GENESIS 6:9-22


Storm preparations.  Anyone who has lived in South Florida has been through them.  Thanks to modern satellite technology, we have plenty of warning these days for an oncoming hurricane.  That has not always been the case.  My wife’s grandparents lived through the 1926 hurricane that claimed hundreds of lives.  It came without warning on a Sunday evening and the wind continued to rise until it had pushed large ocean barges a mile inland.


By contrast, we enjoy today the benefits of an early warning system that allows us to prepare for the coming of a storm.  I have gotten used to putting up the shutters and taking down the wind chimes and bringing the outdoor furniture indoors as a storm approaches.  There is water that has to be stored and batteries that have to be charged and candles and matches that have to be placed for easy access.  All of these preparations make it possible to weather the oncoming storm.


In this chapter of Genesis, we are told of the preparations Noah was instructed to make for the approaching storm.  A flood was about to come that would destroy all mankind.





            These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Genesis 6:9-10).


We have already seen the generations of the heavens and earth (2:4) and the book of the generations of Adam (5:1).  We now come to the third section of the book of Genesis.  It is the records of the generations of Noah.  It will consist of the story of Noah and his sons.


1.         The Character of Noah:   Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time (6:9).


Noah’s life was characterized by righteousness and blamelessness.  These two qualities are somewhat synonymous.  The King James Version is a bit closer to the Hebrew when it translates this as “just” and “perfect.”  The second of these qualities bespeaks the idea of integrity and lends itself to a wholeness of character.  Our English word “integrity” comes from the Latin integer and describes that which is whole or complete.  This idea finds a similar concept in the Hebrew term used here.


Noah lived in a day where men had turned away from God.  He live in a day that had seen the outgrowth of Cain’s rebellion.  It was a day when Lamech’s song made the  top ten in popular music.


In such a day, Noah had something about him that spoke of righteousness and wholeness.  He was a man of integrity before God and before his fellow man.


2.         The Walk of Noah:  Noah walked with God (6:9).


In the Genesis 5 we were told that Enoch walked with God.  Now the same thing is said of Noah.  The relationship that had taken place with Enoch was reflected in this life of Enoch’s great grandson, Noah.


There is a lesson here.  It is that you are called to pass on your spiritual heritage to future generations.  If you are a believer, then you have entered into a covenant with your Creator.  It is a family covenant and you are to share that relationship with your descendants.


3.         The Sons of Noah:   And Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth (6:10).


The three sons of Noah are introduced here, but they shall be the subject of a great deal of future study when we come to Genesis 10-11.  Shem is mentioned first.  Perhaps this is because it is from Shem that will come the nation of Israel.  The mention of Noah’s three sons begins a chiastic parallel that makes up the flood narrative. These elements can be viewed as the rising and falling actions within the story.


Noah’s Three Sons (6:10).



Covenant with Noah (6:18)

• Promise to destroy the earth with a flood



Command to take food (6:21)



Noah & family enter the ark (7:1)



Flood of waters on the earth (7:11 - 8:13)


Noah & Family come out of ark (8:14)



Command not to eat blood (9:14)



Covenant with Noah (9:8-17)

• Promise not to destroy the earth with a flood


Noah’s Three Sons (9:18)



The central section of this chiasm becomes even more extensive, but we will look at it in greater detail in the next chapter.





            11 Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. 13 Then God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. (Genesis 6:11-13).


This section is in parallel with verses 5-7 in that they both speak of God looking at the earth, passing judgment upon it and announcing the coming judgment.  In this paragraph, the announcement is made to Noah by way of a prophecy.


Genesis 6:5-7

Genesis 6:11-13

Yahweh is the designation for God.

Elohim is the designation for God.

The Lord is grieved in His heart

The Creator moves to judge

The wickedness of man was great on the earth (6:5).

The earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence (6:11).

Every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (6:5).

 All flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth (6:12).

And the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them." (6:7).

Then God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. (6:13).


What was true of the world of that day can also be said of the world today.  Man’s wickedness today is also great upon the earth.  The world today is filled with violence.  In keeping with this likeness, Peter points out that there is a continuing promise of coming judgment.


            3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation."

            5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:3-7).


Peter speaks to the uniformitarian philosophy of his day and points out that a similar sort of unbelief was exhibited in the days before the flood.  The world of that day was destroyed by water and the world of the future is being reserved for destruction by fire.





            "Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 And this is how you shall make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks." (Genesis 6:14-16).


The instructions of the building of the ark are detailed and exact.  This is striking because at the end of the book of Exodus we have another detailed set of building instructions.  In that case, it is the tabernacle that is the subject of the instructions.


I believe we are meant to see these in parallel.  There is a sense in which the ark was to Noah and his family what the tabernacle would be to Moses and the children of Israel.  Each was a picture of Christ.  Each had as its focus salvation from the judgment of God.  In the case of the ark, it would be the vehicle for saving Noah and his family from the flood.  In the case of the tabernacle, it was the vehicle for covenant worship of those who had passed through the “flood” of the Red Sea.


This is different from 'aron, which is used to describe the ark of the covenant.

1.         The Word “Ark.”


The Hebrew word is Tebah.  This same word is used in Exodus 2:3-5 to refer to the ark that the mother of Moses used to hide her child.  Tebah is thought to be an Egyptian loan-word to describe a box.


There are four different “arks” mentioned in Scripture.


           Noah’s ark - Tebah.

           The coffin in which the bones of Joseph were placed - Aron.

           The ark into which the infant Moses was placed - Tebah.

           The Ark of the covenant - Aron.


Each of these was a symbol of judgment; each carried a reference to death.  But each was a place of peace and safety in the midst of a hostile environment.


2.         The Size of the Ark.


The dimensions of the ark are given in cubits.  A cubit was the distance from a man's elbow to the tip of his fingers - generally about 18 inches.[1]  There was also a royal cubit that was a few inches longer (kings suffered from the same malady known to Texans - they liked to be thought of as bigger than everyone else).  Assuming the standard cubit, we are left with the following dimensions:















It has often been noted that these are the dimensions of an ocean-going barge, the size of which would have been sufficient to carry a large selection of animals.


3.         The Building Materials:  Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood (6:14).


The ark was to be made of atsey-gopher.  Our English text reads “gopher wood.”  Rather than a translation, this is actually a transliteration.  The word gopher is a hapaxlegomena - it is not used elsewhere in the Bible.  This makes it difficult to determine what type of wood it is.  It has been suggested that this is a textual error,but there is no textual evidence for this.  It is more likely that this is either an Akkadian or a Sumerian loan work.


Noah was also told to cover it inside and outside with pitch (6:14).  This literally reads “COVER it within and without in COVERING.”  The word for “cover” is kaphar.  It is the same word which describes the act of atonement.  Indeed, we still use the same word today when we speak of the Jewish Festival of Yom Kippur.

4.         The Shape of the Ark:  You shall make a window for the ark (6:16).


The reference to a window has puzzled Bible scholars.  The term used here for “window” is not the same word that is used in Genesis 8:6 where Noah opens the window to send forth the various birds from the ark.  The reference here is not a window at all.  It refers, instead, to the “roof” and has so been translated by the NIV.





            17 "And behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish.

            18 "But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark‑‑ you and your sons and your wife, and your sons' wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds after their kind, and of the animals after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind shall come to you to keep them alive. 21 And as for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them."

            22 Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did. (Genesis 6:17-22).


The purpose of the ark was to provide a way of escape for the destruction of the flood.  All flesh on the surface of the earth was to be destroyed.  This was the only place of safety.  There is a striking parallel between God’s salvation of Noah and his family with the salvation that is provided by Christ.


The Ark

Jesus Christ

All flesh was to be destroyed in the flood.

All mankind is under condemnation.

The only place of safety would be within the ark (Genesis 7:23).

The only place of safety is for those who are in Christ (John 14:6).

The ark was designed and planned by God (Genesis 6:14-16).

Our hope in Christ was designed by God before the world began (Ephesians 1:4).

Noah’s part was to build the physical structure of the ark (Genesis 6:22).

Christ was born of a human mother (Matthew 1:21).

God made known to Noah this plan of salvation (Genesis 6:13).

God has made known to us His plan of eternal salvation (Romans 16:25-26).

Noah believed the Lord (Hebrews 11:7).

We must believe in Christ (John 3:16).

The ark had only one door (Genesis 6:16).

Christ is the only door to salvation (John 10:9).


This parallel is set forth in 1 Peter 3:20-21 where Peter speaks of the events of the flood and how it relates to the symbolism of baptism.


            ...the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you‑‑ not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience‑‑ through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:20-21).


Peter tells us that the ark is a picture.  This is not to deny the historical reality of the ark, but it also serves as a picture and a type of Jesus Christ.  There was a coming judgment in the same way we face a coming judgment.  In Noah’s day, that judgment involved a flood.  The ark was the only way of salvation.  When the flood came, only those who were inside were saved; all those on the outside would die.


The water was not the means of salvation.  The water was the means of judgment.  All who were in the water drowned.  The ark was the place of refuge.  The ark went through the water of judgment.  The waters of the flood threw themselves upon the ark.  It received the judgment so that those within the ark could remain safe.  In the same way Christ bore the brunt of God’s judgment so that those who are in Christ would remain safe.


In verse 21 we are told that a part of this picture is seen in baptism.  It is not that getting wet saves you, but it is a picture of the salvation that saves you.  There is a parallel between baptism and the flood.  That which saves some is the same which results in the judgment of others.

In the case of the flood, the same water that destroyed the earth raised up the ark and took it to a place of safety.  This is alluded in this verse when we read how baptism saves as an appeal to God for a good conscience‑‑ through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.


How does baptism reflect judgment?  It is because baptism represents the death of Christ.  His death is salvation to us, but that same death is condemnation to those who do not believe.


This does NOT mean that it is the ritual of baptism that saves.  Putting water on a sinner merely makes him a wet sinner.  It is like trying to have pure thoughts because you used a special brand of shampoo.


This is a metonymy, a figure of speech in which one part is used to describe the whole.  For example, when I hear that the White House has issued a statement of policy, that does not mean that an inanimate building began to offer vocalizations.  Instead it represents the one who lives in the White House.  So also here, baptism represents the entire gospel.  It is not the ceremony of baptism that saves; it is what baptism represents that saves.


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[1] This is called “a cubit of a man in Deuteronomy 3:11.