Genesis 9:1 #VOTD [Commentary + Memorization Tutorial Video]

Verse of the Day 11.22.17: Genesis 9:1

  1. Text
  2. C4C Translation
  3. Context
  4. Commentary
  5. Memorization

Text

Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.1

וַיְבָ֣רֶךְ אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֶת־נֹ֖חַ וְאֶת־בָּנָ֑יו וַיֹּ֧אמֶר לָהֶ֛ם פְּר֥וּ וּרְב֖וּ וּמִלְא֥וּ אֶת־הָאָֽרֶץ׃2





C4C Translation

And God blessed Noah and his sons and He said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the Earth.”

Blessed (בָּרַך | bārak)

Unlike yesterday’s post concerning one of the Beatitudes in Matthew, the “blessed” in this passage is not an adjective but a verb. The verb, which appears about 327 times in the Old Testament, is most highly concentrated in Genesis (88 times). With divine blessing, in the context of the creation accounts, “the emphasis…is on the life-infusing power of the divine word…”3 While “be fruitful,” “increase in number,” and “fill the Earth” are commands (they are in the imperative form), it is God’s blessing that “actualizes and enables.”4 In the Old Testament, to bless means “to endue with power for success, prosperity, fecundity, longevity, etc.”5 The blessing in this passage entails the bestowing of divine favor that enables human flourishing.

Context

On the fifth day of Creation (I am not a young-earth creationist, but that is a post for another day), God blessed the birds of the air and the creatures of the sea (Gen 1:22). On the sixth day, after making man in His image (Gen 1:27), God blessed mankind (a fact reiterated in Gen 5:2), and gave them similar instructions, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth…” (Gen 1:28, NIV). The Hebrew text (פְּר֥וּ וּרְב֛וּ וּמִלְא֥וּ, highlighted in red above)6 is identical. In fact, the words translated “be fruitful” and “increase in number” appear together several times in Genesis (Gen 8:17, 9:7, 17:29, 28:3, 35:11, 47:27, 48:4). While reading this book, I suspect that ancient readers would have easily detected this theme/refrain.

Though God first declared Creation good (Gen 1:31), mankind eventually disobeyed God (Genesis 3). Violence (Genesis 4) and wickedness ensued (Gen 6:5, 12). As a result, as scholars note, in an act of cosmic judgment, God “uncreated” Creation by means of The Flood (Genesis 6:9-7:24)7 (the historicity of the Flood deserves its own post in the future).  “The conclusion of the flood evokes a theme of re-creation,”8 in which God repeats the earlier blessings of Creation to Noah —  a righteous and blameless man (Gen 6:9) whose family was graciously spared.

Noahic Covenant

In Genesis 9:1-17, God makes a covenant with Noah and his family, promising to never again to destroy the world by Flood (Gen 9:16). The section is structured into three divine speeches (Gen 9:1-7, 8-11, 12-16). The first speech, in which we find our verse of the day, is bracketed by the familiar refrain, “be fruitful and increase in number” (Gen 9:1, 7) — a common literary device that bookends a text called, inclusio.9

Atrahasis Epic

In the Flood account in the Atrahasis Epic (an ancient Akkadian myth),10 there is an interesting discussion about birth control. The gods confer and create women who will be able to have children and women who will not. Certain women will also actually stop childbirth. And the Pašittu-demon may even “snatch the baby from the lap of her who bore it.”11

Genesis is in stark contrast to the Atrahasis Epic. While the Mesopotamian story entails population control, Genesis entails population multiplication. “Viewed in this light, Gen. 9:1ff looks like a conscious rejection of the Atrahasis Epic.”12

Commentary

After the “uncreation” of the Flood, God graciously reaffirms the original blessings of Creation to Noah and his family in a sort of “re-creation”. Since all are sons — descendants — of Noah, the repeated blessing to be fruitful and increase in number and to fill the Earth (contrary to that of the Atrahasis Epic) applies to all of humanity.13

Memorization

Memorize Genesis 9:1 after watching a brief video tutorial demonstrating the How to Memorize Any Bible Verse in Less Than Five Minutes method below:

Sources

  1. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ge 9:1.
  2. (red highlight added) Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Werkgroep Informatica, Vrije Universiteit Morphology; Bible. O.T. Hebrew. Werkgroep Informatica, Vrije Universiteit. (Logos Bible Software, 2006), Ge 9:1.
  3. Previous information in this paragraph and quote from Willem VanGemeren, ed., New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 758.
  4. Willem VanGemeren, ed., New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 758.
  5. John N. Oswalt, “285 בָּרַך,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 132.
  6. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Werkgroep Informatica, Vrije Universiteit Morphology; Bible. O.T. Hebrew. Werkgroep Informatica, Vrije Universiteit. (Logos Bible Software, 2006), Ge 1:28.
  7. R. G. Branch, “Rainbow,” ed. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker, Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 667.
  8. R. G. Branch, “Rainbow,” ed. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker, Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 667.
  9. Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), 312–313.
  10. The earliest complete copies of which we have discovered are dated to the 17th century BC Edward J. Bridge, “Atrahasis Epic,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
  11.  Translation from Lambert and Millard, Atra-ḫasīs, p. 103 quoted in Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990).
  12. W. L. Moran, “Atrahasis: The Babylonian Story of the Flood,” Bib 52 (1971) 61… quoted in Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990).
  13. David Atkinson, The Message of Genesis 1–11: The Dawn of Creation, ed. J. A. Motyer and Derek Tidball, The Bible Speaks Today (England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990), 155.
About @DannyScottonJr 172 Articles
Imperfect servant striving to be an unapologetically apologetic ambassador for Jesus the Christ. Princeton University Alum | Palmer Theological Seminary Student