Genesis Chapter 9
1 God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, "Be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth.
2 The fear of you and the dread of you will be on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the sky. Everything that moves along the ground, and all the fish of the sea, are delivered into your hand.
3 Every moving thing that lives will be food for you. As I gave you the green herb, I have given everything to you.
4 But flesh with its life, that is, its blood, you shall not eat.
5 I will surely require accounting for your life's blood. At the hand of every animal I will require it. At the hand of man, even at the hand of every man's brother, I will require the life of man.
6 Whoever sheds man's blood, his blood will be shed by man, for God made man in his own image.
7 Be fruitful and multiply. Increase abundantly in the earth, and multiply in it."
8 God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying,
9 "As for me, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your offspring after you,
10 and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the livestock, and every animal of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ship, even every animal of the earth.
11 I will establish my covenant with you: All flesh will not be cut off any more by the waters of the flood. There will never again be a flood to destroy the earth."
12 God said, "This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
13 I set my rainbow in the cloud, and it will be a sign of a covenant between me and the earth.
14 When I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow will be seen in the cloud,
15 I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh, and the waters will no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
16 The rainbow will be in the cloud. I will look at it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth."
17 God said to Noah, "This is the token of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."
18 The sons of Noah who went out from the ship were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham is the father of Canaan.
19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated.
20 Noah began to be a farmer, and planted a vineyard.
21 He drank of the wine and got drunk. He was uncovered within his tent.
22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.
23 Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it on both their shoulders, went in backwards, and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were backwards, and they didn't see their father's nakedness.
24 Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his youngest son had done to him.
25 He said, "Canaan is cursed. He will be a servant of servants to his brothers."
26 He said, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem. Let Canaan be his servant.
27 May God enlarge Japheth. Let him dwell in the tents of Shem. Let Canaan be his servant."
28 Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood.
29 All the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years, and then he died.
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Genesis Chapter 9 Guide
The new order in human affairs was initiated by the bestowment of a blessing on Noah and his sons. The first note of change is seen in the word which declared man's relation to the lower orders. In Eden man had governed by love and his own kingliness. With the loss of that kingliness resulting from his disobedience and rebellion, he had lost his true power of dominion, and that must now be exercised by fear and dread directly implanted by God in all the lower orders of life over which man was to rule.
Moreover, an alteration was made in the law of human interrelationship. A sterner rule than family discipline must be set up. Man must now hold the sword of justice, and himself insist on obedience. Another change concerned human sustenance. In addition to the green herb of the past, animal food was permitted under restrictions.
The earth was thus to be repeopled by a race living under new conditions, and at this point a new covenant between God and man came into force. Its terms reminded man that the promises of God are conditional.
A token of the covenant was chosen and established. God appropriated an existing wonder as the sign and seal thereof, the rainbow. The rainbow is born of light falling on raindrops and so is significant of judgment as related to love. Man was to look on this, remembering that God also was looking on it.
The chapter ends with the story of a startlingly sudden plunge into darkness. Noah is seen yielding to fleshly appetite. In the presence of the degradation of their father, the character of the sons was manifest. One, himself degraded, yielded to curiosity. Two, ashamed of the sin of their father, attempted to hide him. The cursing and blessing which fell from the lips of Noah were no capricious passing of sentences. Rather, they formed a clear statement of the tendency of character. The man in the grip of evil moved to slavery, while the man influenced by purity and love proceeded to government and blessing.
From "An Exposition of the Whole Bible" by G. Campbell Morgan.
Genesis Chapter 9 Commentary
- God blesses Noah, and grants flesh for food. -- (1-3)
- Blood, and murder forbidden. -- (4-7)
- God's covenant by the rainbow. -- (8-17)
- Noah plants a vineyard, is drunken and mocked by Ham. -- (18-23)
- Noah curses Canaan, blesses Shem, prays for Japheth, His death. -- (24-29)
The blessing of God is the cause of our doing well. On him we depend, to him we should be thankful. Let us not forget the advantage and pleasure we have from the labour of beasts, and which their flesh affords. Nor ought we to be less thankful for the security we enjoy from the savage and hurtful beasts, through the fear of man which God has fixed deep in them. We see the fulfilment of this promise every day, and on every side. This grant of the animals for food fully warrants the use of them, but not the abuse of them by gluttony, still less by cruelty. We ought not to pain them needlessly whilst they live, nor when we take away their lives.
The main reason of forbidding the eating of blood, doubtless was because the shedding of blood in sacrifices was to keep the worshippers in mind of the great atonement; yet it seems intended also to check cruelty, lest men, being used to shed and feed upon the blood of animals, should grow unfeeling to them, and be less shocked at the idea of shedding human blood. Man must not take away his own life. Our lives are God's, and we must only give them up when he pleases. If we in any way hasten our own death, we are accountable to God for it. When God requires the life of a man from him that took it away unjustly, the murderer cannot render that, and therefore must render his own instead. One time or other, in this world or in the next, God will discover murders, and punish those murders which are beyond man's power to punish. But there are those who are ministers of God to protect the innocent, by being a terror to evil-doers, and they must not bear the sword in vain, Ro 13:4. Wilful murder ought always to be punished with death. To this law there is a reason added. Such remains of God's image are still upon fallen man, that he who unjustly kills a man, defaces the image of God, and does dishonour to him.
As the old world was ruined, to be a monument of justice, so this world remains to this day a monument of mercy. But sin, that drowned the old world, will burn this. Articles of agreement among men are sealed, that what is promised may be the more solemn, and the doing of what is covenanted the more sure to mutual satisfaction. The seal of this covenant was the rainbow, which, it is likely, was seen in the clouds before, but was never a seal of the covenant till now it was made so. The rainbow appears when we have most reason to fear the rain prevailing; God then shows this seal of the promise, that it shall not prevail. The thicker the cloud, the brighter the bow in the cloud. Thus, as threatening afflictions abound, encouraging consolations much more abound. The rainbow is the reflection of the beams of the sun shining upon or through the drops of rain: all the glory of the seals of the covenant are derived from Christ, the Sun of righteousness. And he will shed a glory on the tears of his saints. A bow speaks terror, but this has neither string nor arrow; and a bow alone will do little hurt. It is a bow, but it is directed upward, not toward the earth; for the seals of the covenant were intended to comfort, not to terrify. As God looks upon the bow, that he may remember the covenant, so should we, that we may be mindful of the covenant with faith and thankfulness. Without revelation this gracious assurance could not be known; and without faith it can be of no use to us; and thus it is as to the still greater dangers to which all are exposed, and as to the new covenant with its blessings.
The drunkenness of Noah is recorded in the Bible, with that fairness which is found only in the Scripture, as a case and proof of human weakness and imperfection, even though he may have been surprised into the sin; and to show that the best of men cannot stand upright, unless they depend upon Divine grace, and are upheld thereby. Ham appears to have been a bad man, and probably rejoiced to find his father in an unbecoming situation. It was said of Noah, that he was perfect in his generations, ch. 6:9; but this is meant of sincerity, not of a sinless perfection. Noah, who had kept sober in drunken company, is now drunk in sober company. Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall. We have need to be very careful when we use God's good creatures plentifully, lest we use them to excess, Lu 21:34. The consequence of Noah's sin was shame. Observe here the great evil of the sin of drunkenness. It discovers men; what infirmities they have, they betray when they are drunk; and secrets are then easily got out of them. Drunken porters keep open gates. It disgraces men, and exposes them to contempt. As it shows them, so it shames them. Men say and do that when drunken, which, when sober, they would blush to think of. Notice the care of Shem and Japheth to cover their father's shame. There is a mantle of love to be thrown over the faults of all, 1Pe 4:8. Beside that, there is a robe of reverence to be thrown over the faults of parents and other superiors. The blessing of God attends on those who honour their parents, and his curse lights especially on those who dishonour them.
Noah declares a curse on Canaan, the son of Ham; perhaps this grandson of his was more guilty than the rest. A servant of servants, that is, The meanest and most despicable servant, shall he be, even to his brethren. This certainly points at the victories in after-times obtained by Israel over the Canaanites, by which they were put to the sword, or brought to pay tribute. The whole continent of Africa was peopled mostly by the descendants of Ham; and for how many ages have the better parts of that country lain under the dominion of the Romans, then of the Saracens, and now of the Turks! In what wickedness, ignorance, barbarity, slavery, and misery most of the inhabitants live! And of the poor negroes, how many every year are sold and bought, like beasts in the market, and conveyed from one quarter of the world to do the work of beasts in another! But this in no way excuses the covetousness and barbarity of those who enrich themselves with the product of their sweat and blood. God has not commanded us to enslave negroes; and, without doubt, he will severely punish all such cruel wrongs. The fulfilment of this prophecy, which contains almost a history of the world, frees Noah from the suspicion of having uttered it from personal anger. It fully proves that the Holy Spirit took occasion from Ham's offence to reveal his secret purposes. "Blessed be the Lord God of Shem." The church should be built up and continued in the posterity of Shem; of him came the Jews, who were, for a great while, the only professing people God had in the world. Christ, who was the Lord God, in his human nature should descend from Shem; for of him, as concerning the flesh, Christ came. Noah also blesses Japheth, and, in him, the isles of the gentiles that were peopled by his seed. It speaks of the conversion of the gentiles, and the bringing of them into the church. We may read it, "God shall persuade Japheth, and being persuaded, he shall dwell in the tents of Shem." Jews and gentiles shall be united together in the gospel fold; both shall be one in Christ. Noah lived to see two worlds; but being an heir of the righteousness which is by faith, he now rests in hope, waiting to see a better than either.
From the "Concise Commentary on the Bible" by Matthew Henry.