A Commentary on the Modern World


The Un-lost Value of Mankind
May 11, 2010, 6:47 pm
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Does man still bear the image that God inscribed upon him at his origination?  This commentary on the passage of Gen. 9:1-7 illustrates that man, even today in spite of all his evil, deserves to be treated with the respect that is demanded from the image of God. Here is a basis for how to treat your neighbor.

Original Meaning:

The context for chapter 9 is set well by the words of Murphy. “Noah is saved from the deluge. His life is twice given to him by God.  He had found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and now he and his family have been graciously accepted when they approached the Lord with burnt-offerings.”[1] These burnt offerings are purposed to bless God and request his blessing and favor.[2]Indeed, Noah’s receives a blessing from God apparently in response to Noah’s sacrifice.  Genesis 9:1-7 provides God’s proclamation of the blessing, affirmation from the blessing, and protection from the blessing.

A. GOD BLESSES NOAH AND HIS DESCENDANTS: (9:1)

This is the continuation of God’s covenantal promise to Noah that begins in 8:21and 22.  God “…makes a covenant with them that he will not undo the blessing again as he had just done in the flood.”[3] “This is the second time this command has been given to Noah, the third time to mankind in general. ….This covenant will reestablish man’s position before God and His creation.  To once again fill the earth restores the relationship that man has to his planet.”[4]

B. GOD AFFIRMS THE AUTHORITY OF NOAH AND HIS DESCENDANTS: (9:2-4)

The text of verses 2 to 4 presents the status from the authority ascribed to man (2a), the proclamation of the authority ascribed to man (2b), and the reach and limit of that authority in regards to what man can and cannot eat.  It is logical to only understand that these verses refer to all mankind because Noah and his descendants would be the only individuals left upon the planet if the flood is considered to be universal.  Looking to specifics, the status of man’s authority brings a reaction to the animal kingdom. “The fear…and the dread, which every beast of the earth and every fowl of the air and all the fish of the sea would have toward Noah and his family re-establishes man’s dominion over the animal kingdom.  This is a time of new beginnings; and thus, God deems it appropriate now to sanction the eating of meat as well as the green herb.”[5] Man’s status as an authority over the animal kingdom results with the animal kingdom’s fear of man, for man now has a right to hunt them for meat.[6] This exercise of authority is proclaimed from God for man in verse 3. “The only restriction given here was that man should not eat of the blood of the animal.”[7] Hence, the blood would be drained to supposedly return the life to God in permission to eat the meat.[8] It also indirectly implies that “…the qualification is that the animal is living.”[9]

C. GOD ESTABLISHES A PRECEDENT TO PROTECT NOAH AND HIS DESCENDANTS: (9:5-7)

For the final two verses of this passage, God establishes a precedent to protect Noah and His descendants by referencing the protection (5a), establishing a range of protection (5b), making a proclamation for the protection (6a), and providing a basis for the protection. (6b-7) Murphy states boldly that on the basis of verse 5 “The shedding of human blood is sternly prohibited.”[10] Nothing has a right to shed the blood of man, be it beast or man.  “The command was given that the murderer should be executed…”[11] Hence, the life of the murderer is required be it beast or man for the life of their human victim. This is proclaimed in verse 6a: “whoever sheds man’s blood, will by man his blood be shed.”  The basis for this protection is given in verse 6b-7. Man is sacred and purposed to multiply and fulfill the earth. “The sacredness of human life is based on the fact that man was made by God in His own image and for that reason  the murderer must be executed….”[12] Hence, murder ignores the sacred image of God in man ,and murder destroys the sacred purpose of God for man to multiply in the Earth. Thus, the murderer is not concerned for what God has created or intended and should be executed.

Bridging Context:

Genesis 9:1-7 has been examined to illustrate the proclamation of the blessing, affirmation from the blessing, and protection from the blessing that God gave Noah and all his descendants. There are a few general principles that can be drawn from what has been shown from the study of the previous section.

First and foremost, the proclamation of the blessing is a recurring theme to the book of Genesis[13] that shows God’s intent for mankind is for man to be faithful to his desire for them to “be fruitful and multiply.” This blessing seems to be provoked by Noah’s offering after he exits the ark.[14]. Thus, God‘s intent is for man to “be fruitful and multiply,” and Noah was faithful to be the man in which God could use to bring this intention about.

A second principle comes from the affirmed authority of man over the animal kingdom. Man is affirmed to have the authority to hunt, kill, and eat other animals.  This provides more ability for Noah and his descendants to “be fruitful and multiply” as a food supply is essential to the multiplication and fruitfulness of a family. This special placement of man puts every animal in an inferior placement. This can be seen to be a point of means by which the first principle is fulfilled.

A final principle should be drawn from the section where God provides protection for Noah and his descendants. This passage teaches that mankind is created in the image of God and they are commanded to be “fruitful and multiply.”  Thus, when one murders a human, they are destroying the image of God and completely undermining God’s intent for man. Multiplication implies creating life, where as murdering implies taking life.  Hence, the fact that God requires the life of those who murder defines that God is providing protection for man. . So overall God blesses man to be fruitful and multiply, provides a means for man to be fruitful and multiply through placement and authority, and creates a precedent to protect man so man can be fruitful and multiply.

Contemporary Significance:

In this passage, God’s blatant affection for mankind is seen. He takes pleasure in their multiplication. He takes steps to ensure they have the authority needed to thrive in the world. He also establishes a precedent to provide protection to ensure they have security to thrive in the world.  God is intentionally illustrating His love for mankind in that He wants mankind to flourish, as he not only tells man what He wants.  God blatantly provides man with the basic needs to fulfill His desire with food and protection. In light of this and the fact that this passage of scripture begins and ends with “be fruitful and multiply,” it becomes easily evident that all that is between these statements are geared towards ensuring that man will be able to do this very thing. God establishes that man is the greatest of his creation being created in the image of God,[15] and man is provided with food to fulfill the calling of God.  Hence, anything that a person does to mar the image of God and undermine the lives of any individual God takes very seriously.

Some other points of application can be made in regards to what is acceptable to eat. God provides no preference for either vegans or carnivores in this passage, for it provides support for both.

In addition to this, man is firmly established as the authority over the animal kingdom.  At no point should animals be allotted rights equal to the human status.  Although man is executed for killing man, at no point in time should man be executed for killing an animal, for man is the authority over the animal kingdom.  This does not prescribe that man can rampantly abuse animals though.  In  light of the fact that the draining of an animal’s blood before cooking could be considered an act of compassion to keep the animal from an in humane method of prolonged death.[16] It is assumed that if man’s authority over the animal kingdom is established that this authority is expected to be exercised responsibly.

A final point of emphasis that needs to be made is that God is intent to protect the life of man, and he instituted a precedent to protect man.  Many scholars argue this is the institution of the human government[17]; yet, the text is not blatant enough to prescribe this suggestion. Rather, what can be seen in this context is that God prescribes execution to be necessary to protect the sacredness of man that is from the image of God. While later God would provide more protection on this issue, one can be assured that they should do nothing against the blood of another human being, for God values both of these image bearers equally.  John 3:16 provides that God loves the entire world, presumably because they bear his image.  Christ would die for the world of image bearers in spite of their sin to express his love for them.[18] This provides a basis for why Jesus would command his followers to even love their enemies.[19]

Thus, believers must be bold to enjoy their special placement in creation having authority to eat freely of the both meat and tree careful not to undermine the lives of fellow image bearers for God values them all.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Davis, John James. Paradise to Prison: Studies in Genesis. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Book House, 1975.

Dobson, Ed. Bible Commentary: King James Version. [Nashville, Tenn.]: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2005.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Book House, 1983.

Murphy, James G. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Genesis, With a New Translation. Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1873.

Phillips, John. Exploring Genesis: An Expository Commentary. The John Phillips commentary series. Grand Rapids, Minn: Kregel Publications, 2001.

Walton, John H. Genesis. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2001.

Westermann, Claus. Genesis 1-11: A Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg Pub. House, 1984.


[1] James G. Murphy, ( A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Genesis, With a New Translation. Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1873.) 226

[2] John H. Walton, (Genesis. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2001.) 315

[3] Ibid., 340

[4] Ed Dobson,. (Bible Commentary: King James Version. [Nashville, Tenn.]: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2005.) 33

[5] Ibid., 34

[6] John H. Walton, (Genesis. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2001.) 342

[7] Ed Dobson,. (Bible Commentary: King James Version. [Nashville, Tenn.]: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2005.) 33

[8] John H. Walton, (Genesis. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2001.) 343

[9] Ibid., 342

[10] James G. Murphy, ( A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Genesis, With a New Translation. Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1873.) 227

[11] John. Phillips (Exploring Genesis: An Expository Commentary. The John Phillips commentary series. Grand Rapids, Minn: Kregel Publications, 2001.) 91

[12] Ibid., 91

[13] Ed Dobson,. (Bible Commentary: King James Version. [Nashville, Tenn.]: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2005.) 33

[14] John James Davis,( Paradise to Prison: Studies in Genesis. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Book House, 1975.)127

[15] John. Phillips (Exploring Genesis: An Expository Commentary. The John Phillips commentary series. Grand Rapids, Minn: Kregel Publications, 2001.) 91

[16] James G. Murphy, ( A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Genesis, With a New Translation. Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1873.) 227

[17] Ibid.,228

[18] Romans 5:8

[19] Matthew 5:44

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