah-Elohim," but by "Jehovah" simply; and this is found afterwards, either "Elohim" alone or "Jehovah in the other names of special character, as we shall see," until the call of Israel, when we have an appropriate modification in the expression of His name. But Adam now becomes a father, not innocent, but fallen before he became the head of the race. Cain was born, and the fallen mother gave the name: but, oh, what a mistake! I am sure, not that she was exactly entitled to give the name, but that it can be proved that she gave a singularly inappropriate one. She thought her first-born a great gain, for such is the meaning of the name "Cain." Alas! what disappointment and grief, both of the most poignant kind, followed ere long For Abel too was born; and in process of time it came to pass that they brought their offerings unto "Jehovah" a term, I may observe, that is here in admirable keeping. It was not barely as He who had created all, but the God that was in special relationship with man Jehovah. This is the force of it. Cain looked at Him in the place merely of a Creator, and there was his wrong. Sin needed more. Cain brought what might have sufficed in an unfallen world what might have suited an innocent worshipper of One who was simply known as Elohim. It was impossible that such a ground could be rightly taken longer; but so Cain did not feel. He makes a religion from his own mind, and brings of the fruit of the ground now under the curse; whilst Abel by faith offers the firstlings of the flock, and of the fat thereof. And Jehovah had respect unto Abel, and to his offering. It is the great truth of sacrifice, of which Abel's faith laid hold, realising and confessing in his slain lamb that there was no other way in a ruined world for a holy relationship, and for the confession of the truth too, as between God and man. He offers of the firstlings of his flock that which passed under death to Jehovah.
"And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell." And Jehovah speaks to him thus "Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" The principles of God's nature are immutable. Whether people are believers or not, whether they receive the truth or not, God holds to that which belongs to His own moral being. That any one is capable of meeting the character of God in an unfallen state is another matter. It is the same principle inGenesis 4:1-26; Genesis 4:1-26, which we find more explicitly stated in Romans 2:1-29, where God shows His sure judgment of evil on the one hand, and His approval of that which is good, holy, and true on the other. So with Cain here "and if thou doest not well;" and such was the fact. His condition was that of a sinner, and he looked not out of himself to God. But what characterises this scene is not the state in which man as such was this we had in Genesis 3:1-24 but what man did in that fallen state, and more especially what he did in presence of God and faith. Certainly he did not well. "And if thou doest not well," it is said, "sin lieth at the door." Evil conduct is that which makes manifest an evil state, and flows from it.
I do not think that the expression means a sin-offering, as is sometimes supposed; for it does not appear that there is ground for inferring that the truth of a sin-offering was understood in the slightest degree till long afterwards. "By the law is the knowledge of sin," and until the law was brought in there was, as far as scripture tells us, no such discrimination, if any, between the offerings. They were all merged in one; and hence it is that we find that Job's friends, though guilty in the Lord's sight, yet alike with him offer burnt-offerings. When Noah brings his sacrifice, it is evidently of that nature also. Would there not have been a sin-offering on these occasions had the law been then in force? Most wisely all such details awaited the unfolding of another day. I merely use these scriptural facts to shew what seems to me the truth that "sin" here does not refer to the specific offering for it, but rather to that which was proved by evil conduct.
Notwithstanding God maintained the place that belonged to the elder brother. But nothing softened the roused and irritated spirit of Cain. There is nothing which more maddens man than mortified religious pride; and so it is here proved, for he rose up against his brother and slew him. And Jehovah speaks to him once more. It was sin not as such against God in leaving Him, like Adam's, but against man, his brother accepted of God. "Where is Abel thy brother?" To God's appeal he answers with no less hardness and audacity than falsehood, "I know not." There is no real courage with a bad conscience, and guile will soon be apparent where God brings His own light and makes guilt manifest. Let us not forget the deceitfulness of sin. "What hast thou done?" said Jehovah. "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." Justly now we have him self-cursed from the face of the earth, pronounced a fugitive and vagabond. But the will of man pits itself invariably against the known will of God, and the very man who was doomed to be a fugitive sets to work that he may settle himself here below. Cain, as it is said, went out from His presence, and dwelt in the land of Nod; a son is born in due time who builds a city called after his name. Such is the birth of civil life in the family of Cain, where we find the discovery and advance of the delights of man; but, along with the progress of art and science, the introduction of polygamy. The rebellious spirit of the forefather shows itself in the descendant Lamech.
But the chapter does not close until we find Seth, whom God* substituted (for this is the meaning of the name), or "appointed," as it is said, "instead of Abel, whom Cain slew." And so Seth, to him also there was born a son, and he called his name Enos. Then began men to call upon the name of Jehovah.
*As Eve at the birth of Cain seems to have been unduly excited, and expecting I think a deliverer in the child whom she named as gotten from Jehovah, so she seems to me to express a sobered if not desponding sentiment in saying at Seth's birth, "Elohim hath appointed me another seed," etc. In the latter she only saw a child given of God naturally. Both appear to me natural and purposed.
In Genesis 5:1-32 we have the generations of Adam. Upon this I would not now dwell farther than to draw attention to the commencing words, "In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam in the day when they were created." But "Adam," it is said, "begat a son in his own likeness, after his image." It was no longer in the likeness of God, but in the image of God always. For man, now as ever, fallen or not, is in the image of God; but the likeness of God was lost through sin. Seth therefore was begotten in Adam's own likeness, not in God's. He was like Adam fallen, not his representative only. And this is what is referred to inJames 3:1-18; James 3:1-18, where he speaks of our having been made in the likeness of God. But it is the more important because, when it is a question of the guilt of taking man's life, the ground is that he was made in God's image. This, it is plain, was never lost; it abides, whatever man's state. Had the crime depended on man's retaining the likeness of God, murder might have been denied or justified, because if a man were not like God the unlikeness might be urged in extenuation of killing him. But it is a crime against man made in the image of God, and as this abides, whether he be fallen or not, the guilt of murder is unimpeachable and evident. This accordingly is the ground taken, to which I refer as an instance of the perfectness of scripture, but at the same time of the profound and practical power of the truth of God.
In the remarkable list, which is pursued down to Noah, we have another great truth set forth in the most simple and beautiful way the power of life which exempts from the reign of death, and not only that, but the witness to heaven as a place for man. Enoch brings both these lessons before us. I have no doubt that, besides this, Enoch is the type of the portion of those who look to be with the Lord above, just as Noah shows us (as is too well known to call for a delay upon it) those who pass through the judicial dealings of God, and nevertheless are preserved. In short Enoch is the witness of the heavenly family, as Noah is of the earthly people of God.
But in Genesis 6:1-22 we have a very solemn statement the apostacy of the ancient world. The sons of God chose the daughters of men. The true key to this account is supplied in the Epistle of Jude. It is hardly so common-place and ordinary a matter as many suppose. When understood, it is really awful in itself and its results. But the Holy Spirit has veiled such a fact in the only manner that became God and was proper for man. Here indeed the principle of reserve does apply, not in withholding from man's soul the deepest blessing of grace for his deepest wants, but in furnishing no more than that which was suitable for man to learn about the matter. He has said enough; but any one who will take the trouble to refer to Jude in connection with this chapter will gather more than appears on the surface. It is not needful to say more now. God Himself has touched it but curtly. This only may be remarked in addition, that "the sons of God," in my judgment, mean the same beings in Genesis as they do in Job. This point will suffice to indicate their chief guilt in thus traversing the boundaries which God had appointed for His creatures. No wonder that total ruin speedily ensues. It is really the basis of fact for not a few tales of mythology which men have made up. Any one who is acquainted with the chief writings of the old idolatrous world, of the Greeks and Romans especially, will see that what God has veiled in this brief statement, which passes calmly over that of which more had better not be spoken, is what they have amplified into the Titans and the giants and their greater deities. I do not of course enter into details, but here is the inspired account, which shines in the midst of the horrors of that dark scene which fabulists portrayed. But there is enough in man's amplification to point to what is stated here in a few simple words of truth.
The flood ensues. In the statement given by Moses every minute point beautifully exemplifies the propriety of the word of God. Men have fancied contradictions; they have fallen back on the old resource of opposed documents put together. There is not the slightest reason for suspicion. It is the same inspired historian who presents the subject in more than one point of view, but always consistently, and with a divine purpose which governs all. Every great writer, as far as he can go, illustrates this plan indeed everybody, we may say. If you are speaking in the intimacies of the family, you do not adopt the same language towards your parents, wife, child, or servant, still less towards a stranger outside. Is there then any contradiction to be surmised? Both may be perfectly right, and both absolutely true; but there is a difference of manner and phraseology, because of a difference of object before you. It is no otherwise with God's word, save that all illustrations fail to measure the depth of the differences in it.
Thus in Genesis 6:1-22 it is said that "the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence." It is not "Jehovah" now but "God." "And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth." What does He do then? He directs the ark to be made. For what end? The preservation of the creatures which required the ark. Hence He orders that two of every kind should be taken into the ark. We can easily see the propriety of this. It is very simply a measure for perpetuating the creature by God the Creator, in spite of imminent judgment. It has nothing to do with moral relationships. God the Creator would preserve such of the creatures as required the shelter of the ark. Here then we only hear of pairs which enter.
In Genesis 7:1-24 we have another order of facts. It opens thus: "And Jehovah said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark." Is this merely the conserving of the creature? Not so. It is the language of One who has special relationships with Noah and with his family. "Come thou into the ark," says He; "for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation." "Righteous" is this a question of creation as such? It is not, but rather of moral relationship. "For thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth." Certainly this is not mere creation in view, but special dealings of a moral sort. Almost every word gives evidence of it. "Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens .... and of beasts that are not clean by two." It is God providing not for the perpetuation of the creature merely, but with marked completeness for sacrifice. Consequently we have this perfect care over the maintenance of His rights and place as One that governed morally. "And Noah did according unto all that Jehovah commanded."
Thus in relation to His place as creator God preserved two of every sort; in relation to His own moral government He would have seven taken into the ark seven animals of each clean sort; of the unclean just enough would be there to preserve what He had made. It is evident therefore that in the one case we have that which was generally necessary, in the other case that which was special and due to the relationship in which man was placed with Jehovah. Thus it is seen at once that, instead of these wonderful communications being merely earlier and later legends put together by a still more modern editor, who tried to make something complete by stringing together what did not aptly fit, on the contrary, it is the Spirit of God who gives us various sides of the truth, each falling under the title and style suitable to God, according to that which was in hand. Put them out of their order, and all becomes confused; receive them as God has written them, and there is perfection in the measure in which you understand them.
So we find what shows the folly of this yet more in what follows: "And they that went in went in male and female of all flesh, as God commanded him; and Jehovah shut him in." The two terms occur in the very same verse; yet is there not an evident propriety in each case? Unquestionably. They went in male and female. What is the idea? Moral relationship? Not at all. "Male and female" has to do in itself with the constitution of the creature, nothing whatever necessarily with moral relationship. In male and female God acts according to His rights and wisdom in creation; and consequently there it is said, "as Elohim commanded him." But when all this is done with, who was it that shut Noah in? "Jehovah." There we have delight in the man who had found grace in His eyes. No doubt the mere act could have been effected in other ways. Noah might have been enabled to shut himself in; but how much more blessed that Jehovah should do it! There was no fear then. Had it been merely said that Elohim shut him in, it would have simply suggested the Creator's care of every creature; but Jehovah's shutting him in points to special relationship, and the interest taken in that righteous man. What can be more beautiful in its season?
Thus a peculiarity in scripture, when understood, is pregnant with truth, having its source in God's wisdom, not in human infirmity. If we did not see it at once, this was merely because of our dullness. When we begin to enter into its real meaning, and hold fast that which is clearly the intended truth, the theory of Elohistic and Jehovistic annalists, with their redaction, vanishes into its own nothingness. I confess human my own ignorance; but not that there is a single instance where God has not employed the terms in all respects the best. No language could express so well the truth as that which God has employed as a matter of fact.
The next chapter (Genesis 8:1-22) shows God's remembrance of Noah and every living thing. Here it would not have served His purpose to say, "Jehovah remembered every living thing," because every living thing was not in moral relationship with God. Noah was undoubtedly; but it is not always, nor here, the aim to draw attention to what was special.
In due time the ark rests upon Ararat, and then follows the strikingly beautiful incident of the raven and the dove, which has been often before us, and from which therefore we may pass on. Afterwards God tells Noah to come forth he and all the other creatures.
"And Noah," it is written in verse Genesis 8:20, "builded an altar." Unto whom? Unto God? Most appropriately it is to Jehovah now. Without loss, these two things could not be transposed. He took then, it is said, "of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl." Yes, Jehovah is in question. It is the relationship of Noah which appears here. It is the special place in which he stood that was witnessed by the sacrifice thereon offered. And there Jehovah, accepting the sweet savour, declares that He "will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake. For the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth."
Here again how observable is the transparent and self-consistent truth of scripture. The Statement before us may look at first unaccountable; but when carefully weighed and reflected on, the propriety of it becomes manifest. That man's being evil was a ground for sending the flood we can all see; but what depth of grace in the declaration that God knew perfectly the ruined condition of man at the very time when He pledges His word that there shall come no more flood on the earth! This is brought before us here.
Here then we enter on an entirely new state of things, and a truth of capital importance for everybody to consider who has not already made it his own. What was the ground of God's delays in the previous time? Absence of evil in earth; innocence in man; it was a sinless, unfallen world. What is the ground of God's dealings now? Man is fallen, and the creature made subject to vanity. All the delays of God now proceed on the fact that the first man is in sin. Leave out the fall; fail to keep it before you and test all with that in mind, and you will be wrong about every result. Next to Christ Himself, and what we have by and in Him, there is nothing of greater importance than the confession of the truth, both that God created, and that His creation is in ruins. Your judgment alike of God and man will be falsified; your estimate of the past and your expectations of the future will all be vain, unless you steadily remember that God now in all His dealings with man acts on the solemn fact of sin original and universal sin. Will it be so always? By no means. There is a day coming when the ground of God's action will be neither innocence nor sin, but righteousness. But for that day we must wait, the day of eternity of "the new heavens and the new earth." It is a real joy to know that it is coming; but until that day God always has before Him, as the theatre and material where He acts, a world ruined ruined by sinful man.
Thanks be to God, One has come who is before Him in unfailing sweet savour, so that if sin be in the background, there cannot but be also what He introduces of His own free grace. If His servant bids others behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, how much more does God Himself behold Christ and His sacrifice! Need it be said that as far as its efficacy is concerned, and God's delight in it, He doers not wait for the new heavens and the new earth, either to enjoy it Himself or make known its value to us? In short, Christ has intervened, and this most weighty consequence is connected with it that, although everything manifests evil and ruin increasingly, God has triumphed in grace and in faith after the fall and before "the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." God, having introduced His own Son, has won the victory, the fruits of which He gives to us by faith before our possession is displayed by and-by.
Let it suffice to refer to the great principle, remembering that the theatre of the ages or dispensations of God is the world since the flood. It is a mistake to include the world before that event in the time of dispensations. There was no dispensation, properly so called, before it. What dispensation could there be? What does it mean? When man in Paradise was forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he broke the command immediately as far as appears, the first day. Not that one could say positively that so it was; but certainly it is to be supposed that little time could have passed after receiving the woman, his wife. And the patent fact lies before us, that to join his wife in the sad sin is his first recorded act. What dispensation or age was there here? And what followed after it? There was no longer trial in Paradise, because man was turned out. By what formal test was he proved outside? By none whatever. Man, the race, became simply outcasts morally nothing else from that day till after the flood. Not but that God wrought in His grace with individuals. Abel, Enoch, Noah, we have already seen. There was also a wonderful type of deliverance through Christ in the ark happily so familiar to most. But it is evident that dispensation, in the true sense of the word, there was none. There was a trial of man in Eden, and he fell immediately: after that there was none whatever in the antediluvian world. The history supposes man thenceforward allowed to act without external law or government to control though God did not fail to work in His merciful goodness in His own sovereignty.
But after the flood we find a covenant is made with the earth (Genesis 9:1-29): the principle of government is set up. Then we enter on the theatre and times of dispensations. One sees the reason why man before this had not been punished by the judge; whereas after the flood there was government and judicial proceeding. In the post-diluvian earth God establishes principles which hold their course throughout the whole scene till Jesus came, or rather till He not only come and affirm by His own power and personal reign all the ways in which God has been testing and trying man, but deliver up the kingdom to the Father, that God may be all in all, when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power.
This then may suffice. As a notice of God's covenant with the earth, I may just refer, in passing, to the establishment of the bow in the cloud as the sign of the mercy of Elohim (verses Genesis 9:12-17).
The end of this chapter shows that the man in whose person the principle of human government was set up could not govern himself. It is the old familiar story, man tried and found wanting as always. This gives occasion to the manifestation of a great difference among Noah's sons, and to the solemn words which the father uttered in the spirit of prophecy. "Cursed be Canaan" was of deep interest, especially to an Israelite, but in truth to anyone who values the revelation of God. We can see afterwards how verified the curse was, as it will be yet more. The sin began with utter disrespect to a father. Not to speak of the destroyed cities of the plain, they had in Joshua's day sunk into the most shameless of sinners that ever disgraced God and defiled the earth. The believer can readily understand how Noah was divinely led to pronounce a just malediction on Canaan.* "Cursed [be] Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be." So always it is. A man who despises him whom he is bound to honour, not to speak of the special distinction which God had shown him, must come to shame and degradation, must be not merely a servant but "a servant of servants." The most vaulting pride always has the deepest fall. On the other hand, "Blessed be Jehovah the God" for God does not dwell upon the curse, but soon turns to the blessing "Blessed be Jehovah the God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant." And Elohim, it is said, "shall enlarge Japhet, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem." How remarkably this has been made good in the providential history of the world I need not stay to prove, how Jehovah God connected His name with Shem, to the humiliation of Canaan, and how Elohim enlarged Japhet, who would spread himself not merely in his own destined lot, but even dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan humbled there too. How true of the energetic Japhetic race that pushed westward, and not content with the east, pushes round again to the west anywhere and everywhere. Thus God declares Himself in every word He utters. A little key to the world's history is contained in those few words of Noah.
* If Canaan drew his father into the shameful exposure of Noah, all can see how just the sentence was. In any case it was mercy to confine the curse certainly earned by Ham within the narrowest limits, instead of extending it to all his posterity. In judgment as in grace God is always wise.
Then we find the generations of the sons of Shem. Without pretending to enter into particulars, this I may remark that in the Bible there is not a more important chapter thanGenesis 10:1-32; Genesis 10:1-32 as regards the providential arrangement of tongues, families, and nations Here alone is given the rise of different races, with their sources. Who else could have told us how and when the earth was thus divided? For this was a new state of things, not only not at all in the world before the flood, but not for some considerable time after it, and their distribution in their lands. This is the divine ethnology. Here man is at sea; but where he does arrive at conclusions, this at least is the common consent, as far as I know, of all who have given their minds to the study, that there are three, and only three, divisions into which nations properly diverge. So it is here. The word of God is before them. More than that: it is the conviction of all men, and men worthy to be listened to, that not more surely are they divided into three grand lines than that these three lines had a common origin. That there was only one such root is the statement of the scriptures. The word of God is always right. The details are of the highest interest, more especially when compared with the predicted results in the latter day, where we see the same countries and nations re-appear for judgment in the day of Jehovah. But into the proof of this we cannot now pause to enter.
Genesis 11:1-32 opens with the sin of man, which led to the division described in the preceding chapter, the moral reason of that fact, new then, but still in its substance going on, whatever the superficial changes among men in their lands, and tongues, and political distribution. Hitherto they had been of one lip; but combining to make a name to themselves, lest they should be scattered, not to exalt God nor confide in Him, they had their language confounded, and themselves dispersed. "So Jehovah scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because Jehovah did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth" (versesGenesis 11:8-9; Genesis 11:8-9).
The genealogy of Shem, with gradually decreasing age among his seed, follows down to Abram, the remainder of the chapter being thus the link of transition from the history of the world as it then was, and in its principle still is. We come at length to him in whom God brings in wholly new principles in His own grace to meet a new and monstrous evil idolatry. This daring evil against God, we know from Joshua 24:1-33 was then spread far and wide, even among the Shemitic race, although never heard of in scripture, whatever man's lawlessness in other ways, before the deluge. But here I stop for the present.
May we confide not only in scripture, but in Him who gave it! May we seek to be taught more and more His truth, leaning on His grace! He will withhold no good from those who walk uprightly; and there is no other way than Jesus Christ our Lord.
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Kelly, William. "Commentary on Genesis 6:4". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wkc/genesis-6.html. 1860-1890.
the Sixth Week after Easter