Genesis 9

God’s Covenant With Noah

1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.
2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands.
3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.
5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
6 “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.
7 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him:
9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you
10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth.
11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:
13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds,
15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.
16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

The Sons of Noah

18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.)
19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth.
20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded[a] to plant a vineyard.
21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.
22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside.
23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.
24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him,
25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”
26 He also said, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem.
27 May God extend Japheth’s[b] territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.”
28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years.
29 Noah lived a total of 950 years, and then he died.

Genesis 9 Commentary

Chapter 9

God blesses Noah, and grants flesh for food. (1-3) Blood, and murder forbidden. (4-7) God's covenant by the rainbow. (8-17) Noah plants a vineyard, is drunken and mocked by Ham. (18-23) Noah curses Canaan, blesses Shem, prays for Japheth, His death. (24-29)

Verses 1-3 The blessing of God is the cause of our doing well. On him we depend, to him we should be thankful. Let us not forget the advantage and pleasure we have from the labour of beasts, and which their flesh affords. Nor ought we to be less thankful for the security we enjoy from the savage and hurtful beasts, through the fear of man which God has fixed deep in them. We see the fulfilment of this promise every day, and on every side. This grant of the animals for food fully warrants the use of them, but not the abuse of them by gluttony, still less by cruelty. We ought not to pain them needlessly whilst they live, nor when we take away their lives.

Verses 4-7 The main reason of forbidding the eating of blood, doubtless was because the shedding of blood in sacrifices was to keep the worshippers in mind of the great atonement; yet it seems intended also to check cruelty, lest men, being used to shed and feed upon the blood of animals, should grow unfeeling to them, and be less shocked at the idea of shedding human blood. Man must not take away his own life. Our lives are God's, and we must only give them up when he pleases. If we in any way hasten our own death, we are accountable to God for it. When God requires the life of a man from him that took it away unjustly, the murderer cannot render that, and therefore must render his own instead. One time or other, in this world or in the next, God will discover murders, and punish those murders which are beyond man's power to punish. But there are those who are ministers of God to protect the innocent, by being a terror to evil-doers, and they must not bear the sword in vain, ( Romans 13:4 ) . Wilful murder ought always to be punished with death. To this law there is a reason added. Such remains of God's image are still upon fallen man, that he who unjustly kills a man, defaces the image of God, and does dishonour to him.

Verses 8-17 As the old world was ruined, to be a monument of justice, so this world remains to this day a monument of mercy. But sin, that drowned the old world, will burn this. Articles of agreement among men are sealed, that what is promised may be the more solemn, and the doing of what is covenanted the more sure to mutual satisfaction. The seal of this covenant was the rainbow, which, it is likely, was seen in the clouds before, but was never a seal of the covenant till now it was made so. The rainbow appears when we have most reason to fear the rain prevailing; God then shows this seal of the promise, that it shall not prevail. The thicker the cloud, the brighter the bow in the cloud. Thus, as threatening afflictions abound, encouraging consolations much more abound. The rainbow is the reflection of the beams of the sun shining upon or through the drops of rain: all the glory of the seals of the covenant are derived from Christ, the Sun of righteousness. And he will shed a glory on the tears of his saints. A bow speaks terror, but this has neither string nor arrow; and a bow alone will do little hurt. It is a bow, but it is directed upward, not toward the earth; for the seals of the covenant were intended to comfort, not to terrify. As God looks upon the bow, that he may remember the covenant, so should we, that we may be mindful of the covenant with faith and thankfulness. Without revelation this gracious assurance could not be known; and without faith it can be of no use to us; and thus it is as to the still greater dangers to which all are exposed, and as to the new covenant with its blessings.

Verses 18-23 The drunkenness of Noah is recorded in the Bible, with that fairness which is found only in the Scripture, as a case and proof of human weakness and imperfection, even though he may have been surprised into the sin; and to show that the best of men cannot stand upright, unless they depend upon Divine grace, and are upheld thereby. Ham appears to have been a bad man, and probably rejoiced to find his father in an unbecoming situation. It was said of Noah, that he was perfect in his generations, ch. 6:9 ; but this is meant of sincerity, not of a sinless perfection. Noah, who had kept sober in drunken company, is now drunk in sober company. Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall. We have need to be very careful when we use God's good creatures plentifully, lest we use them to excess, Lu. 21:34 . The consequence of Noah's sin was shame. Observe here the great evil of the sin of drunkenness. It discovers men; what infirmities they have, they betray when they are drunk; and secrets are then easily got out of them. Drunken porters keep open gates. It disgraces men, and exposes them to contempt. As it shows them, so it shames them. Men say and do that when drunken, which, when sober, they would blush to think of. Notice the care of Shem and Japheth to cover their father's shame. There is a mantle of love to be thrown over the faults of all, ( 1 Peter. 4:8 ) thrown over the faults of parents and other superiors. The blessing of God attends on those who honour their parents, and his curse lights especially on those who dishonour them.

Verses 24-29 Noah declares a curse on Canaan, the son of Ham; perhaps this grandson of his was more guilty than the rest. A servant of servants, that is, The meanest and most despicable servant, shall he be, even to his brethren. This certainly points at the victories in after-times obtained by Israel over the Canaanites, by which they were put to the sword, or brought to pay tribute. The whole continent of Africa was peopled mostly by the descendants of Ham; and for how many ages have the better parts of that country lain under the dominion of the Romans, then of the Saracens, and now of the Turks! In what wickedness, ignorance, barbarity, slavery, and misery most of the inhabitants live! And of the poor negroes, how many every year are sold and bought, like beasts in the market, and conveyed from one quarter of the world to do the work of beasts in another! But this in no way excuses the covetousness and barbarity of those who enrich themselves with the product of their sweat and blood. God has not commanded us to enslave negroes; and, without doubt, he will severely punish all such cruel wrongs. The fulfilment of this prophecy, which contains almost a history of the world, frees Noah from the suspicion of having uttered it from personal anger. It fully proves that the Holy Spirit took occasion from Ham's offence to reveal his secret purposes. "Blessed be the Lord God of Shem." The church should be built up and continued in the posterity of Shem; of him came the Jews, who were, for a great while, the only professing people God had in the world. Christ, who was the Lord God, in his human nature should descend from Shem; for of him, as concerning the flesh, Christ came. Noah also blesses Japheth, and, in him, the isles of the gentiles that were peopled by his seed. It speaks of the conversion of the gentiles, and the bringing of them into the church. We may read it, "God shall persuade Japheth, and being persuaded, he shall dwell in the tents of Shem." Jews and gentiles shall be united together in the gospel fold; both shall be one in Christ. Noah lived to see two worlds; but being an heir of the righteousness which is by faith, he now rests in hope, waiting to see a better than either.

Cross References 38

  • 1. S Genesis 1:22
  • 2. S Genesis 1:26
  • 3. S Genesis 1:29
  • 4. S Acts 10:15; Colossians 2:16
  • 5. Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 7:26; Leviticus 17:10-14; Leviticus 19:26; Dt 12:16,23-25; Deuteronomy 15:23; 1 Samuel 14:33; Ezekiel 33:25; Acts 15:20,29
  • 6. Genesis 42:22; Genesis 50:15; 1 Kings 2:32; 2 Chronicles 24:22; Psalms 9:12
  • 7. Exodus 21:28-32
  • 8. Genesis 4:10
  • 9. S Genesis 4:14; Exodus 21:12,14; Leviticus 24:17; S Judges 9:24; S Matthew 26:52
  • 10. S Genesis 1:26
  • 11. S Genesis 1:22
  • 12. ver 11; S Genesis 6:18
  • 13. ver 16; Isaiah 24:5; Isaiah 33:8; Hosea 6:7
  • 14. S ver 9
  • 15. S Genesis 8:21; Isaiah 54:9
  • 16. ver 17; Genesis 17:11
  • 17. Genesis 17:12; Exodus 12:14; Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 6:18; Leviticus 17:7; Numbers 10:8
  • 18. ver 14; Ezekiel 1:28; Revelation 4:3; Revelation 10:1
  • 19. S ver 13
  • 20. S Genesis 8:1; Exodus 2:24; Exodus 6:5; Exodus 34:10; Leviticus 26:42,45; Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalms 89:34; Psalms 103:18; Psalms 105:8; Psalms 106:45; Ezekiel 16:60
  • 21. S Genesis 8:21
  • 22. ver 13
  • 23. S ver 11; Ge 17:7,13,19; 2 Samuel 7:13; 2 Samuel 23:5; Psalms 105:9-10; Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 54:10; Isaiah 55:3; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 61:8; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Jeremiah 32:40; Jeremiah 33:21; Ezekiel 16:60; Ezekiel 37:26; S Hebrews 13:20
  • 24. S ver 12; Genesis 17:11
  • 25. S Genesis 5:32; Luke 3:36
  • 26. ver 25-27; Genesis 10:6,15
  • 27. Genesis 5:32
  • 28. S Genesis 1:22; Genesis 10:32; Genesis 11:4,8,9
  • 29. Genesis 19:35
  • 30. Habakkuk 2:15
  • 31. Genesis 27:12
  • 32. ver 18; Exodus 20:5; Psalms 79:8; Isaiah 14:21; Jeremiah 31:29; Jeremiah 32:18
  • 33. Genesis 25:23; Genesis 27:29,37,40; Genesis 37:10; Genesis 49:8; Numbers 24:18; Joshua 9:23
  • 34. Genesis 14:20; Exodus 18:10; Psalms 7:17
  • 35. 1 Kings 9:21
  • 36. Genesis 10:2-5
  • 37. Ephesians 2:13-14; Ephesians 3:6
  • 38. S Genesis 2:17

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or "soil, was the first"
  • [b]. "Japheth" sounds like the Hebrew for "extend."

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 9

In this chapter we have an account of God's blessing Noah and his sons, being just come out of the ark, with a renewal of the blessing of propagating their species, and replenishing the earth, the dominion over the creatures, and a freedom from the fear of them; with liberty to eat flesh, only it must not be eaten with blood; with a providential care and preservation of their lives from men and beasts, by making a law that that man or beast should die that shed man's blood, Ge 9:1-6 and after repeating the blessing of procreation, Ge 9:7 mention is made of a covenant God made with Noah, his sons, and all the creatures, that he would drown the world no more, the token of which should be the rainbow in the cloud, Ge 9:8-17 the names of the sons of Noah are observed, by whom the earth was repeopled, Ge 9:18,19 and seem to be observed for the sake of an event after recorded; Noah having planted a vineyard, and drank too freely of the wine of it, lay down uncovered in his tent, which Ham seeing, told his two brothers of it, who in a very modest manner covered him, Ge 9:20-23 of all which Noah being sensible when he awoke, cursed Canaan the son of Ham, and blessed Shem and Japheth, Ge 9:24-27 and the chapter is concluded with the age and death of Noah, Ge 9:28,29.

Genesis 9 Commentaries