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Genealogy and Ancestry
Genealogy refers to the study of family pedigrees or the tracing of one’s ancestry. In the Bible, Jehovah God is depicted as the great Genealogist and Keeper of records, who has recorded the beginnings, births, and descents of all things in creation.
Importance of Genealogy in Ancient Times
The desire to know one’s ancestry and keep one’s family name alive is a universal human instinct. Many ancient nations, such as the Egyptians and Arabs, kept extensive genealogical records, particularly of the lines of their priests and kings. The Greeks, Celts, Saxons, and Romans also kept genealogical lists.
Genealogy in the Bible
The Bible contains accurate records of genealogies that play an important role in God’s purpose. The Greek term “genealogia” occurs in the New Testament and refers to personal pedigrees or genealogies. The Gospel of Matthew opens with the introduction of Jesus Christ as the “son of David, son of Abraham.” The author of Matthew provides a genealogy of Jesus, which was a common practice in ancient times. In those times, a history often revolved around the persons contained in its genealogy, which formed an important part of the history and sometimes served as an introduction to it.
Genealogy of Abraham’s Line
The family genealogy of Abraham’s line was of particular importance in the Bible, as it was through this line that the Seed of the woman, who was to crush the Serpent’s head, would travel an earthly course and bless all nations. The Bible is the sole record of Abraham’s origins and those of all the nations descending from Noah’s sons.
The preoccupation with history and genealogy in the Bible is unique in ancient literature and highlights the importance placed on tracing one’s ancestry and lineage. The Bible provides an accurate record of genealogies that play an important role in God’s purpose and the history of humanity.
The Bible contains accurate records of genealogies that play an important role in God’s purpose. In ancient times, genealogy was important for chronology and for establishing tribal relationships for division of land and individual land inheritances. The Bible provides evidence of family relationships from the beginning of man, from Adam to the Flood, from the Flood to Abraham, and from Abraham to Christ.
The Importance of Genealogy in God’s Purpose
God is the great genealogist, the keeper of records of creation, beginnings, birth, and descent. He is “the Father, to whom every family in heaven and on earth owes its name.” (Eph 3:14, 15) The apostle Matthew opens his Gospel account with the introduction, “The book of the history of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham.” (Mt 1:1) This genealogy is of extraordinary importance as it provides the genealogy of the Messiah, the Seed, which is the line of extraordinary importance.
The genealogy of the tribe of Levi, with a special emphasis on the priestly family of Aaron, was also carefully guarded. Under the Law, genealogical records were essential for determining family relationships for individual land inheritances and for identifying the nearest of kin.
The strictness with which the Israelites held to these genealogies is shown by the situation that arose after the return from Babylon, when some, supposedly of priestly descent, were unable to find their register. Zerubbabel directed that they not eat of the most holy things provided for the priesthood until they could establish their genealogy publicly.
Genealogy as a Tool for Chronology
In most instances, genealogical lists are not intended to supply full data, but they often provide a check on certain points of chronology or fill in important details. Genealogies do not usually contain the names of women, the names of the wives and concubines a man may have had, or all of his sons from these wives.
From Adam to the Flood, the Bible gives evidence of the existence of lists of family relationships. The pre-Flood list runs through the line of Seth, and the post-Flood list through Shem. These lists serve the double purpose of genealogy and chronology and are the only means for establishing the chronology of man’s history down to Abraham.
From Abraham to Christ, God intervened, and Abraham and Sarah had a son, Isaac, through whom the “Seed” of promise was to come. From Isaac’s son Jacob (Israel) came the original 12 tribes, with Judah being the kingly tribe and Levi’s descendants becoming the priestly tribe. In order to establish Jesus Christ’s legal right to the throne, he had to be identifiable as of David’s family and of the line of Judah. His priesthood, according to the manner of Melchizedek, did not require Levitical descent.
In summary, the Bible contains accurate records of genealogies that play an important role in God’s purpose. Genealogy was important for chronology and for establishing tribal relationships for division of land and individual land inheritances. The genealogy of the Messiah and the tribe of Levi were carefully guarded, and genealogies served as a tool for chronology. The lists of family relationships from Adam to the Flood and from Abraham to Christ serve the double purpose of genealogy and chronology.
Prominent Genealogies in the Bible
In addition to the genealogy from Adam to Jesus Christ and the genealogy of Jacob’s twelve sons, the Bible also includes genealogies of people related to Israel, including the brothers of Abraham, the sons of Ishmael, Moab and Ammon (sons of Abraham’s nephew Lot), the descendants of Abraham’s other wives (including Midian), and the descendants of Esau (Edom). These nations are important because of their relationship with Israel, God’s chosen people.
In Israel, besides family records, national genealogies were also kept. Genesis 46 lists the descendants of Jacob’s household, while Exodus 6 lists the descendants of Levi. The first census of Israel was taken in 1512 BCE and the second was taken 39 years later. In addition to Moses’ genealogies, other official chroniclers, such as Samuel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, also recorded genealogies. There is evidence that genealogies were kept by other keepers, including Iddo and Zerubbabel.
The genealogies were carefully preserved until the start of the Common Era, as evidenced by each family’s ability to return to its ancestral city to register in response to Caesar Augustus’ decree and by the extensive listings of Jesus’ forefathers in Matthew and Luke. The historian Josephus testifies to the existence of official Jewish genealogies, but these were destroyed when Rome destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE. Since then, the Jews have been unable to establish their descent in the two most important lines, David and Levi.
In determining relationships, the context or a comparison of parallel lists or texts from different parts of the Bible may be necessary. For example, “son” may mean grandson or descendant, and “father” may mean grandfather or royal predecessor. In many places, “father” is used in the sense of “ancestor” or “forefather,” and “mother” and “daughter” are used for “grandmother” and “granddaughter,” respectively.
City and Plural Names
In some genealogical lists, a man may be referred to as the father of a certain city, such as Salma being referred to as “the father of Bethlehem.” This indicates that either the city was founded by the man or was populated by his descendants. In some cases, names appear in plural forms, which may represent names of families or tribes instead of individuals.
The Bible writers often abbreviated genealogical lists, only naming the heads of prominent houses, important figures, or those most relevant to the particular history being discussed. The writer may have been only concerned with showing descent from a remote ancestor, leaving out many intermediate names. For example, Ezra’s genealogy lists his descent from Aaron the high priest, but several names from a parallel listing are dropped to shorten the list. This abbreviated list was still adequate to prove his priestly descent.
Variations in Lists
There are several reasons why there may be variations in genealogical lists. A son who died childless may not have been named. The inheritance may have been transmitted through a daughter who married into another family head in the same tribe. The genealogy may merge a less prominent family under another family head, causing names to be dropped. New houses forming may add new names to the list. Childlessness, inheritance through women, adoption, or failure to establish a separate ancestral house may cause names to be dropped from some lists.
Repetition of Names
In genealogical lists, the same name may recur for a later descendant. This was a method to make it easier for the person to identify their line of descent, although sometimes there were persons with the same name in separate family lines. In some cases, names appearing in parallel lists differ, which may be because certain persons had more than one name or a slight alteration in spelling of the name.
Nehemiah 10 lists a number of names attesting to perform God’s commandments, but these names may not necessarily be the individuals entering into the agreements. The names listed may refer to the houses involved, with the ancestral head being named. This may be indicated by the fact that many of the names listed are the same as those listed as returning with Zerubbabel from Babylon some 80 years earlier. These individuals may have been representatives of the ancestral houses listed by those names.
Surnames and Characteristics
In the New Testament of the Greek Bible, surnames were sometimes used to distinguish individuals. For example, Simon was known as Simon Peter and was called Cephas, which is the Aramaic equivalent of the Greek name Peter (Luke 6:14; John 1:42). John Mark was another example. (Acts 12:12)
A person’s name could also reflect their personality traits, as in the case of Simon the Cananaean, who was also called the Zealous One, to differentiate him from Simon Peter. (Matthew 10:4; Luke 6:15) In some cases, a person’s relationship to another individual was used to differentiate them, as in James the son of Alphaeus, who was distinguished from James the son of Zebedee and brother of John the apostle. (Matthew 10:2-3)
The place of origin, such as Joseph of Arimathea and Judas the Galilean, could also be added to a person’s name. (Mark 15:43; Acts 5:37) Judas Iscariot is thought to mean Judas from Kerioth. (Matthew 10:4)
Similar methods were used in the Hebrew Old Testament. For example, the name of a person’s brother could be used to clarify their identity. (John 1:40) Women with the same name could be differentiated by mentioning the name of their father, mother, brother, sister, husband, or son. (Genesis 11:29; 28:9; 36:39; John 19:25; Acts 1:14; 12:12)
Family Names and Titles
In both the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament, a family name or a title could be used to identify an individual. For example, Abimelech was either a personal name or a title used by three Philistine kings, similar to the title “Pharaoh” among the Egyptians. (Genesis 20:2; 26:26; 40:2; Exodus 1:22; 3:10) To differentiate between Abimelechs or Pharaohs, the time and circumstances would be used.
Herod was a family name, while Caesar was a family name that became a title. To avoid ambiguity when referring to one of the Herods, the speaker could use their personal name, such as Agrippa, or combine their personal name or additional title with Herod, such as Herod Antipas or Herod Agrippa. The same was true for the Caesars, as in Caesar Augustus or Tiberius Caesar. (Luke 2:1; 3:1; Acts 25:13)
Names of Women in Genealogies
In both the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament, women were occasionally named in genealogical lists when there was a significant historical reason for doing so. The names of women were included to demonstrate their role in transmitting an inheritance or their relationship to the line of ancestry of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Examples of Named Women
Sarai (Sarah): Mentioned in Genesis 11:29, 30, because the promised Seed was to come through her and not another wife of Abraham.
Milcah: Named in the same passage as Sarah because she was the grandmother of Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, thereby showing Rebekah’s lineage as being from Abraham’s relatives.
Keturah: Named in Genesis 25:1 because she was Abraham’s later wife after Sarah’s death and to show the relationship of Midian and other Arabian tribes to Israel.
Leah, Rachel, and Jacob’s concubines: Named in Genesis 35:21-26 to help understand God’s later dealings with the sons they bore.
Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth: Named for their remarkable manner of being in the line of ancestry of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Other instances of women being mentioned in genealogical lists can be found in 1 Chronicles 2:35, 48, 49; 3:1-3, 5.
Genealogy and Generations in the Bible
The way in which generations are counted in the Bible can vary and may involve longer periods of time than typically thought. For example, in Genesis 15:13-16, Jehovah promised Abraham that his descendants would return to Canaan “in the fourth generation,” which could mean the time from the entry into Egypt until the Exodus and would take into account the long individual life spans of each generation.
In the book of Numbers, a census of the Israelites indicates there must have been many father-to-son generations during their 215-year stay in Egypt, with a total of 603,550 men 20 years old and upward shortly after the Exodus. However, the ‘four generations’ of Genesis 15:16 could also be reckoned as Levi, Kohath, Amram, and Moses. Each of these four generations could have seen numerous descendants, and Moses could have seen great-great-grandnephews by the time of the Exodus.
The line of the promised Seed, the Messiah, in the genealogy from Nahshon to David raises a question. The period of time from the Exodus to David is about 400 years, which would mean that each of these forefathers of David was possibly 100 years old at the time of his son’s birth. However, this would not be impossible, and Jehovah may have brought the line of the Seed through this course so that it could be seen in retrospect that He had been directing the affairs of the promised Seed. There may have been intentional omissions of names in the 400-year portion of the Messianic genealogy recorded in Ruth 4:20-22, 1 Chronicles 2:11-15, Matthew 1:4-6, and Luke 3:31, 32, but even if names were left out, this would present no problem as the assumption that several additional generations intervened would not conflict with other Biblical statements or chronology.
Reliability of Bible Genealogy
The genealogies recorded in the Bible provide vital statistics that are not only important for the time they were written but also for us today. They are an essential part of the Bible and provide the necessary information to understand the lineage of Jesus Christ, the promised seed of Abraham, and the origin of mankind. The genealogies recorded in the Bible are reliable and can be relied upon as evidence of God’s truth and His preservation of history.
The Careful Chroniclers
The Bible chroniclers who included genealogies in their writings referred to the national archives and drew their material from official sources available to them. They found the information they needed and used these lists to prove whatever was needed at the time. Their genealogical listings were accepted by those living at that time, and they had access to the facts and records. The chroniclers were dedicated servants of Jehovah and were not nationalists, but they were concerned with Jehovah’s name and dealings with His people.
Accuracy of Genealogies
A careful examination of the Bible will eliminate the false idea that the ancient genealogies in Genesis and other Bible books contain imaginary or fictitious names to suit some scheme of the chronicler. The chroniclers were not lying, and their testimony is supported by other Bible writers and by Jesus Christ. These genealogies provide vital statistics not only for the time they were written but also for us today. They provide full genealogical assurance that Jesus Christ is the promised seed of Abraham, and they aid in establishing chronology back to Adam, something found in no other source.
In a few instances, copyists’ errors may have crept into the text, particularly in the spelling of names. However, these do not present problems that have any significant bearing on lineages necessary to our understanding of the Bible, and they do not affect Christianity’s foundation.
In summary, the genealogies recorded in the Bible are reliable, and we may rely fully on them. They provide vital information about the lineage of Jesus Christ, the origin of mankind, and the relationship of nations. By knowing the origin of mankind, we can understand the statement that “through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin.” The genealogies also help us understand God’s purpose to bring obedient men back into the relationship of “children of God.” God’s love and kindness are expressed toward those who love Him and keep His commandments “to a thousand generations,” and He is the great Recorder and Preserver of history.
Paul’s View on Genealogies in the Bible
The apostle Paul, in his letter to Timothy around 61-64 C.E., advised him not to focus on “false stories and genealogies” that lead to nothing but raise questions for research instead of having any effect on faith in God. This warning is more significant when we consider the extent to which the Jews went in studying genealogies and investigating possible discrepancies.
Paul was concerned that Timothy and the Christian communities should not waste time in researching and debating matters of personal ancestry, which have no impact on Christian faith. The genealogy in the Bible, which establishes the lineage of Jesus Christ through the line of David, is sufficient proof of his Messiahship. The other genealogies in the Bible serve as a testimony to the authenticity of the Scriptural record, showing that it is a genuinely historical account.
In light of God no longer recognizing any distinction between Jews and Gentiles in the Christian community, it was no longer necessary to maintain genealogical records to prove one’s ancestry. Additionally, the Jewish records, including the genealogies, would soon be destroyed when Jerusalem was razed to the ground. Thus, Paul wanted Timothy and the Christian communities to focus on what is important for their faith and not be sidetracked by pointless research and controversy.
THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS CHRIST
The genealogy of Jesus Christ is recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The genealogy in Matthew traces Jesus’ lineage from Abraham forward, while the genealogy in Luke traces it back to “Adam, son of God.” Jesus’ genealogy is the only one recorded in the Christian Greek Scriptures, and it is considered to be of prime importance as it proves his descent from Abraham and David, which is essential to his Messiahship.
Genealogy Records in the First Century
The Jews of the first century kept both private family records and public records of genealogies. Chroniclers such as Ezra had access to these public records when compiling their lists, and the public registers existed up until 70 C.E. The descent of the Messiah from Abraham and David was of prime importance to the Jews, and so it can be assumed that both Matthew and Luke consulted these genealogical tables when recording Jesus’ genealogy.
Reliability of the Gospel Genealogies
The omission of some names in Matthew’s genealogy compared to other chroniclers does not detract from its reliability. To prove one’s genealogy, it was not necessary to name every link in the line of descent, and Matthew could have copied from the public register the names necessary to prove Jesus’ descent from Abraham and David. The lists made by both Matthew and Luke were comprised of names publicly recognized by the Jews of that time as authentic, and there is no record of the early pagan enemies attacking Christians on this point.
In summary, the genealogies recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke provide legally and publicly recognized proof of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah. The objective of these Gospel writers was to prove Jesus’ descent from Abraham and David, and they accomplished this by copying from the public tables that the nation fully accepted. The genealogies of Jesus stand as a testimony to the authenticity of the Scriptural record and manifest that it is a genuinely historical account.
The Genealogy of Jesus Christ in Matthew and Luke
The genealogy of Jesus is an important aspect of the Christian faith and is recorded in the New Testament in the first chapter of Matthew and the third chapter of Luke. The genealogy of Jesus is the only one given in the Christian Greek Scriptures and is a crucial aspect of establishing Jesus as the Messiah.
Matthew’s Genealogy of Jesus
Memory Aid Division
Matthew divided the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham to Jesus into three sections of 14 generations each. This division may have been a memory aid. However, the names in the list total 41, not 42. It is suggested that the names may be counted by taking Abraham to David as the first 14 names, then using David as the starting name for the second 14, and finally, having Jeconiah as the last in the third series of 14 names and ending with Jesus.
Omission of Names
It is possible that Matthew left out some links in his genealogy with the intention of aiding memory. A suggestion is that three kings of David’s line between Jehoram and Uzziah were omitted because Jehoram married the wicked Athaliah, bringing a God-condemned strain into the line of the kings of Judah.
Problem with Zerubbabel
Matthew indicates that Zerubbabel is the son of Shealtiel, which coincides with other references. However, 1 Chronicles 3:19 refers to Zerubbabel as the son of Pedaiah. It is believed that Zerubbabel was the natural son of Pedaiah and the legal son of Shealtiel, or that after Pedaiah died, Zerubbabel was brought up by Shealtiel as his son.
Luke’s Genealogy of Jesus
Problem with Cainan
Available copies of Luke list a second “Cainan” between Arpachshad and Shelah, but most scholars believe this to be a copyist’s error. This name is not found in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Samaritan texts, or any of the Targums or versions, except the Greek Septuagint. Early writers, such as Irenaeus, Africanus, Eusebius, and Jerome, rejected this name as an interpolation.
Difference between Matthew and Luke’s Genealogy
Matthew traced the line of Jesus’ genealogy through David’s son Solomon, while Luke traced it through Nathan. This difference can be explained by the fact that Luke traced Mary’s ancestry, showing Jesus’ natural descent from David, while Matthew showed Jesus’ legal right to the throne of David through Joseph, who was legally Jesus’ father.
Fusing of Two Truths
Both Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogies of Jesus vary from 1 Chronicles chapter 3, but this may be because names were purposely left out. The two lists of Matthew and Luke fuse together the two truths: that Jesus was the Son of God and the natural heir to the Kingdom through the virgin Mary and that Jesus was also the legal heir in the male line of descent from David and Solomon through Joseph.
The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew and Luke is a crucial aspect of establishing Jesus as the Messiah and is an important aspect of the Christian faith. The genealogies of Jesus as given by Matthew and Luke are based on public records that were fully accepted by the Jews at the time. The differences between the two genealogies can be explained by the fact that Matthew traced the line through Solomon and Luke traced it through Nathan. Both genealogies fuse together the two truths that Jesus was the Son of God and the legal heir to the throne of David.
Who were the “sons of God”?
Who were the “sons of God” that fathered the Nephilim? Some have suggested that they were worshipers of God, as opposed to the other wicked men. This could hardly be the case if we follow the context. The account says that their marriage to “the daughters of man” caused the wickedness to increase substantially. Noah and his family of a wife, three sons, and their wives were the only ones walking with God at that time. – Genesis 6:9; 8:15, 16; 1Pe 3:20.
Therefore, if we were to suggest that these “sons of God” were merely men, this would beg the question, why would their offspring be referred to as “the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown,” more so than the other wicked men, or especially Noah and his family? Moreover, the question arises as to what would be so special, if they were just men, for the account to mention their marriage to “the daughters of man” as though that was special in some way? Men had been marrying women and having children for some 1,500 years at this point.
The understanding that these “sons of God” were disobedient angels, an interpretation that has been around since the beginning is the best choice. The same expression “sons of God” is found in Job 1:6 and Job 38:7 and is applied to angels. This interpretation is supported by the apostle Peter as well, for he writes, “he [Jesus] went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared.” (1 Pet. 3:19-20) Moreover, Jude adds weight to this position as well when he writes, “the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 6)
These rebel angels had the power at one time to materialize in human form, just like the ones that remain faithful to Jehovah God, as they delivered messages for Him. (Gen. 18:1, 2, 8, 20-22; 19:1-11; Josh. 5:13-15) The “proper dwelling” that Jude speaks of is heaven, to which these angels abandoned to take on human form and have relations that were contrary to nature with the “the daughters of man.” (Dan. 7:9-10) The Bible intimates that these rebel angels were stripped of their power to take on human form, as you never hear of it taking place again after the flood, only spirit possession after that. These disobedient angels are now “spirits in prison,” who had been thrown into “eternal chains under gloomy darkness,” which is more of a condition of limited powers, not so much a place, like a maximum-security prison. – 1 Peter 3:19; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6.
GENESIS 6:3: Does this text contradict what Moses said about the length of human life in Psalm 90:10?
Genesis 6:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
3 Then Jehovah said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he also is flesh; therefore his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”
Moses is the author of the first five books of the Bible, which include Genesis as well as Psalm 90, a Prayer of Moses. In Genesis 6:3, it seems that Moses is saying that humans will not live longer than one hundred and twenty years after the flood. Yet, in Psalm 90, Moses says, generally speaking, the years of our life are 70, or even by reason of strength 80. Is Moses contradicting himself?
No, it does not, for at least two reasons. First, the text here is not dealing with human longevity but the amount of time before the global flood was to come. However, for the sake of argument, say it was a reference to the longevity of humans; this reference is back at the time when man was living longer because they were not so far removed genetically from Adam and Eve’s human perfection.
At that time, man lived for hundreds of years, and Noah was almost 500 years old at the time. In fact, he was 600 years old when the flood came and continued to live after the flood. Abraham lived to be 175 years old, and Moses lived to be 120 years old. Even today, there are exceptions to the norm, some people live to be over 120 years. However, that is the exception in the extreme today. You are talking about a few people out of seven billion.
In summary, you are mixing one context with another thousands of years apart. Genesis refers to the time remaining before the flood; Psalm used a general statement. In other words, generally speaking, the years of our life are 70, or even by reason of strength 80. The psalm is of the poetic type of writing and is not to be taken in a literal sense.
GENESIS 6:4: Who were the Nephilim?
Genesis 6:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
Some scholars have argued that the Nephilim are simply wicked men like Cain, but worse, nothing more. They base their argument on the statement of “and also afterward” in verse 4, as they say, the Nephilim “were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came into the daughters of man and they bore children to them.” In other words, the Nephilim were on the earth before the “sons of God had relations with “the daughters of man.”
This position does not outweigh the correct interpretation that the “sons of God,” who were rebel angels, took on human form, had relations with the “daughters of man,” and produced a mighty offspring of half-man, half-angelic. Some translations have moved the phrase “and also afterward” closer to the beginning of verse 4, which would identify the Nephilim with the “mighty men.” For example: “In those days, as well as afterward, there were giants [Heb., hannephilim] on the earth, who were born to the sons of the gods whenever they had intercourse with the daughters of men; these were the heroes [Heb., haggibborim] who were men of note in days of old.”―Genesis 6:4, AT, NIV, and TEV.
The Greek Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament made between 280 and 150 B.C.E., also agrees that both the “Nephilim” and “mighty men” are one and the same, using the word gigantes (giants) to translate both expressions. If we look at the context, we will see that in verses 1 through 3, the “sons of God” were taking wives for themselves and that God had tired of this rebellious behavior and said of man, “his days shall be 120 years.” Thus, verse 4 shows that the Nephilim was in the earth “in those days.” “In those days” referred to when God made the statement. Therefore, it showed that this ongoing situation continued “also afterward when the sons of God came into the daughters of man and they bore children to them.”
GENESIS 6:6-7: In what sense can it be said that God “regretted” that he had made man?
Genesis 6:6-7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
6 And Jehovah regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 Jehovah 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 heavens; for I regret that I have made them.”
Feel regret over: (nacham) Or feel regret over. The Hebrew word (nacham) translated “be sorry,” “repent,” “regret,” “be comforted, “comfort,” “reconsider,” and “change one’s mind” can pertain to a change of attitude or intention. God is perfect and therefore does not make mistakes in his dealings with his creation. However, he can change his attitude or intention regarding how humans react to his warnings. God can go from the Creator of humans to that of a destroyer of them because of their unrepentant wickedness and failure to heed his warnings. On the other hand, if they repent and turn from their wicked ways, the Father can be compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love; and he will “reconsider” the calamity that he may have intended.―Joel 2:13.
The English word “regret” means ‘to feel sorry and sad about something previously done or said that now appears wrong, mistaken, or hurtful to others.’ The Hebrew word (nacham here translated “regretted” relates to a change of attitude or intention. This could not be used to suggest that God felt that he had made a mistake in creating man.
However, returning to our Hebrew word behind the English word, we find that Jehovah had changed his attitude or intention toward the pre-flood generation of which he said, “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Gen 6:5) Since they had willfully rejected and disobeyed Him, it was now obligatory for Him to reject them in return. The change in their attitude mandated a resultant change in His attitude toward them. It is this change or altered situation that is conveyed by the Hebrew nicham (“repent,” “be sorry about,” “change one’s mind about”). The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament had this to say,
Unlike man, who under the conviction of sin feels genuine remorse and sorrow, God is free from sin. Yet the Scriptures inform us that God repents (Gen 6:6–7: Ex 32:14; Jud 2:18; I Sam 15:11 et al.), i.e. he relents or changes his dealings with men according to his sovereign purposes. On the surface, such language seems inconsistent, if not contradictory, with certain passages which affirm God’s immutability: “God is not a man … that he should repent” (I Sam 15:29 contra v. 11); “The lord has sworn and will not change his mind” (Ps 110:4). When nāḥam is used of God, however, the expression is anthropopathic and there is not ultimate tension. From man’s limited, earthly, finite perspective it only appears that God’s purposes have changed. Thus the OT states that God “repented” of the judgments or “evil” which he had planned to carry out (I Chr 21:15; Jer 18:8; 26:3, 19; Amos 7:3, 6; Jon 3:10). Certainly, Jer 18:7–10 is a striking reminder that from God’s perspective, most prophecy (excluding messianic predictions) is conditional upon the response of men. In this regard, A. J. Heschel (The Prophets, p. 194) has said, “No word is God’s final word. Judgment, far from being absolute, is conditional. A change in man’s conduct brings about a change in God’s judgment.”
The change in attitude and intention was going from the Creator of humanity to that of destroying them by means of an earth-wide flood. He was very displeased with their wicked heart condition but saved Noah and his family to continue with his plan of offering a future seed that would ransom humankind. (Gen 3:15; Matt 20:28) The evidence is that he only “regretted” those that had chosen to become so evil in their ways that they forced him to the course of destroying them. (2 Peter 2:5, 9) However, his choice to all some to survive means that his words are not applicable to His creation of mankind itself.
As a final thought, some may conclude that the “them” at the end of verse 7 is in reference to both animals and wicked mankind, but this is not the case. Nothing in the text would suggest that the animals had done anything to displease God. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to suggest that “them” is also about the animals. They were simply victims of man’s sin, and the flood would also result in their destruction. The antecedent of “them” need not be the immediate referent but was to the preceding reference to “man” (Heb., ha adam), wicked mankind.
Genesis 6:9–8:22 describes the story of the Great Flood, a catastrophic event in which God destroyed the earth and all its inhabitants, except for a select few who were saved.
I. The Sin of Man
In Genesis 6:5-7, Jehovah sees the wickedness and corruption of man and decides to cleanse the earth with a flood. The only righteous man at the time was Noah, a man who “walked with God.”
II. Noah and the Ark
God instructs Noah to build an ark, a large boat, and to gather two of every kind of animal, male and female, and seven pairs of clean animals. Noah follows God’s instructions and builds the ark, and God seals the deal by making a covenant with Noah, promising never to destroy the earth with a flood again.
III. The Flood Begins
In Genesis 7:11-24, the flood begins and lasts for 40 days and 40 nights. The rains were so heavy that the water covered the earth and all living creatures perished.
IV. Noah and the Ark
Noah, his family, and the animals were saved on the ark and floated on the waters for 150 days. Finally, the waters receded and the ark came to rest on the top of Mount Ararat.
V. God’s Promise
In Genesis 8:20-22, Noah builds an altar and offers a sacrifice to God, who then makes another covenant with Noah, promising never again to destroy the earth and all its inhabitants.
This account serves as a warning of the consequences of sin and the importance of following God’s commands. It also demonstrates God’s mercy, as He saved Noah and his family, and the animals, from the destruction of the flood. The story of the Great Flood is a foundational story in the Bible and is retold in other religious traditions as well.
Genesis 6:14-22 is a section of the biblical Book of Genesis that describes the construction of the Ark by Noah, as a means of survival during the great flood that God was going to bring upon the earth.
In these verses, God instructs Noah to build the Ark and specifies its dimensions and the materials to be used. Noah is told to make the Ark out of cypress wood and to cover it inside and out with pitch. The Ark is to have three decks and be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high.
Noah follows God’s instructions and builds the Ark, and when it is complete, God instructs him to bring into the Ark his family, along with male and female specimens of every species of bird and animal. This is to ensure the preservation of life on earth during the flood.
In the end, the floodwaters come as God had warned, and the Ark floats on the waters, preserving Noah, his family, and all the creatures on board. After forty days and forty nights, the rains subside, and the Ark comes to rest on the top of a mountain. Noah then sends out a dove to see if the waters have receded, and eventually, the land is dry enough for Noah and his family to disembark from the Ark.
These verses of Genesis 6:14-22 serve to highlight the obedience and faith of Noah, as well as God’s concern for the preservation of life on earth. The story of the Ark and the great flood is a reminder of God’s power and sovereignty over all things, as well as his love for his creation and his willingness to cleanse the earth and start anew.
Genesis 6:17; 7:19–23
Genesis 6:17 and 7:19-23 describe the story of the Great Flood, which was a catastrophic event in which God sends a flood to destroy the earth and all its inhabitants because of their wickedness and corruption. In Genesis 6:17, God says to Noah, “I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.”
In Genesis 7:19-23, it says that the floodwaters rose greatly on the earth and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the waters. The waters completely covered the mountains, and all life on earth, including all living creatures and people, perished. Only Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark were saved. The waters continued to cover the earth for 150 days, and then the waters receded, and the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.
Genesis 6:19–7:3 describes God’s instructions to Noah regarding the great flood that was about to cover the earth.
God told Noah to build an ark or boat to save himself, his family, and two of every kind of animal from the flood. The ark was to be made of gopher wood and was to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. It was to have three decks and a door in the side.
God also instructed Noah to bring food on board the ark for himself, his family, and the animals. God promised to bring the flood and destroy all living creatures that had the breath of life, but He would save Noah, his family, and the animals in the ark.
Noah obeyed God’s commands and gathered his family and all the animals into the ark. The flood began and lasted for 40 days and nights. The waters rose and covered the earth, and all the creatures on the earth died except those in the ark.
After the flood, the ark came to rest on the top of a mountain, and the waters receded. Noah released a dove to see if the waters had gone down, and the dove returned with an olive branch, signifying the end of the flood. Noah and his family then left the ark and repopulated the earth.
Genesis 7:4, 11–12, 17, 24
Genesis 7:4, 11-12, 17, 24 is part of the account of the great flood in the book of Genesis in the Bible.
Genesis 7:4 states: “For in seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” In this verse, God announces that he will send a flood to destroy all living things on the earth.
Genesis 7:11-12 says: “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” In these verses, the flood is described as starting with the bursting of fountains from the deep and the opening of the windows of heaven, which caused rain to fall for 40 days and 40 nights.
Genesis 7:17 says: “The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth.” This verse describes the duration of the flood and how the ark, which was built by Noah, was lifted up by the rising waters.
Genesis 7:24 says: “And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.” In this verse, it is stated that the flood lasted 150 days.
These verses in Genesis 7 describe the events of the great flood, which was a catastrophic event that wiped out all living things on the earth except those that were on the ark, including Noah and his family and the animals he had gathered. The flood is seen as a judgment from God for the wickedness and corruption of humanity.
Genesis 7:12 is a verse in the Bible that describes the start of the great flood as described in the book of Genesis. The verse states: “And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” This verse serves as the beginning of the story of the flood, which was a punishment from God for the wickedness and corruption of humanity. The flood was a catastrophic event that wiped out all living creatures on the earth except for Noah and his family, who were saved along with the animals that were on the ark that Noah had built at God’s command. This verse is a reminder of God’s power and authority, and of the consequences of disobedience and sin.
Genesis 7:13-17 is a section of the story of Noah and the Great Flood in the book of Genesis. The passage describes the moment when the floodwaters began to cover the earth.
“On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark—they and every beast after its kind, all cattle after their kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort. And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life. So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and Jehovah shut him in.”
In this passage, the author describes how Noah, his family, and all the animals entered the ark on the day the flood began. The animals are described as entering “two by two,” and the author emphasizes that they entered according to God’s command. The passage concludes with the statement that Jehovah shut Noah and the animals into the ark, sealing them safely from the floodwaters.
These verses emphasize the obedience and faithfulness of Noah, who followed God’s instructions even though it seemed like an unusual and dangerous thing to do. They also highlight the power of God, who was able to close the door of the ark and protect Noah and the animals from the flood.
Genesis 7:20 is a verse from the Bible that says, “Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.” This verse is part of the account of the global flood that took place during the time of Noah. According to the Bible, the flood was a result of God’s judgment on the wickedness of man. The verse specifically states that the waters rose 15 cubits (a unit of measurement) and covered the mountains. The flood lasted for 40 days and 40 nights and caused widespread destruction. However, Noah and his family, along with the animals that they had taken into the ark, were saved.
Genesis 8:1 says, “But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark. And God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided.” This verse highlights that God remembered Noah and his family, as well as the animals in the ark, and acted to bring an end to the flood. The wind that God caused to pass over the earth helped to reduce the water level, causing the floodwaters to subside.
Genesis 8:13-14 is part of the account of the Great Flood in the book of Genesis. The verses describe the receding of the floodwaters and the return of dry land.
13 And in the 601st year, in the first [month], on the first [day] of the month, the waters began to subside from the earth, and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and he saw that the face of the ground was drying. 14 And in the second month, on the 27th [day] of the month, the earth was dry.
These verses describe the gradual receding of the floodwaters that had covered the earth for more than a year. According to the account, in the 601st year of Noah’s life, the waters began to subside and Noah was able to remove the covering of the ark and see that the ground was drying. By the end of the second month, the earth was completely dry.
Genesis 8:21-22 is part of the story of Noah and the Great Flood in the Bible. In these verses, God promises never to destroy the earth with a flood again and sets a sign of this promise in the form of a rainbow. The verses state:
“And Jehovah smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.”
“Rainbow in the clouds: This will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 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.”
These verses serve as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to his promises and his mercy toward his creation. The rainbow serves as a symbol of hope and a reminder of God’s grace.
Genesis 9:2 is a verse in the Book of Genesis of the Bible. In this verse, God speaks to Noah and his family after they have exited the Ark following the Great Flood and gives them permission to eat meat: “The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” This verse marks a significant change from the previous commandment in Genesis 1:29, which stated that humans were to eat only plants. The new permission to eat meat was given in light of the changed conditions on earth after the Flood.
Genesis 9:4 is a verse in the Bible, in the Book of Genesis. It states: “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” This verse is part of God’s instructions to Noah and his descendants after the flood. It explains that they are allowed to eat animals, but only after the blood has been drained from the animal. This verse is considered to be one of the first dietary laws given in the Bible and is seen as a reminder to respect the value of life.
“Genesis 9:12-17” is a passage from the Bible, specifically from the book of Genesis in the Old Testament. This passage records God’s covenant with Noah after the flood. The text states:
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.”
In this passage, God promises never again to flood the earth and to keep the covenant with all life on the earth. The rainbow serves as a symbol of this promise and a reminder to God of the covenant.
Genesis 9:25 is part of a narrative in which Noah, who was saved from a worldwide flood along with his family and the animals, makes a covenant with God. In this verse, Noah says: “And he said: ‘Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.'” This verse is often interpreted to mean that Noah was cursing the descendants of Canaan, who was one of his grandsons. Some biblical scholars believe that the curse was a prophetic prediction of the subjugation of the Canaanites by the Israelites in later centuries.
Genesis 10:5, 20, 31
Genesis 10:5 lists the descendants of Japheth, one of the sons of Noah, who are said to be the “families of the sons of Japheth.” The descendants are given as Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.
Verse 20 lists the descendants of Ham, another son of Noah, and the families of the sons of Ham are given as Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan.
Verse 31 lists the descendants of Shem, the third son of Noah, and the families of the sons of Shem are given as Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram.
Genesis 10:22; 11:10
Genesis 10:22 lists the descendants of Shem, one of the three sons of Noah, and his descendants include the Elamites. Genesis 11:10 lists the descendants of Shem and indicates that Eber was among the descendants of Shem.
Genesis 11:7 says, “Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” This verse is part of the story of the Tower of Babel, where people were building a tower to reach the heavens. God saw their pride and unity and decided to confuse their language so they would not be able to understand each other and could no longer work together on the tower. This caused them to disperse and go to different parts of the world, which explains the diversity of languages that exist today.
“These are the generations of Shem. When Shem was 100 years old, he became the father of Arpachshad two years after the flood.” (Genesis 11:10)
This verse is part of the genealogy of Shem, one of the three sons of Noah, listed in the book of Genesis. It states that Shem became the father of Arpachshad when he was 100 years old and two years after the Great Flood. This verse is part of the overall genealogy of the descendants of Noah, who are considered the founders of the human race after the Flood.
Genesis 11:26, 32
Genesis 11:26 and 32 are verses that are part of the story of the tower of Babel. In Genesis 11:26, it is written “And Terah lived seventy years, and he became father to Abram, Nahor, and Haran.” This verse introduces the three sons of Terah, including Abram, who will later become known as Abraham and play a significant role in the history of Israel.
Genesis 11:32 states “And the days of Terah were two hundred five years. And Terah died in Haran.” This verse indicates the death of Terah, who is the father of Abram. Haran, where Terah died, is mentioned several times in the book of Genesis and is where Abraham’s family lived before moving to Canaan.
Genesis 12:1-15 tells the story of God calling Abram (later renamed Abraham) to leave his home in Mesopotamia and go to the land of Canaan. God promises to make of him a great nation and bless him, and in turn, God will bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him. Abram obeyed God and traveled to Canaan, where he encountered famine and had to go to Egypt. But God appeared to Abram in Egypt and confirmed His promise, and Abram returned to Canaan. In Canaan, he settled in the area of Shechem, where he built an altar to Jehovah.
Genesis 13:7 refers to a verse in the Bible where Jehovah speaks to Abraham, saying: “And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.” In this verse, there is conflict between the herdsmen of Abraham and Lot’s cattle. The Canaanite and Perizzite, who were pagan peoples living in the land of Canaan, also dwelled in the area. The verse highlights the growing tension between the two groups and the need for Abraham and Lot to separate and find new land for their flocks to graze.
Genesis 14:1-2 says: “At that time war broke out in the hills country between King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of Goiim. They fought against King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).”
These verses describe the outbreak of a war in the hills country, with King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of Goiim fighting against King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (Zoar). The text serves as a backdrop to the story of Abraham and Lot, which begins in the next few verses.
Genesis 14:3, 8, 10
Genesis 14:3 refers to the Battle of the Vale of Siddim, in which four Mesopotamian kings fought against five others. The battle is mentioned in verses 3-4: “All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.”
In verses 8-9, the King of Sodom offers King Melchizedek of Salem a portion of the spoils taken from the defeated kings. “And the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the vale of Siddim with Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five.”
In verse 10, Abraham rescues his nephew Lot, who had been taken captive during the battle, and returns with the spoils of war. “And the vale of Siddim was full of slime pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain.”
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 Septuagint angels
 This refers to angelic sons of God. See Job 1:6; 38:7; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6
 Lit good
 Or contend
 He is a reference to man
 The Nephilim were giant offspring resulting from the sexual relations between sons of God (i.e., angels) and the daughters of men (i.e., human women).
 I.e., the days when Adam and Eve, and their descendants, began having female offspring. All of the Nephilim were destroyed in the flood of Genesis 7.
 Or sky
 Marvin R. Wilson, “1344 נָחַם” In Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr. and Bruce K. Waltke, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 571.