Righteous and Blameless

righteous and blameless

1) Gen 6:9–10: These verses portray Noah as both the first man in a new genealogy and as someone unique in his generation.[1]

By writing, “This is the book of the generations of Noah,” Moses communicated that he was beginning a new section of Genesis (Cf. Gen 2:4; Gen 5:1; Gen 10:1).[2]

After racing through millennia between the creation of Adam and these verses, Moses abruptly slowed the narrative to nearly a standstill. He devoted almost three chapters to Noah’s six hundredth year.[3]

The conclusion of the typical formula to depict a person’s life, such as in Gen 5:6–8, shall not appear until Gen 9:29.[4] Overall, the flood narrative occupies as much text as the period of time from Adam to Noah and during the era from Noah to Abraham.[5]

The intervening material consists of a masterful account of repeating patterns.[6] For example, the entire flood story forms a chiasm, a mirror image highlighting that “God remembered Noah”:[7]

A    Transitional introduction (6:9a)

B   Noah and his world just prior to the flood (6:9b–12)

C     Provision for the flood with a divine monologue establishing God’s covenant to  sustain Noah, preceded by observations on Noah and human behavior (6:13–22)

D   Embarkation (7:1–5)

E     Beginning of the flood with Noah and animals as main actors (7:6–16)

F    The rising flood: (7:17–24)

G    God remembered Noah (8:1a)

F́    The receding flood (8:1b–5)

É     Ending of the flood with Noah and birds as main actors (8:6–14)

D́   Disembarkation (8:15–19)

Ć     Provision for the post-flood world with a divine monologue to sustain the earth, with observations on human behavior (8:20–22)

B́   Noah and world conditions following the flood (9:1–17)

Á    Transitional introduction (9:18–19)[8]

This structure reveals that the Lord’s intervention saved Noah, not a boat.[9] Furthermore, the main purpose of the flood narrative concerns why God preserved Noah, not why he sent the deluge.[10]

Moses wrote, “Noah was a righteous man, having integrity in his generation. Noah walked with God.”

In Hebrew, this section begins and ends with Noah’s name, putting him in the spotlight.[11] The contrast with his contemporaries anticipates the coming judgment.[12]

Surprisingly, the words translated as “righteous” (tsadiq) and “blameless” (tamim) do not appear in the Bible prior to this.[13] Yet “righteous” frequently occurs in the Old Testament (OT), occurring 206 times.[14]

Typically, a righteous person keeps the moral law and avoids sin, living according to God’s standards (Ezek 18:5–9).[15]

Such people intentionally live for the benefit of creation, their neighbors, and to please the Lord. They are willing to place themselves at a disadvantage to aid others (Prov 12:10; Lev 19:9–18).[16] Indeed, the Lord used the righteousness of Noah to save the world.[17]

Not only was Noah righteous, “he was blameless (tamim) in his generation.”

Usually, this trait describes sacrificial animals free from any defect (Exod 12:5; Lev 3:1).[18] By coming after the pronouncement of Noah’s uprightness, this phrase carries the similar meaning of “sound, wholesome, unimpaired, innocent, having integrity” (Job 12:4: Prov 11:5; Prov 13:6).[19]

Thus, the term connotes Noah’s wholehearted commitment to his relationship with God.[20] Only those who abstain from sin and live in a manner pleasing to the Lord can dwell in his presence (Ps 15; Ps 119:1–3; Acts 3:17–21; Rev 6:15–17).[21]

Nevertheless, this does not mean that Noah never committed sin.[22] After all, even David could make this claim after committing adultery and murder (Ps 51; 2 Sam 11:2–4, 14–15; Ps 101:1–4).[23]

Instead, Noah was blameless in comparison to the people living around him (Gen 7:1; Ps 14:1–3; Rom 3:9–12).[24]

God expected blamelessness from every Israelite (Deut 18:13), although only a few achieved this goal (Job 2:3).[25] Among all of the people in the Old Testament, only Job comes close to Noah’s stature (Job 1:1).[26]

Due to his behavior, those living close to Noah had no excuse to criticize his ways. As a “seed of the woman” living among the “seed of the serpent,” Noah provides a model for believers living in a hostile world (Gen 3:15).[27]

The quality of Abraham’s righteousness provides further clarity to Noah’s situation (Gen 15:6). God crediting him as righteous points to a pattern in which the Lord bestows his favor and then chooses to see a person as upright in character and conduct as result of that person’s trust in him (Cf. Gen 6:8–9 with Gen 12:1–3). Such faith results in a change of heart which subsequently leads to righteous action.[28]

Both Noah and Abraham serve as exemplars of a trusting relationship with the Lord which resulted in salvation despite their occasional failures (Gen 9:20–21 and Gen 16:1–4).

Just as Israel did not particularly deserve exaltation to the position of God’s chosen people (Deut 7:6–8), so the Lord chose Noah from among all of the people on earth.[29]

As a righteous and blameless man, Noah would not suffer the destruction about to come upon the rest of the people.[30] Yet, God did not save him for his sake alone, but for the preservation of humanity and even animals in a new era.[31]

Moses continued the description of this great man, writing, “With God Noah walked.”

Apart from Enoch (Gen 5:22–24), Scripture depicts no one else this way.[32] As with Enoch, the Hebrew form of the verb indicates that Noah and the Lord walked in fellowship with each other.[33]

While God saved Enoch from mortality, he prevented Noah from drowning.[34] Intimate communion with the Lord brings deliverance from death.[35]

Thus, Genesis attests that walking with God in a relationship based upon trusting him results in a state of salvation and a concomitant change of heart to reflect the character of God (Hab 2:4).

Our obedience to the Lord flows from the righteousness which God grants to us as people of faith. While upright character and conduct proceed from justification, those whom the Lord deems righteous do not perfectly practice them. Nevertheless, the pattern of behavior which the virtuous exhibit stands in stark contrast to that of the wicked whom God will destroy. In a world terrorized by evil people, we must remain committed to Christ even at great risk.[36]

As in Gen 5, at the end of ten named generations of only one ancestor each, three sons stand at a turning point of history.

This section of the genealogical record concludes with, “And Noah fathered three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”

By repeating Gen 5:32, Moses named the male passengers on the ark.[37] Commentators disagree concerning the spiritual condition of Noah’s sons. Moses recorded no overt statement about their righteousness.[38]

Some conclude their father resembled that of their father, for Moses mentioned them before he detailed the corruption of the human population in Gen 6:11–12 (Cf. Ezek 14: 19–20).[39]

Others note they may have come under God’s protection as a reward for Noah’s righteousness (Gen 19:12–15; Josh 2:1–6, 12–14).[40]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Read Gen 6:9–10. How do we know that the flood story has been inserted into Noah’s genealogical record? Describe the relationship between righteousness and blamelessness. What results from walking with God?

 

 

 

Go to New Creatures in Christ

 

[Related posts include What Became of the Heavens and the Earth (Gen 2:4–6); The First Good News (Gen 3:15); In the Likeness of God (Gen 5:1–2); Ancient Near Eastern Genealogies (Gen 5:1); Walking with God (Gen 5:21–24); Noah Found Favor (Gen 6:8); God Establishes a Covenant (Gen 6:18); New Creatures in Christ (2 Cor 5:17); Receiving Christ’s Righteousness (2 Cor 5:21); Pleasing to God (Heb 11:6–6); Hebrew Poetry; and Author and Date of Genesis]

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

 

[1]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 277.

[2]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 155.

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

[4]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 156.

[5]Kline, Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview, 212.

[6]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 125. We will examine several of these when we reach those sections of the text.

[7]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 156.

[8]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 125.

[9]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 157.

[10]Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative: A Biblical-Theological Commentary, 124.

[11]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 277.

[12]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 169.

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

[14]Result of Logos 7 word study on ץָדַק (tsadiq).

[15]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 169–70.

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

[17]B. Johnson, “ץָדַק” (tsadiq), TDOT 12: 239–64, 258.

[18]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 277.

[19]Brown, Driver, and Briggs, “ץָדַק ” (tsadiq), BDB, 843, https://archive.org/stream/hebrewenglishlex00browuoft#page/842/mode/2up.

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

[21]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 170.

[22]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 277.

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

[24]Walton, Genesis, 311.

[25]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 170.

[26]Walton, Genesis, 311.

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

[28]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 330

[29]Warren Malcolm Clark, “The Righteousness of Noah,” VT 21, no. 3 (7 January 1971): 261–80, 277.

[30]Walton, Genesis, 311.

[31]Clark, “The Righteousness of Noah,” 277.

[32]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 170.

[33]Pratico and van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar, 2nd Ed., 385.

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

[35]Vos, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments, 58.

[36]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 120.

[37]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 170.

[38]Walton, Genesis, 311.

[39]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 170.

[40]Walton, Genesis, 311.