Genesis 9 - Outline of Genesis (Book Notes menu page)
The Noahic Covenant (8:20 - 9:17)
(Comments are at the end of the full text of the Covenant.)
9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them,
Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
9:2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth,
and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth [upon] the earth,
and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
9:3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you;
even as the green herb have I given you all things.
9:4 But flesh with the life thereof, [which is] the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
9:5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require;
at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man;
at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.
9:6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed:
for in the image of God made he man.
9:7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply;
bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.
9:8 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,
9:9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
9:10 And with every living creature that [is] with you, of the fowl, of the cattle,
and of every beast of the earth with you;
from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.
9:11 And I will establish my covenant with you;
neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood;
neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
9:12 And 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:
9:13 I do set my bow in the cloud,
and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
9:14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth,
that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
9:15 And I will remember my covenant,
which [is] between me and you and every living creature of all flesh;
and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
9:16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it,
that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God
and every living creature of all flesh that [is] upon the earth.
9:17 And God said unto Noah, This [is] the token of the covenant,
which I have established between me and all flesh that [is] upon the earth.
The Noahic Covenant (8:20 - 9:17)
Parties to the covenant: God, Noah & descendants; every living creature. 9:9,10
Provisions of the covenant:
  1. No additional curse upon the earth.
    1. The earth will not be destroyed again by a flood. 8:21,22; 9:11-16
    2. The natural order is assured.- ie., the seasons (8:22), and man's dominion (9:2)
    3. The duration of this provision: as long as earth remains (8:22), for perpetual generations, everlasting {ie., unending, while earth remains} (9:12,16)
    4. The token of this provision: the rainbow. 9:13-16
      • The natural phenomenon which produces a rainbow may not have been seen prior to the flood due to the diffusion of light by the earth's canopy of water vapor. The torrential rains had reduced the cloud cover allowing direct sunlight to penetrate. Rain also may have been unknown prior to the flood. cp. 2:5,6
        In any case, God assigned meaning to this phenomenon:
      • ''My bow'' is a hint of God's glory. cp. Rev 4:2,3
        The 'token' in the sky is appropriate to a covenant made with all of earth's creatures (whereas, a covenant limited to a specific human family line would require a different token, Gen 17:11-13).
      • The ''bow in the cloud''- The storm clouds which threaten judgment, also speak of God's mercy. (eg., the ark, the cross, etc.; cp. Nah 1:2,3)
    5. The terms of this provision: unconditional (The responsibility rests solely on Him.)
      • I, behold I, establish... - 9:9
      • I will remember my covenant... - 9:15
      • I will look {upon the bow} and remember... - 9:16
      • man's fallen condition will not negate this provision. 8:21
  2. Capital punishment is established- 9:5,6
    Man is given responsibility to protect the sanctity of human life.
    The murder of man is differentiated from the killing of animals because of the image of God. 9:6
    This marks the beginning of the Dispensation of Human Government. cp. Rom 13:1-6
  3. Flesh of animals is added to man's diet. 9:3,4; cp. 1:29
    Note the limitation of v.4. cp. Lev 17:11-14
  4. The earth is to be repopulated by the descendants of Noah's sons. 9:7,18,19
9:18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark,
were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth:
and Ham [is] the father of Canaan.
9:19 These [are] the three sons of Noah:
and of them was the whole earth overspread.
9:20 And Noah began [to be] an husbandman
{ie., farmer},
and he planted a vineyard:
9:21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken;
{cp. Prov 20:1; 23:31,32}
and he was uncovered within his tent.
{cp. Gen 7:1; 1Cor 10:11-13}
9:22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father,
and told his two brethren without.
9:23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment,
and laid [it] upon both their shoulders, and went backward,
and covered the nakedness of their father;
and their faces [were] backward,
and they saw not their father's nakedness.
{cp. Ex 20:12; Gal 6:1; 1Pet 4:8}
Noah's sin- The governor of the earth fails to govern himself.
  • Having been given the basic responsibilities of government (by God's covenant), Noah failed.
    His failure, demonstrates that there is no good thing in man. Sin was not eradicated by the Flood, because the men, who were preserved, were also sinners by nature. The story of man is the story of his failure, whether in Eden, beneath Mt. Ararat, in Canaan, in the Church, or even in the Millennial Kingdom. cp. Gen 8:21; Rom 7:18,19
    From beginning to end, the Bible provides an honest record of man's failure. God's Word truthfully reveals man's condition, because until we recognize our sinfulness, we will not see our need for the Savior. The natural tendency of human authors would be to cover up our faults. But the men who penned the Scriptures wrote as God's Spirit moved them, to record God's message to mankind (2Pet 1:21).
  • Yet, the same Record reveals that God's Grace clothed Noah in righteousness. cp. Gen 6:9
    The God who remembers His covenant (v.15), will not remember the sins of those who are under His righteousness. cp. Psa 25:6,7; Heb 8:12; 11:7
9:24 And Noah awoke from his wine,
and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
9:25 And he said, Cursed [be] Canaan;
a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
9:26 And he said, Blessed [be] the LORD God of Shem;
and Canaan shall be his servant.
9:27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem;
and Canaan shall be his servant.
9:28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.
9:29 And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.
Noah... knew what {Ham} had done unto him... - But the details are withheld from us.
At the least, he dishonored his father by advertising his shame.
Noah made prophetic statements concerning his sons and their descendants:
  • Canaan (Ham's son)- would serve the others.
    Note that Ham is not cursed, but rather the curse is on his son. Ham had four sons (10:6). Yet, only his youngest son is cursed. We are not told what involvement he had in the matter. However, his descendants, the Canaanites, were known for engaging in sexual perversions, by the time of Moses (Leviticus ch. 18). It was because of these sins, that the LORD cast them out of the land (Lev 18:24,25).
         Note also that the curse relates to Canaan's relative position in the world, not to skin color or any other characteristics. It was the land of Canaan which God would later give to Israel.
  • Shem - would have a special relationship to God, whom Noah called ''the LORD God of Shem.''
    The Semitic peoples, including Israel, are descended from Shem.
    The promised Savior would come into the world through his line.
  • Japheth - would be enlarged.
    Historically, his descendants have had the predominant influence in government, science and art.
    Ch.10 provides a more detailed look at the peoples descended from Noah's sons.

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