Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 6

By Joseph Benson


Verse 1
Genesis 6:1. For the glory of God’s justice, and for a warning to a wicked world, before the history of the ruin of the old world, we have a full account of its degeneracy, its apostacy from God, and rebellion against him. The destroying of it was an act, not of absolute sovereignty, but of necessary justice; for the maintaining of the honour of God’s government. When men began to multiply — This was the effect of the blessing, Genesis 1:28, and yet man’s corruption so abused this blessing that it was turned into a curse.

Verse 2
Genesis 6:2. The sons of God — Those who were called by the name of the Lord, and called upon that name; married the daughters of men — Those that were profane, and strangers to God. The posterity of Seth did not keep to themselves as they ought, but intermingled with the race of Cain: they took them wives of all which they chosen — They chose only by the eye. They saw that they were fair — Which was all they looked at.

Verse 3
Genesis 6:3. My spirit shall not always strive with man — The Spirit then strove by Noah’s preaching, 1 Peter 3:19, and by inward checks, but it was in vain with the most of men; therefore, saith God, he shall not always strive, for that he (man) also is flesh — Incurably corrupt and sensual, so that it is labour lost to strive with him. He also; that is, all, one as well as another; they are all sunk into the mire of flesh. Yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years — So long will I defer the judgment they deserve, and give them space to prevent it by their repentance and reformation. Justice said, Cut them down; but mercy interceded: Lord, let them alone this year also; and so far mercy prevailed, that a reprieve was obtained for six-score years; and during this time Noah was preaching righteousness to them, and, to assure them of the truth of his doctrine, was preparing the ark.

Verse 4
Genesis 6:4. There were giants — Men so called partly for their high stature, but principally for their great strength and force, whereby they oppressed and tyrannised over others. For this is mentioned as another sin and cause of the flood.

Verse 5
Genesis 6:5. God saw that the wickedness of man, &c. — Abundance of sin was committed in all places, by all sorts of people; and those sins in their own nature most gross, and heinous, and provoking; and committed daringly, and in defiance of heaven. And that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually — A sad sight, and very offensive to God’s holy eye! This was the bitter root, the corrupt spring: all the violence and oppression, all the luxury and wantonness that was in the world, proceeded from the corruption of nature; lust conceived them, James 1:15, see Matthew 15:19. The heart was evil, deceitful, and desperately wicked; the principles were corrupt, and the habits and dispositions evil. The thoughts of the heart were so. Thought is sometimes taken for the settled judgment, and that was biased and misled; sometimes for the workings of the fancy, and those were always either vain or evil. The imagination of the thoughts of the heart was so; that is, their designs and devices were wicked. They did not do evil only through carelessness, but deliberately and designedly contrived how to do mischief. It was bad indeed, for it was only evil, continually evil, and every imagination was so. There was no good to be found among them, no, not at any time: the stream of sin was full, and strong, and constant; and God saw it. Here is God’s resentment of man’s wickedness. He did not see it as an unconcerned spectator, but as one injured and affronted by it; he saw it as a tender father sees the folly and stubbornness of a rebellious and disobedient child, which not only displeases but grieves him, and makes him wish he had been written childless.

Verse 6
Genesis 6:6. It repented the Lord, it grieved him at his heart — Properly speaking, God cannot repent, Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:11-29; for he is perfectly wise and unchangeable in his nature and counsels, Malachi 3:6, and James 1:17. Neither is he liable to grief or disappointment, being constantly happy. But this is spoken of God after the manner of men, by the same figure of speech whereby eyes, ears, hands, and feet are ascribed to God, and must be understood so as not to reflect on his immutability or felicity. It doth not imply any passion or uneasiness in God; for nothing can create disturbance to the eternal mind: but it signifies his just and holy displeasure against sin and sinners. Neither doth it speak any change of God’s mind, for with him is no variableness; but it signifies a change of his way. When God had made man upright, he rested and was refreshed, Exodus 31:17, and his way toward him was such as showed him to be well pleased with the work of his own hands; but now that man was apostatized, he could not do otherwise than show himself displeased: so that the change was in man, and not in God.

Verse 7
Genesis 6:7. I will destroy man — The original word is very significant, I will wipe off man; from off the earth — As dirt is wiped off from a place which should be clean, and thrown to the dunghill. Or, I will blot out man from the earth, as those lines are blotted out of a book which displease the author, or as the name of a citizen is blotted out of the rolls of the freemen when he is disfranchised. Both man and beast, the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air — These were made for man, and therefore destroyed with man. It repenteth me that I have made them — For the end of their creation also was frustrated: they were made that man might serve and honour God with them; and therefore were destroyed, because he had served his lusts with them, and made them subject to vanity.

Verse 8
Genesis 6:8. Noah found grace — That is, he obtained mercy and favour; for although he was by nature corrupt and sinful, he had been renewed in the spirit of his mind, and by repentance and a lively faith, had obtained witness that he was righteous. This vindicates God’s justice in his displeasure against the world, and shows that he had examined the character of every person in it, before he pronounced it universally corrupt; for, there being one good man, he smiled upon him.

Verse 9
Genesis 6:9. Noah was a just man — Justified before God by faith in the promised Seed; for he was an heir of the righteousness which is by faith, Hebrews 11:7. He was sanctified, and had right principles and dispositions implanted in him; and he was righteous in his conversation, one that made conscience of rendering to all their due, to God his due, and to men theirs. And he walked with God, as Enoch had done before him: in his generation — Even in that corrupt, degenerate age. It is easy to be religious when religion is in fashion; but it is an evidence of strong faith to swim against the stream, and to appear for God when no one else appears for him: so Noah did, and it is upon record to his immortal honour.

Verse 11
Genesis 6:11. The earth — Put for its inhabitants; was corrupt before God — In matters of God’s worship; either having other gods before him, or worshipping him by images; or before the face of God, whose eye was upon it, and in despite and contempt of his presence and justice. They sinned openly and impudently, without shame, and boldly and resolutely, without any fear of God. The earth also was filled with violence and injustice toward men; there was no order, nor regular government; no man was safe in the possession of that which he had the most clear right to; there was nothing but murders, rapes, and rapines.

Verse 13
Genesis 6:13. The end, or ruin, of all flesh is come before me — Is approaching, is at the very door. It is come in my purpose and decree, and shall as certainly take place, as if it were come already, in what manner soever vain men may flatter themselves with hopes of longer impunity. I will destroy them with the earth; but make thee an ark — I will take care to preserve thee alive. This ark was like the hulk of a ship, fitted not to sail upon the waters, but to float, waiting for their fall. God could have secured Noah by the ministration of angels, without putting him to any care or pains; but he chose to employ him in making that which was to be the means of his preservation, both for the trial of his faith and obedience, and to teach us that none shall be saved by Christ, but those only that work out their salvation; we cannot do it without God, and he will not without us: both the providence of God, and the grace of God, crown the endeavours of the obedient and diligent.

Verse 17-18
Genesis 6:17-18. Behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth — I, who am infinite in power and therefore can do it; infinite in justice, and therefore will do it. But with thee will I establish my covenant — 1st, The covenant of providence, that the course of nature should be continued to the end of time, notwithstanding the interruption which the flood would give to it: this promise was immediately made to Noah and his sons, Genesis 9:8, &c.; they were as trustees for all this part of the creation, and a great honour was thereby put upon them. 2d, The covenant of grace, that God would be to him a God, and that out of his seed God would take to himself a people.

Verse 22
Genesis 6:22. Thus did Noah according to all that God commanded him — And that both as to the matter and manner of it. And when we consider how laborious, tedious, and dangerous a work the building of the ark was, and what ridicule he would have to encounter from the ungodly and profane, while engaged in a business apparently foolish, and that for so many scores of years together, we shall not wonder that the faith whereby he surmounted all these difficulties should be so celebrated in the Scriptures. See Hebrews 11:7.