Genesis 9: A Fresh Start but Similar Problems

Noah is given the opportunity to start again with the reassurance that God will never again flood the world. But although the flood waters have gone, sin has not.

Reader Thoughts and Questions

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Chapter Notes


  • This chapter begins with God’s post-deluge encouragement to Noah and a covenant made with him and his posterity.

  • It also details Noah’s folly, the sin of Ham, and God’s judgment upon Ham and his posterity.


  • v. 1 - God blesses Noah, and outlines various instructions to him. Noah comes off the ark and is greeted with the complete destruction of centuries of civilization. It could have been highly discouraging, but God gives him the same command that Adam received. He also had started with nothing.

  • v. 2 - God also underlines Noah’s dominion over the creatures.

  • v. 3 - some take the clarification regarding the eating of meat to mean that previous to this man was vegetarian. That may be the case. 

  • v. 4 - God puts a fence around the blood to help communicate matters of doctrinal significance regarding salvation only by the blood of Christ. 

  • v. 5–6 - man’s dominion does not give him the right to take the life of other people, because all men still bear the image of God, making them distinct from the animals. This command gives the first indication of the need for the civil magistrate to reward the good and punish the evil. Christ’s rule over the nations is ordered by deacons in church and state. Capital punishment is not to be taken lightly, but it is a biblical position.

  • vv. 8–17 - God communicates His covenant. It is a gracious covenant, indicating that no matter what man does, God will never again exact judgment upon the world by means of a flood. The flood brought rain as a new experience for man, but no matter how hard it rains in the future, it will never come as a form of global judgment. Also, a gracious sign will often follow to remind man that God keeps His Word. The grounds of this covenant is Christ, for He is the only reason judgment is circumvented. The world escapes complete judgment until Christ gathers in all the elect. 

  • v. 21 - did Noah understand the dangers of wine? Probably. The Bible is not slow to warn of the dangers of alcohol. The first use of it comes not with a note of celebration, but warning. Many today like to mock those who avoid social drinking. Be extremely cautious of such attitudes. Satan loves to decorate the door that leads to our destruction. 

  • v. 22 - another challenging passage. How did Ham sin against his father? Is it disrespect and a breech of the fifth commandment? Is it an immoral act on his father? Or is it an immoral act on Noah’s wife? And is the curse on Canaan because he is the product of the sin? (see Lev. 18:6-8; 20:11), where sin with your father’s wife is uncovering the nakedness of your father.

  • v. 26 - reveals a prophecy centuries years before its fulfillment (Josh 1:28).

  • v. 27 - the language that God will dwell in the tents of Shem is a Messianic prophecy, pointing to the day when God would take humanity as His way of tabernacling among men.


  1. God shows His covenant faithfulness through Word and covenant signs. He still does this, which is why we never conduct baptism or the Lord’s Supper without the Word first being preached. Children, learn to thank God when you see the signs God has given; whether it is the rainbow, the Lord’s Supper, or baptism.

  2. To be fruitful and multiply does not allow for purposely not having children. In addition, it does not mean you must have as many children as possible. Although God sometimes has other plans, two or three years rest for the woman between children is preferable and wise stewardship of a woman’s body.

  3. Children, we must respect all people because they are made in the image of God. But just because creatures are not made in the image of God, does not mean we should be cruel to them. You must learn gentleness towards flowers, plants, and creatures unless there is a good reason to kill them. This is good stewardship.

  4. Also children, see how Shem and Japheth do not engage in the sin of their sibling. Do not follow anyone into their sin. 

  5. Young people, Noah’s planting of a vineyard indicates the importance of a non-nomadic lifestyle. Avoid the temptation to travel and move around in search of the ultimate employment and enjoyment. Jobs and money are relatively easy compared to a multi-generational community. As someone who has made the sacrifice at the call of God, I only recommend setting up home away from family if you know to do otherwise would be to disobey God.

  6. Parents, note how alcohol opens up an opportunity for sin in the family. Be wise. The Bible speaks positively of wine in terms of oblation, medication, salvation, and commemoration. But limits it in leadership, worship, and discipleship. When you bring it all together in the context of our own day, avoidance is not an unreasonable position.

  7. Finally, when the storms of life prevail, remember that there is a bow of grace in the sky that promises that the storms will not ultimately overtake you or destroy you.

Armen Thomassian