וַֽיְהִי֙ כִּֽי־הֵחֵ֣ל הָֽאָדָ֔ם לָרֹ֖ב עַל־פְּנֵ֣י הָֽאֲדָמָ֑ה וּבָנ֖וֹת יֻלְּד֥וּ לָהֶֽם׃
Now it was, when man began to multiply on the face of the land, and they bore daughters to them.
Paraphrase: Now as time went by, the population grew rapidly. Families multiplied and settled down all over the countryside. The family line of Cain also grew rapidly and especially the daughters of the Cainite families made a name for themselves as very beautiful and accomplished women.
וַיִּרְא֤וּ בְנֵי־הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־בְּנ֣וֹת הָֽאָדָ֔ם כִּ֥י טֹבֹ֖ת הֵ֑נָּה וַיִּקְח֤וּ לָהֶם֙ נָשִׁ֔ים מִכֹּ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר בָּחָֽרוּ׃
and the sons of God saw the daughters of man because they were beautiful and the men took to them from all who they chose.
Paraphrase: Now the young men from the Sethite families had been trained up in godliness (Romans 8:14). They had been taught that the wicked practices of the Cainite families showed clearly that they were children of the serpent. (Genesis 3:15) Friendship with such people is enmity with God (James 4:4) they had been told from their youngest days. God had told them that sin was like a terrible beast lying in wait to pounce on them and to tear them to pieces. (Genesis 4:7) Now, however, the outward, physical beauty of these women overpowered all what they had been taught. They forgot about the great antithesis that God had placed between the children of the serpent and the children of the woman. Instead, they saw these women and were dragged along by their own lusts. (James 1:14) They looked over these women as a man looks over cattle and whoever caught their eye, they took her and added her to their harem.
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוָ֗ה לֹֽא־יָד֨וֹן רוּחִ֤י בָֽאָדָם֙ לְעֹלָ֔ם בְּשַׁגַּ֖ם ה֣וּא בָשָׂ֑ר וְהָי֣וּ יָמָ֔יו מֵאָ֥ה וְעֶשְׂרִ֖ים שָׁנָֽה׃
Then YHWH said, “My Spirit will not strive with man to endless time when they have gone astray. He is flesh, and his days will be one hundred and twenty years.
Paraphrase: Then YHWH was angry, and He spoke His mind. My Spirit, who taught the Sethites the better way, will no longer argue and reason with them. Clearly, They are bent on wandering away from the truth and following their own lusts. The truth is that the Sethites are just as sinful as the Cainites; their behavior shows clearly that they are children of the serpent. Well the man I created is mortal, and I am not going to prolong his life as I did in the past. Now nature will take its course and after a hundred years or so, he will die.
This extraordinary verse has taxed the brightest minds in Old Testament studies; almost every word is disputed. I took בְּשַׁגַּם to be an infinitive of this word with the beth preposition and the third plural suffix being the agent; see §67p here. The traditional translation has the difficulty of why God won’t strive (or “remain”) in man because he is flesh. The translation I gave shows that it was man’s going astray that caused YHWH to withdraw.
הַנְּפִלִ֞ים הָי֣וּ בָאָרֶץ֮ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵם֒ וְגַ֣ם אַֽחֲרֵי־כֵ֗ן אֲשֶׁ֨ר יָבֹ֜אוּ בְּנֵ֤י הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙ אֶל־בְּנ֣וֹת הָֽאָדָ֔ם וְיָלְד֖וּ לָהֶ֑ם הֵ֧מָּה הַגִּבֹּרִ֛ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר מֵעוֹלָ֖ם אַנְשֵׁ֥י הַשֵּֽׁם׃פ
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days and also after such which the sons of God came to the daughters of man and they bore to them these mighty men who were from old, men of name.
Paraphrase: Now when the Sethites left the way of YHWH and joined themselves to the ungodly women from the Cainite families, these women had children. These children were exceptional for their strength and brutality; they became famous as powerful men, mighty warriors who were capable of great feats of skill.
Again, there are so many uncertainties in this text. First, it’s not clear if the הַנְּפִלִים are the same people as the הַגִּבֹּרִים mentioned at the end of the verse. Second, it’s not clear if the children of the marriages between the sons of God (Sethites?) and the daughters of man (Cainites?) were the הַגִּבֹּרִים. The answer to both questions is likely yes.
See Ewald on אַחֲרֵי־כֵן. source
וַיַּ֣רְא יְהוָ֔ה כִּ֥י רַבָּ֛ה רָעַ֥ת הָאָדָ֖ם בָּאָ֑רֶץ וְכָל־יֵ֙צֶר֙ מַחְשְׁבֹ֣ת לִבּ֔וֹ רַ֥ק רַ֖ע כָּל־הַיּֽוֹם׃
And YHWH saw that great was the wickedness of man in the earth and all the purpose of his thoughts of his heart was only evil all the day.
Paraphrase: Then YHWH, the Great King, reviewed His creation. At one time, He had pronounced it all very good (Genesis 1:31); but now, He saw only wickedness and sin on every side. Evil extended throughout the entire land and embraced every family, the Sethites were as depraved as the Cainites. This depravity extended to their minds and hearts; their thoughts being as evil as their actions. Everything man did was stained with sin and evil, and it never came to an end. All his life long, they drink up evil like water. (Job 15:16)
A clear statement of total depravity; cf the third and fourth heads of doctrine here.
וַיִּנָּ֣חֶם יְהוָ֔ה כִּֽי־עָשָׂ֥ה אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֖ם בָּאָ֑רֶץ וַיִּתְעַצֵּ֖ב אֶל־לִבּֽוֹ׃
And YHWH was sorry that He had made man in the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
Paraphrase: Then YHWH regretted that He had ever created humans in the first place. His heart burned with holy indignation at His rebellious creatures.
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוָ֗ה אֶמְחֶ֨ה אֶת־הָאָדָ֤ם אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָ֙אתִי֙ מֵעַל֙ פְּנֵ֣י הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה מֵֽאָדָם֙ עַד־בְּהֵמָ֔ה עַד־רֶ֖מֶשׂ וְעַד־ע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם כִּ֥י נִחַ֖מְתִּי כִּ֥י עֲשִׂיתִֽם׃
And YHWH said, “I will wipe man out completely who I created from on the face of the land, from man to beast, to creepers, to birds of the sky because I am sorry that I made them.
Paraphrase: Then YHWH cried out, “I am finished with these human persons and their wickedness. I will reset the earth to what it was before man rebelled against me. I will wipe out every person, animal, insect, bird, fish, and anything else that lives and moves on the earth. I am going to destroy them all; I regret ever having brought them into existence.
וְנֹ֕חַ מָ֥צָא חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינֵ֥י יְהוָֽה׃פ
but Noah found grace in the eyes of YHWH.
Paraphrase: There was, however, one exception. His name was Noah, the son of Lamech. He was one whom God had chosen from before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him. (Ephesians 1:4) Now YHWH saw Noah’s refusal to compromise with the other Sethites, and He was pleased. (Psalm 147:10, 11)
אֵ֚לֶּה תּוֹלְדֹ֣ת נֹ֔חַ נֹ֗חַ אִ֥ישׁ צַדִּ֛יק תָּמִ֥ים הָיָ֖ה בְּדֹֽרֹתָ֑יו אֶת־הָֽאֱלֹהִ֖ים הִֽתְהַלֶּךְ־נֹֽחַ׃
These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless he was in his generations. With God, Noah walked.
Paraphrase: Now this is Noah’s story. Amongst all the Sethites, he alone had refused to look with favor on the daughters of Cain. He was thoroughly devoted to God (Numbers 14:24) and refused to compromise with the ideas and practices of the children of the serpent. On the contrary, he lived in constant fellowship with God; they fellowshipped back and forth with each other as friends do. (Exodus 33:11)
Note that הִתְהַלֶּךְ is a hitpael.
וַיּ֥וֹלֶד נֹ֖חַ שְׁלֹשָׁ֣ה בָנִ֑ים אֶת־שֵׁ֖ם אֶת־חָ֥ם וְאֶת־יָֽפֶת׃
and Noah bore three sons, Shem, Ham, and Jafeth.
Paraphrase: Now in the course of time, Noah had three sons. Their names were Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
וַתִּשָּׁחֵ֥ת הָאָ֖רֶץ לִפְנֵ֣י הָֽאֱלֹהִ֑ים וַתִּמָּלֵ֥א הָאָ֖רֶץ חָמָֽס׃
Now the earth was ruined before God, and the earth was full of violence.
Paraphrase: Now during the life of this man, Noah, the whole world sank into ruin. Everything that God had made had become evil. Hatred, violence, and bloodshed ruled the day.
וַיַּ֧רְא אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ וְהִנֵּ֣ה נִשְׁחָ֑תָה כִּֽי־הִשְׁחִ֧ית כָּל־בָּשָׂ֛ר אֶת־דַּרְכּ֖וֹ עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ס
and God saw the earth, and behold it was ruined because all flesh had ruined his way on the earth.
Paraphrase: When God looked at His creation, He saw only evil and wickedness. Every person added sin to sin. Noone was seeking to know God’s will. They had all turned aside to evil; noone did good; their throats were like open graves; lying had become routine; the poison of Asps was under their lips; their mouths were full of cursing and bitterness; their feet were swift to shed blood; destruction and misery was in every path; the path of peace was unknown; there was no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3:11-18)
וַיֹּ֨אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֜ים לְנֹ֗חַ קֵ֤ץ כָּל־בָּשָׂר֙ בָּ֣א לְפָנַ֔י כִּֽי־מָלְאָ֥ה הָאָ֛רֶץ חָמָ֖ס מִפְּנֵיהֶ֑ם וְהִנְנִ֥י מַשְׁחִיתָ֖ם אֶת־הָאָֽרֶץ׃
and God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me because the earth is full of violence from before them, and behold I will cause ruin to come on them with the earth.
Paraphrase: Then God spoke to Noah and told him His plans. “These people have crossed a line with Me,” He said. “They’ve passed a point of no return. Nothing but hatred and violence pours from them in a never ending stream. The span of time given them to repent has drawn to a close. (Genesis 6:3) My judgments will now fall on them; the entire created order will be wiped out.”
To what is “the end” referring? The end of humanity as a result of God’s judgment? The end or limit of human depravity? The end of God’s patience? Keil writes:
קֵץ, therefore, is not the end in the sense of destruction, but the end (extremity) of depravity or corruption, which leads to destruction. “For the earth has become full of wickedness מִפְּנֵיהֶם,” i.e., proceeding from them, “and I destroy them along with the earth.” Because all flesh had destroyed its way, it should be destroyed with the earth by God. The lex talionis is obvious here. source
עֲשֵׂ֤ה לְךָ֙ תֵּבַ֣ת עֲצֵי־גֹ֔פֶר קִנִּ֖ים תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֣ה אֶת־הַתֵּבָ֑ה וְכָֽפַרְתָּ֥ אֹתָ֛הּ מִבַּ֥יִת וּמִח֖וּץ בַּכֹּֽפֶר׃
Make for yourself a chest of wood of gofer, make the ark into rooms and cover her on the inside and on the outside with pitch.
Paraphrase: I, however, am not going to include you in these judgments. You are to build a massive chest. This chest will be constructed of special wood which will resist moisture and rot. You are to divide it up into rooms and to caulk the inside and outside with water resistant tar.
וְזֶ֕ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֖ה אֹתָ֑הּ שְׁלֹ֧שׁ מֵא֣וֹת אַמָּ֗ה אֹ֚רֶךְ הַתֵּבָ֔ה חֲמִשִּׁ֤ים אַמָּה֙ רָחְבָּ֔הּ וּשְׁלֹשִׁ֥ים אַמָּ֖ה קוֹמָתָֽהּ׃
Now this is how you will make her. The chest will be three hundred amah long; fifty amah wide; and thirty amah high.
Paraphrase: The dimensions for this chest are these. Three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high.
צֹ֣הַר׀ תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֣ה לַתֵּבָ֗ה וְאֶל־אַמָּה֙ תְּכַלֶ֣נָּה מִלְמַ֔עְלָה וּפֶ֥תַח הַתֵּבָ֖ה בְּצִדָּ֣הּ תָּשִׂ֑ים תַּחְתִּיִּ֛ם שְׁנִיִּ֥ם וּשְׁלִשִׁ֖ים תַּֽעֲשֶֽׂהָ׃
An opening you will make to the chest and to a cubit you will complete her to the very top, and the door of the chest on her side will be set. Lower levels, seconds, and thirds you will make.
Paraphrase: Furthermore, there should be a one cubit opening at the top of this chest which will go all around the perimeter. This will let in sufficient light, so you can see what you are doing as you carry on all the work of surviving in this chest. Construct three levels and divide these levels into the rooms before mentioned.
Lange’s commentary has an extensive comment on the phrase וְאֶל־אַמָּה תְּכַלֶנָּה מִלְמַעְלָה. “The Hebrew language, so tense in other parts of speech, rejoices in double, triple, and even quadruple forms of its particles. Thus, עַל upon, מֵעַל above, מֵעְלָה with local ה, upward, לְמַעְלָה to upward, or to above, מִלְמַעְלָה from above to above. He also makes an extensive commentary on the צֹהַר or opening at the top of the ark and its function. source
וַאֲנִ֗י הִנְנִי֩ מֵבִ֨יא אֶת־הַמַּבּ֥וּל מַ֙יִם֙ עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ לְשַׁחֵ֣ת כָּל־בָּשָׂ֗ר אֲשֶׁר־בּוֹ֙ ר֣וּחַ חַיִּ֔ים מִתַּ֖חַת הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם כֹּ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־בָּאָ֖רֶץ יִגְוָֽע׃
And I, behold I am causing a flood of water to come on the earth to destroy all flesh on it in which is the breath of life from under heaven, all what is on earth will die.
Paraphrase: Now get busy building this chest because everyone else is going to die. I am going to bring a flood of water on this earth such as has never been seen before or will ever be seen again. No one will escape. Everything that breathes will be destroyed. Everything under the heaven will perish.
וַאֲנִי הִנְנִי repeated in Genesis 9:9.
See resumptive for אֲשֶׁר־בּוֹ.
וַהֲקִמֹתִ֥י אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֖י אִתָּ֑ךְ וּבָאתָ֙ אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֔ה אַתָּ֕ה וּבָנֶ֛יךָ וְאִשְׁתְּךָ֥ וּנְשֵֽׁי־בָנֶ֖יךָ אִתָּֽךְ׃
And I will cause My covenant to stand with you, and you will enter the chest, you and your sons and your wife and the wives of your sons with you.
Paraphrase: I am going to reset everything. The Sethites and Cainites have turned away from Me and are thus in a state of rebellion. They will now drink the cup of My judgments. It will not, however, be this way with you. I am going to make a solemn and binding agreement with you; and by this covenant, I will bring you into a relationship of friendship (Isaiah 41:8) with Me. I will protect you from coming under my judgments and keep you safe in this chest which you are building. Now this covenant is not limited to you but includes your entire family, your wife, your children with their wives, and their children as well.
Lange’s commentary says “the establishment of God’s covenant with Noah presupposes a previous covenant relation with Adam. source
וּמִכָּל־הָ֠חַי מִֽכָּל־בָּשָׂ֞ר שְׁנַ֧יִם מִכֹּ֛ל תָּבִ֥יא אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֖ה לְהַחֲיֹ֣ת אִתָּ֑ךְ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה יִֽהְיֽוּ׃
מֵהָע֣וֹף לְמִינֵ֗הוּ וּמִן־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ לְמִינָ֔הּ מִכֹּ֛ל רֶ֥מֶשׂ הָֽאֲדָמָ֖ה לְמִינֵ֑הוּ שְׁנַ֧יִם מִכֹּ֛ל יָבֹ֥אוּ אֵלֶ֖יךָ לְהַֽחֲיֽוֹת׃
וְאַתָּ֣ה קַח־לְךָ֗ מִכָּל־מַֽאֲכָל֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יֵֽאָכֵ֔ל וְאָסַפְתָּ֖ אֵלֶ֑יךָ וְהָיָ֥ה לְךָ֛ וְלָהֶ֖ם לְאָכְלָֽה׃
וַיַּ֖עַשׂ נֹ֑חַ כְּ֠כֹל אֲשֶׁ֨ר צִוָּ֥ה אֹת֛וֹ אֱלֹהִ֖ים כֵּ֥ן עָשָֽׂה׃ס