Notes for Gen 9:2LEB

Heb "and fear of you and dread of you will be upon every living creature of the earth and upon every bird of the sky." The suffixes on the nouns "fear" and "dread" are objective genitives. The animals will fear humans from this time forward.


Heb "into your hand are given." The "hand" signifies power. To say the animals have been given into the hands of humans means humans have been given authority over them.


Notes for Gen 9:3LEB

Heb "every moving thing that lives for you will be for food."


The words "I gave you" are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.


The perfect verb form describes the action that accompanies the declaration.


Notes for Gen 9:4LEB

Heb "only."


Or "flesh."


Heb "its life, its blood." The second word is in apposition to the first, explaining what is meant by "its life." Since the blood is equated with life, meat that had the blood in it was not to be eaten.


The words "in it" are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.


You must not eat meat with its life…in it. Because of the carnage produced by the flood, people might conclude that life is cheap and therefore treat it lightly. But Elohim will not permit them to kill or even to eat anything with the lifeblood still in it, serving as a reminder of the sanctity of life.


Notes for Gen 9:5LEB

Again the text uses apposition to clarify what kind of blood is being discussed: "your blood, [that is] for your life." See C. L. Dewar, "The Biblical Use of the Term ‘Blood,’" JTS 4 (1953): 204-8.


The word "punishment" is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarification. The verb דָּרָשׁ (darash) means "to require, to seek, to ask for, to exact." Here it means that Elohim will exact punishment for the taking of a life. See R. Mawdsley, "Capital Punishment in Gen. 9:6, " CentBib 18 (1975): 20-25.


Heb "from the hand of," which means "out of the hand of" or "out of the power of" and is nearly identical in sense to the preposition מִן (min) alone.


Heb "and from the hand of the man." The article has a generic function, indicating the class, i.e., humankind.


Heb "of the man."


Heb "from the hand of a man, his brother." The point is that Elohim will require the blood of someone who kills, since the person killed is a relative ("brother") of the killer. The language reflects Noah’s situation (after the flood everyone would be part of Noah’s extended family), but also supports the concept of the brotherhood of humankind. According to the Genesis account the entire human race descended from Noah.


Notes for Gen 9:6LEB

Heb "the blood of man."


Heb "by man," a generic term here for other human beings.


See the notes on the words "humankind" and "likeness" in Gen 1:26LEB, as well as J. Barr, "The Image of Elohim in the Book of Genesis – A Study of Terminology," BJRL 51 (1968/69): 11-26.


Heb "he"; the referent (Elohim) has been specified in the translation for clarity.


Notes for Gen 9:7LEB

The disjunctive clause (conjunction + pronominal subject + verb) here indicates a strong contrast to what has preceded. Against the backdrop of the warnings about taking life, Elohim now instructs the people to produce life, using terms reminiscent of the mandate given to Adam (Gen 1:28LEB).


Notes for Gen 9:8LEB

Heb "to Noah and to his sons with him, saying."


Notes for Gen 9:9LEB

Heb "I, look, I confirm." The particle הִנְנִי (hinni) used with the participle מֵקִים (meqim) gives the sense of immediacy or imminence, as if to say, "Look! I am now confirming."


The three pronominal suffixes (translated "you," "your," and "you") are masculine plural. As v. 8 indicates, Noah and his sons are addressed.


Notes for Gen 9:10LEB

The verbal repetition is apparently for emphasis.


Notes for Gen 9:11LEB

The verb וַהֲקִמֹתִי (vahaqimoti) is a perfect with the vav (ו) consecutive and should be translated with the English present tense, just as the participle at the beginning of the speech was (v. 9). Another option is to translate both forms with the English future tense ("I will confirm").


Heb "all flesh."


Heb "cut off."


Heb "and all flesh will not be cut off again by the waters of the flood."


Notes for Gen 9:12LEB

Heb "sign."


On the making of covenants in Genesis, see W. F. Albright, "The Hebrew Expression for ‘Making a Covenant’ in Pre-Israelite Documents," BASOR 121 (1951): 21-22.


Heb "between me and between you."


The words "a covenant" are supplied in the translation for clarification.


The Hebrew term עוֹלָם (’olam) means "ever, forever, lasting, perpetual." The covenant would extend to subsequent generations.


Notes for Gen 9:13LEB

The translation assumes that the perfect verbal form is used rhetorically, emphasizing the certainty of the action. Other translation options include "I have placed" (present perfect; cf. NIV, NRSV) and "I place" (instantaneous perfect; cf. NEB).


The Hebrew word קֶשֶׁת (qeshet) normally refers to a warrior’s bow. Some understand this to mean that Elohim the warrior hangs up his battle bow at the end of the flood, indicating he is now at peace with humankind, but others question the legitimacy of this proposal. See C. Westermann, Genesis, 1:473, and G. J. Wenham, Genesis (WBC), 1:196.


The perfect verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive here has the same aspectual function as the preceding perfect of certitude.


Notes for Gen 9:14LEB

The temporal indicator (וְהָיָה, véhayah, conjunction + the perfect verb form), often translated "it will be," anticipates a future development.


Notes for Gen 9:15LEB

Heb "which [is] between me and between you."


Heb "all flesh."


Heb "to destroy."


Heb "all flesh."


Notes for Gen 9:16LEB

The translation assumes that the infinitive לִזְכֹּר (lizkor, "to remember") here expresses the result of seeing the rainbow. Another option is to understand it as indicating purpose, in which case it could be translated, "I will look at it so that I may remember."


Notes for Gen 9:18LEB

The concluding disjunctive clause is parenthetical. It anticipates the following story, which explains that the Canaanites, Ham’s descendants through Canaan, were cursed because they shared the same moral abandonment that their ancestor displayed. See A. van Selms, "The Canaanites in the Book of Genesis," OTS 12 (1958): 182-213.


Notes for Gen 9:19LEB

Heb "was scattered." The verb פָּצָה (patsah, "to scatter" [Niphal, "to be scattered"]) figures prominently in story of the dispersion of humankind in chap. 11.


Notes for Gen 9:20LEB

The epithet a man of the soil indicates that Noah was a farmer.


Or "Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard"; Heb "and Noah, a man of the ground, began and he planted a vineyard."


Notes for Gen 9:21LEB

The Hebrew verb גָּלָה (galah) in the Hitpael verbal stem (וַיִּתְגַּל, vayyitggal) means "to uncover oneself" or "to be uncovered." Noah became overheated because of the wine and uncovered himself in the tent.


Notes for Gen 9:22LEB

For the second time (see v. 18) the text informs the reader of the relationship between Ham and Canaan. Genesis 10 will explain that Canaan was the ancestor of the Canaanite tribes living in the promised land.


Some would translate "had sexual relations with," arguing that Ham committed a homosexual act with his drunken father for which he was cursed. However, the expression "see nakedness" usually refers to observation of another’s nakedness, not a sexual act (see Gen 42:9-12LEB where "nakedness" is used metaphorically to convey the idea of "weakness" or "vulnerability"; Deut 23:14LEB where "nakedness" refers to excrement; Isa 47:3LEB; Ezek 16:37LEB; Lam 1:8LEB). The following verse (v. 23) clearly indicates that visual observation, not a homosexual act, is in view here. In Lev 20:17LEB the expression "see nakedness" does appear to be a euphemism for sexual intercourse, but the context there, unlike that of Gen 9:22LEB, clearly indicates that in that passage sexual contact is in view. The expression "see nakedness" does not in itself suggest a sexual connotation. Some relate Gen 9:22LEB to Lev 18:6–191LEB, where the expression "uncover [another’s] nakedness" (the Piel form of גָּלָה, galah) refers euphemistically to sexual intercourse. However, Gen 9:22LEB does not say Ham "uncovered" the nakedness of his father. According to the text, Noah uncovered himself; Ham merely saw his father naked. The point of the text is that Ham had no respect for his father. Rather than covering his father up, he told his brothers. Noah then gave an oracle that Ham’s descendants, who would be characterized by the same moral abandonment, would be cursed. Leviticus 18 describes that greater evil of the Canaanites (see vv. 24–28).


Saw the nakedness. It is hard for modern people to appreciate why seeing another’s nakedness was such an abomination, because nakedness is so prevalent today. In the ancient world, especially in a patriarchal society, seeing another’s nakedness was a major offense. (See the account in Herodotus, Histories 1.8-13, where a general saw the nakedness of his master’s wife, and one of the two had to be put to death.) Besides, Ham was not a little boy wandering into his father’s bedroom; he was over a hundred years old by this time. For fuller discussion see A. P. Ross, "The Curse of Canaan," BSac 137 (1980): 223-40.


Notes for Gen 9:23LEB

The word translated "garment" has the Hebrew definite article on it. The article may simply indicate that the garment is definite and vivid in the mind of the narrator, but it could refer instead to Noah’s garment. Did Ham bring it out when he told his brothers?


Heb "their faces [were turned] back."


Notes for Gen 9:24LEB

Heb "his wine," used here by metonymy for the drunken stupor it produced.


Heb "he knew."


The Hebrew verb עָשָׂה (’asah, "to do") carries too general a sense to draw the conclusion that Ham had to have done more than look on his father’s nakedness and tell his brothers.


Notes for Gen 9:25LEB

For more on the curse, see H. C. Brichto, The Problem of "Curse" in the Hebrew Bible (JBLMS), and J. Scharbert, TDOT 1:405–18.


Cursed be Canaan. The curse is pronounced on Canaan, not Ham. Noah sees a problem in Ham’s character, and on the basis of that he delivers a prophecy about the future descendants who will live in slavery to such things and then be controlled by others. (For more on the idea of slavery in general, see E. M. Yamauchi, "Slaves of Elohim," BETS 9 [1966]: 31-49). In a similar way Jacob pronounced oracles about his sons based on their revealed character (see Gen 49).


Heb "a servant of servants" (עֶבֶד עֲבָדִים, ’eved avadim), an example of the superlative genitive. It means Canaan will become the most abject of slaves.


Notes for Gen 9:26LEB

Heb "blessed be."


Heb "a slave to him"; the referent (Shem) has been specified in the translation for clarity.


Notes for Gen 9:27LEB

Heb "may Elohim enlarge Japheth." The words "territory and numbers" are supplied in the translation for clarity.


There is a wordplay (paronomasia) on the name Japheth. The verb יַפְתְּ (yaft, "may he enlarge") sounds like the name יֶפֶת (yefet, "Japheth"). The name itself suggested the idea. The blessing for Japheth extends beyond the son to the descendants. Their numbers and their territories will be enlarged, so much so that they will share in Shem’s territories. Again, in this oracle, Noah is looking beyond his immediate family to future generations. For a helpful study of this passage and the next chapter, see T. O. Figart, A Biblical Perspective on the Race Problem, 55–58.


In this context the prefixed verbal form is a jussive (note the distinct jussive forms both before and after this in vv. 26 and 27).