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THE COVENANT WITH NOAH.—Gen. 9:8–17
Genesis 9:13. קֶשֶׁת qesheth rainbow, i.e., a multi-colored arch (or possibly circle) as a natural occurrence in the sky when the sunlight refracts (break up) through raindrops (Ge 9:13, 14, 16; Eze 1:28+)
Genesis 14. עָנָן anan 1. cloud, i.e., a visible mass, usually of condensed water vapor in the atmosphere, relatively dense enough to block light (Ge 9:13), note: this can refer to a natural or supernatural occurrence, either as a protection or as a symbol of gloom; 2. smoke cloud, i.e., a visible mass of particles as a heated floating mass from a burning substance, relatively dense enough to block light or visibility (Lev 16:13; Eze 8:11); 3. mist, i.e., a cloud-like mass of water vapor close to the earth, which can dissipate quickly (Isa 44:22; Hos 6:4; 13:3)
The covenant made with Noah (Gen. 6:18) is now formally confirmed. The purpose conceived in the heart (Gen. 8:21) now receives a significant expression. A new blessing is bestowed, and a new covenant is formed with Noah. For he that has offered an acceptable sacrifice is not only at peace with God but renewed in mind after the image of God. He is, therefore, a fit subject for entering into a covenant. After that, the first rainbow emerged, and God made an eternal covenant never again to bring a global flood upon mankind. At that time, there were no Hebrews, no Israelites, no Jews, and no circumcision. Only the forefathers of the Semitic, Japhetic and Hamitic branches of the human family were present at that moment.
Genesis 9:8-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living soul that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, to all the beasts of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again will all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
Genesis 9:8–11. Unto Noah and to his sons. God addresses the sons of Noah as the progenitors of the future race. 9. I establish. He does not merely make (כָּרַת) but ratifies his covenant with them. My covenant. The covenant which was before mentioned to Noah in the directions concerning the making of the ark, and which was really, though tacitly, formed with Adam in the garden.
Genesis 9:9-10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living soul that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, to all the beasts of the earth.
 That is, living creature
(נֶפֶשׁ הַחַיָּה living soul) The Lexicon for the Old Testament Books, by L. Koehler and W. Baumgartner, in its edition of 1953, which gives definitions in both German and English. On page 627 of its Volume 2, this Lexicon says, under Néfesh: “the breathing substance, making man and animal living beings Genesis 1:20, the soul (strictly different from the Greek notion of soul) the seat of which is the blood Genesis 9:4f; Leviticus 17:11; Deuteronomy 12:23 (249 times): 3. néfesh hhayáh living being; Genesis 1:20, 24 (= animals) 2:19 . . . 2:7; 9:10, 16. . . . 4. soul = living being, individual, person . . . who kills a person Numbers 31:19, . . . destroy lives, persons Ezekiel 22:27; . . . 7. Néfesh breath = life (282 times) . . . ” And on page 628, column 1: “Néfesh a dead one (has developed from a person) Leviticus 21:1; Numbers 6:11; 9:10; Leviticus 22:4; Haggai 2:13; Numbers 5:2; 9:6f; 19:11, 13 . . . ”
The נפשׁ becomes a living being: by God’s breathing נשׁמת חיים into the nostrils of its בשׂר; of man Gn 2:7 (J); by implication of animals also Gn 2:19 (J); so ψ 104:29, 30 cf. 66:9 man is נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה, a living, breathing being Gn 2:7 (J); elsewhere נפשׁ חיּה always of animals Gn 1:20, 24, 30; 9:12, 15, 16 (all P), Ez 47:9; so נפשׁ החיּה Gn 1:21; 9:10 (both P), Lv 11:10, 46 (H); נפשׁ השׁרצת Lv 11:46 (H); נפשׁ כל חי Jb 12:10. נפשׁ is frequently used with the verb חיה: †וחיתה נפשׁ Gn 12:13; 19:20 (both J), 1 K 20:32 (E), ψ 119:175; Je 38:17, 20; †חֵי נַפְשְׁךָ 1 S 1:26; 17:55; 20:3; 25:26 2 S 11:11; 14:19; 2 K 2:2, 4, 6; 4:30 (all JE); cf. †יְחַיֶּה נ׳ 1 K 20:31 (E), Ez 18:27 ψ 22:30; also Gn 19:19 Is 55:3; Pr 3:22.
The נפשׁ (without חיה noun or verb) is specif.: a. a living being whose life resides in the blood [so in Arabic We iii. 217 G. Jacob iv. 9 f.] (hence sacrificial use of blood, and its prohib. in other uses; first in D), Dt 12:23, 24 only be sure that thou eat not the blood, for the blood is the living being (הַדָּם הוּא הַנֶּפֶשׁ); and thou shalt not eat the living being with the flesh (הַנֶּפֶשׁ עִם הַבָּשָׂר); thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water; this enlarged in H, Lv 17:10, 11, 12, 14 and in P Gn 9:4, 5, cf. Je 2:34. b. a serious attack upon the life is an attack upon this inner living being 2 S 1:9 Je 4:10; Jon 2:6 ψ 69:2; 124:4, 5; Jb 27:3. c. נפשׁ is used for life itself 171 times, of animals Pr 12:10, and of man Gn 44:30 (J); נפשׁ תחת נפשׁ life for life Ex 21:23 (E), Lv 24:18 (H), 1 K 20:39, 42; 2 K 10:24; נפשׁנו תחתיכם Jos 2:14 (J); נפשׁ בנפשׁ Dt 19:21; בנפשׁ for the life of 2 S 14:7 Jon 1:14; שׂם נפשׁ בכף put life in one’s own hand Ju 12:3 1 S 19:5; 28:21 Jb 13:14; חרף נפשׁו למות Ju 5:18 risked his life to die; †בנפשׁ at the risk of life Nu 17:3 (P), 2 S 23:17 = 1 Ch 11:19(), 1 K 2:23 Pr 7:23; La 5:9; †בקּשׁ נפשׁ Ex 4:19 (J), 1 S 20:1; 22:23() 23:15; 25:29 2 S 4:8; 16:11; 1 K 19:10, 14; Je 4:30; 11:21; 19:7, 9; 21:7; 22:25; 34:20, 21; 38:16; 44:30() 46:26; 49:37 ψ 35:4; 38:13; 40:15; 54:5; 63:10; 70:3; 86:14; Pr 29:10; †שׁאל נ׳ 1 K 3:11 = 2 Ch 1:11, 1 K 19:4 = Jon 4:8; †הִכָּה נפשׁ smite mortally Gn 37:21 (J), Dt 19:6, 11; Je 40:14, 15; †לקח נ׳ 1 K 19:4; Jon 4:3 ψ 31:14; Pr 1:19; †הִצִּיל נֶפֶשׁ מִמָּוֶת deliver life from death Jos 2:13 ψ 33:19; 56:14; †מלּט נפשׁ 1 S 19:11 2 S 19:6() 1 K 1:12() Je 48:6; 51:6, 45; Ez 33:5; Am 2:14, 15 ψ 89:49; 116:4; †פדה נ׳ 2 S 4:9 1 K 1:29 ψ 34:23; 49:16; 55:19; 71:23; †שׁמר נ׳ ψ 25:20; 97:10; Jb 2:6 Pr 13:3; 16:17; 19:16; 22:5.
In the above quotation, the Hebrew words neshamáth hhayím mean “the breath of life.” Basár means “flesh,” and néfesh hhayáh means “a living soul,” whether applied to animal or to man.
 The BHS/MT has the reading “to all the beasts of the earth” in verse 10 of chapter 9. On the other hand, the Greek Septuagint (LXX) does not include “to all the beasts of the earth” in verse 10 of chapter 9. The verbal repetition in the Hebrew test is obviously for emphasis. The Septuagint continues to be very much important today and is used by textual scholars to help uncover copyists’ errors that might have crept into the Hebrew manuscripts either intentionally or unintentionally. However, it cannot do it alone without the support of other sources. While the Septuagint is the second most important tool after the original language texts for ascertaining the original words of the original Hebrew text, it is also true that the LXX translators took liberties at times, embellishing the text, deliberate changes, harmonizations, and completing of details. It could be here that the translators felt the repetition of “every beast of the earth” was redundant, or it was simply accidentally dropped from the text.
Genesis 9:9-10. The party with whom God now enters into the covenant is here fully described. you and your offspring after you, and with every living soul; the latter merely on account of the former. The animals are specially mentioned because they partake in the special benefit of preservation from a flood, which is guaranteed in this covenant. There is a remarkable expression employed here—of all that comes out of the ark, to all the beasts of the earth. It seems to imply that the beast of the land, or the wild beast, was not among those that came out of the ark and, therefore, not among those that went in. This coincides with the view we have given of the inmates of the ark.
Genesis 9:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again will all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
Genesis 9:11. The benefits conferred by this form of God’s covenant are here specified. First, all flesh shall no more be cut off by a flood; secondly, the land shall no more be destroyed by this means. The Lord has been true to his promise in saving Noah and his family from the flood of waters. He now perpetuates his promise by assuring him that the land would not again be overwhelmed with water. This is the new and present blessing of the covenant. Its former blessings are not abrogated, but only confirmed and augmented by the present. Other and higher benefits will flow out of this to those who rightly receive it, even throughout the ages of eternity. The present benefit is shared by the whole race descended from Noah.
Genesis 9:12-16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring clouds over the earth, that the bow is seen in the cloud, 15 then I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”
Genesis 9:12–16. The token of the covenant is now pointed out. For all future generations. This stability of sea and land is to last during the remainder of the human period. What is to happen when the race of man is completed, is not the question at present. 13. My bow. As God’s covenant is the well-known and still remembered compact formed with man when the command was issued in the Garden of Eden, so God’s bow is the primeval arch, coexistent with the rays of light and the drops of rain. It is caused by the rays of the sun reflected from the falling raindrops at a particular angle to the eye of the spectator. A beautiful arch of reflected and refracted light is in this way formed for every eye. The rainbow is thus an index that the sky is not wholly overcast, since the sun is shining through the shower, and thereby demonstrating its partial extent. There could not, therefore, be a more beautiful or fitting token that there shall be no more a flood to sweep away all flesh and destroy the land. It comes with its mild radiance only when the cloud condenses into a shower. It consists of heavenly light, variegated in hue, and mellowed in luster, filling the beholder with an involuntary pleasure. It forms a perfect arch, extends as far as the shower extends, connects heaven and earth, and spans the horizon. In these respects it is a beautiful emblem of mercy rejoicing against judgment, of light from heaven irradiating and beatifying the soul, of grace always sufficient for the need of the reunion of earth and heaven, and of the universality of the offer of salvation.
Have I given. Many views have been put forward whether this was the first time humans saw a rainbow. Some commentators have the view that rainbows had been seen before, and God’s ‘giving’ the rainbow at this time was actually a ‘giving’ of unique meaning or significance to an earlier phenomenon. James G. Murphy is one of those, and Edward D. Andrews is not. Many of those holding this view believe that the Flood was only local or did not significantly change the atmosphere. James G. Murphy is one of those, and Edward D. Andrews is not. What we do know is this, this is the first time the rainbow is mentioned. If a rainbow had been seen by preflood people, it would not have served as a real force in God’s making it an exceptional, remarkable sign of his covenant. Rather, it would have been an ordinary, often occurring event, and would not have carried any significance as a symbol of a change to something new. The Bible does not explain the extent of clearness of the atmosphere just before the Flood. But evidently, atmospheric conditions were such that, up until a change came about when “all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the windows of heaven were opened” (Ge 7:11), no person prior to Noah and his family had seen a rainbow. Even today, atmospheric conditions impact whether a rainbow can be seen or not. In the cloud. When a shower-cloud is spread over the sky, the bow appears, if the sun, the cloud, and the spectator are in the proper relation to one another. 16. I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant. The Scripture is most unhesitating and frank in ascribing all the attributes and exercises of personal freedom to God. While man looks on the bow to recall the promise of God, God himself looks on it to remember and perform this promise. Here freedom and immutability of purpose meet.
The covenant here ostensibly refers to the one point of the absence, for all time to come, of any danger to the human race from a deluge. But it presupposes and supplements the covenant with man subsisting from the very beginning. It is clearly of grace, for the Lord in the very terms affirms the fact that the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth, while at the same time, the original transgression belonged to the whole race. The condition by which any man becomes interested in it is not expressed, but easily understood from the nature of a covenant, a promise, and a sign, all of which require of us consenting faith in the party who covenants, promises, and gives the sign. The meritorious condition of the covenant of grace is dimly shadowed in the burnt offerings Noah presented on coming out of the ark. One thing, however, was indeed and clearly revealed to the early holy ones: namely, the mercy of God. Assured of this, they were prepared humbly to believe that all would redound to the glory of his holiness, justice, and truth, as well as of his mercy, grace, and love, though they might not yet fully understand how this would be accomplished.
Genesis 9:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
Genesis 9:17. God seems here to direct Noah’s attention to a rainbow actually existing at the time in the sky and presenting to the patriarch the assurance of the promise, with all the impressiveness of reality.
By James G. Murphy and Edward D. Andrews
 Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), 659–660.