d) Gen 9:1: Within the overall structure of the chiasm depicting the flood narrative (Gen 6:9–9:19), God’s fourth speech (Gen 9:1–17) parallels his first oration in Gen 6:13–22.[1] This later passage specifies important details of the covenant which the Lord announced in Gen 8:20–22.[2]

God’s adherence to this covenant does not depend upon human obedience. Nevertheless, the Lord required Noah and his descendants to abide by precise obligations. Therefore, this pact was not unilateral.[3]

The beginning of this speech utilizes a common Hebrew literary device called an inclusio by repeating the blessing of Gen 9:1 in Gen 9:7.[4] This technique uses repetition to bracket the enclosed material and to emphasize the unity of thought within those book-ending verses.[5]

In this case, Gen 9:2–6 informs us how to fulfill the obligations of the decree in Gen 9:1 and Gen 9:7.[6]

God called Noah, as a second Adam,[7] to fulfill the original human mandate of Gen 1:28–29.[8] These directives concern the proliferation of life, the preservation of life, and the provision for life.[9]

Moses wrote, “And God blessed Noah and his sons. And he said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’”

This blessing parallels that which the Lord gave to Adam and Eve.[10]

In fact, this represents the third time the Lord delivered this directive to multiply and occupy our planet (Cf. Gen 8:15–17).[11] Gen 10 and 11 unfold how Noah’s descendants experienced this divine decree.[12]

The Epic of Gilgamesh gives this account of the hero Utnapishtim’s encounter with the god who had sought to annihilate every person on earth with the flood:

Thereupon Enlil went aboard the ship. Holding me by the hand, he took me aboard. He took my wife aboard and made (her) kneel by my side.

Standing between us, he touched our foreheads to bless us, “Hitherto Utnapishtim has been but human. Henceforth Utnapishtim and his wife shall be like unto us gods. Utnapishtim shall reside far away, at the mouth of the rivers!”

Thus, they took me and made me reside far away, at the mouth of the rivers.[13]

The chief god Enlil quickly overcame his rage over the survival of humanity. Instead of wiping out Utnapishtim and his wife, Enlil exiled them far away from the gods’ presence.[14]

In the Atrahasis Epic’s account, human overpopulation prompted the gods to unleash the flood.[15] Hence, the goddess of childbirth intervened after the deluge to appease the chief god:[16]

In addition, let there be a third category among the peoples. Let there be among the peoples women who bear and women who do not bear.

Let there be among the peoples the Pašittu-demon to snatch the baby from the lap of her who bore it. Establish Ugbabtu-women, Entu-women, and Igiṣitu-women, and let them be taboo and so stop childbirth.[17]

Here the gods initiated artificial barrenness, sterility, and a high infant mortality rate.[18]

The account in Genesis rejects this curse.[19]

Given that God regards reproduction with his favor,[20] we should understand it as a privilege rather than a command to obey. Therefore, those who choose not to have children do not violate Scriptural obligations. The Lord gave this blessing for humanity to fill the earth.

How wonderful it would be if we succeeded in utilizing our spiritual privileges as well as we have this physical one. Sadly, our world-wide population is approaching the limits which the earth can reasonably sustain.[21]

In Gen 1:26–28, God commissioned Adam and Eve to expand the garden until Eden covered the whole earth. Then all could see that God rules through the work of his images (Eph 3:10).[22]

Yet, the Lord did not give Noah and his family absolute dominion. He intended them to fulfill his intentions for the earth and its creatures. As those created in God’s image, he appointed people to fill the earth and rule as benevolent kings (Ps 8:3–9).[23]

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Read Gen 9:1. What made Noah a Second Adam? How does this verse mesh with Gen 1:26–28? In what ways does it differ from other Ancient Near Eastern views? How can you fulfill this commission?





Go to Every Moving Living Thing


[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); An Anguishing Process (Gen 3:16); God Establishes a Covenant (Gen 6:18); Bring Them Out (Gen 8:15–19); Noah’s Grateful Response (Gen 8:20); A Rest-Inducing Aroma (Gen 8:21); A Promise of Stability (Gen 8:22); Ancient Literature; Hebrew Poetry; and Author and Date of Genesis]

[Click here to go to Chapter 9: A Covenant with Noah (Genesis 8:20–9:17)]


[1]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 156.

[2]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 312.

[3]Williamson, Sealed with an Oath: Covenant in God’s Unfolding Purpose, 63.

[4]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 192.

[5]Klein, Blomberg, and Hubbard Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 2nd Ed., 303.

[6]Williamson, Sealed with an Oath: Covenant in God’s Unfolding Purpose, 63.

[7]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 313. “Second Adam” is also one of the titles ascribed to Jesus.

[8]Jeffrey J. Niehaus, God at Sinai: Covenant and Theophany in the Bible and Ancient Near East (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 169.

[9]Vos, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments, 64.

[10]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 192.

[11]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 144.

[12]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 192.

[13]Speiser, “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” in ANET, 11:189–96, 95, https://archive.org/stream/Pritchard1950ANET_20160815/Pritchard_1950_ANET#page/n119/mode/2up.

[14]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 313.

[15]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 144.

[16]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 313.

[17]Lambert and Millard, “Epic of Atra-Khasis,” in RANE, 31.

[18]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 144.

[19]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 313.

[20]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 144.

[21]Walton, Genesis, 143–4.

[22] Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God, 81–2.

[23] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 67.