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The Covenant with Noah


God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. 3Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life.


Whoever sheds the blood of a human,

by a human shall that person’s blood be shed;

for in his own image

God made humankind.

7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, abound on the earth and multiply in it.”

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12God 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: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I 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. 16When 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.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Noah and His Sons

18 The sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. 19These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled.

20 Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. 21He drank some of the wine and became drunk, and he lay uncovered in his tent. 22And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25he said,

“Cursed be Canaan;

lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers.”

26 He also said,

“Blessed by the L ord my God be Shem;

and let Canaan be his slave.


May God make space for Japheth,

and let him live in the tents of Shem;

and let Canaan be his slave.”

28 After the flood Noah lived three hundred fifty years. 29All the days of Noah were nine hundred fifty years; and he died.

28. And Noah lived. Although Moses briefly states the age of the holy man, and does not record his annals and the memorable events of his life, yet those things which are certain, and which Scripture elsewhere commemorates, ought to recur to our minds. Within one hundred and fifty years, the offspring of his three sons became so numerous, that he had sufficient and even abundant proof of the efficacy of the Divine benediction Increase and multiply. He sees, not one city only, filled with his grandchildren, nor his seed expanded barely to three hundred families; but many nations springing from one of his sons who should inhabit extensive regions. This astonishing increase, since it was a visible representation of the divine favor towards him, would doubtless fill him with unbounded joy. For Abraham was nearly fifty years old when his ancestor Noah died.305305     Lightfoot places the death of Noah two years before the birth of Abraham; Dr. A. Clarke two years after it. These chronological differences, however, do not materially affect the general conclusions drawn by Calvin. — Ed. In the meantime, he was compelled to behold many things, which would afflict his holy breast with incredible grief. To omit other things; he saw in the family of Shem, the sanctuary of God, — into which the sons of Japheth were to be received, — destroyed, or, at least, dilapidated and rent. For whereas the father of Abraham himself, having deserted his proper station, had erected for himself a profane tabernacle; a very small portion indeed remained of those who worshipped God in the harmonious consent of a pure faith. With what tormenting pains this terrible confusion affected him cannot be sufficiently expressed in words. Hence we may know, that his eyes of faith must have been exceedingly penetrating, which did not fail to behold afar of, the grace of God, in preserving the Church, at that time overwhelmed by the wickedness of men.

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