Genesis 9: The Promise of the Rainbow

Genesis 9: The Promise of the Rainbow

The plan is simple.

  • Read through the Bible from beginning to end, one chapter a day.
  • Restate 5 things you learned (that you previously didn't know).
  • Ask 5 questions about the chapter that you'll ponder all week.
  • As the Holy Spirit gives you wisdom and insight, ACT ON IT.  

Genesis 9:1-29

Insight 1: The command to be “fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (v.1) is a reiteration of Genesis 1:28, and is later repeated in verse 7. God blesses marriage and reproduction in marriage; there’s a strong basis here for confidently asking God (in prayer) for the blessing of the fruit of the womb (for couples struggling to conceive).

A PRAYER FOR HUSBANDS + WIVES STRUGGLING TO HAVE CHILDREN: “Lord God, from the very beginning, you blessed man and repeatedly commanded him and his wife to be fruitful, to multiply, and to fill the earth. My wife and I desire to build a family, but we have struggled with conception. So, I ask in the name of Jesus Christ that you would touch my wife’s womb and cause everything in me to function properly so that 9 months from today, we would experience the blessing of our own child. Grant us the blessing of being “fruitful” and bless us so that our family may experience “multiplication.” I ask this of you, Father, in Jesus name. Amen.”

Insight 2: The relational dynamics between man and animal takes a drastic violent?) turn. These animas walked into the ark as friends of man (because man was only permitted to eat “every green plant”), upon exit, however, they’re terrified of man because each one is now a potential meal – “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” Genesis 9:3

Insight 3: Mankind experienced the judgment of the flood because “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight…and was filled with violence.” Assuming that the “violence” referenced there in Genesis 6:11 was the deliberate and unlawful killing of persons (homicide), then it makes sense that the first law God would put in place would be one protecting human life (v.5-6). It’s interesting that this law is given right after the instruction that animal life may now be taken (v.3-4). Perhaps God knew that once man gets a taste of the hunt for animal, it’s then merely a stone throw away from wanting to take human life.

Insight 4: A strong case is made here for the argument that human life has more worth and value than animal life. In verse 3-4, Noah and sons are told they may take animal life for food (but not to eat its blood). The spilling of human blood, however, will be avenged by God (through fellow man), because man is an image bearer of God – v.6. Hence, to murder another human being is to murder what is most like God, thereby an attack on God Himself. Whether in this life or the next, God will “require a reckoning” from every man or beast that took a human’s life.

Insight 5: The rainbow is a sign of a covenant, the VERY FIRST covenant between God and man (and beast). It was an ALL IMPORTANT symbol to Noah and his family because of the conditions the earth would have been in when they stepped off the ark. The ecology of the post-flood world Noah and his family stepped into was a one unfamiliar to them, not to mention the fact that the flood would have transported them faraway from the area they had known as home. Furthermore, weather patterns would now be chaotic because waves in jetstreams (stream of air surrounding the globe) would need time to be stabilized and ocean currents would have to once again find their rhythm. If the “fountains of the deep” were opened, then that may have meant that underwater volcanoes were also triggered, thereby heating the waters (which would take a few hundred years to cool down after the flood, which creates even more funky weather issues). So basically, the earth “broke”. Chances are, Noah did not step out of the ark into a sunny bright beautiful day like you and I experience when we come out of our house after a storm blows away. Noah stepped into a very volatile earth which may have included random earthquakes and several more stormy rainy days (hence the statement about rainbows). The point here is that Noah and his family were now in scary territory and must have wondered how in the world they were going to survive in a restless earth trying to find its equilibrium. They no doubt feared if it might even flood again (every time it started raining again). This then gives great meaning to the sign of the rainbow. It wasn’t just a promise that there would never be another flood to destroy the whole earth, it was a constant reminder (every time it rained in Noah’s day) that God was watching over them. It was a reminder to Noah that he was secure in God’s love and God’s protection even if the earth itself was still acting up. It was an encouraging reassurance by God, saying, “I gotchu, Noah! Don’t worry.” Interestingly, the only other times in scripture we see rainbows is in the throne room of God, encircling His throne (Ezekiel 1:28; Revelation 4:3 and 10:1), which in itself is a mind-blowing encouragement and reminder of just how close to Himself God keeps this promise to us.  (Resource: icr.org)

Insight 5b: Further insight into God’s mercy and covenant is the fact that Noah is now “a man of the soil” (v.20). In previous chapters, God had cursed the ground (twice) for both Cain and Adam, so that it wouldn’t produce fruit as easily as it once had, which probably explains why no one else up until this moment is described as being a farmer. The fact that Noah is now able to successfully plant and grow a vineyard is an indication that God is giving man a fresh start (though the curse still remains).

Insight 5c: Whatever Ham did in “seeing the nakedness” of his father must be worse than what is reported in the verse. For Noah to place so drastic a curse on Ham (v.25) suggests that he must have somehow dishonored his father in the act to the point that his bros are going, “Dude, that’s wrong and YOU CROSSED A LINE!” This then explains why they take a completely different approach to the point that they don’t even look at their father naked but instead walk backwards toward him to cover him. From there on, things go downhill between Canaan and the Israelites.

+ + +

Question 1: Why the sudden change in man/animal relationship? Why could man suddenly now take an animal’s life? Might this be because the vegetation on earth was completely devastated, hence these animals were the only source of food? So perhaps the taking of every kind of animal was not just about preservation of different species, but also practically about sustenance for the Noahs?

Question 2: Why must blood not be consumed? Aside of blood representing life (Leviticus 17:14 + John 6:53), blood justifies us, brings us redemption, and grants us peace with God (Romans 5:9, Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:20).

Question 3: If “…for lifeblood” God would now require a reckoning, even from “every beast” (v.5), does this mean that certain wild beasts were now a threat to humans? How would this reconcile with verse 2 where it says, “The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered.”

Question 4: The symbol of God’s covenant with Abraham was circumcision (Genesis 17). The symbol of God’s covenant with the Israelites was the Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-17). Why does God pick the symbol of the rainbow with Noah?

Question 5: Was this the first time Noah discovered the power of the fruit of the vine (wine), hence the overindulgence? Or was this a habit that had become addiction?

Question 5: If Canaan (son of Ham) is the one cursed, does this mean that Ham already had more children at this time? And if so, does this imply that Canaan also somehow participated in Ham’s sin? Or was the act Ham committed so repulsive that Noah put a curse on Ham’s household so that He (Ham) would suffer from his children the same shame Noah just suffered from his own child?


Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.