Violence Filled the Earth: Genesis 6:11–12

violence filled earth

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This post carries a trigger warning for sexual and domestic violence

3) Gen 6:11–12: In Gen 6:9–10, Moses portrayed Noah with the purity of freshly fallen snow.[1] However, the remainder of humanity resembled filthy sleet (Gen 6:1–7).[2]

Indeed, these two verses form a succinct summary of the collective state of humanity ever since the fall (Gen 3:1–6:4).

In Gen 6:11–13, “the earth” (haerets)occurs six times and the verb “ruin” (shakhath) appears in five places.[3]

Victor Hamilton captures the idea by translating these verses as, “Gone to ruin was the earth…indeed, it had gone to ruin…all flesh had ruined its way…I will ruin them.”[4]



Moses began this section by writing, “And the earth was ruined in the sight of God, and the earth was filled [with] violence.”

The first two instances of “the earth was ruined” describe the condition brought about by sinful humans, making the planet unusable (Jer 13:1–11).[5]

Just as a potter remakes a spoiled pot into something beautiful, so the Lord would destroy and remake the earth (Jer 18:1–4).[6]

The parallelism which Moses employed in this verse indicates that humanity’s moral corruption took the form of violence.[7]

Thus, this type of sin offends God not only because it attacks him directly but also because it assaults his creation.[8]

Ironically, violence filled the earth rather than people and animals (Gen 1:21–22, 27–28).[9]



The term “violence” (khamas) is broader than only physical assault (Isa 59:2–8; Prov 10:6; Prov 16:29). Yet, it can encompass bloodshed (Gen 34:25; Gen 49:5; Judg 9:4–5, 23–24).

Overall, khamas denotes “a cold-blooded and unscrupulous infringement of the personal rights of others, motivated by greed and hate and often making use of physical violence and brutality.”[10]

As a result, any antisocial or exploitative acts can be considered violence.[11]

Based upon the context, this brutality consisted of sexual assault committed by powerful kings and officials followed by acts of revenge (Gen 6:1–4).



Moses wrote, “God saw the earth and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”

This verse deliberately forms a strong contrast with Gen 1:31, heightening the sense of tragedy.[12]

By shedding innocent blood, people defiled the earth (Gen 4:9–12; Deut 21:1–9; Isa 21:2).[13]

The pending divine judgment would complete the self-destruction which humanity initiated.[14]

That they were “flesh” (basar) emphasizes their fragile mortality.[15] Based upon the extent of the destruction, the term appears to include both people and animals (Gen 6:17–19).[16]



Violence begets violence. For example, a person who feels powerless at work may go home and release the resulting hostility in the presence of family members. A child bullied by that parent takes it out on a younger sibling. That tot delivers a swift kick to the family dog, who chases the cat. Those who feel helpless in their experience of abuse tend to hurt those around them. No one carries more potential for violence than a victim (Cf. Gen 4:23–24).[17]

Adults who experienced neglect or abuse as children are three times as likely to report that they have abused their children. They are 50% more prone to committing intimate partner violence.[18]

Unjustly-treated people may have short fuses and long memories.[19]

Image via Wikimedia Commons


a) Read Gen 6:11–12. Why was the earth ruined? Who was guilty? How can sexual assault and other forms of violence lead to more brutality?




Go to The End Was Near (Gen 6:13)

[Related posts include The Blessing of Fruitfulness (Gen 1:28); God Evaluates His Creation (Gen 1:31); Thorns and Thistles (Gen 3:17–18); Misappropriated Blood (Gen 4:9‒10); Advancements in Civilization (Gen 4:20–22); Lamech’s Ode to Himself (Gen 4:23–24); Seeking Relief (Gen 5:28–32); Sons of God or Sons of the Gods? (Gen 6:1–2); Descendants of Seth as the Sons of God (Gen 6:1–2 cont.); Fallen Angels as the Sons of God (Gen 6:1–2 cont.); Kings as Sons of the Gods (Gen 6:1–2 cont.); Taking Wives for Themselves (Gen 6:1–2 cont.); Limiting Human Life Spans (Gen 6:3); Nephilim in the Land (Gen 6:4); God Grieves (Gen 6:5–6); Wiping Out Everyone (Gen 6:7); Noah Found Favor (Gen 6:8); Righteous and Blameless (Gen 6:9–10); God Hates Violence (Mal 2:13–16); Co-Heirs with Christ (Rom 8:16–18); Creation’s Eager Expectation (Rom 8:19); Subjected to Futility (Rom 8:20); Set Free from the Slavery of Corruption (Rom 8:21–22); New Creatures in Christ (2 Cor 5:17); Receiving Christ’s Righteousness (2 Cor 5:21); Difficult Times in the Last Days (2 Tim 3:1–4); Having a Form of Godliness (2 Tim 3:5); Rebellious Angels (Jude 6–7); Guilty of Misconduct (Jude 8); and Author and Date of Genesis]

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


[1]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 133.

[2]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 170.

[3]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 170–1.

[4]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 278.

[5]J. Conrad, “שָׁחַת” (shakhath), TDOT 14:583–95, 592.

[6]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 278.

[7]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 134.

[8]Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin, 16.

[9]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 171.

[10]H. Haag, “חָמָס” (khamas), TDOT 4: 482–6, 482.

[11]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 171.

[12]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 171.

[13]Alexander, From Paradise to the Promised Land, 2nd Ed., 134.

[14]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 171.

[15]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 134.

[16]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 279.

[17]Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin, 56–7.

[18]Izabela Milaniak and Cathy Spatz Widom, “Does Child Abuse and Neglect Increase Risk for Perpetration of Violence Inside and Outside the Home?” Psychology of Violence 5, no. 3 (July 2015): 246–55, 250,

[19]Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin, 60.