After the floodwaters, the narrative begins with the establishment of the covenant between God and Noah and his descendants. Here, Noah and his descendants returned to their daily life on the dry earth. The chapter will bring us deeper into a remembrance of God’s faithfulness and long-suffering toward mankind through His covenant.
Did You Know...?
- Canaan (9:24-25) was the fourth son of Ham (10:6) and later became the ancestor of the people called Canaanites (10:18).
- A Vineyard (9:20): In Middle Eastern culture, a vineyard is planted so that the fruits can be eaten fresh (Deut 20:6, 28:30;
2 Kgs 19:29; Jer 31:5), dried as raisins ( 1 Sam 25:18; 1 Chr 16:3) and pressed as juice (Mt 26:29; Mrk 14:24-25) or fermented wine ( 1 Chr 27:27).
- A servant of servants (9:25): The Canaanites had been reduced to slavery in the times of Joshua (Josh 9:23) and reduced to force labor in the times of King Solomon (
1 Kgs 9:20). According to Noll [ref]
, the Canaanites had been ruled by the Assyrians (Asshur, the son of Shem), Babylonians (Babylon was a kingdom established by Nimrod, the descendant of Ham), Persians, Greeks and Romans. The Smith’s Bible Dictionary explains how the term “Canaanites” can also be used as a reference to the inhabitants of the whole Canaan land, such as the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites (
1 Kgs 9:20). [ref]
- Enlarge (9:27): The name Japheth sounds like the Hebrew word for “enlarge.”
What were the blessings of the LORD to Noah and his sons?
How are the blessings of Noah similar to the blessings of Adam? See also Gen 1:28.Hide Answer
The content of God’s blessings to Noah is similar to the blessings of God to Adam. In Genesis 1:28 God said to mankind, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air; and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
What does the expression “the fear of you and the dread of you” mean?Hide Answer
The expression “the fear of you and the dread of you” means the LORD gives mankind the authority to exercise control over every beast of the earth, every bird of the air, all that move on the earth, and all the fish of the sea (Gen 9:2). The essence of this expression is similar to God’s command given to Adam that he is to have dominion over all the animals (Gen 1:28).
Furthermore, the word “fear” and “dread” have several meanings in Hebrew. First, the dread and the fear of the animals toward men and all the treaded land toward the children of Israel (Gen 9:2; Deut 11:25). Second, the terror and fear toward God’s mighty work (Deut 4:34, 26:8, 34:12; Jer 32:21). Third, the sense of fear toward men or the fear and reverence or deep respect toward the LORD God (Isa 8:12; Mal 1:6; Isa 8:13; Mal 2:5; Ps 76:11).
What were the commands of God to Noah and his descendants?
What was God’s warning to Noah and his descendants?
What did the expression “as for you” mean to Noah?Hide Answer
When God said to Noah, “as for you,” such an expression carried the sense of distinction and responsibility. Other people might shed other people’s blood and God would surely demand a reckoning from him (Gen 9:5, 6). But as for Noah, he was to be distinct, different and should not conform to the conduct of such people. Rather than just following along the conduct of the ungodly, Noah was to be responsible in being fruitful and multiply, bringing forth abundantly in the earth and multiplying in it for the LORD (Gen 9:7).
Find the contrast between men’s sinful deed and God’s will from Genesis 9:6-7.Hide Answer
The ungodly men shed blood, taking other people’s lives and destroying the image of God; while the LORD intends for us to be fruitful, multiplying lives and bringing forth the image of God in the earth.
With whom did God establish His covenant?
What was the content of the covenant?
What was the sign of the covenant?
How does the LORD remember the sign of the covenant?
Does it affect your faith, knowing that the sign of the covenant can be explained through physics? Why not?Hide Answer
While science can describe in detail how a rainbow is physically formed, faith can answer the reason and purpose behind the rainbow formation itself. Although the appearance of a rainbow can be described thoroughly by science, it should not hinder the fact that God used it as His media to show us its purpose—as a reminder of God’s established covenant with mankind, with all living creatures and with the earth that God would never again destroy all flesh by flooding the earth.
What teachings can we learn from the sign of the covenant?Hide Answer
1) God is faithful: The LORD said that when the rainbow is in the cloud, He will “look on it to remember the everlasting covenant” (Gen 9:16). For mankind, a rainbow may only be a remarkable phenomenon of nature and nothing else. But for the LORD, He upholds it as His sign of the covenant. Whenever the rainbow is formed, He will look on it and He will remember the everlasting covenant. From the time of Noah to our time today, there have been countless of rainbows in the cloud. The LORD has been remembering and will continue to remember His covenant.
2) God is forgiving: Though the imagination of men’s heart is evil from his youth (Gen 8:21), the LORD promised that He would always remember His everlasting covenant with Noah, with all the living creatures and with the earth, when He looks at the rainbow in the cloud. The wicked, evil, and violent men in Noah’s time were destroyed by the great floodwaters. But the LORD knows that evil will rise again in man’s heart even from his youth. Yet, by looking at the rainbow in the cloud, the LORD will remember His everlasting covenant–not to cut off all flesh by the waters of the flood and there shall never again be a flood to destroy the earth.
3) God is longsuffering: As long as the earth endures, the rainbow in the cloud will continue to appear and God will always remember His covenant. In other words, as long as the duration of the earth is not expired, and seasons continue (Gen 8:22), God will uphold His covenant. But there will be a time when the heavens will be dissolved with fire and the elements will melt with fervent heat (
2 Pet 3:12). Surely, the heavens and the earth has been preserved by God’s word all this time ( 2 Pet 3:7). The LORD is the One who allows the earth to endure, the time of the year to carry on, also the rainbow in the cloud to be seen. According to 2 Peter 3:9, God still preserves the earth because He wants all to come to repentance. Therefore, as long as the rainbow in the cloud exists, let us wisely use the remaining reserved time of the earth to pursue spiritual growth and a closer relationship with the LORD.
Why did God establish this covenant?Hide Answer
The writer of the book of Genesis explained the purpose of the rainbow covenant through God’s words, “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” (Gen 8:21).
How would you explain the expression “never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth” against the destructive power of the floods around the globe today? Has the LORD broken His covenant?Hide Answer
The LORD has not broken His covenant The great floodwaters in the time of Noah was not like the flood that we know today and was uncomparable to any of them. Today, floods can be caused by tsunamis, overflowing rivers, deforestations, man-caused disasters or natural disasters. The floodwaters of Noah was caused by the LORD when all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, the windows of heaven were opened and the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights (Gen 7:11, 12). Thus, the promise of “never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth” is referring to the great floodwaters which destroyed all living things in the time of Noah. The LORD keeps His covenant and He will always remember this everlasting covenant when He sees the rainbow in the cloud.
Compare and contrast Noah’s image in Genesis 9:21-22 with the one in 6:8-10.Hide Answer
In Genesis 9:21, Noah chose to be intoxicated with wine and he was uncovered in his tent with his nakedness seen. Here, Noah was portrayed as a drunkard who lost his moral sense. But in Genesis 6:8-10, Noah was described as a just man who was perfect in his generations and he walked with God.
2) Wine can cause one to not know one’s deeds (Gen 19:32-35),
3) Wine can cause one to be a mocker and to be unwise (Prov 20:1),
5) Wine can cause one to transgress (Hab 2:5),
8) Wine can cause one to gratify the flesh (Ecc 2:3).
How were Ham’s deeds different from those of Shem’s and Japheth’s?Hide Answer
Ham saw the nakedness of his father, he told his two brothers outside about it while he let his father’s nakedness remained uncovered (Gen 9:22). But Shem and Japheth took a garment to cover their father’s nakedness and they turned their faces away so that they would not see the nakedness of their father (Gen 9:23).
What can we learn from Shem and Japheth’s deeds in covering their father’s shame?Hide Answer
Instead of blabbering to others about other people’s shame or weakness, Shem and Japheth decided to guard their speech and to cover the shame of their father. The apostle Paul mentions in
1 Corinthians, “[love] bears all things” ( 1 Cor 13:7). Their actions proved that they loved, honored and cared for their father. Though their father’s actions were not praise-worthy, Shem and Japheth bore them all by covering the nakedness with the garment. In Romans, the apostle Paul says, “[those] who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak” (Rom 15:1). Thus, instead of judging or revealing more of their father’s shame, who was drunk with wine, Shem and Japheth helped their father and provided covering for their father’s weakness. Likewise, let us bear the weaknesses and help those who are weak physically and spiritually, instead of looking down or even judging those who are weak or in difficulties.
The phrase “blessed be the LORD” signifies an adoration to the LORD. This adoration is similar to the ones which David writes in his psalms (Psa 89:52, 106:48, 135:21). Such a phrase of adoration is due to the LORD’s marvelous deeds toward His people, such as giving rest to His people, hearing one’s voice of supplications, giving strength and power to His people and showing marvelous kindness (
1 Kgs 8:56; Psa 28:6; Psa 68:35, 31:21). Noah’s blessing of Shem indicates that the LORD, who is also the God of Shem, is worthy to be adored and He will give strength and will perform His marvelous kindness to Shem.
What were the blessings of Noah to Japheth?Hide Answer
The blessings of Noah to Japheth were:
1) May God enlarge Japheth or may God extend Japheth’s territory (NIV),
2) May Japheth dwell in the tents of Shem,
3) May Canaan be the servant of Japheth.
First, dwelling in the tents of Shem refers to dwelling in the territory of Shem. For example, when the Hagrites, the descendants of Hagar (Ps 83:6;
1 Chr 5:19-20; Gen 25:13-16), were fallen by King Saul during the war, the Israelites took their territories throughout the entire area east of Gilead ( 1 Chr 5:10). According to history, the descendants of Japheth “dominated the great northern frontier from the Aegean Sea to the highlands of Iran and northward to the steppes beyond the shores of the Black Sea. [ref]
Second, dwelling in the tents of Shem also refers to dwelling among the descendants of Shem. Malachi 2:12 used the tents of Jacob as a reference to the descendants of Israel or the community of the godly. Moreover, Jeremiah 30:18 refers the tents of Jacob as God’s people.
Thus, the phrase “the tents of Shem” signifies territorial families or descendants of Shem. Most importantly, it implies the descendants whom God abides with. During the time of Seth, the men began to call on the name of the LORD, and the descendants of Seth walked with God (Gen 4:26, 5:24). Likewise, during the time of Shem, Noah blessed the LORD for being the God of Shem and blessed Japtheth to dwell in the tents of Shem—the tents or community who has God’s abidance.