Изображения страниц

4. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:] God testified His acceptance of Abel's offering by some visible token, probably by fire coming down from Heaven and consuming it; as frequently was the case afterwards.. Chap. xv. 17. Levit. ix. 24. Judges vi. 21. 1 Chron. xxi. 26. 2 Chron. vii. 1. 1 Kings xviii: 38. God accepted Abel's sacrifice partly on account of his faith and purity of mind; whereas it is probable that the general course of Cain's life was vicious and immoral. Abel's also was such a sacrifice as typified or represented the death of Christ, and declared his faith in the promised Messiah. Hence the Apostle says, By faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." Heb. xi. 4. Through Christ therefore Abel's sacrifice was well-pleasing and acceptable to God.

[ocr errors]

5.-his countenance fell.] Became not only dejected through grief, but lowering and cloudy, as of one meditating revenge.

7. If thou doest well, &c.] If thou doest thy duty, thou shalt receive the same marks of appro bation which have been vouchsafed to thy brother. But" if thou doest not well, sin" (that is, the punishment of sin) will constantly attend thee.By these words Cain is reproved for his unreasonable behaviour, and informed that his misfortunes are owing to himself. Or perhaps they might be intended as a direction for his future conduct. If thou reformest, thou shalt still be accepted; but if thou persistest in the same course of provocations, expect to suffer a greater train of evils.

-unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.] He is still thy younger brother, and shall be subject to thee (See Chap. iii. 16.) and thou shalt retain the privilege of thy birth-right.

That which aggravated Cain's guilt was, that God Himself was pleased to argue with him before he committed the horrid fact, in order to deter him from it. And is not this the very case with all sinners? Does not God by His ministers and by His word, warn them and set before them the danger and dreadful consequences of sin? And yet it makes no impression upon a heart set upon wickedness, as Cain's was.

8.-Cain-slew him.] Let every Christian take care, that he fall not after the example of this transgression. "Whosoever hateth his brother, is a murderer, says the Scripture: it is an unquestionable truth, that he who envieth his brother, will soon hate him: and it is no less certain, that "the spirit, that dwelleth in us, lusteth to envy.” How earnestly then ought we to pray, that" from envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness," our good Lord" would "deliver us!"

[ocr errors]

And the Lord said unto Cain,] See note

on chap. iii. 9.

I know not: am I my brother's keeper?] I can give no account of him. Was he committed like a child to my care; to look after him, and see that he took no harm?

For this complication of crimes, envy, which led him to murder his brother, and then to attempt to hide it by a lie, and by an insolent rebellious answer to God, Cain is styled in the New Testament, a child "of that wicked one," 1. John iii. 12. as imitating his works, who through envy seduced our first parents, and was a "liar" and a "murderer" from the beginning.

10.-the voice of thy brother's blood crieth] Nothing can be hid from God, who seeth in secret. The innocent blood of Abel crieth aloud for vengeance, and hath entered into the ears of the Lord.

Though God does not, in the present age of the world, discover Himself in so astonishing a manner as formerly, still He is not unconcerned in human affairs. Those crimes of men, which are committed with the utmost secrecy, are generally brought to light by the conduct of Providence. Sin will either discover itself, or be discovered; if not here, at least hereafter.

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

12.-her strength;] That is her fruit or increase, which shews the strength of the earth. Joel ii. 22. a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. In that strange country thou shalt have no rest, but wander up and down unquietly, and not know where to settle.

14-driven me out-from the face of the earth;] Banished nie from my own native country. Ver. 11. From the land where he then was; not the earth, in the largest sense, for in this he was to be a fugitive and vagabond.

and from thy face shall I be hid;] And more than that, I am banished from thy blessed presence.

-every one that findeth me shall slay me.] Every man that meets me shall not scruple to slay me, as a common enemy, and justly deserving to be slain myself, for slaying my brother.

15.-Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain,] Or, as the word we translate "therefore" may be rendered, "not so;" it shall not be as thou suspectest. Or the word may signify "surely:" so that the sense will be, Take it for a certain truth, that if any man slay Cain, &c.

sevenfold.] That is, to a great degree. God intended that the life of Cain should be prolonged in a miserable state, as an example of His vengeance; to deter others from committing the like sin.

set a mark upon Cain,] What this mark was, cannot with any certainty be determined. Probably it might be such an one as at once answered the purposes of punishment, and secured him from human vengeance; and consisted, perhaps, in a certain horror of countenance, occasioned by the inward horror of his mind, which proved at the same time, the sign and punishment of his guilt.

16. from the presence of the Lord,] It is the opinion of many, that there was a Divine Glory, called by the Jews "the Shechinah," which appeared from the beginning; the sight of which Cain never after this time enjoyed, but was banished from it.

the land of Nod,] Or of exile, or wandering, to which Cain retired with his wife, is supposed to have been the low country of Susiana, or Chusistan.

19.-took unto him two wives:] Polygamy or the taking of several wives was a deviation from the first institution of marriage. Gen. ii. 24. It was brought into use by Cain's offspring; though it was afterwards allowed to the Israelites, as was divorce also in some cases, "for the hardness of their hearts."

20 he was the father] The Hebrews call a man the "Father" of any thing, who was the first inventor of it; or an excellent master of that art.

23. And Lamech said unto his wives,] The occasion of this speech not being revealed, it is not possible with certainty to determine the full sense of it. Some suppose that the words of Lamech are spoken in a vaunting manner, intimating his expectation of God's extraordinary regard to him, though he had killed, or should kill, a man as Cain did. Others think the words should be read as a question, Have I slain a man? And that they were meant to do away the fears of his wives, who might be apprehensive, lest God should punish their husband's transgressing the original institution of marriage in taking more wives than one, by some remarkable judgment sent on him, as on Cain, and by which means he might be exposed to an untimely and violent death. So that the sense may be, I have not slain a man to my wounding; that is, that I need fear being slain myself for it. Therefore, if God threatens sevenfold vengeance on him who should kill the murderer Cain, much more will He punish him who should kill Lamech.

25.-Seth: The word signifies appointed or substituted. Eve gave this son the name of Seth, because she looked upon him as sent in the room of Abel, and as the seed from whom the Redeemer of the world should come.

26. then began men to call upon the name of the Lord] This does not mean that men did not

"call upon the Lord," that is, worship Him, before this time; but that now they were awakened to be more serious and frequent in religious offices. Some prefer the translation given in the margin of the Bible," then began men (that is, the children of Seth) to call themselves by the name of the Lord;" in distinction from the descendants of Cain, and such profane persons as had forsaken the service of God.


Verse 1.-book of the generations of Adam.] That is, here follows a catalogue of the posterity of Adam. Yet not of all; but of the principal persons, by whom, in a right line, the succession was continued down to Noah, &c. and so to the Messiah.

3.-Adam lived an hundred and thirty years,] For the more speedy propagation of mankind, for the quicker increase of arts and sciences, and that the knowledge of religion might with the greater certainty be established and conveyed down to posterity, it pleased God to prolong the lives of men before the flood to a much greater age than they have ever since been.

in his own likeness, &c.] Not so perfect as himself, when he was created; but with those imperfections which impaired him, after he had eaten the forbidden fruit; that is, inclined to sin, and subject to death.

22.-Enoch walked with God] That is, was a religious man, and walked in the way of God's commandments. Heb. xi. 5. 6. Jude ver. 14. 15.

24.-he was not;] Moses does not say that he died; as he does of the rest in this chapter; but that he "was not" any longer among men in this world; for "God took him," or translated him to another place. Which plainly signifies the diffe rent manner of his leaving this world; insomuch that the Apostle saith, "He did not see death." Heb. xi. 5. A most convincing argument and proof of a life after this. God gave the world this instance, perhaps to convince them, how He would have dealt with Adam, and all his posterity, had they continued obedieut.

29. he called his name Noah,] Which signifies rest; or refreshment: because, as his father foretold of him, "This same shall comfort us." Some think that his father expected him to be the promised seed. In fact, he brought "comfort" and "rest" to mankind, by improving the art of husbandry, and so easing men as to the toil of their hands; by planting a vineyard, and finding out the art of making wine, which revives the spirits; and by restoring the world, after it had been dispeopled by the flood, and upon his oblations receiving the assurance that "God would not again curse the ground any more for man's sake.”

[ocr errors]


Verse 2.-Sons of God] Some understand by "the sons of God," the great men, nobles and rulers; who being captivated with the beauty of "the daughters of men," that is, of the meaner sort, took by violence as many as they pleased. But it seems most probable, that by " the sons of God" is to be understood the posterity of Seth, who were worshippers of the true God. chap. iv. 26. and who now "saw," or conversed with, the daughters of men," that is the daughters of the ungodly race of Cain. Good men are frequently styled in Scripture, "the sons," or "children of God." John i. 12. Rom. viii. 14. Mat. v. 9. &c.

of all which they chose.] Whomsoever they liked, without regard to any thing else but their beauty. These daughters of Cain proved to the sons of Seth, what the Moabitish women were afterwards to the children of Israel, and what women of bad principles always have been, and always will be, to men of good ones, who are no wiser than to contract alliances with them in their state of error and delusion.

3.-My Spirit] Either speaking by His prophets, such as Enoch had been, and Noah was; or, working inwardly in all men's hearts. "Shall not always strive with man," chide and reprove them, and thereby endeavour to bring them to repentance; but proceed to punish them." For that he also is flesh;" or is even flesh, that is, become quite carnal or fleshy in his inclinations, as well as in his actions, and consequently is incurable. "Yet his days shall be an bundred and twenty years;" yet I will not destroy mankind immediately; but have patience with them so long, that it may appear I would willingly have saved them.

All mankind, nations and individuals, have their seasons of trial and probation, and their warnings: After which the ax is laid to the root of the tree, and nothing can stay the hand of justice from striking the fatal stroke. May we see, then, the things which belong unto our peace, before they are hid from our eyes!

4. There were giants in the earth &c.] It is uncertain whether by this, we are to understand giants in stature and buik; or giants in respect of the cruelty, rapine, and violence of their lives and dispositions. From the marriages of the sons of Seth with the daughters of Cain, sprang a race of men, who, whatever they were as to stature, became overgrown monsters of iniquity. So that in time the earth was totally overspread with corruption and violence of all kinds.

5.-every imagination &c.] All the secret thoughts and purposes of his mind were always bent upon evil. Not only the practices of men were evil, but the principles, from whence those

actions flowed, were generally corrupt also. This is a description of an extraordinary degeneracy of men, signifying that the world was then extremely bad, and depraved to the highest degree. God gives this as a reason, why He was resolved to drown the world, and " destroy man from the face of the earth," because their wickedness was grown to so great an height.

6.-it repented the Lord] God can properly neither repent, nor be grieved. But such expressions signify He resolved to do, as men do; who, when they repent of any thing, endeavour to undo it. As the conversion of a sinner is said to cause "joy in heaven," so here to shew the love of God towards us, and his unwillingness that any should perish, He is represented as "repenting that He had made man, and being grieved at his heart."

The following observations apply to a variety of passages in the Bible, and may with propriety be introduced here. When the Scriptures speak of God, they ascribe hands, and eyes, and feet to Him; not that He has any of these members, according to the literal signification; but the meaning is, that He has a power to execute all those acts, to the effecting of which these parts in us are instrumental: that is, He can converse with men, as well as if he had a tongue or mouth; can discern all that we do or say, as perfectly as if He had eyes and ears; and can reach us as well as if He had hands or feet, &c. In like manner the Scripture frequently represents Him, as affected with such passions, as we perceive in our selves; namely, as angry and pleased, loving and hating, repenting and grieving, &c. and yet we cannot suppose that any of these passions can literally affect the Divine Nature: and therefore the meaning is, that He will as cer-tainly punish the wicked, as if He were inflamed with the passion of anger against them; as infallibly reward the good, as we will those for whom we have a peculiar affection: and that when He finds any alteration in His creatures, either for the better or the worse, He will as surely change His dispensations towards them, as if He really repented or changed His mind. It is by way of analogy and comparison therefore, that the nature and passions of men are ascribed to God: so that when He is said to repent or grieve, the meaning must be, not that He perceived any thing that He was ignorant of before, to give Him any uneasiness; (for "known unto God are all his works from the beginning;") but only that He altered His conduct with regard to men, as they varied in their behaviour towards Him, just as we are wont to do, when we are moved by any of these passions and changes of affection. In speaking of God, we must speak of Him after the manner of men.

8.-Noah found grace] obtained favour. Com

pare Heb. xi. 7: God resolved to spare Noah because he continued untainted in the midst of an universal contagion. 2 Pet. ii. 5.

9. These are the generations of Noah:] This is an account of his family; or, these are the things which befel him and his family.

-perfect in his generations,] He was an upright and sincere man, and unblameable in the midst of a wicked world. "Perfect," not as the holy Jesus was perfect, or as "the spirits of just men" are made perfect in heaven; but with such perfection as man can attain unto in this present


11.-violence.] Cruelty, outrage, and injustice of every kind.

12. God looked upon the earth,] The hundred and twenty years, allowed by God for mankind to repent, now drawing to an end, God is represented as if in a special manner He " looked upon the earth," to see what use mankind had made of His gracious forbearance.

13. The end of all flesh is come] I am determined to make an end of, that is to destroy, all mankind shortly. The design of God in sending the deluge was not so much to "ease Himself of His adversaries," as to leave a perpetual monument of His unrelenting severity against sin; that He might deter future ages from the like provocations. Such is the inference which the Apostle draws: "If God spared not the old world, but brought in a flood upon the ungodly," this is an example to those, that after shall live ungodly, that, how ever they may escape in this life, "He hath reserved the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." 2 Pet. ii. 5. &c.

14. Make thee an ark] This vessel was not made in the form of one of our ships, sharp in the forepart and at the bottom to cut the waves, but broad at the ends, like a chest, and flat at the bottom, with a cover or roof.

-gopher wood;] Probably cypress.

15. And this is the fashion &c.] When one sees with what unconcernedness Moses relates the dimensions of the ark, which at first view seems too little for such a number of creatures and provisions as it was to hold; and this without explaining himself, whereas a writer of his own head would have taken pains to obviate difficulties and explain them; this is a sure proof that Moses wrote just as he was inspired to write; and after ages, notwithstanding all objections of infidels, have found all most agreeable to truth and the reason of things.

[blocks in formation]

man of war is between 2,200 and 2,300 tons; and consequently the ark had the capacity or stowage of 18 such ships. We need not doubt therefore of its being sufficient to contain eight persons, and about 200 or 250 pair of four-footed animals; together with all the subsistence necessary for a twelvemonth.

16.-and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; It, that is the ark; which was covered with a roof, raised a cubit high in the middle to carry off the


18. with thee will I establish my covenant;} Either the promise to preserve him and his family in the ark; or the covenant concerning the pro-mised seed of the woman.

19.-two of every sort] Not that there shall be but two of any sort (compare chap. vii. 2.), but there must be two at least, namely male and female, of every kind.

20.--shall come unto thee,] By the care of God, who made them, and moved them to it.

[ocr errors]

22. Thus did Noah; according to all &c.] The Apostle to the Hebrews, chap. xi. 7. mentions Noah's building the ark, as an heroick act of faith. For we may well imagine that this work of his was not only costly and laborious, but esteemed by the generality very foolish and ridiculous; especially when they saw all things continue in the same posture and safety, for so many years. The conduct of the Patriarch upon this occasion shows us what our's ought to be in like circumstances. According to all that God commanded him, so did he." Being once well assured, upon good and sufficient evidence, what the will of God is, we should suffer no appearances of things, or opinions of men, to discourage and prevent us from accomplishing it, to the utmost of our power.

[ocr errors]


Noah had as perfect an account of whatever had happened since the Creation, as any man can have of what happened in the days of his own father and grandfather; for Lamech, Noah's father; had conversed with Adam fifty-six years.

Verse 2.-clean beast] By clean is probably here to be understood such as were accounted fit for sacrifices; and by unclean such as are rapacious, and which were not to be offered to God. Many things, established afterwards in the law of Moses, were in use before that law, and were generally practised by the worshippers of God; for example: Sacrifices, (Gen. iv. 3. 4. and viii. 20.) the paying of tithe, (Gen. xiv. 20.)circumcision, (Gen. xvii. 11.) the right of primogeniture, (Gen. xxv. 33.) making vows, (Gen. xxviii. 20. and xxxi. 13.) marrying the brother's wife, (Gen. xxxviii. 8.)


And some of those things which Moses forbad, were forbidden before his Law; as the eating of blood, and murder, which was a capital crime before the law, (Gen, ix, 4. 6.) And there is no doubt, but the difference of clean and unclean beasts, with respect to sacrifice, was known and observed before the law of Moses, and before the flood.

by sevens, Seven couple, most probably; that they might have sufficient for sacrifice when they came out of the ark; and if need were, for food, if other provision did not hold out: at least for food after the flood, when God enlarged their former grant, and permitted them to cat flesh. Chap. ix. 3.

11.—the fountains of the great deep broken up,] By the great deep" is meant probably those waters that are contained in vast quantities within the bowels of the earth; which by some cause unknown to us were now made suddenly to gush out at several parts of the earth; the waters of the sea likewise at the same time breaking in upon the land.

[ocr errors]

the windows of heaven were opened.] By this must be understood the causing of the waters, which were suspended in the clouds, to fall upon the earth, not in showers, but in floods, or cataracts. In the scriptures the heavens are said to be" opened" when it rains, and shut" when rain is withholden. The original word here does not signify windows, according to the modern idea; but rather clefts, or passages. In the margin of the Bible, it is translated floodgates; these were opened, the clouds were rent, as we say.



the rain was upon the earth forty days] It continued raining so long without intermission. 16.and the Lord shut him in.] God, probably by the ministry of an Angel, fastened and secured the door of the ark, into which Noah was entered, from the danger of the waters, as well as against the attempts of those, that might else have broken in upon him.

20. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail;] That is, about twenty-two feet and a half above the mountains. The mountains themselves, in their present state, bear witness that they have been covered by the deluge. For on the highest mountains, and indeed all over the earth, are found deposited the spoils of the ocean, the shells and skeletons of sea fish and sea animals of all kinds.


21.—all flesh died] As it was in the days of Noah," saith our Saviour, so shall sinners be surprised in the midst of their security. Consider here what was the consequence of a forgetfulness of God, a contempt of His laws, an abuse of His patience, and the turning a deaf ear to the preachers of righteousness: a whole world of sinners

surprised by death and judgment, in the midst of the greatest security, Whether something like this is not the case of too many Christians, when death surprises them, is worthy of the consideration of every one who reads this history.


Verse 1. God remembered Noah,] This is spoken of God after the manner of men. The meaning is, that God shewed His care of Noah. We are said to remember that which we take care of. God is said to "remember," when He relieves and shews mercy, Heb. vi. 10. Ps. cxxxvi. 23.

God made a wind to pass over the earth,] Which by degrees drove back the waters into the several channels and caverns, whence they had broken out.

4-mountains of Ararat,] That is, upon one of the mountains, as chap. xix. 29. "God overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt;" that is, in one of which he dwelt. Ararat is in Armenia a Country of Asia, lying between the southern extremities of the Euxine and Caspian seas.

8. Also he sent forth a dove] As a proper creature to make discoveries, whether the waters were abated; the dove being of a strong flight, loving to feed on the ground, and pick up seeds.

13. in the six hundredth and first year,] That is, of Noah's life.

-the first month, the first day of the month,] Of that year of the world, being the 1657th since the creation.

20.-Noah builded an altar unto the Lord;] A place where a sacrifice was laid, when it was offered up. Noah having been preserved from the flood by a miraculous providence, the first thing he did, was to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving for his deliverance, This was so acceptable to God, that it drew down a blessing upon the whole earth, and a promise, that it should never be destroyed again by water.

[ocr errors]

burnt offerings] They were offerings, which were entirely burnt. Levit. vi. 9.

21. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour;] This expression is used in condescension to human thoughts and human language; and is intended to signify, that God was pleased with the piety and devout services of Noah and others, sacrificing to Him from a pure heart, as men are wont to be pleased with sweet odours. A comparison taken from things human serves in some measure to il. lustrate things divine: and though it is not exact, as none can be exact, yet it helps to convey a more lively and more affecting idea of the thing, than could be given without it. "A sweet smelling savour" is St. Paul's phrase in the New Testament also; where Christ is said to have

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »