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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 6


1 When men began to multiply on earth and daughters were born to them,


2 the sons of heaven saw how beautiful the daughters of man were, and so they took for their wives as many of them as they chose.


3 Then the LORD said: "My spirit shall not remain in man forever, since he is but flesh. His days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years."


4 At that time the Nephilim appeared on earth (as well as later), after the sons of heaven had intercourse with the daughters of man, who bore them sons. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown.


5 When the LORD saw how great was man's wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil,


he regretted that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was grieved.


So the LORD said: "I will wipe out from the earth the men whom I have created, and not only the men, but also the beasts and the creeping things and the birds of the air, for I am sorry that I made them."


But Noah found favor with the LORD.


These are the descendants of Noah. Noah, a good man and blameless in that age,


for he walked with God, begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.


In the eyes of God the earth was corrupt and full of lawlessness.


When God saw how corrupt the earth had become, since all mortals led depraved lives on earth,


he said to Noah: "I have decided to put an end to all mortals on earth; the earth is full of lawlessness because of them. So I will destroy them and all life on earth.


6 Make yourself an ark of gopherwood, put various compartments in it, and cover it inside and out with pitch.


7 This is how you shall build it: the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.


8 Make an opening for daylight in the ark, and finish the ark a cubit above it. Put an entrance in the side of the ark, which you shall make with bottom, second and third decks.


I, on my part, am about to bring the flood (waters) on the earth, to destroy everywhere all creatures in which there is the breath of life; everything on earth shall perish.


But with you I will establish my covenant; you and your sons, your wife and your sons' wives, shall go into the ark.


Of all other living creatures you shall bring two into the ark, one male and one female, that you may keep them alive with you.


Of all kinds of birds, of all kinds of beasts, and of all kinds of creeping things, two of each shall come into the ark with you, to stay alive.


Moreover, you are to provide yourself with all the food that is to be eaten, and store it away, that it may serve as provisions for you and for them."


This Noah did; he carried out all the commands that God gave him.



1 [1-4] This is apparently a fragment of an old legend that had borrowed much from ancient mythology. The sacred author incorporates it here, not only in order to account for the prehistoric giants of Palestine, whom the Israelites called the Nephilim, but also to introduce the story of the flood with a moral orientation - the constantly increasing wickedness of mankind.

2 [2] The sons of heaven: literally "the sons of the gods" or "the sons of God," i.e., the celestial beings of mythology.

3 [3] My spirit: the breath of life referred to in Genesis 2:7. His days . . . years: probably the time God would still let men live on earth before destroying them with the flood, rather than the maximum span of life God would allot to individual men in the future.

4 [4] As well as later: According to Numbers 13:33, when the Israelites invaded Palestine and found there the tall aboriginal Anakim, they likened them to the Nephilim; cf Deut 2:10-11. Perhaps the huge megalithic structures in Palestine were thought to have been built by a race of giants, whose superhuman strength was attributed to semi-divine origin. The heroes of old: the legendary worthies of ancient mythology.

5 [ 6:5- 8:22] The story of the great flood here recorded is a composite narrative based on two separate sources interwoven into an intricate patchwork. To the Yahwist source, with some later editorial additions, are usually assigned Genesis 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 7-10, 12, 16b, 17b, 22-23; 8:2b-3a, 6-12, 13b, 20-22. The other sections come from the "Priestly document." The combination of the two sources produced certain duplications (e.g., Genesis 6:13-22 of the Yahwist source, beside Genesis 7:1-5 of the Priestly source); also certain inconsistencies, such as the number of the various animals taken into the ark ( Genesis 6:19-20; 7:14-15 of the Priestly source, beside Genesis 7:2-3 of the Yahwist source), and the timetable of the flood ( Genesis 8:3-5, 13-14 of the Priestly source, beside Genesis 7:4, 10, 12, 17b; 8:6, 10, 12 of the Yahwist source). Both biblical sources go back ultimately to an ancient Mesopotamian story of a great flood, preserved in the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic. The latter account, in some respects remarkably similar to the biblical account, is in others very different from it.

6 [14] Gopherwood: an unidentified wood not mentioned elsewhere; gopher is merely the Hebrew word for it.

7 [15] The dimensions of Noah's ark were approximately 440 x 73 x 44 feet, a foot and a half to the cubit. The ark of the Babylonian flood story was an exact cube, 120 cubits in length, width and height.

8 [16] Opening for daylight: a conjectural rendering of the Hebrew word sohar, occurring only here. The reference is probably to an open space on all sides near the top of the ark to admit light and air. The ark also had a window or hatch, which could be opened and closed ( Genesis 8:6).

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