God Establishes a Covenant: Genesis 6:18

God establishes covenant (2)

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d) Gen 6:18: In this verse, the Lord began to name those whom he would save through the flood.

God said to Noah, “And I shall establish my covenant with you.”[1]

Although this is the first time the word “covenant” (berith) occurs in the Old Testament,[2] many commentators believe the Lord enacted a covenant with Adam (Gen 1:26–30; Gen 2:15–17).[3]

The concept of a covenant between a deity and people remains unique to the biblical milieu. No record of such a compact appears in other religions and cultures.[4]

That the Lord called it “my covenant” emphasizes that the pact originated with him, not with Noah. God set its terms and sanctions.[5]

In it, the Lord chose to exempt Noah from what he would do to all flesh (Gen 6:5–13).[6]



A covenant consists of a binding agreement between two parties.[7] As in Noah’s case, it formalizes and confirms an already existing relationship.[8]

One or both participants agreed under oath to either complete or abstain from certain activities.[9]

Covenants typically obligated their originators to fulfill particular commitments as long as the other party remained faithful (Gen 17:1–12).[10]

The Lord announced his covenant with Noah even before the deluge occurred.

Thus, the pact which God made after the flood did not consist of an afterthought (Gen 9:8–17).

Even before the rain began, the Lord intended to provide for the continuation of human and animal life.[11]

By means of an ark, God would save the righteous seed of the woman as well as representatives of the nonhuman creation (Gen 3:15; Gen 6:19–20).[12]



God continued, saying, “And you shall enter the ark: you and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.”

By repeating the word “you,” the Lord stressed that he made his covenant with Noah, not with Noah’s wife or children.[13]

Nevertheless, God would preserve the family structure of humanity, extending salvation to them.[14]

The concept of the modern nuclear family did not exist in the Ancient Near East (ANE).[15]

Yet, even today, those who have married can attest that one does not wed an individual but into an entire family.

The Epic of Gilgamesh also notes the inclusion of additional passengers.

It says, “All my family and kin I made go aboard the ship…All the craftsmen I made go aboard…I boarded the ship and battened up the entrance. To batten down the (whole) ship, to…the boatman.”[16]

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Read Gen 6:18. What constitutes a covenant? How would you describe the pact depicted here? How is this account similar to the story in the Epic of Gilgamesh?  What differences are there?





Go to Two of Every Kind (Gen 6:19–22)

[Related posts include Made in the Image of God (Gen 1:26 cont.); Stewards of the Earth (Gen 1:26 cont.); Male and Female He Created Them (Gen 1:27); The Blessing of Fruitfulness (Gen 1:28); The Lord Provides Food (Gen 1:29–30); Serving and Keeping (Gen 2:15); Forbidden Fruit (Gen 2:16–17); and The First Good News (Gen 3:15) Noah Found Favor (Gen 6:8); Righteous and Blameless (Gen 6:9–10); The End Was Near (Gen 6:13); Specifications for an Ark (Gen 6:14–16); A Deluge to Ruin All Flesh (Gen 6:17); Two of Every Kind (Gen 6:19–22); A Covenant with All Living Things (Gen 9:8–11); New Creatures in Christ (2 Cor 5:17); Receiving Christ’s Righteousness (2 Cor 5:21); and Author and Date of Genesis]

[Click here to go to Chapter 6: The Promise of a Covenant (Genesis 6:9–22)]


[1]M. Weinfeld, “בְּרִית” (berith), TDOT 2:253–79, 260.

[2]Result of Logos 7 word study of בְּרִית (berith).

[3]Kline, Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview, 107.

[4]Weinfeld, “בְּרִית” (berith), TDOT 2:253–79, 278.

[5]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 136.

[6]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 283.

[7]Arnold and Beyer, RANE, 96.

[8]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 136.

[9]George E. Mendenhall and Gary A. Herion, “Covenant,” ABD 1:1179–1202, 1179.

[10]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 123.

[11]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 284.

[12]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 121.

[13]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 283–4.

[14]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 136.

[15]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 175.

[16]Speiser, “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” in ANET, 84–5, 94, 94, https://archive.org/stream/Pritchard1950ANET_20160815/Pritchard_1950_ANET#page/n119/mode/2up.