Jan. 3 Reading: Genesis 8-11 Commentary
“Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Gen. 9:11)
Genesis 8 – God Delivers Noah
God specifically remembered Noah (v. 1). No matter the circumstances we go through, God will never forget His children. Noah and his family had spent a long time in the ark, and now God was going to bring the cataclysmic flood to an end.
He caused a great wind to pass over the earth and shut the fountains of the deep and held back the rain so that the waters began to recede on the earth. It took about a year for them to eventually return to their place so that Noah and his family could leave the ark. If this seems like a long time, remember that the waters had risen to over 20 ft. above the tallest mountains.
Once Noah left the ark, he built an altar and worshipped the Lord (v. 20). We should live every day in a posture of worship for what God has done for us. But even more so when we are lead through the trials of life. Noah did not fail to give the Lord credit for his salvation. And we see, unlike Cain, that Noah’s offering of worship was pleasing to the Lord
At this moment, God does something interesting. He makes a covenant with creation itself. He says in verse 21, “…I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.”
Genesis 9 – God’s Covenant with Noah
God’s not done making covenants. Noah and his sons are given the same command that Adam and Eve received in that God instructs them to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (v. 1). This was clearly needed because at this point, there were only 8 people on the earth, Noah, his wife and their three sons and their wives.
God give all of creation over to them in regards to what they can eat. It would now seem that animals were on the menu for food, suggesting that up until this point, man had followed a vegetarian diet (vv. 2-3). One caveat is given though. They were not to eat any meat where blood remained in it. This mirrors the restrictions set down to the Israelites by God in Leviticus 17.
Additionally, God reiterates the sanctity of life with instructions that there is to be no taking of human life (vv. 5-6)
At this time, God establishes a covenant with Noah specifically. It reads similar to the covenant that God made with the ground in 8:21: “And as for Me, behold, I establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you…Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth” (vv. 8-11). This had to be especially comforting to Noah after what they’d been through and that from this time on they would see it rain again.
God created a special sign to mark the establishment of this covenant – a rainbow. (v. 12-17). Every time that appeared in the clouds, God would remember His covenant with Noah to never again destroy the earth in a flood. To this day, He has not broken that promise.
Genesis 10 – Noah’s Descendants
Chapter 10 includes the genealogy of the three sons of Noah: Shem, Ham and Japheth. The most notable names include:
- Canaan – a son of Ham. From him would come all the people groups who settle in the land of Canaan (aka Canaanites)
- Nimrod – a son of Cush, a son of Ham. We are told that he was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Whether that is good or bad is unclear. And we are told that Babel was a city within his kingdom.
- Peleg – a descendant of Shem. The Bible tells us that in his days “the earth was divided” (v. 25). This is most likely a reference to the dispersion of people after the tower of Babel incident in Chap. 11.
Other notable Bible names of people and places here include: Magog, Assyria, Nineveh, the Philistines, the Amorites, the Jebusites and Sodom and Gomorrah.
With only 8 people surviving the flood, of course there was only one spoken language at the time. This undoubtedly made communication easy and society began to move rapidly forward. They found a great place to live “…a plain in the land of Shinar…” (v. 2) that surely met all their needs for food, water and safety. Over time, technology advanced to the point where they learned how to use bricks and mortar for building structures.
On one occasion, they decided to build a tower “…whose top is in the heavens…” in order to “…make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (v. 4). This was clearly an attempt to achieve human greatness, motivated by pride and arrogance in their abilities.
The Lord came down to see what was happening and was displeased with this effort. We read that because the people were all of one language, “…now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them” (v. 6). So in order to slow the pace of development and to silence man’s arrogance, God confused the languages of all the people so that they did not understand one another’s speech. The result is that people did begin to spread to other locations in the world.
Although it seems like a one-off incident in the Bible, what happened at Babel cannot be understated. It was at this moment that all languages, culture, values and people groups began to develop. The diversity we see in our world today, traces its roots to this incident. And once again it shows God’s sovereignty over mankind.
Chapter 11 wraps up with another genealogy, this time of Shem’s descendants. One notable point here is the decreasing length of lifespans.
The genealogy ends here with a man named Terah (who had three sons, Abram, Nahor and Haran) who leaves his homeland of Ur of the Chaldeans to resettle in Canaan. They make it as far as Haran where Terah dies after some time.
Questions to Consider: God’s promises are true and binding. They will never be broken. When he says he is going to do something, he will do it. What promises of God are you holding on to today? How have you seen God’s faithfulness in your life? How do you think Noah’s view of God changed having lived through the flood? Similarly, how have life events shaped your view of God?
What other points would you want to know about in our Genesis 8-11 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.