Foreword: this comes from the Grace Notes Genesis study of chapter 9, verses 1-7. The text discusses the four divine institutions established by God . This is key as society continually tries to buck this system with its own relativistic truths.
Genesis 9:1-7 records God’s covenant with Noah. The first provision of this covenant is found in Genesis 8:20-22.
Genesis 8:20, “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.”
Genesis 8:21, “The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.’”
Genesis 8:22, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”
The first provision stipulated that God would never again curse the earth on account of man and that day and night and seasons would never cease as long as the present earth remains and that there would be a continuation of humanity until the end of human history by guaranteeing its sustaining food supply.
Genesis 9:1, “And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”
The second provision stipulated that Noah and his descendants would multiply and replenish the earth. The command to be fruitful and multiply was also given to Adam as recorded in Genesis 1:28.
“Blessed” is the verb barakh ( ErB^)* pronounced: bah-rach and means, “to bless,” in the sense that the Word of the Lord endued Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth with power to produce offspring in great numbers.
“Be fruitful” is the verb parah ( hr*P*) (paw-raw) and means, “to be fruitful” in the sense of to reproduce.
“Multiply” is the verb ravah ( hb*r*) (raw-vaw) and means, “to multiply, to increase” in number or quantity and denotes not only the concept of multiplication of one’s progeny but also sexual prosperity.
“Fill” is the verb male ( al@m*) (mah-leh) and is used here of Noah and his sons being given the capacity to repopulate the earth.
In Genesis 1:28, Adam was commanded to have dominion over the earth but in Genesis 9:1, this is omitted since the earth has been brought under a curse because of Adam’s sin and as a result of this sin, Satan is the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) and “ruler of this world” (Jn. 16:11).
Genesis 9:2, “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given.”
The third provision stipulated that Noah and his descendants would have dominion over the animal kingdom and implies that the interaction between humans and animals would not be peaceful, just as Genesis 9:6 suggests the same of human beings.
Genesis 9:3, “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.”
The fourth provision stipulated that all animal life was now given as food for people to eat and that the diet of the human race would not be restricted to a vegetable an fruit diet.
Genesis 9:4, “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”
The stipulation recorded in Genesis 9:4 was given since the soul life of animals resides in its blood (Lev. 17:11, 14). By forbidding the eating of the animal’s blood, this regulation instills a respect for the sacredness of life and protects against abuse (Lev. 3:17; 7:2-27; Deut. 12:1-24; 1 Sam. 14:32-34). The eating of meat is not a license to savagery meaning that even though Noah’s descendants are predators at the top of the food chain, they must show a proper respect for life as a sacred thing.
Genesis 9:5, “Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man.”
Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.”
Genesis 9:5-6 records for us the establishment of the fourth and final divine institution. These four institutions are systems of authority designed to protect the freedom of members of the human race, both unbeliever and the believer: (1) Volition: You have authority over your own soul (Gen. 2:16-17). (2) Marriage: Husband has authority over the wife (Gen. 2:22-24). (3) Family: Parents have authority over the children (Gen. 4:1). (4) Government: Government has authority over its citizens (Gen. 9:5-6).
Murder is a violation of the first divine institution, which is volition. The government has the responsibility to practice capital punishment in order to protect the freedom its citizens.
“I will require” is the verb darash ( vr^D*) (daw-rash), which is a judicial term used with reference to both men and animals and expresses the fact God seeks “restitution” for murder by the execution of the murderer or the animal who has taken a human life.
The fifth provision stipulated that as a result of the total depravity of mankind, God instituted capital punishment in order to protect both animal and human life and to curb violence and be a deterrent to crime. The reason why this provision is given is found in the phrase “for in the image of God, He (the Lord) made (`asah, “modeled”) (the soul of) man.”
The emphasis of this stipulation recorded in Genesis 9:5-6 does “not” refer to vengeance but rather justice and the careful recognition of the sacredness of the divine image in man, though marred by sin. Murder is a shocking affront to God and a terrible crime against one’s fellow man.
Before the Flood the lack of capital punishment led to blood vendettas (Gen. 4) and without instinctive fear, the animals corrupted their behavior.
Genesis 9:5-6 records the institution of human government where God delegated authority to mankind as His agents in exacting retribution by capital punishment upon those who take a human life indicating as well that this is not a personal matter but a social obligation. Before the Flood, there was no formal arrangement of human government and thus no formal punishment of crime or of crime prevention, even for the capital crime of murder, as evident in the individual histories of Cain and Lamech. The absence of human government and the total depravity of mankind led to a universal state of violence and anarchy, which resulted in the judgment of the Flood. God established capital punishment and thereby human government in order to prevent the conditions of the antediluvian period from developing again.
Numbers 35:30-34, Deuteronomy 17:6-7 and 19:15 teach that capital punishment “cannot” take place unless there are two or more witnesses to the crime and that they all agree in their testimony after being individually and separately interviewed.
Capital punishment is taught in the Old Testament (Ex. 21:12, 15-17; 22:2, 18-20; Num. 35:6-34; Deut. 19:1-13; 24:7) and in the New Testament (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13).
The fact that capital punishment was instituted does “not” mean that there is never to be an exception to the punishment of execution for the crime of murder. With God, justice may be tempered with mercy, in response to repentance.
For example, David was guilty of the capital crimes of murder and adultery in the case of Uriah and Bathsheba respectively and God forgave David when he confessed his sin and thus David instead of dying by stoning or the sword as he deserved, “died in a good old age, full of days, riches and honor” (1 Chron. 29:28).
Also, the woman caught in the act of adultery was guilty by the Mosaic Law of a crime punishable by death (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22) and the Lord Jesus seeing her heart of repentance, was moved to forgive her and to see that she was set free (Jn. 8:3-11).
In like manner, a judge or a governor is warranted in taking such mitigating factors as may exist in a given situation into consideration in determining a sentence, legal penalty of capital punishment.
The essential point is that man was delegated authority and responsibility of human government by God and that this responsibility first entails the recognition of the sacredness of human life and that man is created in the image of God and the recognition of capital punishment as the just and legal penalty for murder. It is clear that the authority for capital punishment implies also the authority to establish laws governing human activities and personal relationships, which if unregulated would lead to murder, robbery, adultery, thus this instruction to Noah is the fundamental basis for all human legal and governmental institutions.
Genesis 9:7, “As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”
Genesis 9:7 is a repetition of Genesis 9:1 in order to emphasize God’s desire to have many people who will gather around His throne and enjoy fellowship with Him throughout eternity (Rev. 5:9-10).
Pastor William E. Wenstrom. (n.d.). Genesis.