(Calvin, Genesis 1. part 12)

are conversant. For public custom is as a violent tempest; both because
we easily suffer ourselves to be led hither and thither by the multitude,
and because every one thinks what is commonly received must be right and
lawful; just as swine contract an itching from each other; nor is there
any contagion worse, and more loathsome than that of evil examples. Hence
we ought the more diligently to notice the brief description of a holy
life, contained in the words, "Enoch walked with God." Let those, then,
who please, glory in living according to the custom of others; yet the
Spirit of God has established a rule of living well and rightly, by which
we depart from the examples of men who do not form their life and manners
according to the law of God. For he who, pouring contempt upon the word
of God, yields himself up to the imitation of the world, must be regarded
as living to the devil. Moreover, (as I have just now hinted,) all the
rest of the patriarchs are not deprived of the praise of righteousness;
but a remarkable example is set before us in the person of one man, who
stood firmly in the season of most dreadful dissipation; in order that,
if we wish to live rightly and orderly, we may learn to regard God more
than men. For the language which Moses uses is of the same force as if he
had said, that Enoch, lest he should be drawn aside by the corruptions of
men, had respect to God alone; so that with a pure conscience, as under
his eyes, he might cultivate uprightness.

24. "And he was not, for God took him." He must be shamelessly
contentious, who will not acknowledge that something extraordinary is
here pointed out. All are, indeed, taken out of the world by death; but
Moses plainly declares that Epoch was taken out of the world by an
unusual mode, and was received by the Lord in a miraculous manner. For
"lakach" among the Hebrews signifies 'to take to one's self,' as well as
simply to take. But, without insisting on the word, it suffices to hold
fast the thing itself; namely, that Enoch, in the middle period of life,
suddenly, and in an unexampled method, vanished from the sight of men,
because the Lord took him away, as we read was also done with respect to
Elijah. Since, in the translation of Enoch, an example of immortality was
exhibited; there is no doubt that Gad designed to elevate the minds of
his saints with certain faith before their death; and to mitigate, by
this consolation, the dread which they might entertain of death, seeing
they would know that a better life was elsewhere laid up for them. It is,
however, remarkable that Adam himself was deprived of this support of
faith and of comfort. For since that terrible judgment of God, 'Thou
shalt die the death,' was constantly sounding in his ears, he very
greatly needed some solace, in order that he might in death have
something else to reflect upon than curse and destruction. But it was not
till about fifty years after his death, that the translation of Epoch
took place, which was to be as a visible representation of a blessed
resurrection; by which, if Adam had been enlightened, he might have
girded himself with equanimity for his own departure. Yet, since the
Lord, in inflicting punishment, had moderated its rigour, and since Adam
himself had heard from his own mouth, what was sufficient to afford him
no slight alleviation; contented with this kind of remedy, it became his
duty patiently to bear, both the continual cross in this world, and also
the bitter and sorrowful termination of his life. But whereas others were
not taught in the same manner by a manifest oracle to hope for victory
over the serpent, there was, in the translation of Enoch, an instruction
for all the godly, that they should not keep their hope confined within
the boundaries of this mortal life. For Moses shows that this translation
was a proof of the Divine love towards Enoch, by connecting it
immediately with his pious and upright life. Nevertheless, to be deprived
of life is not in itself desirable. It follows, therefore, that he was
taken to a better abode; and that even when he was a sojourner in the
world, he was received into a heavenly country; as the Apostle, in the
Epistle to the Hebrews, (11: 5,) plainly teaches. Moreover, if it be
inquired, why Enoch was translated, and what is his present condition; I
answer, that his transition was by a peculiar privilege, such as that of
other men would have been, if they had remained in their first state. For
although it was necessary for him to put off what was corruptible; yet
was he exempt from that violent separation, from which nature shrinks. In
short, his translation was a placid and joyful departure out of the
world. Yet he was not received into celestial glory, but only freed from
the miseries of the present life, until Christ should come, the
first-fruits of those who shall rise again. And since he was one of the
members of the Church, it was necessary that he should wait until they
all shall go forth together, to meet Christ, that the whole body may be
united to its Head. Should any one bring as an objection the saying of
the Apostle, 'It is appointed unto all men once to die,' (Heb. 9: 27,)
the solution is easy, namely, that death is not always the separation of
the soul from the body; but they are said to die, who put off their
corruptible nature: and such will be the death of those who will be found
surviving at the last day.

29. "And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us
concerning our work." In the Hebrew languages the etymology of the verb
"nacham" does not correspond with the noun "noach", unless we call the
letter "mem" superfluous; as sometimes, in composition, certain letters
are redundant. "Noach" signifies to give rest, but "nacham" to comfort.
The name Noah is derived from the former verb. Wherefore, there is either
the transmutation of one letter into another, or only a bare allusion,
when Lamech says, "This same shall comfort us concerning our work." But
as to the point in hand, there is no doubt that he promises to himself an
alleviation, or solace, of his labours. But it is asked, whence he had
conceived such hope from a son whose disposition he could not yet have
discerned. The Jews do not judge erroneously in declaring Lamech's
expression to be a prophecy; but they are too gross in restricting to
agriculture what is applicable to all those miseries of human life which
proceed from the curse of God, and are the fruits of sin. I come, indeed,
to this conclusion; that the holy fathers anxiously sighed, when, being
surrounded with so many evils they were continually reminded of the first
origin of all evils, and regarded themselves as under the displeasure of
God. Therefore in the expression, "the toil of our hands," there is the
figure synecdoche; because under one kind of toil he comprises the whole
miserable state into which mankind had fallen. For they undoubtedly
remembered what Moses has related above, concerning the labourious, sad,
and anxious life to which Adam had been doomed: and since the wickedness
of man was daily increasing, no mitigation of the penalty could be hoped
for, unless the Lord should bring unexpected succour. It is probable that
they were very earnestly looking for the mercy of God; for their faith
was strong, and necessity urged them ardently to desire help. But that
the name was not rashly given to Noah, we may infer hence, that Moses
expressly notes it as a thing worthy to be remembered. Certainly some
meaning was couched under the names of other patriarchs; yet he passes by
the reason why they were so called, and only insists upon this name of
Noah. Therefore the contentious reader is not to be allowed hence to
pronounce a judgment, that there was something peculiar in Noah, which
did not suit others before him. I have, then, no doubt that Lamech hoped
for something rare and unwonted from his son; and that, too, by the
inspiration of the Spirit. Some suppose him to have been deceived,
inasmuch as he believed that Noah was the Christ; but they adduce no
rational conjecture in support of the opinion. It is more probable, that,
seeing something great was promised concerning his son, he did not
refrain from mixing his own imagination with the oracle; as holy men are
also sometimes wont to exceed the measure of revelation, and thus it
comes to pass, that they neither touch heaven nor earth.

32. "And Noah was five hundred years old." Concerning the fathers whom
Moses has hitherto enumerated, it is not easy to conjecture whether each
of them was the first born of his family or not; for he only wished to
follow the continued succession of the Church. But God, to prevent men
from being elated by a vain confidence in the flesh, frequently chooses
for himself those who are posterior in the order of nature. I am,
therefore, uncertain whether Moses has recorded the catalogue of those
whom God preferred to others; or of those who, by right of primogeniture,
held the chief rank among their brethren; I am also uncertain how many
sons each had. With respect to Noah, it plainly appears that he had no
more than three sons; and this Moses purposely declares the more
frequently, that we may know that the whole of his family was preserved.
But they, in my opinion, err, who think that in this place the chastity
of Noah is proclaimed, because he led a single life through nearly five
centuries. For it is not said that he was unmarried till that time; nor
even in what year of his life he had begun to be a father. But, in simply
mentioning the time in which he was warned of the future deluge, Moses
also adds, that at the sane time, or thereabouts, he was the father of
three sons; not that he already had them, but because they were born not
long afterwards. That he had, indeed, survived his five hundredth year
before Shem was born, will be evident from the eleventh chapter;
concerning the other two nothing is known with certainty, except that
Japheth was the younger. It is wonderful that from the time when he had
received the dreadful message respecting the destruction of the human
race, he was not prevented, by the greatness of his grief, from
intercourse with his wife; but it was necessary that some remains should
survive, because this family was destined for the restoration of the
second world. Although we do not read at what time his sons took wives, I
yet think it was done long before the deluge; but they were unfruitful by
the providence of God, who had determined to preserve only eight souls.

Chapter VI.

1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the
earth, and daughters were born unto them,
2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they [were] fair;
and they took them wives of all which they chose.
3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that
he also [is] flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when
the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare
[children] to them, the same [became] mighty men which [were] of old, men
of renown.
5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and
[that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil
6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it
grieved him at his heart.
7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face
of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls
of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
9 These [are] the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man [and] perfect
in his generations, [and] Noah walked with God.
10 And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with
12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all
flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for
the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will
destroy them with the earth.
14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and
shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.
15 And this [is the fashion] which thou shalt make it [of]: The length of
the ark [shall be] three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits,
and the height of it thirty cubits.
16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish
it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof;
[with] lower, second, and third [stories] shalt thou make it.
17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to
destroy all flesh, wherein [is] the breath of life, from under heaven;
[and] every thing that [is] in the earth shall die.
18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into
the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.
19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every [sort] shalt thou
bring into the ark, to keep [them] alive with thee; they shall be male
and female.
20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every
creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every [sort] shall
come unto thee, to keep [them] alive.
21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt
gather [it] to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.
22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

1. "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply." Moses, having
enumerated in order, ten patriarchs, with whom the worship of God
remained pure, now relates, that their families also were corrupted. But
this narration must be traced to an earlier period than the five
hundredth year of Noah. For, in order to make a transition to the history
of the deluge, he prefaces it by declaring the whole world to have been
so corrupt, that scarcely anything was left to God, out of the widely
spread defection. That this may be the more apparent, the principle is to
be kept in memory, that the world was then as if divided into two parts;
because the family of Seth cherished the pure and lawful worship of Good,
from which the rest had fallen. Now, although all mankind had been formed
for the worship of God, and therefore sincere religion ought everywhere
to have reigned; yet since the greater part had prostituted itself,
either to an entire contempt of God, or to depraved superstitions; it was
fitting that the small portion which God had adopted, by special
privilege, to himself, should remain separate from others. It was,
therefore, base ingratitude in the posterity of Seth, to mingle
themselves with the children of Cain, and with other profane races;
because they voluntarily deprived themselves of the inestimable grace of
God. For it was an intolerable profanation, to pervert, and to confound,
the order appointed by God. It seems at first sight frivolous, that the
sons of God should be so severely condemned, for having chosen for
themselves beautiful wives from the daughters of men. But we must know
first, that it is not a light crime to violate a distinction established
by the Lord; secondly, that for the worshippers of God to be separated
from profane nations, was a sacred appointment which ought reverently to
have been observed, in order that a Church of God might exist upon earth;
thirdly, that the disease was desperate, seeing that men rejected the
remedy divinely prescribed for them. In short, Moses points it out as the
most extreme disorder; when the sons of the pious, whom God had separated
to himself from others, as a peculiar and hidden treasure, became
  That ancient figment, concerning the intercourse of angels with women,
is abundantly refuted by its own absurdity; and it is surprising that
learned men should formerly have been fascinated by ravings so gross and
prodigious. The opinion also of the Chaldean paraphrase is frigid;
namely, that promiscuous marriages between the sons of nobles, and the
daughters of plebeians, is condemned. Moses, then, does not distinguish
the sons of God from the daughters of men, because they were of
dissimilar nature, or of different origin; but because they were the sons
of God by adoption, whom he had set apart for himself; while the rest
remained in their original condition. Should any one object, that they
who had shamefully departed from the faith, and the obedience which God
required, were unworthy to be accounted the sons of God; the answer is
easy, that the honour is not ascribed to them, but to the grace of God,
which had hitherto been conspicuous in their families. For when Scripture
speaks of the sons of God, sometimes it has respect to eternal election,
which extends only to the lawful heirs; sometimes to external vocations
according to which many wolves are within the fold; and thought in fact,
they are strangers, yet they obtain the name of sons, until the Lord
shall disown them. Yea, even by giving them a title so honorable, Moses
reproves their ingratitude, because, leaving their heavenly Father, they
prostituted themselves as deserters.

2. "That they were fair." Moses does not deem it worthy of condemnation
that regard was had to beauty, in the choice of wives; but that mere lust
reigned. For marriage is a thing too sacred to allow that men should be
induced to it by the lust of the eyes! For this union is inseparable
comprising all the parts of life; as we have before seen, that the woman
was created to be a helper of the man. Therefore our appetite becomes
brutal, when we are so ravished with the charms of beauty, that those
things which are chief are not taken into the account. Moses more clearly
describes the violent impetuosity of their lust, when he says, that "they
took wives of all that they chose;" by which he signifies, that the sons
of God did not make their choice from those possessed of necessary
endowments, but wandered without discrimination, rushing onward according
to their lust. We are taught, however, in these words, that temperance is
to be used in holy wedlock, and that its profanation is no light crime
before God. For it is not fornication which is here condemned in the sons
of the saints, but the too great indulgence of license in choosing
themselves wives. And truly, it is impossible but that, in the succession
of time, the sons of God should degenerate when they thus bound
themselves in the same yoke with unbelievers. And this was the extreme
policy of Balaam; that, when the power of cursing was taken from him, he
commanded women to be privily sent by the Midianites, who might seduce
the people of God to impious defection. Thus, as in the sons of the
patriarchs, of whom Moses now treats, the forgetfulness of that grace
which had been divinely imparted to them was, in itself, a grievous evil,
inasmuch as they formed illicit marriages after their own host; a still
worse addition was made, when, by mingling themselves with the wicked,
they profaned the worship of God, and fell away from the faith; a
corruption which is almost always wont to follow the former.

3. "My Spirit shall not always strive." Although Moses had before shown
that the world had proceeded to such a degree of wickedness and impiety,
as ought not any longer to be borne; yet in order to prove more
certainly, that the vengeance by which the whole world was drowned, was
not less just than severe, he introduces God himself as the speaker. For
there is greater weight in the declaration when pronounced by God's own
mouth, that the wickedness of men was too deplorable to leave any
apparent hope of remedy, and that therefore there was no reason why he
should spare them. Moreover, since this would be a terrible example of
divine anger, at the bare hearing of which we are even now afraid, it was
necessary to be declared, that God had not been impelled by the heat of
his anger into precipitation, nor had been more severe than was right;
but was almost compelled, by necessity, utterly to destroy the whole
world, except one single family. For men commonly do not refrain from
accusing God of excessive haste; nay, they will even deem him cruel for
taking vengeance of the sins of men. Therefore, that no man may murmur,
Moses here, in the person of God, pronounces the depravity of the world
to have been intolerable, and obstinately incurable by any remedy. This
passage, however, is variously expounded. In the first place, some of the
Hebrews derive the word which Moses uses from the root "nadan" which
signifies a scabbard. And hence they elicit the meaning that God was
unwilling for his Spirit to be any longer held captive in a human body,
as if enclosed like a sword in the scabbard. But because the exposition
is distorted, and savours of the delirium of the Manichees, as if the
soul of man were a portion of the Divine Spirit, it is by us to be
rejected. Even among the Jews, it is a more commonly received opinion,
that the word in question is from the root "doon". But since it often
means to judge, and sometimes to litigate, hence also arise different
interpretations. For some explain the passage to mean, that God will no
longer deign to govern men by his Spirit; because the Spirit of God acts
the part of a judge within us, when he so enlightens us with reason that
we pursue what is right. Luther, according to his custom, applies the
term to the external jurisdiction which God exercises by the ministry of
the prophets, as if some one of the patriarchs had said in an assembly,
'We must cease from crying aloud; because it is an unbecoming thing that
the Spirit of God, who speaks through us, should any longer weary himself
in reproving the world.' This is indeed ingeniously spoken; but because
we must not seek the sense of Scripture in uncertain conjectures, I
interpret the words simply to mean, that the Lord, as if wearied with the
obstinate perverseness of the world, denounces that vengeance as present,
which he had hitherto deferred. For as long as the Lord suspends
punishment, he, in a certain sense, strives with men, especially if
either by threats or by examples of gentle chastisement, he invites them
to repentance. In this way he had striven already, some centuries, with
the world, which, nevertheless, was perpetually becoming worse. And now,
as if wearied out, he declares that he has no mind to contend any longer.
For when God, by inviting the unbelievers to repentance, had long striven
with them; the deluge put an end to the controversy. However, I do not
entirely reject the opinion of Luther that God, having seen the
deplorable wickedness of men, would not allow his prophets to spend their
labour in vain. But the general declaration is not to be restricted to
that particular case. When the Lord says, 'I will not contend for ever,'
he utters his censure on an excessive and incurable obstinacy; and, at
the same time, gives proof of the divine longsuffering: as if he would
say, There will never be an end of contentions unless some unprecedented
act of vengeance cuts off the occasion of it. The Greek interpreters,
deceived by the similitude of one letter to another have improperly read,
'shall not remain:' which has commonly been explained, as if men were
then deprived of a sound and correct judgment; but this has nothing to do
with the present passage.
  "For that he also is flesh." The reason is added why there is no
advantage to be expected from further contention. The Lord here seems to
place his Spirit in opposition to the carnal nature of men. In which
method, Paul declares that the 'natural man does not receive those things
which belong to the Spirit, and that they are foolishness unto him,' (1
Cor. 2: 14.) The meaning of the passage therefore is, that it is in vain
for the Spirit of God to dispute with the flesh, which is incapable of
reason. God gives the name of flesh as a mark of ignominy to men, whom
he, nevertheless, had formed in his own image. And this is a mode of
speaking familiar to Scripture. They who restrict this appellation to the
inferior part of the soul are greatly deceived. For since the soul of man
is vitiated in every part, and the reason of man is not less blind than
his affections are perverse, the whole is properly called carnal.
Therefore, let us know, that the whole man is naturally flesh, until by
the grace of regeneration he begins to be spiritual. Now, as it regards
the words of Moses, there is no doubt that they contain a grievous
complaint together with a reproof on the part of God. Man ought to have
excelled all other creatures, on account of the mind with which he was
endued; but now, alienated from right reason, he is almost like the
cattle of the field. Therefore God inveighs against the degenerate and
corrupt nature of men; because, by their own fault, they are fallen to
that degree of fatuity, that now they approach more nearly to beasts than
to true men, such as they ought to be, in consequence of their creation.
He intimates, however, this to be an adventitious fault, that man has a
relish only for the earth, and that, the light of intelligence being
extinct, he follows his own desires. I wonder that the emphasis contained
in the particle "beshagam" has been overlooked by commentators; for the
words mean, 'on this account, because he also is flesh.' In which
language God complains, that the order appointed by him has been so
greatly disturbed, that his own image has been transformed into flesh.
  "Yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." Certain writers
of antiquity, such as Lactantius, and others, have too grossly blundered
in thinking that the term of human life was limited within this space of
time; whereas, it is evident, that the language used in this place refers
not to the private life of any one, but to a time of repentance to be
granted to the whole world. Moreover, here also the admirable benignity
of God is apparent, in that he, though wearied with the wickedness of
men, yet postpones the execution of extreme vengeance for more than a
century. But here arises an apparent discrepancy. For Noah departed this
life when he had completed nine hundred and fifty years. It is however
said that he lived from the time of the deluge three hundred and fifty
years. Therefore, on the day he entered the ark he was six hundred years
old. Where then will the twenty years be found? The Jews answer, that
these years were cut off in consequence of the increasing wickedness of
men. But there is no need of that subterfuge; when the Scripture speaks
of the five hundredth year of his age, it does not affirm, that he had
actually reached that point. And this mode of speaking, which takes into
account the beginning of a period, as well as its end, is very common.
Therefore, inasmuch as the greater part of the fifth century of his life
was passed, so that he was nearly five hundred years old, he is said to
have been of that age.

4. "There were giants in the earth." Among the innumerable kinds of
corruptions with which the earth was filled, Moses especially records one
in this place; namely that giants practiced great violence and tyranny. I
do not, however, suppose, that he speaks of all the men of this age; but
of certain individuals, who, being stronger than the rest, and relying on
their own might and power, exalted themselves unlawfully, and without
measure. As to the Hebrew noun,
"nefilim", its origin is known to be from the verb "naphal", which is to
fall; but grammarians do not agree concerning its etymology. Some think
that they were so called because they exceeded the common stature;
others, because the countenance of men fell at the sight of them, on
account of the enormous size of their body; or, because all fell
prostrate through terror of their magnitude. To me there seems more truth
in the opinion of those who say, that a similitude is taken from a
torrent, or an impetuous tempest; for as a storm and torrent, violently
falling, lays waste and destroys the fields, so these robbers brought
destruction and desolation into the world. Moses does not indeed say,
that they were of extraordinary stature, but only that they were robust.
Elsewhere, I acknowledge, the same word denotes vastness of stature,
which was formidable to those who explored the land of Canaan, (Num. 13:
33.) But Moses does not distinguish those of whom he speaks in this
place, from other men, so much by the size of their bodies, as by their
robberies and their lust of dominion. In the context, the particle
"wegam", which is interposed, is emphatical. Jerome, after whom certain
other interpreters have blundered, has rendered this passage in the worst
possible manner. For it is literally rendered thus, 'And even after the
sons of God had gone in to the daughters of men;' as if he had said,
Moreover, or, 'And at this time.' For in the first place, Moses relates
that there were giants; then he subjoins, that there were also others
from among that promiscuous offspring, which was produced when the sons
of God mingled themselves with the daughters of men. It would not have
been wonderful if such outrage had prevailed among the posterity of Cain;
but the universal pollution is more clearly evident from this, that the
holy seed was defiled by the same corruption. That a contagion so great
should have spread through the few families which ought to have
constituted the sanctuary of God, is no slight aggravation of the evil.
The giants, then, had a prior origin; but afterwards those who were born
of promiscuous marriages imitated their example.
  "The same became mighty men which were of old." The word 'age' is
commonly understood to mean antiquity: as if Moses had said, that they
who first exercised tyranny or power in the world, together with an
excessive licentiousness and an unbridled lust of dominion, had begun
from this race. Yet there are those who expound the expression, 'from the
age,' to mean, in the presence of the world: for the Hebrew word "olam",
has also this signification. Some think that this was spoken
proverbially; because the age immediately posterior to the deluge had
produced none like them. The first exposition is the more simple; the sum
of the whole, however, is, that they were ferocious tyrants, who
separated themselves from the common rank. Their first fault was pride;
because, relying on their own strength, they arrogated to themselves more
than was due. Pride produced contempt of God, because, being inflated by
arrogance, they began to shake off every yoke. At the same time, they
were also disdainful and cruel towards men; because it is not possible
that they, who would not bear to yield obedience to God, should have
acted with moderation towards men. Moses adds they were "men of renown;"
by which he intimates that they boasted of their wickedness, and were
what are called, honorable robbers. Nor is it to be doubted, that they
had something more excellent than the common people, which procured for
them favour and glory in the world. Nevertheless, under the magnificent
title of heroes, they cruelly exercised dominion, and acquired power and
fame for themselves, by injuring and oppressing their brethren. And this
was the first nobility of the world. Lest any one should too greatly
delight himself in a long and dingy line of ancestry; this, I repeat, was
the nobility, which raised itself on high, by pouring contempt and
disgrace on others. Celebrity of name is not in itself condemned; since
it is necessary that they whom the Lord has adorned with peculiar gifts
should be preeminent among others; and it is advantageous that there
should be distinction of ranks in the world. But as ambition is always
vicious and more especially so when joined with a tyrannical ferocity,
which causes the more powerful to insult the weak, the evil becomes
intolerable. It is, however, much worse, when wicked men gain honour by
their crimes; and when, the more audacious any one is in doing injury,
the more insolently he boasts of the empty smoke of titles. Moreover, as
Satan is an ingenious contriver of falsehoods, by which he would corrupt
the truth of God, and in this manner render it suspected, the poets have
invented many fables concerning the giants; who are called by them the
sons of the Earth, for this reason, as it appears to me, because they
rushed forward to acquire dominions without any example of their

5. "And God saw that tee wickedness of man was great." Moses prosecutes
the subject to which he had just alluded, that God was neither too harsh,
nor precipitate in exacting punishment from the wicked men of the world.
And he introduces God as speaking after the manner of men, by a figure
which ascribes human affections to God; because he could not otherwise
express what was very important to be known; namely, that God was not
induced hastily, or for a slight cause, to destroy the world. For by the
word "saw", he indicates long continued patience; as if he would say,
that God had not proclaimed his sentence to destroy men, until after
having well observed, and long considered, their case, he saw them to be
past recovery. Also, what follows has not a little emphasis, that 'their
wickedness was great in the earth.' He might have pardoned sins of a less
aggravated character: if in one part only of the world impiety had
reigned, other regions might have remained free from punishment. But now,
when iniquity has reached its highest point, and so pervaded the whole
earth, that integrity possesses no longer a single corner; it follows,
that the time for punishment is more than fully arrived. A prodigious
wickedness, then, everywhere reigned, so that the whole earth was covered
with it. Whence we perceive that it was not overwhelmed with a deluge of
waters till it had first been immersed in the pollution of wickedness.
  "Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart." Moses has traced the
cause of the deluge to external acts of iniquity, he now ascends higher,
and declares that men were not only perverse by habit, and by the custom
of evil living; but that wickedness was too deeply seated in their
hearts, to leave any hope of repentance. He certainly could not have more
forcibly asserted that the depravity was such as no moderate remedy might
cure. It may indeed happen, that men will sometimes plunge themselves
into sin, while yet something of a sound mind will remain; but Moses
teaches us, that the mind of those, concerning whom he speaks, was so

(continued in part 13...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-01/cvgn1-12.txt