The structure of the flood narrative in Gen 6–9 indicates that the main theme concerns why God preserved Noah, not why he sent the deluge (Gen 8:1).[1]

As a righteous and blameless person, Noah wholeheartedly committed himself to his relationship with the Lord (Gen 6:9).[2]

Thus, he would not suffer the destruction which would come upon the rest of humanity (Gen 6:13–14).[3]

By filling the earth with violence (Gen 6:11),[4] rather than with people and animals (Gen 1:20–22, 26–28),[5] humanity had ruined the planet in God’s sight (Gen 6:11–12).[6]

Since they had spoiled the earth by their sin, the Lord would complete its destruction. This is a textbook example of the punishment fitting the crime.[7]

Humanity’s progressive degradation called for immediate action,[8] and God made an irrevocable decision.[9]

However, the Lord informed Noah of his plan to destroy all that had been corrupted, yet preserve a righteous remnant (Gen 6:14–18). This would include representatives of the creation that humanity was intended to steward (Gen 1:28; Gen 6:19–20).[10]

Unlike in other Ancient Near Eastern flood accounts, Noah’s salvation was neither an accident nor a thwarting of God’s plan.[11]

As a result, the Lord specified how to build the ark rather than leaving the plan of escape to Noah’s imagination.[12]

The instructions are quite brief, giving us minimal details (Gen 6:14–16).[13] However, they are specific enough to imply that Noah was not a shipbuilder by trade.[14]

No rudders or sails are mentioned for Noah’s boat, indicating that it was never intended to be navigated. Noah’s fate was in God’s hands (Gen 7:16).[15]

Only after receiving construction plans did Noah learn why the Lord commanded him to build a gigantic boat. He planned to bring a flood of water to ruin all flesh which had breath (Gen 6:17).[16]

Every human and animal would perish. The breath (ruach) of life which the Lord had given, he would take away.[17]

Noah then discovered why God ordered him to build a boat which was far too large for him and his family.[18]

The Lord began by saying, “And I shall establish my covenant with you.”

Even before the rain began, the Lord intended to provide for the continuation of human and animal life.[19]

By means of an ark, God would save the righteous seed of the woman (Gen 3:15) as well as representatives of the nonhuman creation (Gen 6:18–20).[20]

The Lord said, “And you shall enter the ark: you and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.”

The Lord would preserve the family structure of humanity, extending salvation to Noah’s children.[21]

Even today, those who have married can attest that a person does not marry one individual but into an entire family.

Noah was surely grateful that he and his sons would not have to find and capture two of every kind of animal.[22] Instead, the Lord would guide them to the ark.

On the other hand, they did gather and store enough food to sustain them and the animals (Gen 6:21). The effort necessary to build and equip the ark had to be expensive and exhausting.

Yet, “Noah did according to all which God commanded him. Thus he did” (Gen 6:22). This brief statement provides insight into Noah’s character.[23]

It emphatically affirms Noah’s complete obedience. Noah succeeded where Adam had failed (Gen 2:16–17; Gen 3:6).[24]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Go to By Twos and Sevens

 

[Related posts include Inhabitants of the Sea and Sky (Gen 1:20–23); Living Things from the Earth (Gen 1:24–25); Stewards of the Earth (Gen 1:26 cont.); Male and Female He Created Them (Gen 1:27); The Blessing of Fruitfulness (Gen 1:28); Forbidden Fruit (Gen 2:16–17); Succumbing to Temptation (Gen 3:6); The First Good News (Gen 3:15); Kings as Sons of the Gods (Gen 6:1–2 cont.); Taking Wives for Themselves (Gen 6:1–2 cont.); Nephilim in the Land (Gen 6:4); Righteous and Blameless (Gen 6:9–10); Violence Filled the Earth (Gen 6:11–12); The End was Near (Gen 6:13); Specifications for an Ark (Gen 6:14–16); A Deluge to Ruin All Flesh (Gen 6:17); God Establishes a Covenant (Gen 6:18); Two of Every Kind (Gen 6:19–22); New Creatures in Christ (2 Cor 5:17); Receiving Christ’s Righteousness (2 Cor 5:21); and Receiving a Divine Warning (Heb 11:7)]

[Click here to go to Chapter 6: The Promise of a Covenant (Genesis 6:9–22); or go to Chapter 7: God Opens the Heavens and the Earth (Genesis 7:1–24)]

 

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

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

[3]Walton, Genesis, 311.

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

[5]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 171.

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

[7]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 171–2.

[8]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 126.

[9]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 172.

[10]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 122.

[11]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 165.

[12]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 135.

[13]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 172.

[14]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 281.

[15]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 135.

[16]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 174.

[17]Note that the Hebrew word ruach means both “breath” and “spirit/Spirit,” https://archive.org/stream/hebrewenglishlex00browuoft#page/924/mode/2up.

[18]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 175.

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

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

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

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

[23]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 285.

[24]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 176.