Whoever Sheds Human Blood,

by Humans Shall Their Blood Be Shed

9: 1-7

DIG: This is the second covenant that God entered into with Noah and his heirs. Why does God repeat for Noah much of what He told Adam? What new instructions does he add? How is this covenant different than the previous one (6:13 to 7:5)?

REFLECT: Have you ever been through a difficult time and felt like it was time to get on with your life? I am sure that is how Noah and his family felt. Do you believe that Elohim is concerned about every aspect of your life? Do you believe that every activity, except sin, can be done for God’s pleasure if you do it with an attitude of praise? Why or why not?

For over a year God had been silent. But now He blessed Noah and his sons (9:1a). The name Elohimis used here, because He is the God of creation. YHVH uses much of the same language that He did with Adam as the provisions of the covenant are given. There were five aspects to this covenant.

First: Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth (9:1b). This section begins and ends with this same word for word phrase. There are several interesting parallels between Noah and Adam. Because Noah is the new Adam, so once again the earth is to be filled with humanity. Like Adam, Noah stands as the representative head of the human race. This is a reaffirmation of the covenant with Adam after God had created Adam and Eve. He said: Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth (1:28). Adam would have children, but at this point the provision to be fruitful and increase in number will be fulfilled by Noah’s three sons.

Secondly, there is now the fear of man in the animal kingdom. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that move along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea (9:2a). This was necessary to some degree because the animals, fish and birds became food for man. So God creates a fear of mankind in the animal kingdom, so sensing mankind, the animal could flee and live. God said: they are given into your hands (9:2b). Thus, mankind retained his authority over the animal kingdom, much to the chagrin of PETA. But the command to subdue the earth is not repeated here as it is in 1:28 because the authority now belongs to Satan. When man fell, the Adversary usurped his authority.

Thirdly, there was to be a change in the human diet. Until now mankind was strictly vegetarian and animals were raised for clothing, dairy products and sacrifices. But now God said: Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything (9:3). There are no limits; all animals may now be eaten. If it moves, man could eat it. But with this permission, there was one restriction.

Fourthly, there was to be no eating of blood. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it, meaning the blood should be drained out before eating (9:4). This principle would be incorporated into the Torah. For the life of the creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life (Leviticus 17:11; also see Deuteronomy 12:15-16 and 20-24). The life of an animal, spilled on the sacrificial altar, was accepted by God as a substitutionary death for the life of a guilty sinner, who deserved to die but who was permitted to live because of the sacrifice, whose blood covered his sins. The blood of animals could only figuratively cover sins, of course. The reality represented by the figure was the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:26).160

Fifthly, capital punishment was established as a result of the anarchy that had developed before the Flood (9:5-6). And I will require the blood of anyone who takes another person’s life. If a wild animal kills a person, it must die (9:5 NLT). But the sanctity of blood is now taken a step further. Lest anyone believes that God held life as being cheap and that the taking of a life was a small matter as a result of the Flood’s destruction, God’s covenant with Noah shows that life is sacred and that people should not kill each other. This verse does not imply premeditation. As far as the Bible is concerned, it does not matter. Whether it was premeditated, or in a moment of passion, the Bible says thatanyone who murders a fellow human must die (9:6a NLT). Or as the NASB translates it: Whoever sheds human bold by human blood their blood be shed. The Hebrew word for sheds is shaphak, and is used here for the first time in the Bible. It is often translated pour out, poured out or pouring out. It is frequently used of the pouring out of God’s wrath (Psalm 69:24), but it can also be used of the pouring out of the Ruach (Joel 2:28). It is used many times to refer to the pouring out of the blood of animals at the bronze altar of the Tabernacle (Leviticus 4:30). It is the same word used by Christ on the cross, when He cried out: I AM poured out like water and all My bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within Me (Psalm 22:14).

The power to carry out this judgment of Elohim on a murderer (and other laws governing those human activities that, if left unregulated, could lead to murder) was, therefore, delegated to mankind (see my commentary on Exodus Dp – You Shall Not Murder). This sets the stage for the Dispensation of Civil, or human, Government. Under God’s covenant with Noah, the death penalty was mandatory for the crime of murder. The purpose was and is not to deter crime, or not to reform anyone, but to punish the murderer. People today get distracted in the debate of rehabilitation. Does prison rehabilitate the murderer? Here, God says that is not the issue. And why is there retribution for the shedding of human blood? For God made human beings in His own image (9:6b NLT).

This verse not only stresses the sanctity of human life, but also reminds us of Jesus, who was most perfectly pictured in the image of God. The innocent blood of the Suffering Servant would be poured out as He made His life a guilt offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10).

But why doesn’t Elohim punish murderers Himself? Why delegate such an important job to an imperfect system run by imperfect people? We can be sure that when God does something like this, it is for our benefit. The LORD knows that we will take a far greater interest in maintaining justice and enforcing the laws if we have total responsibility for the system. Someone who owns their own business has greater buy-in than someone who simply works for a large firm. And as far as God is concerned, every great teacher knows the value of delegating responsibility. Even if the teacher can do something better than the student, it is important for the student to do things so they can learn. In other words, Elohim wants us to learn the value and skills of justice. He is a hands-on Mentor, but responsibility has been given to us and we are free to succeed or fail.161

Then we have a reaffirmation of the first provision as repeated in the first verse of this section. As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it (9:7). In the Hebrew this is clearly the use of alliteration.But the command to subdue the earth is not repeated here as it is in 1:28 because the authority now belongs to the evil one. When Adam fell, the great dragon usurped his authority. Therefore, man retains authority over the animal kingdom but not over the earth. Jesus calls the Adversary, “The prince of this world” (John 12:31); Rabbi Saul calls him: The god of this age (Second Corinthians 4:4), while Luke and John tell us that the Destroyer of souls has authority over the kingdoms of the world (Luke 4:5-6; First John 5:19).

In essence, then, this covenant was established to ensure the stability of nature. It helped to guarantee the order of the world. People would also learn that civil, or human, law was necessary for the stability of life and that wickedness should not go unpunished as it had before. So civil, or human, government was brought in.162

 

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