(b) The Commingling of the Two Races (6:1-8)
We have just emphasized the fact that this is the closing portion of this particular history. Since this appears as plainly as possible, if the headings of the parts of the book are accepted on their face value as natural marks of division, and if the literary unity of the book is adhered to, we should do foolishly to lose sight of the fact. Here now is the natural sequence of thought: after the Cainites were observed to be going in one definite direction in their development, and the Sethites, tool were seen to be going in an entirely different direction, and these two streams of mankind Were strictly keeping apart because they were so utterly divergent in character, now (ch.6) the two streams begin, to commingle, and as a result moral distinctions are obliterated and the Sethites, too, become so badly contaminated that the existing world order must be definitely terminated.
With this natural sequence of thought growing out of the text and supported by a correct interpretation, criticism fails to see the obvious and introduces elements of thought entirely foreign to the connection and makes a mythical tale out of a simple and practical lesson, as we shall indicate presently. The best refutation of this erroneous view is first of all the unfolding of the natural meaning of the passage.
1, 2. And it came to pass when mankind began to multiply upon the face of the earth and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair and they took to themselves wives, whichever they liked best.
In point of time, as will appear in connection with v.3, we are shortly before the birth of Noah's sons (5:32). Men have become quite numerous upon the face of the earth. No man will ever determine how many they were. But where mankind comes to be of great numbers, somehow the places where they congregate together thickly become the scenes of the development of evil on a greater scale. So here. However, when it is remarked that "daughters were born unto them," that certainly cannot mean to describe something new: daughters had been born right along. However, this fact is mentioned as having a bearing upon the situation about to be described. Mark well that the bringing forth of daughters is being considered as taking place throughout all "mankind" (ha'adham), for the lahem, "to them," refers to the collective singular "mankind."
Now "the sons of God" are found looking indiscriminately at this group and observing only the fact that "fair" ones (tobhoth) were to be seen in the whole group. That is all that they observe. They ask or care nothing about anything else. Whether these fair ones are Sethite or Cainite means nothing to them. That is the sad moral indifference that the author emphasizes.
But who are these "sons of God"? Without a shadow of doubt, the Sethites—the ones just described in chapter five as having in their midst men who walked with God, like Enoch (v.22), men who looked to higher comfort in the midst of life's miseries, like Lamech (v.29), men who publicly worshipped God and confessed His name (4:26). Such men merit to be called the "sons of God" (benê elohîm), a title applied to true followers of God elsewhere in the Old Testament Scriptures. When the psalmist refers to such (Psalm 73:15) as "the generation of thy children," he uses the same word "sons," describing them as belonging to God. De 32:5 uses the same word "sons" ("children," A. V.) in reference to Israel. Hosea 1:10 is, if anything, a still stronger passage, saying specifically to Israel, "Ye are sons of the living God" (Heb. benê el chay). Psalm 80:17 also belongs here. Criticism resorts to a technicality at this point. If God said to me: "Thou art my Son," criticism's claim would be: "You have not been called God's son,' but my son,' "—a mere technicality. So in the face of the passages we have just cited criticism claims the Scriptures do not use the expression "sons of God" for the godly, because "thy children" is used in three instances and in the fourth another name is used for God, 'el chay. We might word the case thus: strictly speaking, "sons of God" is a title applied to the godly; grammatically, the very expression "sons of God" does not happen to be used in reference to them in that very form.
Over against this usage that we have cited criticism arrays another, the substance of which is: The title "sons of God" is used in reference to the angels. This claim cannot be denied; see Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7 and Daniel 3:25; also benê elîm, "sons of the Mighty," Psalm 29:1; 89:7. But this claim becomes erroneous when it is thus worded: The title "sons of God" is used only in reference to the angels.
But of these two uses of the title, which shall we choose in this instance? We have had no mention made of' angels thus far in Genesis. We have met with other sons of the true God, in fact, the whole preceding chapter, even 4:25-5:32, has been concerned with them. Who will, then, be referred to here? Answer, the Sethites, without a doubt.
At this point criticism leads forth its strongest argument, saying that the contrast between "sons of God" and "daughters of men" demands that the former be divine and the latter human. We answer: Not at all; least of all in the face of the very natural approach we have just established, namely, that the sons of God of 4:25-5:32 are still under consideration. We have shown above how "daughters of men" refers indiscriminately to all "the daughters of mankind," which were unfortunately lumped together by the sons of God without regard to their classification, whether Sethite or Cainite. When God's children, lose sight of such basic distinctions and look about only for the pretty faces and the shapely forms, then, surely, degeneracy has set in.
If the objection be raised, that in the preceding section the title "sons of God" had not been used in reference to the Sethites, we answer: It was reserved for use by Moses until this point to make the high standards that the Sethites should have observed in this matter all the more prominent. Or if it be objected: "sons of God" or "sons" is used of Israel as a people, not of individuals, this objection matters little. Here the Sethites are also being referred to as a separate group or people, and not as individuals.
The reference to heathen legends about the promiscuous mingling of gods and men in mythological adventures, certainly can have no bearing upon our case. Such mythological tales about racy escapades on the part of the old gods would hardly be matter by which Biblical material is to be judged or with which it is to be compared. Critics, however, have waxed so bold in this instance that Procksch simply offers the superscription "The Marriages with Angels" (Die Engelehen), for this section. Besides, they are so sure that the section is of mythological, import that they claim the original account did not read "sons of God" but "gods," striking out "sons of." So Meek translates, "the gods noticed that the daughters of men were attractive; so they married those whom they liked best."
Such an approach introduces the mythological element as well as polytheism into the Scriptures and makes the Bible a record of strange and fantastic tales and contradicts the passage Matthew 22:30: "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven." For the expression used here (v.2), "they took to themselves wives" (wayyiqechû nashîm), is the standing expression for marital union. This verse does not refer to adulterous irregularities but to permanent union. Critics nowadays readily admit this, but usually wind up by wondering, not at their interpretation, which speaks of actual marital union with angels who took up a settled habitation on earth, but by wondering at the fact that J, as they say, should have written such strange tales, which they themselves do not believe possible. On this use of laqach cf. Genesis 24:4; 21:21; 11:29; 12:19 etc.
The closing words, "whichever they liked best," help to clinch our interpretation, for they indicate that the controlling factor was the chance fancy of the moment, rather than sound judgment which weighs the moral character and the suitability of the one chosen. Literally translated this expression would be: "from all whom they chose." The min here used is the "min of explanation," which does not mean selecting some from "all" but carries the force of "whichsoever" (K. S.83).
Those who wish to find a New Testament reference to these angel marriages point to II:Pet.2:4 and to Jude 6, but neither of these passages refer to anything other than the original fall of the angels, as Keil has adequately shown. The marriages of angels have to be injected into these New Testament passages. Besides, then there would be a twofold fall of angels: the original and this, the second.
There is another harsh dissonance resulting from this strange critical construction as one tries to reason out the connection of v.3 with what precedes. For v.3, as we shall see at once, speaks of sharp restrictions laid upon man for his misdeeds. Here, then, would be the very queer sequence of thought: v.2, angels sin; v.3, men are punished. In vain the critics urge that, of course, the punishment of angels is presupposed but only that of man is mentioned. But if the angels really acted with the bold presumption the text indicates ("whichever they liked best they took"), then the women taken were practically innocent. Besides, what none of these commentators seems to have realized: if all mankind is punished as a result of what happened, these irregularities must have been quite common, well-nigh the rule, in fact. Is any critic ready to admit that? In a parallel case the evil angel has his punishment meted out first (3:14, 15); it is not simply taken for granted. Feeling all this, some critics charge the section with lacking logical progression of thought, failing to detect that the lack of logic lies in their erroneous interpretation. Procksch even charges J with creating intentional obscurities and blurring the connection of parts, an almost unbelievable course of procedure. But when critical hypotheses fail, it cannot be the critics who are wrong, but the original writers were guilty of absurdities.
3. And Yahweh said: My spirit shall not judge among mankind forever, because they also are flesh. Yet shall their days be one hundred and twenty years.
This verse is a veritable crux interpretum. The critics magnify the difficulty to the point where they render the verse: "My spirit shall not (in?) man forever; he is flesh." Our rendering above, which is in reality the substance of Luther's, except that Luther preferred a passive for the sake of better idiomatic German, we believe can be sustained by good arguments, makes good sense, and fits well into the context.
In the first place, we have rendered the verb yadhôn "judge." In support of this rendering observe that Symmachus and Luther rendered it thus. Besides, the fact that dîn means "judge" cannot be questioned. But in how many instances verbs like dîn run parallel forms like dôn or dûn! K. W. admits this meaning. With the Hebrew meaning so readily available, it seems quite unnecessary to seek out Assyrian or Arabic parallels. Now the meaning that results is simple and most appropriate. A measure of the truth had been available for these antediluvians. This divinely revealed truth counted as God's Word for them. God's Word, according to the consistent and the uniform teaching of the Scriptures, is the means of grace. Through it God's Holy Spirit (rûchî) operates, instructing or also reproving and judging men. This work of His had gone on until this point, aiming to correct and to check the strong propensity toward evil during the days of progressive degeneration. In spite of all the Spirit's corrective efforts "mankind" ('adham) had persisted in abandoning the way of truth and life. Men had finally, as the one suggestive illustration showed, no longer cared about having their homes centres of godly instruction where divine truth prevailed, being taught by father and by mother, but instead chose any woman whatsoever, as the fancy of the moment moved them, to rear their offspring. At that point God determines that He will let His Spirit no longer do His work of reproving and restraining (yadhôn), because man has degenerated. Man is no longer simply sinful, as he has been right along since the Fall; the race has also as a whole practically sunk to the level of being "flesh" (basar), just plain, ordinary, weak and sinful stock, abandoned to a life of sin. Man has forfeited all hope of further efforts of God's grace. So the expression: "because they also are flesh" fits into the picture. "Also" refers to something in addition to what had been in evidence till now, the ordinary sinful state prevalent since the Fall. This additional something is: they have degenerated to the point of being mere "flesh"—the word having the ethical connotation as in the New Testament. See the same use in Genesis 6:12,13 and Job 10:4.
Of course, we are reading beshaggam (with short a) on good textual grounds (see Kittel), and as the Septuagint translators read: dia to einai autouv sacav. Unfortunately, they, like Luther, omitted the "also." We render beshaggam:" because that also."
On first thought we seem to concur with B D B that the rendering of yadhon as "strive with" (A. V., A. R. V.). "is hardly justified." Yet, on second thought, is not the judging activity of the Spirit at the same time a striving with men to restrain them from their evil ways? The King James translators apparently were thinking of the same thing as Luther, and their rendering must be classed as quite satisfactory. We can well leave the welter of confusion and conjecture offered by criticism off at one side. It boots nothing of value.
Entirely in harmony with our rendering is the concluding statement of the verse, which marks the setting of the time limit of divine grace. For these words, "yet shall their, days be one hundred and twenty years," are to be taken in the sense of the traditional interpretation: one last period of grace is fixed by God for the repentance of mankind. The previous word indicated (3a) that God might well have cut off all further opportunities of grace. This word (3b) shows that grace always does more than could be expected. Before disposing of the guilty ones a time of grace of no less than one hundred and twenty years is allowed for their repentance. This, use of "days" (v.3) is established by the use of the same word (v.4) "those days." Consequently, the modern interpretation that takes this word to mean that God here decreed that in the future the span of man's life was not to exceed one hundred twenty years is quite unfounded. This view is proved untenable by the fact that quite a few after the Flood lived in excess of this limit: Genesis 11:11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25; 25:7; 35:28; 47:9. The evasions of the critics in meeting this argument need not be mentioned, being too palpable.
On the use of the divine names notice the expression "sons of God" ('elohîm) v.2, because theirs is a general relation to God, not a specifically theocratic one (Lange). On the other hand, v.3 brings "Yahweh" because it offers a special display of God's mercy in providing for years of grace.
We append, as worthy of note, the traditional Jewish interpretation which makes "the sons of God" of v.2 to be persons of rank an impossible thought—and "the daughters of men" to be women of low rank—equally unlikely.
4. The Nephilim were in the earth in those days and also afterwards when the sons of God went in unto the daughters of men and they bore unto them. Their were the heroes, which in olden days were renowned men.
Really quite a simple verse, unless one proceeds from the misinterpretation of the preceding verses and tries to link it up with the idea of angel marriages, a misconstruction prevalent since the days of the Septuagint translation. The basic rules of interpretation merely have to be observed: the presupposition, namely, that the Scriptures make good sense, develop their thoughts logically and naturally, and that simple grammatical rules still are in force. Says Skinner: "It was precisely this perspicuity of narration which the editor wishes to avoid." But why charge a Biblical writer with trying to write something not clear! Procksch assumes that the author J had quite a different original account, which he doctored up but left in a "wrecked state" (truemmerhafte Gestalt), which, of course, rather perplexes us. So men speak when they cannot find their meaning in the text.
Note now the simple fact that v.4 does not follow v.2. Note also that it does not attach itself by the expressive Hebrew "and" to what precedes. Verse 4 begins without a conjunction. It does not try to show what manner of persons the children of the misalliance of-v.2 were. Anybody can figure that thing out for himself. If fathers do not care to choose God-fearing wives to rear their children, the result will be that the children are not taught the fear of God, and so the godly ways of the patriarchs are abandoned. That's the result, nothing more. But v.4 speaks of another class of ungodly men of olden times, setting the noun "nephilim" first by way of emphasis to make the new more prominent. But who were the Nephilim? Apparently, a type of men who were the climax of all such who inspired fear, as the only other passage where the term is used indicates, Numbers 13:33. For there the spies first call all Canaanites "men of stature," and then they mention that even "Nephilim," sons of Anak, were there. Consequently, we are driven to seek some meaning for the word which makes them awe-inspiring. Following the Hebrew root naphal is by far the simplest. One meaning of this verb is to "fall upon= attack" (B D B): see Jeremiah 48:32; Joshua 11:7; and without any preposition, Job 1:15. This verb could readily yield this noun in the sense of "attackers," "robbers," "bandits." So we have the thought: the descendants of the godly patriarchs abandoned their spiritual heritage (v.1, 2) so that God was moved to determine upon their destruction (v.3); and there were also violent attackers and robbers abroad in those days (v.4). There was a negative breakdown of some, positive aggressive wickedness of others. Such an interpretation makes good sense. Besides, the very clause that follows makes it clear that these Nephilim, whom Luther describes quite aptly as "tyrants," were on the earth already at the time when the Sethites commingled with the Cainites, but also that they continued after that sad confusion. The time clause, "when the sons of God went in," makes this sad confusion stand out as a major calamity, so important that one could actually reckon time from it. Then the text adds that these Nephilim were the "heroes" of antiquity, the men of renown (Heb. "men of the name"). They achieved a reputation the world over by their violence, but a reputation better deserving of the term notoriety. The world certainly did not in those days, even as it does not now, esteem godly men highly. Only the wicked were renowned or had a name (shem).
The translation "giants" (A. V.) is most unfortunate. It originated with the Septuagint (gigantev). It does not follow from Numbers 13:33, even if there the "attackers" should also happen to have been giants. For "sons of Anak" means "sons of the long-necked one," and this may refer to gigantic stature. The unfortunate thing about this mistranslation is that it directs attention away from the moral issue (wicked bandits) to a physical one (tall stature). Besides, then, with a show of propriety modern interpreters combine the idea of giants with the misinterpretation about angel marriages and claim that the giants were the result of this union. But, in reality, nothing of the sort is found in the text. It is the result of a clever combination or of a mistranslation. Meek renders: "There were giants in the earth who were born to the gods whenever they had intercourse with the daughters of men." This amounts to an unwarranted alteration of the text in the interest of a dogmatic preconception. Note well, too, that if there were a notice about giants inserted here it would not at all fit into the connection. Several critics are compelled to admit that they do not know why v.4 does not follow v.2. Certain older translators were nearer the truth than the Septuagint. Aquila, who like Symmachus wrote to correct the Greek version, rendered Nephilim epipiptontev =" they who fall upon." Symmachus, in a similar strain, biaioi =" powerful."
The article before Nephilim is categorical (K. C.). Yabho'û, imperfect, expresses continuance: "they kept going in" (K. S.157; G. K.107 e). Bô' is euphemistic. Hemah is a characteristic sudden change of subject (K. S.399 B).
5. And Yahweh saw that the wickedness of mankind was great upon the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
The verses 5-8 represent the divine reaction to the wickedness of man. Therefore v.5 looks back directly upon what preceded. Two significant instances have told the whole story: the Sethites had grown indifferent to their heritage; the Cainites had developed high-handed violence. When Yahweh regards this, he sees that it constitutes "great wickedness." Aside from these outward manifestations, He discerns the inner trend of men's thoughts: they have put no restraint upon their natural inclinations, consequently their thoughts are only evil continually. It is true that the antediluvian generation is being described—God is not here discovering the innate human depravity—yet since the description shows man as simply having let himself go, this still must rank as a locus classicus for the natural depravity of the human heart, as Luther so staunchly contends. Yet the mode of expression is very suggestive: The heart is the place of the activity of man's thoughts, "the thought-workshop" (Denkwerkstaette, K. C.). These thoughts produce yétser, "formings," "imaginings," "thought combinations," Dickten und Trachten, (Luther). But what a sweeping condemnation: "only evil continually." A striking alliteration and assonance makes the statement unique and most expressive in Hebrew: raq ra'. This natural trend would have been checked, and among the growth of weeds would have sprung up plants delightful to God and to man, if men had accepted the judging and correcting work of God's Holy Spirit (v.3). But that work was being consistently refused.
6-8. And it repented Yahweh that He had made mankind upon the earth and it grieved Him at His heart. And Yahweh said: I will wipe out mankind which I have created from the face of the ground, from man to animals, to creepers, and to the birds of the heaven; for it repenteth me that I made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of Yahweh.
When God's repentance is mentioned, it should be noted that we are using an inadequate human term for a perfect and entirely good divine action. Luther especially stresses that such expressions are found in the Scriptures so that we mortals with our feeble understanding might be helped to catch hold on divine truth according to the measure of our poor human ability. Procksch well defines this repentance on God's part not as a change of purpose but of feeling out of which a new course of action develops. Scriptures frequently use the phrase "God-repented" (see Exodus 32:14; Jeremiah 18:7, 8; Jeremiah 26:3,13,19; Jonah 3:10; 1 Samuel 15:11); but .sometimes in the same breath repentance in the sense of alteration in God is denied (Numbers 23, :1.9; 1 Samuel 15:29). This repentance is the proper divine reaction to man's sin. The parallel expression well defines it: "it grieved Him at His heart," Hebrew even stronger: "into His heart," 'el-libbo.
7. The gravity of the situation is made apparent by the severity of the divine resolution: "I will wipe out mankind." Sin has become so predominant and crass that the extremest measures alone can cope with it. There can have been no prospect of the reform of the corrupt mass of mankind. The ease with which God's greatest works are done is revealed in the word "wipe out," which, by the way, contains a significant allusion to God's mode of procedure in this instance. Strange to say, this word is ascribed to Yahweh, the God of fidelity and grace; for the destruction of mankind at this time was for the purpose of making possible the development of the seed of the woman destined to crush the serpent's head. Yahweh's right thus to destroy the major part of mankind is indicated by the adjective clause: "which I have created." The Giver of life is the Supreme Lord over life and death. The thoroughness with which He is about to do His work is indicated by the enumeration of all other forms of life that are to perish with man: "animals" (behemah, here including wild as well as domesticated animals, as in v.20; 7:23; 8:17), "creepers" and "birds of the heavens." Fish naturally are not mentioned because of the mode of the destruction in this instance. The universality of the judgment thus serves to impress upon man how serious the issues really are. Beasts and other creatures, which were originally created for man's sake, may well perish if a purpose salutary to man is served.
8. Evidence of the fact that it is Yahweh that does this work lies also in the preservation of Noah. In the midst of God's judgments His "grace" (chen) also shines forth. Though the word is often used of the favour one man enjoys in the sight of another, such favour, when it flows forth from God, is that unmerited, rich favour we are wont to call "grace." In spite of A. R. V. the richer connotation of "grace" (A. V.) should be preserved. This closing statement prepares a transition for the following story of the Flood.
An instance of the purely mechanical method of procedure of the critics is given in their labelling the two expressions "which I created" and "from man to—heavens" (v.7) as glosses because they are claimed to be in the style of P. Such criticism of style, purely arbitrary as it is, makes it impossible for J to enumerate the classes that must perish. P carries a monopoly on enumerations as well as on these particular words.
IV. The History of Noah (6:9-9:29)
If any measure of competence can be ascribed to the author, then there is no need of providing a heading for this section by the use of our own ingenuity, for Moses has inserted a very accurate and usable one: "the history (toledôth) of Noah." This is not the story of the Flood. It is Noah's story. As Keil has rightly pointed out, three elements of Noah's story are presented. First, an indication of Noah's piety (very brief); then, the story of his preservation; lastly, an account of God's covenant with Noah as the father of a new race. Everything has to do with Noah. No one can deny that such a treatment of the subject matter is perfectly permissible.
The critics assign this portion of chapter six (v.9-22) to P. In fact, throughout the Flood story they claim to be able to separate the two documents P and J in a very clear-cut fashion and point to this unravelling as proof of the brilliance of their achievements. So Skinner claims: "The resolution of the compound narrative into its constituent elements in this case is justly reckoned amongst the most brilliant achievements of purely literary criticism." In fact, critics know the very pattern after which the compiler worked. They tell us that he "instead of excerpting the entire account from a single source, has interwoven it out of excerpts taken alternately from J and P, preserving in the process many duplicates, as well as leaving unaltered many striking differences of representation and phraseology." Such positive claims have unduly impressed many. They have struck terror into the hearts of those who believed otherwise. Yet there have perhaps never been such misleading and unfounded claims as just these in reference to so-called sources. Aside from some incidental refutation which may be made as we proceed, we shall offer a detailed examination of the critical position and its major arguments at the close of our treatment of chapter six.
(a) Two verses cover the report concerning Noah's piety, v.9, 10. Yet v.9-12 may be regarded as forming the entire section, because v.11, 12 fit in the dark background to the bright picture of v.9 and 10.
9. This is the history of Noah. Noah was a righteous-perfect man among his contemporaries. With God Noah did walk.
Since so much depends in this instance on the personal character of Noah, nothing is more natural than to indicate very plainly just what manner of man he was. If out of all his contemporaries he alone with his family is saved, then he must have been most unusual. To stand one's ground and to remain uninfluenced by the attitude and conduct of all men to the contrary, gives indication of a strength of character almost without parallel in history. All the world said he was wrong in holding fast to his piety; he knew they were wrong and he was right. Few as the words are that describe this character, they have unusual weight. First of all he was "righteous-perfect." By hyphenating these two adjectives we really do not intend to express a compound but rather to indicate that we have here two words that constitute a phrase or a double expression. The same combination appears in Job 12:4. There as well as here there is no conjunction connecting the two. Together, then, these two words constitute an expression that covers a state approximating perfection as nearly as man can. "Righteous" (tsaddîq) is a word commonly used in reference to men. It means that they conform to a standard. Since Noah conformed to the divine standard, he met with God's approval. However, the term is basically forensic. Therefore, though there be divine approval, that does not imply perfection on Noah's part. It merely implies that those things that God sought in man were present in Noah. Primarily, God desired man to believe Him and His promise of help through the seed of the woman. This basic requirement Noah met, and his conduct showed it. Because of such faith Noah is justified. The complementary expression is "perfect" (tamîm). Since the Hebrew root involves the idea of "complete," we are justified in concluding only that there was an all-sided life, well rounded out in all its parts, with no essential quality missing. This term, too, does not connote moral perfection. But both together describe a life of true faith and sincere consecration. It is not quite accurate to let "righteous" refer only to Noah's relation to the first table of the law; the word reaches farther. Nor is it quite correct to limit "perfect" to the second table. But rightness and completeness are stressed. They who see in the word "righteous" the idea of righteousness by faith interpret soundly, even though the fullest New Testament Connotation dare not yet be laid into the expression.
The modifying phrase "among his contemporaries" involves a contrast. Noah stood out over against his contemporaries, for they lacked these qualities. Doroth, which we have rendered "contemporaries," is generally a very expressive term here. It does mean "generations" and pictures for us the successive generations that have come and gone during the five hundred years of Noah's life. Over against them all he stood out as "righteous-perfect."
The deepest source of Noah's godliness is revealed in the words: "with God did Noah walk." The inversion, different from 5:22, puts "with God" first for emphasis. Though living among successive, mostly wicked generations, his walk was with God. Cf.5:22 for the very same expression. Personal communion with God was the taproot of this outstandingly good life. The marvel of this whole description is that it says so much about Noah in so very few words. One would expect a man to whom this description applies to stand firm in the face of a world gone to seed, and would also expect that God would make an exception in his case when He came to destroy the world.
10. And Noah begat three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
The purpose of this verse is not usually discerned. True, 5:32 is almost identical. But whereas the first statement concerning Noah's three sons naturally served to round out the Sethite genealogy, here, by following directly upon the statement of Noah's piety, the object must be to remind the readers of the effect that that piety must have had on his sons. If a man like the one described in v.9 might well be spared by God, so might the sons who were deeply influenced by the father's example.
11, 12. But the earth was corrupt before God and the earth was filled with violence; and God beheld the earth and behold it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth.
Since the waw conversive ("and") introduces this verse, it binds it closely to the preceding. In this instance, however, a definite contrast is involved to the bright clear example of Noah. Therefore we translate the conjunction "but." Besides, we are here now definitely informed of the universality of the corruption of mankind. Outstanding examples of wickedness had been mentioned in the beginning of the chapter. In v.1-8 we were informed how deep sin had penetrated. Now we are shown how far it had spread. Since a judgment of moral values lies before us, "earth" must be used by synecdoche for the "inhabitants of the earth." "Before God" means "in the judgment of God." Here is, therefore, not a merely pessimistic utterance of some disgruntled individual. The emphasis of the verb lies primarily on the fact that in God's esteem devastation had been wrought. Man had received the earth at God's hands and had sadly ruined his heritage. The second half of v.11 marks a climax: "the earth was filled with violence." Chamas is highhanded dealing; violating the rights of others. This term most correctly describes the form of moral corruption prevalent in the earth. Men's rights were being trampled upon. Nor were these cases isolated: the earth was filled with deeds of this sort. Chamas is accusative of the thing wherewith another is filled (K. S.112).
12. The form and the nature of the opening statement of this verse remind very definitely by way of contrast with 1:31. As then a divine inspection resulted in a verdict of approval, now just as positively the fact that was revealed was that the earth was corrupt. The expressive "behold" points to the unexpected: it would hardly be believed that the earth would so soon and so completely have degenerated. The expression "all flesh" can here refer only to mankind because of the qualifying nature of the object "its way." "Way" is the course man is to follow. Only a moral being can corrupt its way. Therefore "all flesh" refers to the totality of mankind in so far as it is not submitting to the Spirit's guidance, as in 6:3.
Critics have difficulties with these two verses. Ascribing them to P, they miss entirely in P an indication of where the world went wrong. Consequently, they try to make v.12 present the case as strongly as possible and draw in the beasts as well under those who had corrupted their way in "commencing to prey upon each other and to attack man." B D B is right when it refers the word "way" of v.12 to "moral action and character." Moral issues exclusively are under consideration here.
The word "earth", is taken proleptically, and its clause really follows, as in 1:4 (K. S.414b.).
Of course, the point of view of v.12 is purely anthropomorphic. Its purpose is not to state that now God first discovered that the earth had really grown quite corrupt. God had been thoroughly aware of. every increase of wickedness. But the verse does indicate that in the esteem of God, the perfect and righteous Judge, the measure of the world's iniquity was full.
b) The second portion of Noah's story now follows in 6:13-8:22, telling how he was preserved in the universal destruction.
13. And God said to Noah: The end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I am about to destroy them together with the earth.
In God's judgment the destruction of the world is determined. His purpose is here communicated to Noah. The 120 years of grace must have been concluded. The "end" (qets) is here used, of course, in the sense of "destruction." "All flesh" here, as in v.12, describes all mankind in so far as it has rejected the Spirit's guidance. "Before me" is used exactly as in v.11 in the sense of "according to my judgment." The whole statement cannot mean: "has come to my knowledge" (as Esther 9:11) but "has entered my purpose" (Skinner). Meek renders quite acceptably: "I have resolved on the extermination of all mortals," but, unfortunately, he introduces a tone of arbitrariness which is just the thing that is not involved in the phrase "before me."
There come times in the events of this world when God's gracious dealings with men are definitely terminated. Such times come only when grace has been offered in richest measure. But when the end is resolved upon, there is no recall. Such a case is marked by the "end" that God here determines. His reason for His steps shows, this course to be entirely just: "the earth is filled with violence through them." "Through them" (mippenêhem) is really: "from their faces" or from before them. But that clearly means that the violence has gone out from them. The phrase could also be translated "because of them." Man has no one to blame but himself. But this end is not coming on like a blind fate. God indicates His initiative in the work of destruction, in fact, vividly points to His participation by a "behold." Works of retribution are as much holy and good works and worthy of God as any other. The participle after hinneh indicates an act as imminent: "I am about to destroy" (K. S.237 g.). But in order to make the sweeping nature and the dread earnestness of this destruction most clearly apparent, it is His purpose to destroy men "together with the earth." Thus, when man is wiped away and his habitation with him, men realize more fully how serious the nature of their misdeeds is. The critics did not expect the phrase "with the earth" and so subject it to severe criticism. It makes too good sense to call for criticism.
The suffix in mippenêhem refers back to the collective basar.
14, 15. Make thyself an ark of gopher-wood; make the ark with cells; and smear it with pitch within and without. And this is how thou shalt make it: three hundred cubits is to be the length of the ark, fifty cubits its width, and thirty cubits its height.
The means by which God will destroy mankind and the earth has not yet been revealed to Noah. For the present only the device by which Noah is to be saved is revealed to him, but the nature of the device is such that it is comparatively easy for Noah to draw conclusions as to the impending catastrophe, which will be mentioned in v.17. This entire revelation to Noah proceeds in a very orderly fashion. He is first given the essential directions about the ark. It is called tebhah. Since the same word is used only in reference to Moses' ark of bulrushes besides, it appears quite likely to be akin to an Egyptian word, teb (t), although it will not do to be too positive about such things, as this word may be carried over from the original language of mankind. No one knows what type of tree is meant by the name "gopher." It may contain the root of the Greek word "cyprus." The translators have been puzzled by it from days of old. The Greek rendered it "square," the Latin "smoothed," etc. The word for "cells" (qinnîm) is used also for "nests." Consequently, such rooms are meant as may suit the needs of various beasts. Since rooms on shipboard are "cabins," the word may also be rendered thus. But as the description proceeds, we discover that it is rather inaccurate to speak of a ship. This was not a ship but a huge floating box with dimensions quite nearly proportionate to those of a ship. This vessel was not intended for sailing or navigating of any sort. It was designed to float. It is rendered watertight by a generous coating inside and out with "pitch" (kópher). The Assyrian word for "pitch" kuprun, as well as the Arabic parallel guarantee this meaning. From this noun, perhaps, the verb kaphar is derived, yielding the expression here used "to pitch with pitch." The definite article with kópher is the article of conformity (der Zugehoerigkeit—K. C.). "Cells" is a kind of accusative of product: "make it cells" (G. K.117 ii.; K. S.327 w.).
15. Reckoning the cubit at eighteen inches, we have the following dimensions: length, 300 cubits—450 feet; width, fifty cubits—seventy-five feet; height, thirty cubits—forty-five feet.
The introductory zeh illustrates the neuter use of the demonstratives (K. S.45).
Efforts to find an allegorical meaning in the ark such as that it represents Christ's body, that is the church, and that its one door represents Baptism are perhaps best described by the adjectives Luther employs in reference to them when he labels them as "harmless" and "not so very skilful." No one can deny the propriety of the thought, as long as it is used only as an illustration and not offered as a deeper meaning of the text as such.
16. An opening for light shalt thou make for the ark and to a cubit shalt thou make it complete toward the top; the door of the ark thou shalt put in its side; with lower, second, and third stories thou shalt make it.
This verse concludes the description as to how the ark is to be made. A tsóhar is to be "toward the top." Since the word for "noonday" comes from this root, the meaning "an opening for light" (Lichtoeffnung) is the more appropriate, not roof. It seems just a bit too obvious to specify that a "roof" should be built, and then to suggest that it is to be "toward the top." This direction would border on the ridiculous. But an "opening for light" certainly was a necessity. This means more than a window. It means an opening of a cubit from the top or "toward the top." (milma'lah) to be made entirely around the structure. This is implied in the verb from "make it complete" (tekhallénah) which, being in the Piel stem, signifies, as we might say, "run it completely around" toward the top. Of course, certain details are not mentioned in this connection. We shall never know whether other openings, aside from "the window" (Genesis 8:6), were provided. We shall never be sure whether the eaves projected out sufficiently over the "opening for light" to guard against the rain. But persons who were capable of constructing so vast a structure may well be credited with the requisite intelligence to provide for such details. We are at least informed that light and ventilation were taken care of and may dismiss all minor questions as irrelevant. The author selects a few significant factors and at the hand of these lets us form a general conception. Though no attempt at completeness is made, such as a set of full specifications for a building to be erected by a contractor would provide, we realize that such a thing cannot lie in the purpose of the author. The situation by no means calls for criticisms such as: "The details here are very confused and mostly obscure" (Skinner).
Besides, it is quite clear what Moses means when he says: "the door of the ark shalt thou put in its side." Again it matters little for present purposes whether this door was in the first or second story. But we know that a door was provided. We translate "the door," since the definite noun "the ark" makes the noun in the construct state definite. The article here signifies the customary or usual door that you might expect. The last major direction provides for three "stories." "Decks" would be a good word if this were a ship. The Hebrew happens to be unusually brief but not obscure, saying: "with lower, seconds and thirds thou shalt make it."
For those inclined to be too critical it may yet be added that surely God's direction to Noah may have been far more detailed. Any writer recording the story may abbreviate at any point and give merely the substance, if the details be no longer relevant to his purpose.
A Dutchman, Peter Janson, in 1609-21 made a novel experiment in building a vessel thus proportioned and thus satisfying himself both of its seaworthiness as well of its relatively high storage capacity. But a bit of reflection might have satisfied almost any man of the seaworthiness of such a box. Furthermore, the enormity of the project harmonizes well with other huge enterprises carried through by men of antiquity and argues well for the high intelligence and the wonderful capabilities of antediluvian man—a fact, which clashes rather roughly with the conceptions of evolution.
Dagesh forte omitted in l of milma'lah; see G. K.20 m.
There follows in very good order first the definite revelation of the coming of a universal flood (v.17), but for Noah's comfort it is at once said that he and his family are to be spared (v.18). Then the beings that are to be housed in the ark during the time of the Flood are listed (v.19, 20), and' Noah is bidden also to provide food for all that are to be in the ark (21). Noah's compliance with all these demands is recorded as an apt close for this section (v.22).
17. For behold, I for my part am about to bring the Flood, waters, upon the earth to destroy all flesh, that has in it the breath of life, from under heaven; everything in the earth shall expire.
The initial "and" is explanatory, therefore "for" (G. K.158 a.). The expressed personal pronoun "I" provides a contrast with the closing word of v.16, "thou shalt make," "but I," etc. (K. S.360 e.). The particularly noteworthy fact here announced (therefore "behold") is that which would almost have passed belief: a universal flood is about to be brought by Him. The pronoun with the participle expresses something as impending (G. K.116 p). The word for "flood," mabbûl, does not seem to be derived from any Hebrew root but to be allied with the Assyrian nabâlu, "to destroy." Therefore the author inserted an appositional mayîm, "waters," to indicate at once what manner of destruction was meant. Mabbûl occurs only in the Flood story and in Psalm 29:10 and is the technical expression for this particular Flood. Here the expression "all flesh" must refer to man and beast because of the modifying clause, "that has in it the breath of life." Yet, according to 7:22, even here the obvious restriction has to be made of creatures living on the dry land. Aquatic animals do not perish because of waters of a flood. Rûach, which in other passages also means "breath," is here described as "the breath of life" because this breath is the essential condition of life. The expression is not identical with 2:7 (nishmath chayyim) but practically of the same meaning. In order to emphasize that "all flesh" is actually to be taken in its broadest sense, by way of repetition of the thought, the clause is appended: "everything in the earth shall expire."
The disagreement in case of 'anî (nominative) and hinnî, (accusative) is not disturbing (K. S.343 a).
18. And I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt come into the ark, thou and thy sons and thy wife and thy sons' wives with thee.
The "covenant." (berith) is somewhat puzzling from one point of view. Does the term refer to a particular guaranty of preservation in the impending Flood, or does it refer to some covenant previously made with Noah but not mentioned here; or does it refer to the covenant whose details are to be made known 9:9 ff.? The first possibility is not very likely, because nothing more of the covenant is mentioned in this connection, and it would, indeed, seem strange that a covenant be made without specific mention of its terms, or at least just as strange if one covenant be made one year and a new one about a few years later. God's covenants are never thus multiplied. The second possibility has still less to recommend it. Why should some mysterious previous covenant be implied, and why should no distinct mention of it have been made? But the third possibility has much to support it. God promises that He will make a covenant with Noah. Nothing is said of the making of this covenant at this time, for other issues clamour for more immediate attention. But Noah is made aware of the fact that he shall live to experience the making of a covenant with God. Since such a covenant is actually made after the Flood (9:9 ff.), the simplest conclusion is: That is the covenant that God referred to when these words were spoken. Since its terms are there fully revealed, we need not infer with Luther that the covenant referred to the promised seed. The promise of the fact that such a Flood is never to take place again has, no doubt, in the providence of God direct bearing upon the preparation for the victory of the seed of the woman.
So, then, Noah has the prospect before him of yet being honoured to experience the establishment of a covenant. The usual expression for entering upon a covenant (karath) is not here used but the verb heqîm, "to set up," (used also in Genesis 17:19, 21; Exodus 6:4), which must mean "make" not "keep," for the covenant is not yet made.
Now Noah receives instruction that it is only he and his immediate family who are to be privileged to enter the ark. The word is very specific. Noah is to know very exactly how many are to share in this privilege. Besides, God, the Almighty Judge, is the only one competent to decide so important a matter. To impress this fact duly upon Noah this detailed enumeration "thou and thy sons and thy wife and thy sons' wives" is found again in 7:13 and in 8:16. However, 8:18 merely repeats the same words in order to emphasize that so specific a command was carried out to the letter. This is the simple explanation as to why these very words recur several times. The claim that this is one of the linguistic peculiarities of P is beside the point. Compare on the admission of the critics, however, 8:1. Then 7:1, usually assigned to J, says nothing different, and so even on the ground of style the differentiation between sources fades out.
19, 20. Of all living things, of all flesh, two of each thou shalt bring into the ark to keep them alive with thee; male and female shall they be. Of the birds after their kind, and of the animals after their kind, of all creeping things after their kind, two of each shall come to thee, to be kept alive.
In this very orderly set of directions for Noah there now comes a specification of what creatures and how many of each are to be brought into the ark. "Living things" only (chay) are to be considered. For the preservation of plant life divine providence will take care. In apposition with "living things" stands "of all flesh," an expression which must here refer to animals, as the sequel shows. "Flesh" still means that which is weak and perishable, and so implies that particular care must be taken in its preservation: it cannot provide for itself in such an emergency. Criticism cannot see why here only "two of each" are mentioned, whereas in 7:2, in the case of clean beasts, seven of each are to be taken. Criticism falls back upon its favorite mechanical explanation: different sources, allowing, of course, that J and P actually disagreed on this point. The simple explanation is this: here in chapter six summary directions are being given. The rule is to be: two of each. When these general directions are amplified in regard to the clean beast just before the Flood occurs (7:1 ff.), that certainly does not clash with the first specifications; it merely amplifies the original directions. On the question of how all these creatures could be secured, the verbs used offer an excellent solution. The nineteenth verse says "thou shalt bring" (tabhî'—Hifil=" cause to come in"); v.20 says: "they shall come" (yabhó'û —Kal, active) as in 7:9, 15. Two thoughts are here combined. Each sets forth one side of the truth. On the one hand, the creatures come voluntarily, as even the wildest of beasts have been known to seek the nearness of man when calamities impend. The creatures, rendered docile by the apprehension they felt of Coming danger, are then without difficulty brought into the ark by Noah. Consequently, all thoughts about elaborate trapping expeditions may readily be dismissed. The difficulty Noah is said to have had on this score is thus readily seen to have been quite negligible. The explanatory clause, "male and female shall they be," quite naturally looks to the mating and propagating of the various species. On the article before chay see G. K.35 f.
20. To leave nothing for Noah to guess at the classes to be considered are enumerated: "birds, animals, creeping things." "Animals" (behemah) employs the Hebrew original in a broader sense than 1:24, where it means "cattle" and excludes wild animals. But this broader use of the term is not uncommon nor inconsistent with the root meaning of the word. Of these major classes the various species (mîn) are to be brought in.
This raises the difficult question: "How could room for such a diversified lot of creatures be found in this one ark?" No one happens to know how widely diversified the species were at the time the Flood occurred. Since no one can prove anything on this question either pro or con, the question may well be left to rest. Untenable claims have been made by those who seek to invalidate Scripture testimony but without proof. This happens to be a point on which no data may ever be available. Why question the possibility or the consistency of this matter in an account where everything else is so simple and consistent? Had we actually seen how this matter was adjusted, we might marvel at the stupidity of our question.
The last infinitive Hifil, lehachayôth, is used absolutely without an object in the sense of "for the preservation of life," literally: "to cause to live."
21. And do thou for thy part take for thyself from all manner of eatable things, which are wont to be eaten, and store it by thee, to serve as food for thee and for them.
Sustenance is not going to be provided miraculously. Noah must see to that, as an emphatic pronominal "thou" points out to him. Kol in this instance must have its common meaning: "all manner of." Ma'akhal refers rather to that which is edible than simply to "food." The imperfect ye'akhel implies the idea of the customary: "which are wont to be eaten" (G. K.107 g). A big additional task is thus laid upon Noah. One must marvel at the completeness and the plainness of the divine directions for Noah, as well as at their compact brevity.
The problem of providing food for so many creatures for somewhat more than a year is simplified by the very proper consideration that beasts are very shrewd about adapting their food supply to their needs. When they have no physical exercise, like brooding hens, they cut down promptly on the amount of food consumed. Likewise during the time of hibernating. A kind of winter sleep may providentially have taken possession of all inmates of the ark, materially cutting down their needs and reducing them to a very small minimum.
Again one must marvel at the excellent divine wisdom, which laid the care of the inmates of the ark upon man and thus provided ample activity for man, guarding him against morbid and dismal brooding over the fate of mankind, which might have resulted from a state of inaction and proved very trying, if not dangerous, to man.
22. And Noah did so; exactly as God commanded him, so he did.
This part of the narrative closes with the report that Noah did as he was bidden, in fact, carried the divine orders out to the letter. We should have expected that on Noah's part. A man who walked with God would be expected to take such an attitude. The enormity of the task did not overwhelm him. The dismal nature of the impending catastrophe did not rouse undue questionings. Noah obeyed orders as Hebrews 11:7 rightly says: "by faith."
It is usually assumed that during all this time Noah preached to his generation. Correctly so, inasmuch as 2 Peter 2:5 terms him "a preacher of righteousness." Even if his words had not been many, the building of the ark as such was thundering testimony to a godless age, as Hebrews also says (11:7): "through which (building of the ark) he condemned the world."
Criticism, as usual, detracts from the major issues by inapropos remarks, in this case on the pleonastic, "He did so—so he did." For it does happen that this very form of statement recurs, as K. C. has observed, thirteen times and always in passages ascribed to P (See Exodus 7:6, 12; 39:32, 42; Numbers 1:54 etc.). For a moment it almost seems as though for once we had discovered an actual stylistic peculiarity: always in P passages. Besides, thirteen times seems a heavy array of evidence. However, the problem is quite simple. Wherever detailed formal directions are given, such a passage is on that score already assigned to P. How natural for a man like Moses to have a peculiarity of style, which leads him, each time he makes a list of detailed divine orders to be executed by man, to indicate that godly men did as they were bidden and to use a set formula, characteristically his own, for this purpose. Nothing here at all in conflict with the idea of Mosaic authorship. Such human traits as fixed word patterns for analogous situations are not suppressed by the Spirit of inspiration. Moses too had such habits of writing, without a doubt.
Since we are on the subject of literary criticism, let us go a step farther and refute some of the major contentions on which criticism bases its much vaunted distinction of sources, which is so greatly stressed especially in connection with the Flood story.
On the matter of the use of the divine names in this story observe how much is to be said in support of our position. The whole critical world, of course, cries these arguments of ours down as futile. But note the very good sense that pervades the whole situation when these basic facts are kept in mind: when God's gracious dealings with Noah and with mankind are to be considered, then the name Yahweh is used; but when God is thought of as the Almighty Ruler of heaven and earth, whose particular province it is to judge men and to determine their fate, this God whom men should reverently fear is called Elohîm.
We have just demonstrated the propriety of the use of Yahweh for 6:1-8. By the way, "God" in 6:5 (A. V.) is a mistake. The Hebrew reads "Yahweh."
But in 6:9-22 EIohîm is used throughout. Is it not appropriate to speak of Elohîm at this point? He, great and awe-inspiring in His being, lets a man like Noah walk with Him (v.9). In the sight of Him, the Judge, the earth is corrupt (v.11). He, in His sovereign right, determines to destroy (v.13). What He who has authority to command thus ordains (v.22), Noah feels obliged to carry out.
Chapter 7:1-7 records how graciously God deals with Noah to preserve his life; therefore "Yahweh," (v.1, 5). In v.9 appears "Elohîm" because the obedience of the creature world to its Sovereign Ruler is under consideration. So also in v.16a. But 16b brings "Yahweh" because this was a kindly deed on the Lord's part.
God's sovereign control is under consideration in 8:1; therefore "Elohîm": the Almighty is about to terminate this vast catastrophe. This same great God ordains (v.15) what things Noah must do. But Noah is considering God's gracious Providence when (v.20) he brings his grateful sacrifice to "Yahweh." "Yahweh" regards this sacrifice (v.21).
The common response of the critics to such an interpretation of the divine names leaves the strength of our argument unimpaired. They usually contend that if we dwell on the meaning involved in these names of the deity, one name could be substituted for the other and the whole would still make very good sense. We do not deny that, but we do claim that there is a definite viewpoint from which the author approached the individual divine acts, and this view point is reflected in his choice of the various possible names. And we further claim that the particular divine name under consideration can be shown to make very good sense and to be eminently reasonable in every case. Moses used the divine names according to the actual meaning, and the result is a point of view in regard to individual divine acts which is most instructive. Deeper thought, not a mechanical use of one only known name, lies behind the choice of divine names.
But the claim that the two major documents involved can be so clearly distinguished that the individual vocabulary of each can be discerned, seems in the eyes of many to carry convincing weight. But upon closer examination it too collapses and shows forth most startling weaknesses. We shall trace down the so called distinctive features of vocabulary as Skinner lists them.
1. J is said to use the expression ish we'ishto (7:2) "man and his wife," whereas P uses zakhkar ûneqebhah ("male and female") 6:19; 7:9, 16. But on the difficult matter of style who would venture to pronounce a single use of an expression (7:2) as indicative of a linguistic peculiarity? When we take that particular verse in hand, we shall show why in that connection the somewhat unusual expression was well motivated.
2. Again, the following so-called stylistic peculiarities are referred to: J used machah ("wipe out") in 6:7; 7:4, 23; P uses shachath and hishchîth ("go to ruin" and "ruin") 6:13, 17; 9:11, 15. This, however, represents nothing more than a natural variation of expression by one and the same author.6:7 describes God's resolve and the ease with which it is to be carried out.6:13, 17 are used in God's conversation with Noah, first this particular verb (hishchîth) in the announcement of the destruction; then follows the announcement of that destruction by a flood. The circumstances demand the use of the same word.7:4 machah comes at the very beginning of the Flood and again is descriptive of the ease with which God will do the work. But what appears as the resolve of God, first mentioned in 6:7 before the ark is built and in 7:4 just before the Flood begins, is most naturally referred to by the same verb in 7:23 when it is to be reported that God actually did what He had resolved to do. In 9:11 and 15, the water being mentioned, it is but natural that a verb be employed which records the destructive effect of the water (shachath) and be repeated for emphasis. All this can quite readily be accounted for on the supposition that there is but one author.
3. J used mûth ("die") in 7:22 whereas P is said to use gawa' ("expire") in 6:17; 7:21. Note that 6:17 says that the creatures will expire, but 7:21 gives the fulfilment of the threat: they did expire. Since 7:22 after 7:21 distinctly aims to make the preceding expression more emphatic and general, it provides a synonymous subject and a synonymous predicate. This situation is thus easily accounted for as proceeding from the pen of one author. Besides, if 7:22 is the only passage available for J, is that one example proof of a linguistic peculiarity?
4. Critics call kol hayqûm ("all existence") 7:4, 23, a mark of J, whereas P is said to prefer the expression kol basar ("all flesh") 6:12, 13; 7:21. Yet in 6:12 and 13 a very specific thing is under consideration: man, who is flesh, is corrupt; therefore, man, who is flesh, shall perish.7:4 tells of God's resolve to destroy all that lives, all existence (yeqûm).7:23 reports how this resolve is carried out. But since 7:21, 22 and 23 summarize the great extent of the destruction by the use of every possible synonym, noun and verb, it need not surprise us to find kol basar here again. Again the expressions employed are readily accounted for as the work of one author.
5. J is said to use qal ("be light") 8:8, 11 but P, shûbh ("return") 8:3 and chaser ("fail") 8:5. Between 8:3 and 8:5 the critics create an artificial distinction. Since 8:3 uses a different verb ("returned") to express more fully the thought of the subsiding of the waters, whereas 8:5 uses "decreased," on the strength of the supposition that one author would not do thus, 8:3 is assigned to J. But by the time the narrative reaches the point of 8:3 Noah is neither concerned about whether the waters are "returning" (shûbh) or whether they are "decreased" (chaser). He knows both these things are so. He wants to know whether they are very low, i. e., whether they "were abated" (qal). So he sends forth the dove, and when she returns with an olive leaf, he knows they were abated (qal). Why cannot one author write thus?
6. Again J's charabh ("be dry") 8:13 b is said to be distinct from P's yabhash ("be dry") 8:14. One single use of a verb is supposed to constitute a proved stylistic peculiarity. The only evidence on which 8:13 b is assigned to J is because the verb is different. Note well the procedure. First it is assigned to J because it is a different verb. Then after assigning it to J, the critic uses the verb thus assigned as proof that J uses a different vocabulary than P. We simply call this an argument in a circle.
7. Again J: nishmath chayyîm ("breath of life") 7:22 vs. P: rûach chayyîm ("spirit of life") 6:17. In the first place 7:22, 23 are assigned to J because they repeat with amplifications what 7:21 (P) said. An author apparently dare never amplify and use synonymous expressions. But why cannot an author in 6:17 speak of the perishing of everything wherein is "the spirit of life" and then later in amplifying the expression say: "the breath of the spirit of life" (7:22)? The appearance of the phrase rûach chayyîm in both expressions argues just as stoutly for one author.
8. J: lechayyoth (7:3) vs. lehachayoth (6:19, 20). Both verbs mean "to keep alive." The first is Piel, the second Hifil. In 6:19, 20 all manner of creatures are to be kept alive. In 7:3 seed is to be preserved or kept alive. Since the expression changes, why should not the author also vary the stem from a Hifil to a Piel to express the shade of difference involved? For one author to do thus is most natural.
9. J: kol bêthekha ("all thy house") 7:1 vs. a specific enumeration of P in 6:18; 7: (7), 13; 8:16, 18. This argument, collapses as soon as one discovers that 7:7 is really found in a passage usually assigned to J. Consequently, J gives a specific enumeration as well as P.
To all this add another very strange fact. The difficulties of the critics are not all solved by the mere assumption that two practically complete Flood stories were fused into one, R, the Redactor, is credited with a certain measure of independent activity in discharging his fusion duties. Sometimes portions of the one or the other document are omitted when a confusing or disturbing repetition would result. So portions of J are said to be omitted in favour of the fuller account of P, for without this assumption J would appear to have had no record of the building of the ark, a very serious shortcoming. Here is Strack's statement of the case: "Since J must very evidently have had a complete Flood story, R must have stricken out what J said in order to avoid disturbing repetitions." But a Redactor who so carefully avoids disturbing repetitions lets manifest contradictions stand. So, as almost all critics admit after their separation of the sources is complete, according to J the Flood lasted forty days (some say: sixty-one), but according to P 150 days. Again, P speaks of two animals of every kind; J of seven of the clean beasts.
Not only is there a flaw in the critical constructions put upon the so-called sources; the whole setup is scientifically and critically absurd and impossible. The above represents only a partial refutation indicating what lines have been followed and what more could be said. Rupprecht and Moeller have covered the ground in a more exhaustive manner.
We suggest the following three sections in this chapter as best suited to separate treatment. First the section v.1-8 which constitutes a unit in itself. This may be treated from the broader point of view, resulting from the general connection, and then some such topic as "The Ripening of the Flower of Sin" would be in order. Again, it would be very much in order to treat these verses from the point of view that they record how the two branches of the human race at this point merged into one another, due to the inconsiderate marriages of the "sons of God." That suggests some such subject as "Mixed Marriages." Then, there is the section v.9-12, which treats primarily of Noah's piety. Noah does rank exceptionally high for piety, and from this point of view his character deserves to be studied. In the third place, we have the group of verses v.13-22 constituting a unit. Everything centres about the Ark, of course. Yet to use "the Ark" as a subject would be altogether too superficial. If God's kindness in devising such a means of escape is considered, a preacher may operate with a theme such as: "The Ark—a Testimony of Divine Grace." Hebrews 11:7 suggests very appropriately the theme—"Noah's Faith." Appropriate as the thought is that the Ark symbolizes the Christian church, is such treatment of the passage not too purely that which falls under the censure of being allegorizing? Perhaps the section v, 13—7:5 had best be used as a unit, for 7:1-5 alone in less suitable for use as a text.