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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Genesis

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6.1–4 : Divine‐"human reproduction

illustrates the kind of breaching of the divine‐human boundary which the LORD God feared in 3.22 . There the LORD God drove humans away from the tree of life. Here, in an abbreviated narrative often attributed to J, the LORD God limits their life‐span to one hundred twenty years; others suggest that the one hundred twenty years refer to a reprieve from punishment for several generations. Nothing appears to happen to the sons of God (see the “heavenly court” in 1.26n. ) who started it all.

4 :

The products of divine‐human intercourse are legendary warriors of renown. They are distinguished here from the Nephilim, a race of giants said to exist both prior to and after those times (cf. Num 13.33; Deut 2.10–11 ).

6.5–8.19 : The great flood.

This story describes God's un‐creation and re‐creation of the world. The version preserved here is an interweaving of parallel accounts, one of which links with the Priestly traditions of 1.1–2.3; 5.1–32 and the other of which links with the non‐Priestly traditions, often identified as J, of 2.4b–4.26 . This type of intertwining of traditions is less usual, but is necessary here, to avoid describing two consecutive floods.

6.5–8 :

This introduction links with the non‐Priestly material, particularly 2.7 (compare 6.7 ).

5 :

Though the biblical account is quite close in many respects to Mesopotamian flood stories, one significant difference is that this text attributes the flood to God's judgment on the wickedness of humankind rather than divine frustration with human overpopulation and noise.

9–22 :

This section begins the Priestly account of the flood.

11–13 :

Here the Priestly writers attribute the flood to corruption of the earth and violence filling it (see 4.8,10,23–24 ).

14–16 :

In the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, the hero is told to build a similar houseboat, sealing it with pitch. The description of a three‐leveled ark may be based on an ancient idea that the ark reflects the three‐part structure of both universe and temple. It is about 133 x 22 x 13 m (437 x 73 x 44 ft).

19–20 :

See 7.2–3n.

7.1–5 :

This non‐Priestly text parallels P in 6.11–22 and continues the tradition seen in 6.5–8 .

2–3 :

The provision of extra clean animals allows for the sacrifice that will occur in 8.20 . If only one pair of each animal were taken, every sacrifice would eliminate a species. In contrast, the Priestly tradition presumes that sacrifice and the distinction between clean and unclean animals (see Lev 11 ) was not introduced until Sinai. Therefore only one pair of each species is taken in that tradition ( 6.19–20; 7.14–15; cf. 7.9 ), and there is no concluding sacrifice ( 9.1–17 ).

6–16 :

Noah, his family, and the animals enter the ark twice ( 7.7–97.13–16 ), reflecting the interweaving of the two flood accounts discussed above. Whereas the non‐Priestly account has the flood caused by forty days of rain ( 7.12; 7.4 ), the Priestly account attributes the flood to God's opening of the protective dome created on the second day ( 1.6–8 ), thus allowing the upper and lower oceans to meet ( 7.11 ).

17–24 :

The P and non‐P strands are thoroughly interwoven in this description of the flood itself, including multiple descriptions of the extinction of life outside the ark ( 7.21–23 ). Such flood imagery seems to have been a powerful image of chaos worldwide. Though many world traditions speak of floods, there is no geological evidence of a global flood of the sort described here.

8.1–5 :

With the exception of 8.2b–3a , this unit comes from the Priestly writer.

1–2a :

God's wind echoes the first creation ( 1.2 ) in the process of starting the re‐creation process. The closing of the fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens reestablishes the space for life that was first created on the second day ( 1.6–8 ).

4 :

In the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh epic the boat also rested on a mountain. Ararat, a region in Armenia.

6–12 :

Part of the non‐Priestly account. In the Gilgamesh epic (see v. 4 ) the hero sent out two birds, a dove and a swallow, each of which came back; the third, a raven, did not return.

13–19 :

The Priestly account resumes here with a description of the exit from the ark of Noah, his family, and the animals.

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