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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



GENESIS 6

 

CHAPTER VI

 

Ver. 1.  Daughters.  These had borne equal proportion with the males from the beginning; but here they are particularized, because they were the chief instruments in corrupting the descendants of Seth.  H. --- Even the sons of these libidinous people were so effeminate, as to deserve to be called women.  M.

 

Ver. 2.  The sons of God.  The descendants of Seth and Enos are here called Sons of God, from their religion and piety: whereas the ungodly race of Cain, who by their carnal affections lay grovelling upon the earth, are called the children of men.  The unhappy consequence of the former marrying with the latter, ought to be a warning to Christians to be very circumspect in their marriages; and not to suffer themselves to be determined in choice by their carnal passion, to the prejudice of virtue or religion.  Ch. --- See S. Chrys. hom. 22, &c.  Some copies of the Sept. having the angels of God, induced some of the ancients to suppose, that these spiritual beings (to whom, by another mistake, they attributed a sort of aerial bodies) had commerce with women, as the pagans derived their heroes from a mortal and a god.  But this notion, which is borrowed from the book of Henoch, is quite exploded.  C. --- The distinction of the true Church from the synagogue of satan, here established, has been ever since retained, as heretics are still distinguished from Catholics.  W.  S. Aug.

 

Ver. 3.  His days shall be, &c.  The meaning is, that man's days, which before the flood were usually 900 years, should now be reduced to 120 years.  Or rather, that God would allow men this term of 120 years, for their repentance and conversion, before he would send the deluge.  Ch. --- He spoke therefore to Noe in his 480th year.  S. Aug. --- Those who suppose, that he foretold this event 20 years later, think with S. Jerom, that God retrenched 20 years from the time first assigned for penance.  The Spirit of the sovereign Judge was fired with contending; or, as others translate it, with remaining quiet as in a scabbard, and bearing with the repeated crimes of men.  He resolved to punish them severely in this world, that he might shew mercy to some of them hereafter.  S. Jer. 9. Heb.  C. --- If we suppose, that God here threatens to reduce the space of man's life to 120 years, we must say, at least, that he did it by degrees; for many lived several hundred years, even after the deluge.  In the days of Moses, indeed, few exceeded that term.  But we think the other interpretation is more literal, and that God bore with mankind the full time which he promised.  W.

 

Ver. 4.  Giants.  It is likely the generality of men before the flood were of a gigantic stature, in comparison with what men now are.  But these here spoken of, are called giants, as being not only tall in stature, but violent and savage in their dispositions, and mere monsters of cruelty and lust.  Ch. --- Yet we need not imagine, that they were such as the poets describe, tearing up mountains, and hurling them against heaven.  Being offspring of men, who had lived hitherto with great temperance, but now gave full scope to their passions, and the love of the fair daughters whom they chose, we need not wonder that they should be amazingly strong and violent.  Nephilim, rushing on, as Ag. translates.  That there have been giants of an unusual size, all historians testify.  Og, Goliah, &c. are mentioned in Scripture, and the sons of Enac are represented as much above the common size, as the Hebrews were greater than grasshoppers.  Num. xiii. 34.  If we should suppose they were four or five times our size, would that be more wonderful that they should live nine or ten times as long as we do?  See S. Aug. C. D. xv. 9. 23.  Calmet's Dissert. &c.  Delrio affirms, that in 1572 he saw at Rouen, a native of Piedmont, above nine feet high.  H. --- Of old.  The corruption of morals had commenced many ages ago, and some of the sons of Seth had given way to their lusts; so that we are not to suppose, that these giants were all born within a hundred years of the flood, as some might suppose from their being mentioned here, after specifying the age of Noe.  C. v. 31.  H.

 

Ver. 5.  At all times.  Hebrew: only evil continually.  They had no relish for any thing else: as we may say of a glutton, he thinks of nothing but his belly.  Yet some good thoughts would occur occasionally, and we may grant that they did some things which were not sinful.  M. --- If we follow corrupt nature, and live among sinners, we find a law within us warring against the spirit; and a very powerful grace is necessary to rescue us from such a dangerous situation.  C. --- Though the expressions in this place seem general, they must be understood with some limitations.  W.

 

Ver. 6.  It repented him, &c.  God, who is unchangeable, is not capable of repentance, grief, or any other passion.  But these expressions are used to declare the enormity of the sins of men, which was so provoking as to determine their Creator to destroy these his creatures, whom before he had so much favoured.  Ch. --- God acted outwardly as a man would do who repented.  H.

 

Ver. 8.  Grace.  Notwithstanding the general denunciation against all flesh, we see here that God will not confound the just with the guilty, in the same punishment.  Noe pleased God, by observing the most perfect justice, in the midst of a corrupt generation.  S. Chrys. &c.  W.

 

Ver. 12.  Its way, being abandoned to the most shameful and unnatural sins.  Liran.

 

Ver. 13.  All flesh.  I will destroy all these carnal and wicked people, and, because all other creatures were made only for man's use, and will be useless, I will involve them in the common ruin, reserving only what will be necessary for the support of the few who shall be preserved, and for the repeopling of the earth.  H.

 

Ver. 14.  Timber planks.  Heb. "gopher wood," which is no where else mentioned in Scripture.  It was probably a sort of wood full of rosin, and being besmeared with something like our pitch, was capable of resisting the fury of the ensuing tremendous storm, for a length of time.  C.  H. --- Rooms to separate the birds, various animals, provisions, &c. --- Pitch, lit. "besmear it with bitumen," which has a very strong smell, able to counteract the disagreeable odours arising from beasts confined.  M. --- It might be mixed with some other ingredients, naphtha, pitch, &c.  C.

 

Ver. 15.  Three hundred cubits, &c.  The ark, according to the dimensions here set down, contained four hundred and fifty thousand square cubits; which were more than enough to contain all the kinds of living creatures, with all necessary provisions: even supposing the cubits here spoken of to have been only a foot and a half each, which was the least kind of cubits.  Ch. --- It is therefore unnecessary for us to have recourse, with Cappel, to the sacred cubit, which was twice as large as the common one, but which seems not to have been in use among the Jews before the Babylonian captivity.  Still less need we adopt the geometrical cubit, which contains six ordinary ones, as we might be authorised to do by the great names of Origen and S. Aug. de C. D. xv. 27. q. in Gen. i. 4.  These dimensions would make the ark as large as a city.  Moses always speaks of the same sort of cubit, used probably in Egypt.  Apelles and other heretics, with some modern infidels, have attempted to shew, that this account of Moses is fabulous.  But they have been amply refuted by able calculators, John Buteo, Pelletier, &c.  This amazing structure, for which God himself gave the plan, was divided with three stories, besides the lower part of the vessel, which might serve to keep fresh water.  The different species of animals are not so numerous, as some imagine.  Fishes, and such creatures as can live in water, would not need to come into the ark.  Animals deprived of exercise, and allowed barely what may support nature, will live upon a very little.  Even an ox, according to Columella, will live on 30 pounds of hay, or on a cubic foot, a whole day, so that 400 of these large creatures might be supported on 146,000 cubic feet.  The middle story, for provisions, would alone contain 150,000 cubits.  Noe's family, and the birds, would probably occupy the room above, in which was a window all around, of the height of a cubit, without glass or crystal, which were not yet invented, but defended with lattice work of wood, like our dairy rooms.  H.

 

Ver. 16.  In a cubit. This is understood by some, of the height of the window; by others, of the roof, which would be almost flat, like the top of a coach.  Menoch supposes, that the whole ark was to be measured with the cubit in every part, from the bottom to the top; and the words of it, properly refer to the ark. --- Side, or at the end, about the middle way, that the animals might be coveyed easily to their stalls.  The door would open into the story allotted to the beasts, and all things might enter it by a sort of bridge, or by sloping planks.  C. --- Ordure might be thrown down into the lowest part of the ark, separated from the reservoir of fresh water, or might be brought up with ropes and buckets to the window at the top, which would easily open.  T.

 

Ver. 18.  My covenant, that thou shalt be saved, amid the general ruin.  This is the second covenant of God with men: the first was with Adam, the third with Abraham, when circumcision was instituted, and the last with Moses.  Ex. xix.  All others were only ratifications of these; and even these were only figures of that which our Saviour entered into with men, when he undertook to make satisfaction for them to his Father.  C.

 

Ver. 19.  Two, intended for the propagation of their kind.  God afterwards specifies what more Noe should preserve for food.  C. vii. 2.  C. --- Wild beasts forgot their savage nature, and became subject to the just Noe; and all came readily at his beck, in the same manner as domestic animals come when we offer them food.  Yet, in all this we must acknowledge the work of God, and a sort of miracle.  H.

 

 








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