Genesis ix.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Blessed, with fecundity. Barrenness was deemed a curse. (Calmet)

Ver. 2. Fear, &c. God confirms the dominion of man over all animals, though he must exercise it now by compulsion; they will not obey always without reluctance, as they would have done in the state of innocence. (Haydock)

Ver. 3. Meat. The more religious, at least, had hitherto abstained from flesh, being content with herbs, &c.: which had been expressly granted. Now, the salt waters of the deluge had vitiated the earth, its plants were no longer so nutritive. (Menochius) — God gives leave to eat flesh meat, but with some restriction, that we may still learn to obey. (Worthington)

Ver. 4. With blood. This was a matter of indifference in itself, like the forbidden fruit. But God gave the prohibition, to keep people at a greater distance from imbruing their hands in the blood of others, which nevertheless we know some have drunk! He would also assert his dominion over all things; the blood or life of animals being reserved to be offered in sacrifice to him, instead of the life of man, Leviticus xvii. 11. Blood of brutes is gross and unwholesome. (Menochius) — The apostles required this law to be observed by the first Christians, that the Jews might not be disgusted: but, after a competent time had been allowed them, the Church thought proper to alter this discipline. (St. Augustine, contra Faust. xxxii. 13.)

Ver. 5. At the hand; a Hebrew idiom. God orders an ox to be stoned, which had slain a man, Exodus xxi. 28. — Man, (hominis) every man, (viri) brother. By these three terms, God inculcates a horror of bloodshed; because we are all of the same nature, ought to act like generous men, and to consider every individual as a brother, since we spring from the same stock. (Menochius)

Ver. 6. Shed. God had not subjected Cain to this law of retaliation, as he was the first murderer, and the earth was unpeopled. (Haydock) — Here he declares, that it is just to inflict such a punishment on the offender. (Menochius) — Judges are hence authorized to punish murderers with death. (Calmet) — The general law, thou shalt not kill, admits of exceptions, and forbids killing by private authority, or out of revenge. (Haydock) — The blood of your lives, may signify the blood on which your life depends; or, according to the Rabbin, it is a prohibition of suicide, which one would think is so contrary to the first law of nature, self-preservation, as to require no prohibition; and yet, to the scandal of philosophers, some have written in its defence! (Haydock)

Ver. 10. Soul…in birds, &c. The covenant of God is made with animals, only in as much as they are subservient to man. (Du Hamel) — The Egyptians adored most of them; and many oriental nations, and even philosophers, pretended they had intelligent souls, and could speak a rational language, which some of them would have the people believe they could understand. (Calmet) — This was the case of those great impostors Apollonius of Tyena, Mahomet, &c. (Haydock) — Moses shews sufficiently that beasts were neither divinities nor rational. (Calmet)

Ver. 13. My rain bow. This had been from the beginning; but it was not before appointed for a sign that the earth should no more be destroyed by water. It is styled God’s bow, on account of its beauty and grandeur. (Menochius) (Ecclesiasticus xliii. 12.) — “As the rain-bow, which makes its appearance in the clouds, borrows all its effulgence from the sun, so those only who acknowledge the glory of Christ in God’s clouds, and do not seek their own glory, will escape destruction in the deluge,” St. Augustine, contra Faust. ii. 21.

Ver. 16. Remember; or I shall cause men to reflect, when they see the rain-bow, of the horrors of the deluge, and of my gracious promises and covenant.

Ver. 18. Chanaan, who, it seems, is here mentioned to his shame, having first discovered and told his father that Noe was drunk. He was probably but young at the time, being born after the deluge.

Ver. 20. A husbandman. Hebrew, literally “a man of the earth.” (Haydock) — To till, perhaps with a plough, which he is said to have invented. (Menochius)

Ver. 21. Drunk. Noe by the judgment of the fathers was not guilty of sin, in being overcome by wine; because he knew not the strength of it. (Challoner) — Wine, Though vines had grown from the beginning, the art of making wine seems not to have been discovered; and hence Noe’s fault is much extenuated, and was at most only a venial sin. (Menochius) — His nakedness prefigured the desolate condition of Christ upon the cross, which was a scandal to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles. But by this folly we are made wise; we are redeemed, and enjoy the name of Christians. Sem and Japheth represent the multitude of believers, Cham and Chanaan the audacity and impudence of all unbelievers. (St. Augustine, contra Faust. xii. 24; City of God xvi. 2; St. Cyprian, ep. 63.[62.?] ad Cæcil.) (Worthington) — Like the Manichees, modern heretics are very free in condemning many innocent actions of the Patriarchs. (Haydock)

Ver. 23. Neither ought we to be so quick-sighted in discovering the faults of any: which we often represent as real, when they are only apparent. (Haydock)

Ver. 25. Cursed be Chanaan. The curses, as well as the blessings, of the patriarchs were prophetical: and this in particular is here recorded by Moses, for the children of Israel, who were to possess the land of Chanaan. But why should Chanaan be cursed for his father’s fault? The Hebrews answer, that he being then a boy was the first that saw his grandfather’s nakedness, and told his father Cham of it; and joined with him in laughing at it: which drew upon him, rather than upon the rest of the children of Cham, this prophetical curse. (Challoner) — Theodoret, q. 57. The children of Sem executed this sentence, in exterminating many of the Chanaanites under Josue. (Worthington) — They perished for their own wickedness, which God foresaw, and revealed to Noe. Cham was severely punished by this denunciation of his children’s misery. See Milton, xi. 754. xii. 27; Deuteronomy ix. 4. (Haydock)

Ver. 27. Enlarge Japheth. His name signifies latitude or enlargement. (Worthington) — May he, God, according to some; but more probably Japheth, of whom the rest of the sentence speaks. (Haydock) — This was verified by the extensive dominion of the children of Japheth, both in the islands and on the continent; more particularly, when the Romans subdued the Jews, and posterity of Sem. (Menochius) — Referring all this to the Church, the Gentiles entered in, upon the refusal of the Jews, though preachers of that nation were the instruments of their conversion. Chanaan, in the mean time, cherished his slavery, and seeks not to obtain the liberty and glory of the sons of God, in which he is a figure of heretics, (Haydock) who serve to make Christians more upon their guard, and by persecuting them, exercise their patience and increase their crown. (Worthington)

Ver. 29. He died, having witnessed the attempt of his children to build the tower of Babel, (we may suppose with disapprobation) and having been concerned in the dispersion of nations. Some imagine he travelled eastward, and founded the empire of China, which is denied by others. (Haydock) — The fathers conclude that he had no children after the deluge, as the Scripture mentions the world was divided among his three sons and their offspring. Perhaps the fabulous account of Saturn is a perversion of Noe’s history, as the three great pagan deities, Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, to whom Saturn gave the empire of heaven, seas and hell, may have been intended for the three sons of Noe. The Egyptians have attributed to their Osiris the erecting of altars, cultivating vines, teaching agriculture, &c. for which we have seen Noe was so famous. (Calmet) — This great and virtuous patriarch had only been dead two years, when the faithful Abraham was born, as it were to succeed him in maintaining the cause of God. (Haydock) — The Rabbins assert, that God gave some general laws to Noe, which were necessarily to be observed by all who would obtain salvation: 1. To obey the laws; 2. Not to curse God; 3. Nor admit of any false god, nor of any superstition; 4. Not to marry one’s mother, mother-in-law, sister by the same mother, or another person’s wife, nor to commit sins against nature; 5. Not to shed blood, that of beasts must be buried; 6. Not to steal, or break one’s word; 7. Not to eat the limb of a living creature. Maimonides thinks this last was given to Noe, the rest to Adam. (Calmet)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

God blesseth Noe: forbiddeth blood: and promiseth never more to destroy the world by water. The blessing of Sem and Japheth.

1 And God blessed Noe and his sons. And he said to them: *Increase, and multiply, and fill the earth.

2 And let the fear and dread of you be upon all the beasts of the earth, and upon all the fowls of the air, and all that move upon the earth: all the fishes of the sea are delivered into your hand.

3 And every thing that moveth, and liveth shall be meat for you: even as the green herbs have I delivered them all to you:*

4 Saving that flesh with blood you shall not eat.*

5 For I will require the blood of your lives at the hand of every beast, and at the hand of man, at the hand of every man, and of his brother, will I require the life of man.

6 *Whosoever shall shed man’s blood, his blood shall be shed: for man was made to the image of God.**

7 *But increase you and multiply, and go upon the earth and fill it.

8 Thus also said God to Noe, and to his sons with him:

9 Behold I will establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you:

10 And with every living soul that is with you, as well in all birds, as in cattle and beasts of the earth, that are come forth out of the ark, and in all the beasts of the earth.

11 *I will establish my covenant with you, and all flesh shall be no more destroyed with the waters of a flood, neither shall there be from henceforth a flood to waste the earth.

12 And God said: This is the sign of the covenant which I will give between me and you, and to every living soul that is with you, for perpetual generations.

13 I will set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be the sign of a covenant between me and between the earth.

14 *And when I shall cover the sky with clouds, my bow shall appear in the clouds:

15 And I will remember my covenant with you, and with every living soul that beareth flesh: and there shall no more be waters of a flood to destroy all flesh.

16 And the bow shall be in the clouds, and I shall see it, and shall remember the everlasting covenant, that was made between God and every living soul of all flesh which is upon the earth.

17 And God said to Noe: This shall be the sign of the covenant, which I have established, between me and all flesh upon the earth.

18 And the sons of Noe, who came out of the ark, were Sem, Cham, and Japheth: and Cham is the father of Chanaan.

19 These three are the sons of Noe: and from these was all mankind spread over the whole earth.

20 And Noe a husbandman began to till the ground, and planted a vineyard.

21 And drinking of the wine was made drunk, and was uncovered in his tent.

22 Which when Cham the father of Chanaan had seen, to wit, that his father’s nakedness was uncovered, he told it to his two brethren without.

23 But Sem and Japheth put a cloak upon their shoulders, and going backward, covered the nakedness of their father: and their faces were turned away, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.

24 And Noe awaking from the wine, when he had learned what his younger son had done to him,

25 He said: Cursed be Chanaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.

26 And he said: Blessed be the Lord God of Sem, be Chanaan his servant.

27 May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Sem, and Chanaan be his servant.

28 And Noe lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years:

29 And all his days were in the whole nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.



1: Genesis i. 22. and viii. 17.

3: Genesis i. 29.

4: Leviticus xvii. 14.; Acts xv. 29.

6: Matthew xxvi. 52. — ** Apocalypse xiii. 19.[10.?]

7: Genesis i. 28. and viii. 17.

11: Isaias liv. 9.

14: Ecclesiasticus xliii. 12.