*Scripture verses covered in this section's commentary are noted in italics

Genesis 9:5-7 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Genesis 9:5
  • Genesis 9:6
  • Genesis 9:7

God makes a new rule that murder of another human being shall require their life. God also instructs for Noah to populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.

Violence and murder was a major factor in God’s judgment of the flood. God stated that the earth was filled with violence (Genesis 6:11). God says that all life belongs to him, so if someone murders another human being, God will require his life (a life for a life). Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, God sought to reaffirm the sanctity of human life.

God had put fear into the animals, but now He needed to put fear into the humans to murder another human, so they would not destroy each other. No other sin shows greater contempt for human life than homicide. God requires each person to account for his or her own actions, men cannot harm or kill another human being without giving an answer for it. God established moral authority for human government with this verse, granting that by man his blood shall be shed as the penalty to be paid. Man is now in charge of justice. It is now man’s job to prevent the earth from filling with violence, by using the threat of violence as a deterrent. Murder is killing someone created in God’s image. Killing a person who is made in the image of God is an offense to God himself.

In verse 6, God describes the crime, Whoever sheds man’s blood. Then to proclaim the penalty, those three words are reversed, his blood shall be shed. God’s justice was to be proportional: a measure for measure or an eye for an eye. The punishment should fit the crime, it should not be overly harsh. But in this case, the proper response is blood for blood. Who carries out this punishment? It is a human responsibility. God was seeking to correct the condition of “lawlessness” that existed prior to the flood (Genesis 6:11). A human being bears the stamp of the divine maker “in the image of God.” God delegates his significant authority to mankind, He set up capital punishment as protection for human life. He gives man the right to punish murderers. The moral authority for human government to pursue and maintain justice by use of coercive force derives from this grant from God.

Noah and his family were saved from the destruction of the flood by faith. In verse 7 we see a repetition of Genesis 9:1 stating for Noah and his family to populate the earth abundantly. And again they are admonished to be fruitful and multiply. God’s desire was that all humans have confidence in His mercy as they repopulated the earth.

Biblical Text

5 “Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man. 6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man. 7 “As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”

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