So far we have looked at the account of creation, Adam and Eve, Adam’s family tree, the reason for the Flood, Noah, and God’s instructions to him to build the Ark, and the flood. We also mentioned the use of agricultural crops in the manufacture of fuel.

Read Genesis 9:1-7

1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands.

As we saw in our last study, this mirrors Genesis 1:28

It is a fact that all animals that are in good health, and with a good food supply, will naturally avoid man. Many are capable of killing and eating humans, but will only be driven to do this by necessity – and often caused by man’s interference.

And mirroring Genesis 1:29,

.  .  .  .  they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

4 But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.

It is quite likely that animals had become carnivores once sin entered the world. Now the restriction on mankind is lifted and all animal life may be eaten, but with a specific restriction – you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. What does that mean?

Leviticus 17:11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.

In a particular way, we are to recognise blood as that which contains the life of an animal or person.

In what way would the offering or shedding of blood become central to the provision of salvation?

(Blood on doorposts, sacrifices, Jesus’ crucifixion).

Does verse 4 mean that we can’t eat ‘Black Pudding’ or raw meat, or meat that is cooked ‘rare’?

(I’m afraid there is no easy answer to that question – it ends up being a matter of individual judgment – personally I believe it to mean that we may only eat meat from dead animals.)

5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.

Life is precious, but to the God who made us in his own image, the life his own Spirit has breathed into us is incredibly valuable. So valuable, it’s as if it is listed in God’s accounts as a valuable asset – and cannot be removed without an appropriate entry in the books: I will surely demand an accounting  .   .   .  from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.

There will be no escape – there will come a day when all who have taken a human life will be are asked to account for that life.


6 Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God has God made mankind.

There almost seems to be an instinct that causes people to seek out and kill animals that have killed or even injured humans. Not perhaps realising that it was decreed so long ago by the Creator himself. Here there is also justification for capital punishment, although many would personally find it difficult to take the life of the guilty one. (It may be appropriate at this point to allow discussion on capital punishment, war or euthanasia, but you must respect the fact that individuals may well have very deep personal feelings, experiences or problems with this – and it is probably not within the scope of this study to deal with them in depth).

7 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.’

This is now the fourth time this command has been repeated – and humans have definitely obeyed this one!

Now read Genesis 9:8-17

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you – the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you – every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.’

12 And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.’

17 So God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.’

This seems to reinforce Genesis 2:5b that rain (and rainbows) were not known before the flood.

What is a covenant?

It is a legal agreement. In the Bible it is usually between God and his people. Sometimes conditional upon their obedience, sometimes (as here) simply an unconditional promise by God.

Why did God need to establish this covenant?

If we accept that the world before the flood was climatically different to that which Noah and their families were now facing, with no rain up to the time of the flood, there was a danger that when it next rained everyone would return to the Ark in panic.

What did God actually promise?

That he would not again destroy all living creatures on earth by a flood of water. Important, because there will come a time when the earth will be destroyed (Isaiah 34:1-4, 2 Peter 3:10)

Why was it important to provide the sign of the rainbow? This too might have been construed as a thing of terror if it had never been seen before! We all need visual reminders, and a rainbow is a good reminder of the promises of God.

18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth.

But they were not actually born in that order: Japheth was oldest (Genesis 10:21), Shem was next and Ham was the youngest (9:24).

(I suggest you read this next section (18-25) leaving out the highlighted bits)

Now we come to a strange episode in the life of Noah.  Please keep your Bibles shut and let me read it to you. (You may wish to mention that the wild grape Vitis vinifera is native throughout the area. I imagine that the pre-flood civilization had found how to cultivate it and produce wine from the grapes.)

18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth.

(Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth.

20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.

22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backwards and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.

24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,

‘Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.’


It is at this point that we meet the first of the names which are going to play a major part in the rest of Israel’s history. As I read the passage I left out the mention of this name but let’s turn to it now: Genesis 9 v18-27 (now read the highlighted parts)

Well, of course, we have to ask why Canaan – actually the youngest of Ham’s four sons? Why not Ham?

Possibly this is entirely prophetic – prompted by the Holy Spirit – and refers to events which took place many hundreds of years later. Like Jacob in Genesis 49:1 before he died.

Canaan of course was eventually punished by God when the Israelites displaced them from their land, and those who remained became slaves. (Joshua 9v27, 16v10, Judges 1v28, 30, 33, 35, 1 Kings 9v20-21).

26 He also said,

‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem.

Shem is blessed – or rather, God is blessed for him. Is that in some way a greater blessing?

Shem was the father of the Shemitic or Semitic race – the Jews, and according to Luke 3:36 the direct ancestor of who? Jesus.  

27 May God extend Japheth’s territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem,
and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.’

Japheth too is blessed, and we will begin to see how the tribes begin to spread out and populate the earth in the next chapter. It’s possible that the phrase may Japheth live in the tents of Shem can either mean Gentiles (Japheth) will be masters over the inheritance of the Jews (Shem) or that as Christians, Gentiles will be welcomed into the true church of God.

28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 Noah lived a total of 950 years, and then he died.

God had stated in Genesis 6:3 ‘My Spirit will not contend with humans for ever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.’

Of those born after the flood, Eber, at 464, was the longest lived, but God’s decision gradually applied through the following generations until we get to Moses, who died aged 120. From then on, this has usually been the limit of human life.

Genesis 10Genesis 8

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Genesis 9:1-29 Blood, Covenant, Ham’s sin, Canaan