Moses Chapter 8 (February 1831) Noah and the Flood
Moses 8 Noah. God decrees the destruction of all flesh by the flood.
Moses 8:17 And the Lord said unto Noah: My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for he shall know that all flesh shall die; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years; and if men do not repent, I will send in the floods upon them.
Moses 8:25 And it repented Noah, and his heart was pained that the Lord had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at the heart.
The materials in Moses 8:1-30 roughly parallel the twenty-one verses in Genesis 5:25-6:13. The thirty verses in the Moses account expand the twenty-one in Genesis. Both treat the genealogy from Enoch to Noah, explain the Lord's decision to destroy "all flesh . . . upon the earth," and describe the prelude to the Flood. The Moses account provides us a richer portrait of the prophet Noah. Much of the added information in Moses has to do with Noah's determined but fruitless attempts to bring others in his society, including his own grandchildren, to faith in God.
On one level, this chapter chronicles a gloomy age in the earth's history when people refused to respond to the divine warning to repent even though they faced certain destruction (see verses 20, 24). On another level, Moses 8 gives us glimpses into the lives of a few faithful, righteous individuals-Noah and his immediate family members-who respond to the Lord's coaxing and become "the sons of God," giving the Lord someone with whom he could work cooperatively in trying to recover his errant children (verse 13). Their reward? Survival from the looming catastrophe and the opportunity to stand at the beginning of God's new era on the earth.
There is another important element that touches Noah himself. Many generations later, he would come as God's messenger, first to the priest Zacharias and then to the youthful Mary, to announce the births of two children whose adult ministries would turn countless individuals to God. On those two occasions, he would be called Gabriel (see Luke 1:19; Luke 1:26). Our source for learning that Gabriel was Noah is the prophet Joseph Smith (see TPJS, 157).
verses 1-4 There have been no corresponding verses in Genesis for the so-called book of Enoch (Moses 6:26-50; Moses 7:1-69) and the book of Adam (Moses 6:51-68). Verses 1-4 are not in the Genesis text. The Genesis account again picks up in verse 5. Verse 5 is equivalent to Genesis 5:25.
verses 1-12 The framework for Moses 8:1-12 is a genealogical listing that spans from the end of Enoch's life to the births of the sons of Noah, a space of five generations if one includes Enoch and his three great-great grandsons, Japheth, Shem, and Ham. The individuals who formed the genealogical bridge between Enoch and Noah (Methuselah and Lamech) were upright persons with whom the Lord could interact. Hence, amid the rampant wickedness in those days there stood this family whose members remained true to their covenants with the Lord (see verse 4). But that will change with Noah's grandchildren.
1 And all the days of Enoch were four hundred and thirty years.
verse 1 "all the days of Enoch" Although the term "days" may seem an odd unit of measure for describing the considerable length of Enoch's life, the term is commonly used in this way in the Bible (see Genesis 5:4-5 [Adam]; 5:8 [Seth]; 5:14 [Cainan]; 5:17 [Mahalaleel]; 5:20 [Jared]; and 5:23 [Enoch]).
"four hundred and thirty years" One reaches this figure by adding Enoch's age at the time of Methuselah's birth, sixty-five-evidently Enoch's age when he was called (see Moses 6:26-36)-to the number of years that Zion existed under Enoch's leadership, 365 (see Moses 7:68). In contrast, the Bible reckons Enoch's earthly age to have been 365 years, counting 300 years from the birth of Methuselah
2 And it came to pass that Methuselah, the son of Enoch, was not taken, that the covenants of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to Enoch; for he truly covenanted with Enoch that Noah should be of the fruit of his loins.
verse 2 "Methuselah . . . was not taken" Methuselah, "the son of Enoch," was not among the people of Zion whom "God received . . . up in to his own bosom" (Moses 7:69). This notation is unique to the book of Moses, as the Bible does not preserve this information. There are two possible reasons Mechuselah was not taken which are suggested by the scriptures. The first is that the Lord had made a solemn covenant with Enoch that Noah would "be of the fruit of his loins." Hence, Methuselah needed to stay back to sire that lineage. Methuselah became the grandfather of Noah. The second possible reason is a negative one and is suggested in the following verse-Methuselah "took glory unto himself."
"that the covenants of the Lord might be fulfilled" After seeing Noah in his grand vision, Enoch secures a covenant that the Lord would "call upon Noah and his posterity" (see Moses 7:51 for a discussion of the meaning of the phrase "call upon Noah") and that "a [righteous] remnant" would always be found on the earth (Moses 7:52; compare D&C 107:42-"his posterity . . . the chosen . . . should be preserved unto the end of the earth"). But in none of these earlier passages does one find mention of the covenant that Noah would descend from Enoch. This promise appears only in this verse.
3 And it came to pass that Methuselah prophesied that from his loins should spring all the kingdoms of the earth (through Noah), and he took glory unto himself.
verse 3 "Methuselah prophesied that from his loins should spring all the kingdoms of the earth" Obviously Methuselah was sufficiently righteous to have the blessing of the Spirit of prophecy, yet the verse adds that "he took glory unto himself."
"(through Noah)" This parenthetical phrase appears to be a gloss-a marginal or interlinear explanatory note. It is not clear whether it comes from Joseph Smith or from an ancient copyist or editor of the text.
"he took glory unto himself" It seems certain that this note introduces readers to one of Methuselah's shortcomings, that of pride. Please compare the actions of Moses and Aaron in Numbers 20:7-13 wherein Moses and Aaron took credit for the miracle of bringing forth water out of a rock rather than giving the credit to the Lord so the Lord could be sanctified "in the eyes of the children of Israel." It was this transgression that prevented Moses from leading the Israelites into the promised land. It is not certain whether Methuselah transgressed before or after God took Zion to himself.
4 And there came forth a great famine into the land, and the Lord cursed the earth with a sore curse, and many of the inhabitants thereof died.
verse 4 "there came forth a great famine into the land" Although the notice of the famine and God's "curse" of the earth are juxtaposed with Methuselah's indiscretion (see verse 3), there is no evident reason to associate the two as cause and effect. Rather, the famine seems to arise because of genuine wickedness among the people.
"the Lord cursed the earth with a sore curse" In other instances, the Lord has turned to natural disasters in an effort to bring his children to repentance, usually without lasting effect. See, for instance, Revelation 9:20, where massive suffering and death is meant to bring people to repentance but does not. Instead, individuals continue to rely on material things for security and to pursue their normal lives of indulgence (see Revelation 9:21). Compare the Lord's marshaling of natural forces in 1 Nephi 19:11 ("The Lord God surely shall visit . . . Israel at that day . . . with the thunderings and the lightnings of his power, by tempest, by fire, and by smoke.") Examine also D&C 43:25 ("How oft have I called upon you . . . by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind"). Other passages include Moses 8:22, 1 Nephi 18:20, and D&C 45:33.
5 And it came to pass that Methuselah lived one hundred and eighty-seven years, and begat Lamech;
verse 5 "Methuselah . . . begat Lamech" Lamech will become the father of Noah.
6 And Methuselah lived, after he begat Lamech, seven hundred and eighty-two years, and begat sons and daughters;
7 And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died.
verse 7 According to the chronological notes in the Bible, Noah was 600 years old when the Flood struck (see Genesis 7:6). Calculating the age of Methuselah when he sired Lamech (187 years) and Lamech's age when he sired Noah (182 years), Methuselah died in the year of the Flood at the age of 969.
8 And Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and begat a son,
verse 8 "Lamech . . . begat a son" This verse breaks the formulaic custom of naming the sucessor-son in the genealogical list. The deliberate breaking of this custom and the setting apart of the name of Noah in the following verse with the phrase "And he called his name Noah" are thought to underscore the importance of the subject, in this case the birth of Noah.
9 And he called his name Noah, saying: This son shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.
verse 9 "And he [Lamech] called his name Noah" The name Noah had, of course, been revealed to Enoch two generations earlier (see Moses 7:42-43; 8:2) and it seems likely that the divinely specified name had been passed along by Enoch and Methuselah.
Pseudepigraphical literature portraits Noah at his birth as a special child of promise. For example, it is said that at birth Noah's body was "white as snow and red as a rose"; his hair was "white as wool"; his eyes lit his parents' home "like the sun . . . even more exceedingly"; and he stood in the hands of the midwife and "spoke to the Lord of righteousness" (See 1 Enoch 106, in Charlesworth, ed., Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 1:86-87, and also Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, 3rd, edition [Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983-85), 216-217; Garcia Martinez, "The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated," 2nd edition [New York: Penguin Books, 1987], 230-37).
"This son shall comfort us concerning our work" This statement of Lamech's carries a prophetic tone and suggests that Lamech was a righteous man.
"This son shall comfort us concerning our . . . toil of our hands" Somehow Noah eased the Lord's curse on the ground. This easing of the curse apparently leads to a relatively regular life that will lull people into a false sense of security that all was well in society-"are we not eating and drinking . . . ?" (verse 21).
10 And Lamech lived, after he begat Noah, five hundred and ninety-five years, and begat sons and daughters;
11 And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years, and he died.
verse 11 These years of Lamech's life span place his death a mere five years before the Flood, for we read that he lived 595 years after siring Noah (see verse 10), and the Flood burst over the earth when Noah was 600 years old (see Genesis 7:6).
12 And Noah was four hundred and fifty years old, and begat Japheth; and forty-two years afterward he begat Shem of her who was the mother of Japheth, and when he was five hundred years old he begat Ham.
verse 12 "four hundred and fifty years old" The Bible does not indicate exactly how old Noah was when he sired his three known sons, Japheth, Shem, and Ham saying only that he had reached his five-hundreth birthday (Genesis 5:32). The text does not identify the mother of Ham.
"Japheth . . . Shem . . . Ham" The order of the births may be important. In the book of Genesis, the sons are almost always listed in the following order: "Shem, Ham, and Japheth" (Genesis 5:32; Genesis 6:10; Genesis 10:1; Genesis 7:13; Genesis 9:18; 1 Chronicles 1:4; and even Moses 8:27). It is interesting, however, that Genesis 10 which lists the genealogy of the generations of Noah and which is known as the "table of the nations," hints that Japheth may have been the eldest son as is indicated in this verse. This suggestion is made in that Japheth's descendants' are listed first. Genesis 10, however, then lists Ham and Shem in that order. The observation that in the Bible Shem regularly stands first in the lists of the sons may have to do with the fact that Israelites saw Shem as their own ancestor and thus featured him first in their record.
"of her who was the mother of Japheth" Although we do not know the name this woman received from her parents, the account takes pains to point to her, possibly because she was a woman of note in her era. As far as can be determined, this notation is unique in scripture. But it preserves a custom prevalent in the Near East today wherein people call a woman by the name of her firstborn son, that is, "mother of so-and-so." In this light, it is likely that in her culture this woman was known as "the mother of Japheth," linking her to her firstborn, rather than being known by her given name. Hence, the text has apparently preserved the name by which she was known among her peers. Presumably, she was the mother of all of Noah's sons even though the account features her only as the mother of Japheth and Shem. In other passages, the record speaks of Noah's "wife" as if there was only one (see Genesis 6:18; Genesis 7:7; Genesis 7:13; Genesis 8:16, 18).
13 And Noah and his sons hearkened unto the Lord, and gave heed, and they were called the sons of God.
verse 13 "Noah and his sons hearkened unto the Lord, and gave heed" This phrase, which does not occur in the Genesis account, offers the reasons why the Lord preserved these men and their families from the wreckage of the Flood. Simply stated, they were obedient. This phrase raises another interesting question. Did Noah and his sons have a scriptural record from which they obtained the Lord's commandments to which they gave heed? Or, did they depend only on direct communication from the Lord to the prophet Noah (verse 15)? We are aware of "a book of remembrance," begun by Adam (Moses 6:5; Moses 6:46), but we have no information about its persistence to the time of Noah.
"Noah and his sons . . . were called the sons of God" This phrase introduces a special title-"the sons of God"-that must have come from the heavenly realm. The characteristics of such persons are spelled out in this verse: hearkening to the Lord and giving heed to his commandments.
14 And when these men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, the sons of men saw that those daughters were fair, and they took them wives, even as they chose.
verse 14 "these men" These men were the sons of Noah.
"daughters were born unto them" These women are the daughters of Noah's sons.
"the sons of men . . . took them wives" The granddaughters of Noah did not marry well. Rather, they married "the sons of men"-men who were not obedient to the Lord's commands and stood outside the covenant. In the following verse, the Lord will accuse these women of selling themselves.
In contrast, the Genesis account calls these men "sons of God" (Genesis 6:2) which has caused some confusion.
verses 15-16 These two verses do not appear in the book of Genesis. They include the Lord's complaint against members of Noah's family and Noah's response, which is to prophesy and teach. It is not entirely clear as to whether Noah sought the Lord's help with his family crisis, or whether the Lord, on his own initiative, drew the problem to Noah's attention.
15 And the Lord said unto Noah: The daughters of thy sons have sold themselves; for behold mine anger is kindled against the sons of men, for they will not hearken to my voice.
verse 15 "And the Lord said unto Noah" It seems likely that Noah and the Lord are communicating vocally.
"The daughters of thy sons have sold themselves" It is not clear whether these women have become prostitutes or whether they have, independent of their parents, made the arrangements for their own marriages. The custom of the day was apparently for the parents to arrange for their daughter's marriage. In either event, the association of these women with "the sons of men" has put them in danger of the Lord's awful "anger [which is] kindled." Obviously some serious transgression is responsible for the Lord's anger and it is likely that some type of sexual sin is implied here.
"mine anger is kindled against the sons of men" Obviously both the daughters of Noah's sons and the men with whom they have associated themselves are guilty of transgressions.
16 And it came to pass that Noah prophesied, and taught the things of God, even as it was in the beginning.
verse 16 "even as it was in the beginning" The antecedent for the pronoun it here seems to be "the things of God." The apparent error in singular-versus-plural here may seem unusual (we are inclined to think the text should read "even as they were in the beginning"), but such constructions were common in Semitic tongues, including Hebrew (Kautzsch, 1910, 462-67; see also 145).
Reference to "the beginning" points to a prior more righteous time. Obviously apostasy had changed the people's perception of "the things of God." The Lord is taking action through Noah to attempt to return the perception of "the things of God" to how they were previously.
The record does not say directly whether Noah succeeded in turning his grandchildren to the Lord, but it seems evident he did not. Sadly, they were not among those who much later entered the ark (see Genesis 7:1; Genesis 7:7). These verses pass over in silence the hurt and pain that had arisen within the family, but they preserve enough details that we can imagine the difficulties and heartache that must have been present.
17 And the Lord said unto Noah: My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for he shall know that all flesh shall die; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years; and if men do not repent, I will send in the floods upon them.
verse 17 This verse seems to continue the Lord's words that begin in verse 15, and the two should be read together.
"My Spirit shall not always strive with man" The Bible preserves this defining statement but repeats only pieces of the rest of the verse (see Genesis 6:3). In this verse, the merciful Lord, in essence, says to Noah, "Look, I have my limits, and your contemporaries have reached it. There is an end to my patience and long suffering. If this behavior continues, justice will be done."
"man . . . shall know that all flesh shall die" It is unlikely that the Lord is saying what is obvious-that all men know the reality and inevitability of death, as especially their own death. Rather, it is more likely that by this time the people have been warned and know full well that there will be a flood and that all men will die in the flood (see verse 26). The Flood has been the subject of earlier prophecy (see Moses 7:34; Moses 7:38; Moses 7:43).
"his [man's] days shall be an hundred and twenty years" Before Noah's era, the life spans of his ancestors had been very long. Even though we do not know the length of life among persons not mentioned in the narrative, we presume that it was similarly long. Now the life spans are shorter, a change either made deliberately by the Lord or through the natural biological course of events. Now men are living, on the average, of "an hundred and twenty years."
"if men do not repent, I will send in the floods upon them" This is the first warning to the earth's inhabitants of the flood given through the prophet Noah himself.
The plural floods in this phrase invites comment (see also Moses 7:34; Moses 7:38; Moses 7:43). Art and literature, of course, feature rain as the major cause of the flood (see Genesis 7:12), but apparently there were additional causes. According to the Bible, "all the fountains of the great deep [were] broken up," implying seismic activity that ruptured water-storing aquifers beneath the surface of the earth (see Genesis 7:11). This implication receives support in the notice that, at the flood's end, "the fountains also of the deep . . . were stopped" (Genesis 8:2). Thus there were at least two sources for the flood, the rain above the "firmament" and water on the surface of the earth or under it (see Genesis 1:6-8; Moses 2:6-8). The fact that the flood resulted from multiple water sources has apparently led to the plural term "floods." The plural also raises the possibility that the process involved a series of floods that began in different regions. If this was the case, presumably the various floods eventually ran together.
18 And in those days there were giants on the earth, and they sought Noah to take away his life; but the Lord was with Noah, and the power of the Lord was upon him.
verse 18 "in those days there were giants on the earth" I will repeat the commentary for Moses 7:15. It is unclear whether this phrase refers to people who were especially large in stature or not. The meaning of giants here is important to Latter-day Saints because Joseph Smith allowed this term to stand in the Moses account without comment. Three possibilities present themselves. (1) The term points to mythological creatures that have nothing to do with reality and are connected with the Hebrew tendency to exaggerate. Most interpreters accept this view. (2) There were actual giants, or huge people, who lived on the earth. D. J. Wiseman points out that there are skeletal remains of persons over nine feet tall in the Middle East (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 6:13). (3) One can also examine the term on the basis of language. The Hebrew word translated "giants" in Genesis 6:4 is n'filim. This term derives from the verb to fall and may have as much to do with apostasy (see Moses 8:18) as with people who may be large in stature.
Whatever the meaning of the word giants, it seems that such individuals had continued to live "on the earth" since the days of Enoch and that they were now threatening the life of Noah.
"but the Lord was with Noah, and the power of the Lord was upon him" It is not evident what steps the Lord took to aid Noah when his life was under threat. Scripture offers examples of how the Lord has intervened in other instances. For example, we know that the Lord preserved Abraham by slaying the priest who sought to take Abraham's life (see Abraham 1:20). In the case of the brothers Sam and Nephi, the Lord sent an angel to protect them from the hurtful acts of their elder brothers (see 1 Nephi 3:28-29). Evidently, Noah was protected by some miraculous means.
19 And the Lord ordained Noah after his own order, and commanded him that he should go forth and declare his Gospel unto the children of men, even as it was given unto Enoch.
verse 19 "the Lord ordained Noah" It is possible that the Lord himself may have performed the ordination, perhaps in accord with the observation that anciently the priesthood "was delivered unto men by the calling of his [God's] own voice" (JST Genesis 14:29). It is also possible that Noah's father Lamech ordained his prominent son. But we do not know when Noah began his preaching ministry. According to Genesis 7:6, "Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth." Noah's father, Lamech, had evidently died about five years prior, perishing when Noah was 595 years old (see Genesis 5:30; Moses 8:10). If Noah started preaching before his father's death, Lamech may well have ordained his son at the Lord's behest. But if Noah's preaching ministry began less than five years before the Flood, then Lamech may not have ordained his son. This ordination also brought to Noah the right to "hold the keys of all the spiritual blessing," to receive "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, [and] to have the heavens opened" to him (D&C 107:18-19; also D&C 84:19).
"after his own order" This refers to the higher priesthood, the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God (see D&C 107:3). This order of priesthood will eventually come to be called the Melchizedek Priesthood. Noah was given the priesthood and designated as God's prophet, his mouthpiece.
We are not told whether Noah's sons went forth with him to preach, but it seems likely they did.
20 And it came to pass that Noah called upon the children of men that they should repent; but they hearkened not unto his words;
verse 20 "but they hearkened not" This same statement appears at the end of verses 21 and 24. All these passages are absent from the Genesis version. This attempt to reach people seems to have been God's last in a long series of such exertions that included angels' efforts (see Moses 7:25; Moses 7:27; compare Moses 5:6-8; Moses 5:58) and natural disasters (see Moses 8:4 and its commentary).
21 And also, after that they had heard him, they came up before him, saying: Behold, we are the sons of God; have we not taken unto ourselves the daughters of men? And are we not eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage? And our wives bear unto us children, and the same are mighty men, which are like unto men of old, men of great renown. And they hearkened not unto the words of Noah.
verse 21 "they came before him, saying" The account records the gist of what people said to Noah in their own defense. In effect, they said that everything was going along normally, perhaps even better than they had expected, because of their "children . . . are mighty men . . . like unto men of old, men of great renown" (verse 21).
"we are the sons of God" Not only had a sense of well-being settled into the hearts of people, but they evidently saw themselves as continuing partakers of the covenant, that is, as "sons of God" (compare verse 13). Such a view of themselves exhibits a degree of self-deception in light of the fact that God had taken the city of Enoch, leaving them behind, and, further, that he had not taken them as he did the righteous persons of their own era (see Moses 7:27).
"the daughters of men" The word daughters recalls the daughters of Noah's sons (verses 14-15), a connection hinting that "the sons of God" in this passage were the husbands of Noah's granddaughters.
The idea that these men were the husbands of Noah's sons is corroborated by the fact that they speak to "grandpa" Noah not with hostility but with respect and civility. It would seem that these men are saying to Noah, in effect, "Don't worry about us; we'll be fine. We have no need to repent. We are basically good men, and things are going well for us even though we married outside the covenant. We have plenty to eat and drink. We are having children, and they are wonderful." In short, these men told Noah that they had no interest in, and indeed, no need for his preachings. And, just as we might expect, "they hearkened not unto the words of Noah" wherein in he pled with them to repent.
22 And God saw that the wickedness of men had become great in the earth; and every man was lifted up in the imagination of the thoughts of his heart, being only evil continually.
verse 22 "the wickedness of men had become great in the earth" Notwithstanding their self content, egregious wickedness was practically universal in the earth (see Moses 7:36).
"lifted up in the imagination of the thoughts of his heart" We learn that the Lord had perceived wickedness not only in the actions of men, but also in their thoughts. We know that the Lord alone can perceive the thoughts and intents of a man's heart" (D&C 6:16). One need not wonder long as to the thought content of these men. Surely they fantasized about doing evil-sexual and other types of evil, including violence against other people (see verse 28).
"being only evil continually" The thoughts of the sons of men were never wholesome and selfless. Rather they were "only evil continually."
verses 23-24 These two verses do not appear in the Genesis account. They are significant because they disclose both the extent and the content of Noah's preaching, for he "continued his preaching" even after suffering rejection and threats against his life. He pled with his hearers to embrace what we now term the first principles and ordinances of the gospel (see verse 24).
23 And it came to pass that Noah continued his preaching unto the people, saying: Hearken, and give heed unto my words;
24 Believe and repent of your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, even as our fathers, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost, that ye may have all things made manifest; and if ye do not this, the floods will come in upon you; nevertheless they hearkened not.
verse 24 It is important to note that Noah's warnings and testimony to his people were not simply general challenges to repent of their wrongdoings, but rather an invitation to participate in the saving ordinances of the Church and gospel of Jesus Christ.
"even as our fathers" It is of interest to be reminded that the first principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ were known from the earliest generations of this earth, even back to Adam and Eve (see Moses 5:8-9; Moses 5:12; Moses 5:14-15).
"that ye may have all things made manifest" Certainly, this includes the promise of personal revelation with all of its resulting blessings.
25 And it repented Noah, and his heart was pained that the Lord had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at the heart.
verse 25 "it repented Noah" One meaning of the verb repent is "to regret or feel sorry for" (Webster's Collegiate Dictionary). One may say, for example, "He repented a hasty marriage." Here and in the following verse, the verb is used with a slightly different definition: "to make one regret or feel sorry." The fact that the Lord had made man on the earth "repented Noah"; that is, Noah was so disgusted at the disobedience and rebellion of man that the very fact of the Lord's placing man on the earth caused Noah to regret or feel sorry that the Lord had done so. The verb repent is used similarly in Genesis 6:6.
Noah is obviously in despair and is grieving over the spiritual state of the people of earth.
26 And the Lord said: I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth, both man and beast, and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Noah that I have created them, and that I have made them; and he hath called upon me; for they have sought his life.
verse 26 "I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth" The relationship of confidence and trust between Noah and the Lord is illustrated here and seems almost without precedent. Noah openly regrets that the Lord had placed these recalcitrant men and women on the earth, and when he expressed his pain, the Lord said, "I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth." One cannot help but suspect that Noah's despair was the trigger for the Lord's statement that he would destroy mankind by the Flood.
"both man and beast, and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air" Animal life, including birds will drown. Fish will likely be spared, unless fresh-water fish find themselves in the salty waters of the seas.
"it repenteth Noah that I have created them" For the meaning of the verb repenteth, see the commentary for verse 25.
The antecedent or referent of the pronoun it in this phrase is the fact that God had placed man on the earth.
The antecedent for them is a bit less obvious. There are two possibilities.
The first is that the antecedent is "both man and beast." We already know that Noah regretted the Lord's placing man on the earth and that some men had sought his life. This possibility, however, would imply that Noah also regretted the Lord's creating of the animals of the earth and that the animals had also sought his life. This possibility seems a bit far fetched, but the possibility that the animal population of the earth had deteriorated in "righteousness" does exist. We know that the Lord has given to the animal kingdom laws or commandments by which the animals can behave in righteousness. The Lord taught in latter-day revelation: "All kingdoms have a law given; And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom. And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions" (D&C 88:36-38). It is possible that an animal or animals can behave unrighteously relative to the laws which they have been given in their "kingdom." Some support is given to this possibility by verses 28-30 of this chapter. There the Lord avers, "The earth [not mankind upon the earth] was corrupt before God . . .." And, "All flesh [not just man] had corrupted its way upon the earth." Also, "The end of all flesh is come before me."
The second possibility for the antecedent of them is the men whom God has created. This explanation might appeal to those who feel that it is unlikely that Noah would have "repented" or regretted the placement of animals on the earth. Also, those who feel it is unlikely that the animals of the earth would have sought Noah's life will find some support for this second possibility in the final phrase of this verse, "for they have sought his life" (emphasis added). Since "the creeping things, and the fowls of the air" are the unlikely culprits as those who had sought Noah's life, it was the men-they-who sought his life.
"he hath called upon me" Noah had sought the Lord's protection in prayer from those who have sought his life.
27 And thus Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord; for Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation; and he walked with God, as did also his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
verse 27 "thus Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" Let us first be reminded of the definition of grace. Grace is the love of God, particularly that aspect of his love which inclines him to extend to his creations blessings they have not actually fully earned and do not actually fully merit. Noah was obviously a righteous man, eager always to obey the Lord's commands. This verse further provides evidence of his righteousness as it speaks of him as "a just man, and perfect in his generation." It also confirms that "he walked with God." One may well ask, then why Noah was in need of the Lord's grace. The answer is simple. There is no man who is without sin (Romans 3:23), and there is no man who fully deserves the Lord's blessings, based on his own merits. Every gift of the Spirit, every blessing of protection, every personal revelation with which the Lord blessed Noah was given to him by virtue of the Savior's atonement, because he, like every man, did not fully merit the Lord's blessings.
"Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation" A just man is one who is justified before the Lord. This means he had no outstanding penalties owing to the law of justice. His sins have been forgiven by the Lord. When a man is earnestly and diligently striving to keep the commandments of the Lord, then the Lord regularly forgives that man's sins (justifies him) and grants to the man increments of divine attributes or gifts of the Spirit (sanctifies him). The reader may wish to review these concepts in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 1, chapter 17, Justification and Sanctification. Even though no man on earth ever achieves the ideal of complete and absolute justification and perfection, the Lord mercifully extends to him the labels of "just" (Matthew 13:49; Luke 14:14) and "perfect" (Moroni 10:32-33) if he is earnestly striving and truly progressing. These titles given to any man, just as here they are extended to Noah, are given through the mercy and grace of God, in other words, they are given by virtue of the Lord's atoning sacrifice.
"he walked with God, as did also his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth" Genesis 6:9 declares that Noah walked with God, but affirms nothing about the status of his sons. Such a notation about Noah's sons in the book of Moses forms an important indicator for understanding why they went into the ark with Noah and with their mother.
28 The earth was corrupt before God, and it was filled with violence.
verse 28 "The earth was corrupt" As has already been mentioned in the commentary for verse 26, this statement could imply that mankind upon the earth was corrupt or it may imply a more expanded view-that mankind and the beasts of the earth were corrupt. Please study this verse in conjunction with verse 26 and its commentary.
Yet another meaning for this phrase has been suggested in The Pearl of Price, A Verse-By-Verse Commentary (Draper, Brown, and Rhodes, 174-175). These authors suggest that the earth in this phrase might refer to the religious sanctuaries or places of religious worship of this earth, and that these places-"the earth"-have been corrupted by false worship.
"it was filled with violence" The earth was filled with violence. And what was the source of this violence? It was either mankind-who had sought Noah's life, and doubtless the life of each other-or it was both mankind and the beasts of the earth.
29 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth.
verse 29 "all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth" Again, we have discussed the possibility that this condemnation applies to wicked men upon the earth or both to wicked man and "disobedient" animals (see verse 26 and its commentary).
Genesis 6:12 renders this phrase "all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth" (emphasis added). The pronoun his, in Genesis refers, of course, to the Lord, and that rendering seems preferable to its.
30 And God said unto Noah: The end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence, and behold I will destroy all flesh from off the earth.
verse 30 "the earth is filled with violence" See the commentary for verse 28.
"the end of all flesh is come before me" The Lord says, in effect and in a coarser vernacular, "That's it, I've had it, the time has arrived, I've made the decision. Now I will destroy all flesh from off the earth."
We have all noticed that the Book of Moses ends rather abruptly, and many have wondered why Brother Franklin D. Richards, who arranged for the publication of the book of Moses, did not include more, especially to round out the story of Noah and the Flood. The answer is simple: What he published is what he had.