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Genesis 6:11-13

Context

6:11 The earth was ruined 1  in the sight of 2  God; the earth was filled with violence. 3  6:12 God saw the earth, and indeed 4  it was ruined, 5  for all living creatures 6  on the earth were sinful. 7  6:13 So God said 8  to Noah, “I have decided that all living creatures must die, 9  for the earth is filled with violence because of them. Now I am about to destroy 10  them and the earth.

1 tn Apart from Gen 6:11-12, the Niphal form of this verb occurs in Exod 8:20 HT (8:24 ET), where it describes the effect of the swarms of flies on the land of Egypt; Jer 13:7 and 18:4, where it is used of a “ruined” belt and “marred” clay pot, respectively; and Ezek 20:44, where it describes Judah’s morally “corrupt” actions. The sense “morally corrupt” fits well in Gen 6:11 because of the parallelism (note “the earth was filled with violence”). In this case “earth” would stand by metonymy for its sinful inhabitants. However, the translation “ruined” works just as well, if not better. In this case humankind’s sin is viewed has having an adverse effect upon the earth. Note that vv. 12b-13 make a distinction between the earth and the living creatures who live on it.

2 tn Heb “before.”

3 tn The Hebrew word translated “violence” refers elsewhere to a broad range of crimes, including unjust treatment (Gen 16:5; Amos 3:10), injurious legal testimony (Deut 19:16), deadly assault (Gen 49:5), murder (Judg 9:24), and rape (Jer 13:22).

4 tn Or “God saw how corrupt the earth was.”

5 tn The repetition in the text (see v. 11) emphasizes the point.

6 tn Heb “flesh.” Since moral corruption is in view here, most modern western interpreters understand the referent to be humankind. However, the phrase “all flesh” is used consistently of humankind and the animals in Gen 6-9 (6:17, 19; 7:15-16, 21; 8:17; 9:11, 15-17), suggesting that the author intends to picture all living creatures, humankind and animals, as guilty of moral failure. This would explain why the animals, not just humankind, are victims of the ensuing divine judgment. The OT sometimes views animals as morally culpable (Gen 9:5; Exod 21:28-29; Jonah 3:7-8). The OT also teaches that a person’s sin can contaminate others (people and animals) in the sinful person’s sphere (see the story of Achan, especially Josh 7:10). So the animals could be viewed here as morally contaminated because of their association with sinful humankind.

7 tn Heb “had corrupted its way.” The third masculine singular pronominal suffix on “way” refers to the collective “all flesh.” The construction “corrupt one’s way” occurs only here (though Ezek 16:47 uses the Hiphil in an intransitive sense with the preposition בְּ [bet, “in”] followed by “ways”). The Hiphil of שָׁחָת (shakhat) means “to ruin, to destroy, to corrupt,” often as here in a moral/ethical sense. The Hebrew term דֶּרֶךְ (derekh, “way”) here refers to behavior or moral character, a sense that it frequently carries (see BDB 203 s.v. דֶּרֶךְ 6.a).

8 sn On the divine style utilized here, see R. Lapointe, “The Divine Monologue as a Channel of Revelation,” CBQ 32 (1970): 161-81.

9 tn Heb “the end of all flesh is coming [or “has come”] before me.” (The verb form is either a perfect or a participle.) The phrase “end of all flesh” occurs only here. The term “end” refers here to the end of “life,” as v. 3 and the following context (which describes how God destroys all flesh) make clear. The statement “the end has come” occurs in Ezek 7:2, 6, where it is used of divine judgment. The phrase “come before” occurs in Exod 28:30, 35; 34:34; Lev 15:14; Num 27:17; 1 Sam 18:13, 16; 2 Sam 19:8; 20:8; 1 Kgs 1:23, 28, 32; Ezek 46:9; Pss 79:11 (groans come before God); 88:3 (a prayer comes before God); 100:2; 119:170 (prayer comes before God); Lam 1:22 (evil doing comes before God); Esth 1:19; 8:1; 9:25; 1 Chr 16:29. The expression often means “have an audience with” or “appear before.” But when used metaphorically, it can mean “get the attention of” or “prompt a response.” This is probably the sense in Gen 6:13. The necessity of ending the life of all flesh on earth is an issue that has gotten the attention of God. The term “end” may even be a metonymy for that which has prompted it – violence (see the following clause).

10 tn The participle, especially after הִנֵּה (hinneh) has an imminent future nuance. The Hiphil of שָׁחָת (shakhat) here has the sense “to destroy” (in judgment). Note the wordplay involving this verb in vv. 11-13: The earth is “ruined” because all flesh has acted in a morally “corrupt” manner. Consequently, God will “destroy” all flesh (the referent of the suffix “them”) along with the ruined earth. They had ruined themselves and the earth with violence, and now God would ruin them with judgment. For other cases where “earth” occurs as the object of the Hiphil of שָׁחָת, see 1 Sam 6:5; 1 Chr 20:1; Jer 36:29; 51:25.



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