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- 1 Summary
- 2 Discussion
- 2.1 Genesis 6b-9: The Flood
- 2.2 Genesis 6:9-22: Commandment to build the ark
- 2.3 Genesis 7:1-10: Entering the ark
- 2.4 Genesis 7:11-16: The Flood of rain
- 2.5 Genesis 7:17-24: The effect of the Flood: death
- 2.6 Genesis 8:1-5: God stops the flood and the ark comes to rest
- 2.7 Genesis 8:6-14: The earth becomes dry
- 2.8 Genesis 8:15-19: Leaving the ark
- 2.9 Genesis 8:20-9:19: Blessings and commandments
- 2.10 Genesis 9:20-29: Noah's nakedness
- 2.11 Genesis 6b-9: Identifying the principal blocks of text
- 3 Unanswered questions
- 4 Prompts for life application
- 5 Prompts for further study
- 6 Resources
- 7 Notes
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Relationship to Genesis 1-11b. The relationship of Chapter 6b-9 to the rest of the Adam-Noah cycle is discussed at Genesis 1-11b.
Outline. An outline of the complete book of Genesis, including Chapters 6b-9, is found at Genesis: Outline and page map.
Story. Chapter 6b-9 is the story of the flood and consists of eight sections, followed by the story of Noah's nakedness:
- Gen 6:9-22: Commandment to build the ark. The earth is corrupt. The Lord repents of creation and plans the destruction of all life.
- Gen 7:1-10: Entering the ark. Noah and the animals are given 7 days warning to enter ark before the rains begin.
- Gen 7:11-16: The Flood of rain.
- Gen 7:17-24: The effect of the Flood: death.
- Gen 8:1-5: God stops the flood and the ark comes to rest.
- Gen 8:6-14: The earth becomes dry.
- Gen 8:15-19: Leaving the ark.
- Gen 8:20-9:19: Blessings and commandments. The ground is no longer cursed. Noah is told to multiply and replenish earth. God gives the covenant of rainbow to not again flood the entire earth.
- Gen 9:20-29: Noah's nakedness. Noah unaware naked, curses son Ham (and his son Canaan)
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 6b-9 include:
This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →
Genesis 6b-9: The Flood
- Outline. The major sections of Chapters 6b-9 can be outlined as a chiasmus.
- a. earth corrupt, Lord repents of creation and plans destruction (6:9-13)
- b. told to build ark, covenant to be established with Noah (6:14-22)
- b. ground no longer cursed, told to multiply and replenish earth, covenant of rainbow to not again flood (8:20-9:17)
- a. Noah unaware naked, curses son Ham (and his son Canaan) (9:18-29)
- Creation parallels. There are some strong parallels between what Noah and his sons were told here and the account given of the creation. In verse 1, God tells Noah and his sons to be fruitful and multiply, as the first people were told in Genesis 1:28. They were given authority over animals, as the first people were in Genesis 1:28. More interestingly, after the Fall, the Lord provided angelic beings to keep Adam and Eve from the tree of life Genesis 3:24, but presumably anything else edible could be eaten. Here (verse 4), they could eat anything except that which had "life," symbolized by blood.
Genesis 6:9-22: Commandment to build the ark
Genesis 7:1-10: Entering the ark
Genesis 7:11-16: The Flood of rain
Genesis 7:17-24: The effect of the Flood: death
Genesis 8:1-5: God stops the flood and the ark comes to rest
- Gen 8:1: Turning point. The turning point in the Flood story occurs at verse 8:1 when God remembered Noah and "made a win to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged." In the ancient world, wind often symbolized good things from God such as life, breath, and spirit. Large bodies of untamed water, on the other hand, often symbolized the evil forces opposing God, namely death, chaos, and evil. (See, for example, Gen 2:7; Acts 2:2-4; Ether 6:5-11; Rom 6:3-5; Acts 27:21-44). It is thus significant that, at the central turning point of this story, the waters of the flood that have killed all life are tamed by a wind that comes from God.
Genesis 8:6-14: The earth becomes dry
Genesis 8:15-19: Leaving the ark
Genesis 8:20-9:19: Blessings and commandments
- Gen 9:3: Even as the green herb. This is likely a reference to the Garden of Eden when God gave Adam and Eve permission to eat seeds and fruit (Moses 2:29, Gen 1:29).
- Gen 9:5: Repetition of "require." Cassuto (p. 127) notes that repitition of require three times in this verse emphasizes the sanctity of life, symbolized by blood.
- Gen 9:5: And surely your blood of your lives will I require. This phrase could be read as God saying he will avenge the blood of any human killed (see the Leibowitz reference below). Alterntively, a slightly different translation, "And surely for your own blood" suggests this could be saying that the injunction in v. 4 not to drink blood (eat raw meat?) is a commandment that will be beneficial for humans to follow (blood stands for human life in this reading; see the Cassuto reference below).
Genesis 9:20-29: Noah's nakedness
- Gen 9:22: Saw the nakedness of his father. Some scholars think that Ham is punished (verses 24-25) for some unchaste act that is described euphemistically as "saw the nakedness of his father" (see related links below). Others argue that the text should be read more literally: Ham not averting his eyes to his father's nakedness like his brothers did (v. 23) shows disrespect for his father and for God's law of chastity (cf. Lev 20:17 and Hab 2:15); see Cassuto reference below).
- Gen 9:25: Why is Canaan cursed? Verses 9:22-24 describe actions by Ham that may be deserving of a curse, but the curse is directed toward Canaan not Ham. There are at least four different ways this verse can be been interpreted:
- (1) Posterity bears consequences. One view is that Ham's posterity will bear the consequences of Ham's act, either because the blessing in verse 1 cannot be reversed for some reason, or because the punishment for Ham should fit the crime: if Ham caused Noah not to have a fourth son, then Ham's fourth son Canaan is appropriately cursed.
- (2) Canaan really means Ham. Another view is that although the name of Canaan is mentioned, the reference is really to Ham, Canaan's father. One conjecture is that the text was changed historically "to conform to the fact that the Canaanites were subjugated by the Israelites."
- (3) Canaan was the transgressor. Another view is that Canaan was the transgressor, or at least involved in the iniquity against Noah. This view can be found in traditional Jewish literature more modern scholars (see the Cassuto reference below for details).
- (4) People of Canaan cursed. Cassuto argues that Ham represents the Canaanite people who were guilty of sexual immorality. Thus "[t]he Canaanites were to suffer the curse and the bondage not because of the sins of Ham, but because they themselves acted like Ham, because of their own transgressions, which resembled those attributed to Ham in this allegory."
Genesis 6b-9: Identifying the principal blocks of text
This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →
Prompts for life application
This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →
Prompts for further study
This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →
This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →
- LDS Institute Old Testament Student Manual, Vol. 1 (PDF version): Chapter 4/28: Gen 4-11. Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003.
- Gen 7:23: Was the flood literal and universal? In the following article Duane Jeffery explores the problems related to interpreting the flood as an event that covered the whole earth and recounts theories of a localized flood. Jeffery also considers what LDS leaders have said on the topic: "Noah's Flood: Modern Scholarship and Mormon Traditions", Sunstone Oct. 2004, pp. 27-45.
- Gen 8:4: 277 days. Building on the rebirth/creation motif, Sheldon Greaves notes that this totals 277 days, or 9 months and one week, "almost precisely the period of human gestation. More interestingly, the waters reach their height at 150 days (7:4, 7:24), which also corresponds to the point at which the waters of the uterus swell to their maximum point of expansion." See the following article for this quote (p. 159); other sources are given in footnote 4: “Cosmos, Chaos, and Politics: Biblical Creation Patterns in Secular Contexts.” Dialogue 31 (3) Fall 1998: 157-166.
- Gen 8:7: Raven. For a poetic attempt to think through the presence of the raven in this story, see User: Joe Spencer/(a quaint, but curious) volume of forgotten lore.
- Gen 8:10: Creation motif. Greaves article. The seven days referred to in v. 10 is reminiscent of the seven days of creation (cf. Gen 2:2 and Moses 3:2). In the following article, Sheldon Greaves discusses the creation motif in various scriptural contexts and how mankind's measure of creation has boundaries which, if overstepped as in Noah's days, may lead to a new destruction and creation process: Greaves, Sheldon. “Cosmos, Chaos, and Politics: Biblical Creation Patterns in Secular Contexts.” Dialogue 31 (3) Fall 1998: 157-166 [p. 158]
- Gen 9:3: Moving things as meat. Contrast what God seems to be saying here about eating meat with what God says in Moses 2:29-30 about eating seeds and fruit with no mention of eating "moving things" (animals).
- Gen 9:22: What did Ham do to Noah? Hugh Nibley in Temple and Cosmos pp. 128-130 discusses some history of a sacred garment and how Book of Jasher 7:27 relates that Ham stole the garment from Noah.
Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.