The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday, the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, is from the first book of the Torah, Genesis. The text is Genesis 9:8-17 and is part of the chapter which describes what the world and its inhabitants will now be like following the universal flood. The Flood changed everything and what we are reading is a description of a “new creation.” In the earlier verses of this chapter, God tells Noah and his sons that the animals will now be afraid of them. Then He tells them they may eat meat as long as the blood is not in it. Before the Flood man was not allowed to eat meat and the animals had a different kind of relationship with people, which might help explain how Noah was able to round up all the creatures for the Ark.
Our pericope continues describing the “new creation,” although it is not quite as obvious. Previous to the Flood the earth was watered by streams/mists which came up from the ground (Genesis 2:6). Now the earth will be watered by rain from the heavens. Consider for a moment the perspective of Noah. He is 601 years old, and it has only rained once in his lifetime—and it was the BIG ONE! When it rains the next time there is no doubt he will suffer from some anxiety! Where did I park the Ark!! God, in His wisdom, knows this and gives Noah, his family, and all living flesh a sign in the heavens that He will not destroy the earth via a flood again. I am sure Noah was looking carefully for the rainbow the next time rain fell.
The rainbow is a sign of the covenant God is making with “all flesh which is on the earth” and to the coming generations. Note first how there is no “cutting” of a covenant here. The “cutting” referred to in verse 11 is being cut off by the waters of the Flood. That tradition will come into being later and we read of it in the “cutting” of the Abrahamic Covenant. Instead, the word is “establish.” Secondly, note this is a true, unilateral covenant. Only God is making a pledge to all flesh—there is nothing required of the rest of creation—God is in total command of this covenant.
Only God is making a pledge to all flesh—there is nothing required of the rest of creation—God is in total command of this covenant.
9:8 וַיֹּאמֶר...לֵאמֹר (vai-Yo-mer... le-Mor) Literally: “and he said... saying” This is the general way Hebrew introduces direct discourse.
9:9 וַאֲנִי הִנְנִי (va-a-Ni hin-Ni) Literally: “and I, behold I” The emphasis is placed on the speaker who is God. This is His doing, not man’s.
מֵקִים (me-Kim) root: קום (koom) Hiphil, participle: “to raise up; establish; stand”
9:10 כּל־נֶפֶשׁ הַחַיָּה (kol Ne-fesh ha-chai-Yah) “every living thing,” “Every living creature”
בָּעוֹף (ba-of) from: עוֹף (ofe) “bird; flying thing” “With the birds”
יֹצְאֵי (yo-tze-Ei) root: יצא (yaw-tsaw) Qal, participle: “to go out; to come out”
הַתֵּבָה (hat-te-Vah) “ark; chest; box”
9:11 הַמַּבּוּל (ham-mab-Bul) “flood; deluge”
9:12 אוֹת (ot) “sign; pledge”
9:13 קַשְׁתִּי (kash-Ti) from: קֶשֶׁת (keh-sheth) “bow; rainbow”
בֶּעָנָן (be-a-Nan) from: עָנָן (aw-nawn) “cloud; clouds” “In the cloud”
9:14 בְּעַנְנִי (be-an-Ni) root: ענן (aw-nan) Piel: “to cause to bring; cause to become visible”
9:15 וְזָכַרְתִּי (ve-za-char-Ti) root: זכר (zaw-kar) Qal: “to remember”
9:16 וּרְאִיתִיהָ (u-re-i-Ti-ha) root: ראה (raw-aw) Qal: “to see” with suffix: “I will see it”
בְּרִית עוֹלָם (be-Rit o-Lam) “everlasting covenant”
Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Genesis 9:8-17.
Text Week-Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Genesis 9:8-17.