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the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every cogitation of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually: 6. And the Lord repented that He had made the man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7. And the Lord said, I will blot out the man whom I
(ii. 7); it was, then, originally pure and plans and undertakings, their domestic undefiled; but it was gradually corrupted and social arrangements, were based upon by the weak frame with which it was it; a sudden diminution from nine hundred coupled; it was depraved by the allure- to a hundred and twenty years would have ments of the flesh; and, the longer the disturbed all their relations; they would spirit was the tenant of the body, the more have been unable either to realize their did it lose its pristine brightness, and the hopes, or to limit them. Besides, as we greater was the danger of its becoming have explained above (p. 108), the innate entirely covered with the rust of passion. strength of man was but imperceptibly God determined, therefore, that His spirit worn away; the following generation was should not animate the human frame for but little inferior to the preceding one; so extended a period; it should leave the they might arrive to a very limited amount flesh after a hundred and twenty years, of years, but only very gradually; and, to renew and to continue its existence in in the first ages after the renewal of the a purer world, free from the fetters of the world by the deluge, the depravation of dust, and no more a slave to the baneful the Divine spirit in the flesh was less to be propensities of the flesh.
apprehended.—This appears to have been It is true, that to Noah and most of his the conception of the Hebrew historian. immediate descendants are attributed ages Other ancient writers also mention the far exceeding the period of 120 years; age of 120 years as that ordinarily reached Abraham is stated to have reached the age during a long period; we may add, that of 175, Isaac of 180, and Jacob of 147 120 was, indeed, an astrological numyears; whilst to Amram even a life of 137 ber of great significance, expressing an years is assigned (Exod. vi. 20). But it important epoch; and, thus, the statescenis, that, in the time of Moses, an age ment of our text will receive additional of 120 years was deemed the utmost ex- light, and will cause less surprise. tent of human life; that later this point The fall of the human families in the was rarely surpassed, whilst it was, in most time of Noah was, therefore, punished in cases, not attained; and seventy to eighty an analogous manner to the fall of Adam. years were the average duration of man's In both cases, the duration of life was existence on earth (Ps. xc. 10). But, if the shortened; and in both, the earth also age of hundred and twenty years was to suffered for the crime of man. But, whilst become customary in the time of Moses the descendants of Adam shared the curse only, why was it announced so many of his transgression, in the time of Noah centuries before in a manner which seems the sinners alone perished, and his desdistinctly to imply, that it was to be the cendants commenced a new era under the rule in the generations immediately fol. sunshine of Divine mercy, which graciously lowing? We cannot suppose so obvious a remembers the innate human weakness contradiction. The decrease of human and frailty; the wicked race was destroyed, vitality was decreed in the time of Noah; and the world was renewed from the seed it tended, indeed, to the restricted number of the pious. of 120 years; but the change was permitted The renowned children of the sons of to be gradual; the lives of the individuals God mixed with the violent tribes then had been regulated after the measure of a peopling the earth (ver. 4); universal much more extensive existence; all their corruption was the consequence of this
have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and reptile, and the fowls of the air; for I repent that I have made them. 8. But Noah found
8. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
9. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a righteous man, and perfect in his generations; with God baneful intercourse; the heart of man, simply, that the earth became depraved, which this is the doctrine of the Bible and was replete with deeds of violence by nature inclines to evil (viii. 21), was, (ver. 11); that God saw the iniquity of by the power of the pernicious example, all Aesh (ver. 12), and that He deterfearfully depraved in all its propensities mined, therefore, the destruction of man (ver. 5); God was grieved to see the pride with the earth (ver. 13). The author beand crown of His creation fallen so deeply; gins, therefore, this important section He foresaw, that man would eve
with a new heading: “ These are the earth; He regretted, therefore, that He generations of Noah”, and connects with had called him into existence (ver. 6); and it at once the praise of the only man who His justice compelled Him to destroy the remained “righteous and perfect” in his the race of the sinners. This awful neces- own and the preceding criminal generasity filled God with pain; and the text ex- tions; who reached even the exalted depresses well this feeling by repeating His gree of Enoch's piety, for he also“ walked determination with a certain melancholy with God”; and was, therefore, like him, earnestness (vers. 6, 7). But, lest the pious worthy of being exempted from the geperish with the wicked, Noah was saved in neral fate of his contemporaries. the universal ruin; his piety secured him But although God repented that He the Divine grace (ver. 8). The deliverance had made man, and resolved the destrucof Noah implies the grand and fruitful tion of all flesh with the earth, He did not truth, that, though the generations of man execute His design; He annihilated the may seem to decline and to become worse, sinners, but left on earth the germ of fua better race invariably rises on the ruins ture generations; He seemed anxious that of the past; the old follies and vices are no species of the former creatures should the groundwork, on which wisdom and - perish in the impending visitation; He virtue erect their magnificent structure. was evidently averse, both to rejecting His Most appropriately, therefore, did some of old creation, and to producing a new one; the Fathers of the Church compare the the propensity of man was bad all his days, effects of the deluge with those of rege- yet God did not create a rational being nerative baptism.
more worthy to bear His image. The aniHere concludes the introduction to the mals, also, had depraved their way; yet he grand tragedy, which the Hebrew writer, refrained from their entire destruction. conscious of its thrilling interest, unfolds And here we have an apt illustration of with a warmth and pathos, not unfre- the Biblical words: “God is not a son of quently rising to the sublime.
man, that He should repent.” He had 9-13. We have just been informed of endowed man with a nature capable both the cause of the universal degeneracy on of high internal purity, of which Enoch earth; the " sons of God” spread immo- and Noah were examples, and of fearful rality among the children of Adam; their depravity, which lowered him to the level pernicious example seduced the impres- of the animal creation (ver. 7). Ten sionable heart of man. This account is generations had passed, and wickedness followed by another shorter record, which preponderated fearfully over virtue. His repeats some features, and omits others justice demanded an example of the most (see note on vii, 1–10). The latter states ignominious punishment; for man is not walked Noah. 10. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11. And the earth was corrupted before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12. And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupted; for all filesh had corrupted its way upon the earth. 13. And God said to Noah, The end of all flesh is come necessarily bad; his nature does not com- not prevail by his own righteousness, but pel him to wickedness; that piety which owes peace and pardon to Divine mercy. was attainable by two men within three - These are some of the principal ideas generations, is not beyond the possibility embodied in the history of the Flood. of mankind in general: the evil had been We were compelled to anticipate them done; and the infliction of punishment was here, in order to render the text more acinevitable. But should similar universal curately intelligible. chastisements be periodically repeated? The earth was corrupted, and full of The example of that visitation alone violence, and all flesh had depraved its would not be sufficient to counteract the way upon the earth; therefore the end of evil propensities of man. Under these all flesh was resolved, together with the circumstances, a double course was possi- earth. The earth is, in the Bible, not ble. Either God might create a new and considered as a mere passive object; it more perfect human race, which was, is the habitation of man; it beholds from its nature, not so liable to sin and his deeds of virtue and of baseness; impiety; or He might henceforth apply a it is, therefore, like the eternal heamore lenient test for the transgressions of vens, invoked as a witness in solemn
God chose the latter alternative. exhortations; it cries up to heaven if The God of Justice became a God of it is soiled with blood; it “vomits out" Mercy; the severity of the Judge was the wicked inhabitants. But the earth changed to the love of the Father. Thus has also furnished the matter from which piety is still a glorious victory, and sin, man was framed; there is, therefore, a though an ignominy, is regarded with certain mutual relation between both; if compassion; the reward of the former is man is corrupted, the earth shares his infinite, and the punishment of the latter degradation; if the one is exterminated, less overwhelming. A new covenant was the other participates in the ruin; Sodom concluded between God and man (ix. and Gomorrah were destroyed together 9-17). The descendants of Noah are with their impious inhabitants; the Isregarded by God in another light, as the raelites were threatened, that when they immediate progeny of Adam. The ul- should be led away as captives for their timate consequences of the first fall are iniquity, their once blooming land would widely different from those of the second be converted into a dreary desert of fall. The former ends in the expulsion thorns and thistles; whilst, at the return from the primitive happy abode, in an of the pious and penitent into their land, alienation from God, and in a sad and even the inhospitable wilderness would severe curse; the latter results in assu- be changed into beautiful gardens and rances of happiness and blessing, in pro- proud cedar-forests; and just as the first spects of the undisturbed sovereignty of parents were, after their fall, doomed man upon earth, and in a return to a to exhaust their strength on a cursemore intimate relation between God and laden soil; thus the generation of Noah man. But let it be clearly remembered, was annihilated, together with the earth that the latter blessings were not due to which had seen and suffered their ini. the greater piety of man, but to the un- quity. The Persian faith teaches, that bounded mercy of God alone. Man does in whatever country the sacredness of
before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14. Make for thyself an ark of gopher wood; in cells shalt thou make the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. 15. And this is the mode in which thou shalt make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16. Light shalt thou provide for the ark, and by the cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou make at its side; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. 17. For behold, I will bring a flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under the heaven;
matrimony is violated, that country miniscence of it was to be eradicated; perishes, together with its inhabitants. some Indian tribes pursue with their united The nearer man is to the state of nature, force the wild beast which has killed a the more mysterious and inseparable ap- man, and the family of the murdered is pears to him his connection with the an abomination and a disgrace till they earth and its silently-working powers;
have killed that or another beast of the the earth is the “great mother” of all same species; and other ancient nations men, who produces, nourishes, and may went a step still farther, and doomed even destroy them; and the heathen nations inanimate objects (as an axe) with which have based upon these conceptions a crime had been perpetrated to ignomimany of their most beautiful myths, too nous treatment, if the author of the misuniversally known to require a detailed deed could not be discovered (see notes or allusion. — But the animals must pe- Exod. xxi. 28–32); and if, among the rish, because they had also beheld the Hindoos, a man is killed by an acciiniqnity of man; every witness of the dental fall from a treo, all his relations! degradation was to be removed; the his- assemble, cut it down, and reduce it to tory of man should commence a new epoch. chips which they scatter to the winds. If crimes were committed through the in- 14–22. God had hitherto pronounced, strumentality of animals, the latter were in general terms only, His determination also killed; an ox which had caused the to annihilate the earth and its inhabitants. death of a man, was destroyed; if a Hem He now reveals to Noah the nature of the brew town adopted idolatrous worship, its punishment; Ile states, that a universal inhabitants were destroyed with their flood shall destroy “all flesh which poscattle; whilst piety and faith were at- sesses the breath of life," so that “ all that tended by prosperity among the beasts; is on earth shall die.” But Noah, his three the avarice of Achan was punished by sons, and their wives, should escape the death, and the destruction of his family general destruction; and, lest the living and his property; when the Amalekites creation perish, which the love of God had were to be extirpated, the animals were but lately produced, Noah was ordered to included in the fatal decree; and when gather a pair, male and female, of each the Ninevites did penance by fasting and species of the birds, the beasts, and rephumiliation, the beasts shared the same tiles, and to provide food sufficient for the acts of external grief. The horror against time of the deluge. Now, for his owa bloodshed was so intense, that every re- reception, and that of the animals, he was
every thing that is on the earth shall die. 18. But I establish My covenant with thee; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee: 19. And of every living being, of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to preserve them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. 20. Of the fowls after their kind, and of the cattle after their kind, of every reptile of the earth after its kind, two of every sort shall come to thee, to preserve them alive. 21. And take thou to thyself of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thyself and for them. 22. And Noah did according to all that God commanded him; so he did.
commanded to make an ark of cypress wood, three stories high, and to divide its interior into cells. To protect it against the influx of water, it was to be daubed with pitch from within and from without. It was to be provided with a door at the side, and with windows in the upper part, or the roof. So far, the construction of the ark offers no difficulties. But its size is of such enormous dimensions, that the technical obstructions seem insuperable. It was to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits broad, and thirty cubits high--or 450,000 cubits in contents. Now, the cubit is the length of the fore-arm, or from the elbow to the extremity of the longest finger; it is nowhere used of a shorter measure, as has been arbitrarily maintained; and it has been proved, that, in an architectural point
of view, such a vessel, which would be equivalent, “in capacity or stowage, to eighteen of the largest ships in present use,” is impossible; as, indeed, an ark constructed, in the beginning of the seventeenth century, by the Dutch Mennonite, Janson, after the stated dimensions, broko into pieces before it was completed; though a ship built in the same proportions, but much smaller dimensions (120 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 12 feet high), proved successful. We must confess, that the size of the ark forms one of those difficul. ties in the history of the deluge which assist us in arriving at a clear historical view concerning its character, and which we shall soon consider in their systematic connection (see the treatise after the eighth chapter).
CHAPTER VII. 1. And the Lord said to Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before
1-10. The commands of God con- (vi. 19-21); and to enter it with his cerning the approaching deluge seem family (vi. 18). But after it had even complete; its cause, the corruption of the been mentioned, that Noah bad executed hunian race, has been clearly stated (vi. all that God had commanded him (vi. 22), 9-13); Noah was ordered to build an the text not only repeats, in the first ten ark after prescribed proportions (vi. 14- verscs of the seventh chapter, several of 16); to take into it specimens of all the statements already distinctly made animals, and every necessary provision (vii. 1,5, 9), but, what is more important,