(Calvin, Genesis 1. part 16)

and draw the same vital breath; but it is no common privilege, that God
directs his word to us; whence we may learn with what paternal love he
pursues us. And here three distinct steps are to be traced. First, God,
as in a matter of present concern, makes a covenant with Noah and his
family, lest they should be afraid of a deluge for themselves. Secondly,
he transmits his covenant to posterity, not only that, as by continual
succession, the effect may reach to other ages; but that they who should
afterwards be born might also apprehend this testimony by faith, and
might conclude that the same thing which had been promised to the sons of
Noah, was promised unto them. Thirdly, he declares that he will be
propitious also to brute animals, so that the effect of the covenant
towards them, might be the preservation of their lives only, without
imparting to them sense and intelligence. Hence the ignorance of the
Anabaptists may be refuted, who deny that the covenant of God is common
to infants, because they are destitute of present faith. As if, truly,
when God promises salvation to a thousand generations, the fathers were
not intermediate parties between God and their children, whose office it
is to deliver to their children (so to speak) from hand to hand the
promise received from God. But as many as withdraw their life from this
protection of God (since the greater part of men either despise or
ridicule this divine covenant) deserve, by this single act of
ingratitude, to be immersed in eternal fire. For although this be an
earthly promise, yet God designs the faith of his people to be exercised,
in order that they may be assured that a certain abode will, by his
special goodness, be provided for them on earth, until they shall be
gathered together in heaven.

12. "This is the token of the covenant." A sign is added to the promise,
in which is exhibited the wonderful kindness of God; who, for the purpose
of confirming our faith in his word, does not disdain to use such helps.
And although we halve more fully discussed the use of signs in the second
chapter, yet we must briefly maintain, from these words of Moses, that it
is wrong to sever signs from the word. By the word, I mean not that of
which Papists boast; whereby they enchant bread, wine, water, and oil,
with their magical whisperings; but that which may strengthen faith:
according no the Lord here plainly addresses holy Noah and his sons; he
then annexes a seal, for the sake of assurance. Wherefore, if the
sacrament be wrested from the word, it ceases to be what it is called. It
must, I say, be a vocal sign, in order that it may retain its force, and
not degenerate from its nature. And not only is that administration of
sacraments in which the word of God is silent, vain and ludicrous; but it
draws with it pure satanic delusions. Hence we also infer, that from the
beginning, it was the peculiar property of sacraments, to avail for the
confirmation of faith. For certainly, in the covenant that promise is
included to which faith ought to respond. It appears to some absurd, that
faith should be sustained by such helps. But they who speak thus do not,
in the first place, reflect on the great ignorance and imbecility of our
minds; nor do they, secondly, ascribe to the working of the secret power
of the Spirit that praise which is due. It is the work of God alone to
begin and to perfect faith; but he does it by such instruments as he sees
good; the free choice of which is in his own power.

13. "I do set my bow in the cloud." From these words certain eminent
theologians have been induced to deny, that there was any rainbow before
the deluge: which is frivolous. For the words of Moses do not signify,
that a bow was then formed which did not previously exist; but that a
mark was engraven upon it, which should give a sign of the divine favour
towards men. That this may the more evidently appear, it will be well to
recall to memory what we have elsewhere said, that some signs are
natural, and some preternatural. And although there are many examples of
this second class of signs in the Scriptures; yet they are peculiar, and
do not belong to the common and perpetual use of the Church. For, as it
pleases the Lord to employ earthly elements, as vehicles for raising the
minds of men on high, so I think the celestial arch which had before
existed naturally, is here consecrated into a sign and pledge; and thus a
new office is assigned to it; whereas, from the nature of the thing
itself, it might rather be a sign of the contrary; for it threatens
continued rain. Let this therefore he the meaning, of the words, 'As
often as the rain shall alarm you, look upon the bow. For although it may
seem to cause the rain to overflow the earth, it shall nevertheless be to
you a pledge of returning dryness, and thus it will then become you to
stand with greater confidence, than under a clear and serene sky.' Hence
it is not for us to contend with philosophers respecting the rainbow; for
although its colours are the effect of natural causes, yet they act
profanely who attempt to deprive God of the right and authority which he
has over his creatures.

15. "And I will remember my covenant." Moses, by introducing God so often
as the speaker, teaches us that the word holds the chief place, and that
signs are to be estimated by it. God, however, speaks after the manner of
men, when he says, that at the sight of the rainbow he will remember his
covenant. But this mode of speaking has reference to the faith of men, in
order that they may reflect, that God, whenever he stretches out his arch
over the clouds, is not unmindful of his covenant.

18. "The sons of Noah." Moss enumerates the sons of Noah, not only
because he is about to pass on to the following history, but for the
purpose of more fully illustrating the force of the promise, "Replenish
the earth." For we may hence better conceive how efficacious the blessing
of God has been, because an immense multitude of men proceeded in a short
time from so small a number; and because one family, and that a little
one, grew into so many, and such numerous nations.

20. "And Noah began to be an husbandman." I do not so explain. the words,
as if he then, for the first time, began to give his attention to the
cultivation of the fields; but, (in my opinion,) Moses rather intimates,
that Noah, with a collected mind, though now an old man, returned to the
culture of the fields, and to his former labours. It is, however,
uncertain whether he had been a vine-dresser or not. It is commonly
believed that wine was not in use before that time. And this opinion has
been the more willingly received, as affording an honorable pretext for
the excuse of Noah's sin. But it does not appear to me probable that the
fruit of the vine, which excels all others, should have remained
neglected and unprofitable. Also, Moses does not say that Noah was
drunken on the first day on which he tasted it. Therefore, leaving this
question undetermined, I rather suppose, that we are to learn from the
drunkenness of Noah, what a filthy and detestable crime drunkenness is.
The holy patriarch, though he had hitherto been a rare example of
frugality and temperance, losing all self-possession, did, in a base and
shameful manner, prostrate himself naked on the ground, so as to become a
laughingstock to all. Therefore, with what care ought we to cultivate
sobriety, lest anything like this, or even worse, should happen to us?
Formerly, the heathen philosopher said, that 'wine is the blood of the
earth; and, therefore, when men intemperately pour it down their throats,
they are justly punished by their mother. Let us, however, rather
remember, that when men, by shameful abuse, profane this noble and most
precious gift of God, He himself becomes the Avenger. And let us know,
that Noah, by the judgement of Gods has been set forth as a spectacle to
be a warning to others, that they should not become intoxicated by
excessive drinking. Some excuse might certainly be made for the holy man;
who, having completed his labour, and being exhilarated with wine,
imagines that he is but taking his just reward. But God brands him with
an eternal mark of disgrace. What then, do we suppose, will happen to
those idle-bellies and insatiable gluttons whose sole object of
contention is who shall consume the greatest quantity of wine? And
although this kind of correction was severe, yet it was profitable to the
servant of God; since he was recalled to sobriety, lest by proceeding in
the indulgence of a vice to which he had once yielded, he should ruin
himself; just as we see drunkards become at length brutalized by
continued intemperance.

22. "And Ham, the father of Canaan." This circumstance is added to
augment the sorrow of Noah, that he is mocked by his own son. For we must
ever keep in memory, that this punishment was divinely inflicted upon
him; partly, because his fault was not a light one; partly that God in
his person might present a lesson of temperance to all ages. Drunkenness
in itself deserves as its reward, that they who deface the image of their
heavenly Father in themselves, should become a laughingstock to their own
children. For certainly, as far as possible, drunkards subvert their own
understanding, and so far deprive themselves of reason as to degenerate
into beasts. And let us remember, that if the Lord so grievously avenged
the single transgression of the holy man, he will prove an avenger no
less severe against those who are daily intoxicated; and of this we have
examples sufficiently numerous before our eyes. In the meanwhile, Ham, by
reproachfully laughing at his feather, betrays his own depraved and
malignant disposition. We know that parents, next to God, are most deeply
to be reverenced; and if there were neither books nor sermons, nature
itself constantly inculcates this lesson upon us. It is received by
common consent, that piety towards parents is the mother of all virtues.
This Ham, therefore, must have been of a wicked, perverse, and crooked
disposition; since he not only took pleasure in his father's shame, but
wished to expose him to his brethren. And this is no slight occasion of
offense; first, that Noah, the minister of salvation to men, and the
chief restorer of the world, should in extreme old age, lie intoxicated
in his house; and then, that the ungodly and wicked Ham should have
proceeded from the sanctuary of God. God had selected eight souls as a
sacred seed, thoroughly purged from all corruption, for the renovation of
the Church: but the son of Noah shows, how necessary it is for men to be
held as with the bridle of God, however they may be exalted by privilege.
The impiety of Ham proves to us how deep is the root of wickedness in
men; and that it continually puts forth its shoots, except where the
power of the Spirit prevails over it. But if, in the hallowed sanctuary
of God, among so small a number, one fiend was preserved; let us not
wonder if, at this day, in the Church, containing a much greater
multitude of men, the wicked are mingled with the good. Nor is there any
doubt that the minds of Shem and Japheth were grievously wounded, when
they perceived in their own brother such a prodigy of scorn; and, on the
other hand, their father shamefully lying prostrate on the ground. Such a
debasing alienation of mind in the prince of the new world, and the holy
patriarch of the Church, could not less astonish them, than if they had
seen the ark itself broken, dashed in pieces, cleft asunder, and
destroyed. Yet this cause of offense they alike overcome by their
magnanimity, and conceal by their modesty. Ham alone eagerly seizes the
occasion of ridiculing and inveighing against his father; just as
perverse men are wont to catch at occasions of offense in others, which
may serve as a pretext for indulgence in sin. And his age renders him the
less excusable; for he was not a lascivious youth, who, by his
thoughtless laughter, betrayed his own folly, seeing that he was already
more than one hundred years old. Therefore, it is probable, that he thus
perversely insulted his father, for the purpose of acquiring for himself
the license of sinning with impunity. We see many such at this day, who
most studiously pry into the faults of holy and pious men, in order that
without shame they may precipitate themselves into all iniquity; they
even make the faults of other men an occasion of hardening themselves
into a contempt for God.

23. "And Shem and Japheth took a garment." Here the piety, as well as the
modesty, of the two brothers is commended; who, in order that the dignity
of their father might not be lowered in their esteem, but that they might
always cherish and keep entire the reverence which they owed him, turned
away their eyes from the sight of his disgrace. And thus they gave proof
of the regard they paid to their father's honour, in supposing that their
own eyes would be polluted, if they voluntarily looked upon the nakedness
by which he was disgraced. At the same time they also consulted their own
modesty. For (as it was said in the third chapter) there is something so
unaccountably shameful in the nakedness of man, that scarcely any one
dares to look upon himself, even when no witness is present. They also
censure the impious rashness of their brother, who had not spared his
father. Hence, then, we may learn how acceptable to God is that piety, of
which the example here recorded receives a signal encomium of the Spirit.
But if piety towards an earthly father was a virtue so excellent, and so
worthy of praise; with how much greater devotedness of piety ought the
sacred majesty of God to be worshipped? The Papists make themselves
ridiculous by desiring to cover the filthiness of their idol, yea, the
abominations of their whole impure clergy, with the cloak of Shem and
Japheth. I omit to state how great is the difference between the disgrace
of Noah and the execrable vileness of so many crimes which contaminate
heaven and earth. But it is necessary that Antichrist and his horned
bishops, with all that rabble, should prove themselves to be fathers, if
they with that any honour should be paid them.

24. "And Noah awoke." It might seem to some that Noah, although he had
just cause of anger, still conducted himself with too little modesty and
gravity; and that he ought, at least, silently to have mourned over his
sin before God; and also, with shame, to have given proof of his
repentance to men: but that now as if he had committed no offense, he
fulminates with excessive severity against his son. Moses, however, does
not here relate reproaches uttered by Noah, under the excitement of rage
and anger, but rather introduces him speaking in the spirit of prophecy.
Wherefore we ought not to doubt, that the holy man was truly humbled (as
he ought to be) under a sense of his fault, and honestly reflected on his
own deserts; but now, having received the grant of pardon, and his
condemnation being removed, he proceeds as the herald of Divine judgment.
It is not indeed to be doubted that the holy man, endued with a
disposition otherwise gentle, and being one of the best of parents, would
pronounce this sentence upon his son with the most bitter grief of mind.
For he saw him miraculously preserved amongst a few and having a place
among the very flower of the human race. Now, therefore, when, with his
own mouth, he is compelled to separate him from the Church of God, he
doubtless would grievously bewail the malediction of his son. But by this
example, God would admonish us that the constancy of our faith must be
retained, if at any time we see those fail who are most closely united to
us, and that our spirits ought not to be broken; nay, that we must so
exercise the severity which God enjoins, as not to spare even our own
bowels. And whereas, Noah does not pronounce a sentence so harsh, except
by Divine inspiration, it behaves us to infer from the severity of the
punishment how abominable in the sight of God is the impious contempt of
parents, since it perverts the sacred order of nature, and violates the
majesty and authority of God, in the person of those whom he has
commanded to preside in his place.

25. "Cursed be Canaan." It is asked in the first place, why Noah instead
of pronouncing the curse upon his son, inflicts the severity of
punishment, which that son had deserved, upon his innocent grandson;
since it seems not consistent with the justice of God, to visit the
crimes of parents upon their children? But the answer is well known;
namely that God, although he pursues his course of judgments upon the
sons and the grandchildren of the ungodly, yet in being angry with them,
is not angry with the innocent, because even they themselves are found in
fault. Wherefore there is no absurdity in the act of avenging the sins of
the fathers upon their reprobate children; since, of necessity, all those
whom God has deprived of his Spirit are subject to his wrath. But it is
surprising that Noah should curse his grandson; and should pass his son
Ham, the author of the crime, over in silence. The Jews imagine that the
reason of this was to be traced to the special favour of God; and that
since the Lord had bestowed on Ham so great an honour, the curse was
transferred from him to his son. But the conjecture is futile. Certainly,
to my mind, there is no doubt that the punishment was carried forward
even to his posterity in order that the severity of it might be the more
apparent; as if the Lord had openly proclaimed that the punishment of one
man would not satisfy him but that he would attach the curse also to the
posterity of the offender, so that it should extend through successive
ages. In the meantime, Ham himself is so far from being exempt, that God,
by involving his son with him, aggravates his own condemnation.
  Another question is also proposed; namely, why among the many sons of
Ham, God chooses one to be smitten? But let not our curiosity here
indulge itself too freely; let us remember that the judgments of God are,
not in vain, called "a great deep," and that it would be a degrading
thing for God, before whose tribunal we all must one day stand, to be
subjected to our judgments, or rather to our foolish temerity. He chooses
whom he sees good, that he may show forth in them an example of his grace
and kindness; others he appoints to a different end, that they may be
proofs of his anger and severity. Here, although the minds of men are
blinded, let every one of us, conscious of his own infirmity, learn
rather to ascribe praise to God's justice, than plunge, with insane
audacity, into the profound abyss. While God held the whole seed of Ham
as obnoxious to the curse, he mentions the Canaanites by name, as those
whom he would curse above all others. And hence we infer that this
judgment proceeded from God, because it was proved by the event itself.
What would certainly be the condition of the Canaanites, Noah could not
know by human means. Wherefore in things obscure and hidden, the Spirit
directed his tongue.
  Another difficulty still remains: for since the Scripture teaches that
God avenges the sins of men on the third and fourth generation, it seems
to assign this limit to the wrath of God; but the vengeance of which
mention is now made extends itself to the tenth generation. I answer,
that these words of Scripture are not intended to prescribe a law to God,
which he may not so far set aside, as to be at liberty to punish sins
beyond four generations. The thing to be here observed is, the comparison
instituted between punishment and grace; by which we are taught, that
God, while he is a just avenger of crimes, is still more inclined to
mercy. In the meantime, let his liberty remain unquestioned, to extend
his vengeance as far as he pleases.
  "A servant of servants shall he be." This Hebraism signifies that
Canaan shall be the last, even among servants: as if it had been said,
'Not only shall his condition be servile, but worse than that of common
servitude.' Yet the thunder of this severe and dreadful prophecy seems
weak and illusory, since the Canaanites excelled in strength and in
riches, and were possessed of extensive dominion. Where then is this
servitude? In the first place, I answer, that though God, in threatening
men, does not immediately execute what he denounces, yet his threats are
never weak and ineffectual. Secondly, that the judgments of God are not
always exhibited before our eyes, nor apprehended by our carnal reason.
The Canaanites, having shaken off the yoke of servitude, which was
divinely imposed upon them, even proceeded to grasp at empire for
themselves. But although they triumph for a time, yet in the sight of God
their condition is not deemed free. Just as when the faithful are
iniquitously oppressed, and tyrannically harassed by the wicked, their
spiritual liberty is still not extinct in the sight of God. It behaves us
then to be content with this proof of the divine judgment, that God
promised the dominion of the land of Canaan to his servant Abraham, and
at length devoted the Canaanites to destruction. But because the Pope so
earnestly maintains that he sometimes utters prophecies,--as did even
Caiaphas, (John 11: 51,)--lest we should seem to refuse him everything, I
do not deny that the title with which he adorns himself was dictated by
the Spirit of God, 'Let him be a servant of servants,' in the same sense
that Canaan was.

26. "Blessed be the Lord God of Shem." Noah blesses his other children,
but in a different manner. For he places Shem in the highest post of
honour. And this is the reason why Noah, in blessing him, breaks forth in
the praise of God, without adhering to the person of man. For the
Hebrews, when they are speaking of any rare and transcendent excellence,
raise their thoughts to God. Therefore the holy man, when he perceived
that the most abundant grace of God was destined for his son Shem, rises
to thanksgiving. Whence we infer, that he spoke, not from carnal reason,
but rather treated of the secret favours of God, the result of which was
to be deferred to a remote period. Finally, by these words it is
declared, that the benediction of Shem would be divine or heavenly.

27. "God shall enlarge Japhet." In the Hebrew words "jafte" and "jafet",
there is an elegant allusion. For the root of the word is "patah", which,
among the Hebrews, signifies to entice with smooth words, or to allure in
one direction or another. Here, however, nearly all commentators take it
as signifying to enlarge. If this exposition be received, the meaning
will be, that the posterity of Japheth, which for a time would be
scattered, and removed far from the tents of Shem, would at length be
increased, so that it should more nearly approach them, and should dwell
together with them, as in a common home. But I rather approve the other
version, 'God shall gently bring back, or incline Japheth.' Moreover,
whichever interpretation we follow, Noah predicts that there will be a
temporary dissension between Shem and Japheth, although he retains both
in his family and calls both his lawful heirs; and that afterwards the
time will come, in which they shall again coalesce in one body, and have
a common home. It is, however, most absolutely certain, that a prophecy
is here put forth concerning things unknown to man, of which, as the
event, at length, shows God alone was the Author. Two thousand years and
some centuries more, elapsed before the Gentiles and the Jews were
gathered together in one faith. Then the sons of Shem, of whom the
greater part had revolted and cut themselves off from the holy family of
God, were collected together, and dwelt under one tabernacle. Also the
Gentiles, the progeny of Japheth, who had long been wanderers and
fugitives were received into the same tabernacle. For God, by a new
adoption, has formed a people out of those who were separated, and has
confirmed a fraternal union between alienated parties. This is done by
the sweet and gentle voice of God, which he has uttered in the gospel;
and this prophecy is still daily receiving its fulfilment, since God
invites the scattered sheep to join his flock, and collects, on every
side, those who shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the
kingdom of heaven. It is truly no common support of our faith, that the
calling of the Gentiles is not only decreed in the eternal counsel of
God, but is openly declared by the mouth of the Patriarch; lest we should
think it to have happened suddenly or by chance, that the inheritance of
eternal life was offered generally to all. But the form of the
expression, 'Japheth shall dwell in the tabernacles of Shem,' commends to
us that mutual society which ought to exist, and to be cherished among
the faithful. For whereas God had chosen to himself a Church from the
progeny of Shem, he afterwards chose the Gentiles together with them, on
this condition, that they should join themselves to that people, who were
in possession of the covenant of life.

28. "And Noah lived." Although Moses briefly states the age of the holy
man, and does not record his annals and the memorable events of his life,
yet those things which are certain, and which Scripture elsewhere
commemorates, ought to recur to our minds. Within one hundred and fifty
years, the offspring of his three sons became so numerous, that he had
sufficient and even abundant proof of the efficacy of the Divine
benediction "Increase and multiply." He sees, not one city only, filled
with his grandchildren, nor his seed expanded barely to three hundred
families; but many nations springing from one of his sons who should
inhabit extensive regions. This astonishing increase, since it was a
visible representation of the divine favour towards him, would doubtless
fill him with unbounded joy. For Abraham was nearly fifty years old when
his ancestor Noah died. In the meantime, he was compelled to behold many
things, which would afflict his holy breast with incredible grief. To
omit other things; he saw in the family of Shem, the sanctuary of God,--
into which the sons of Japheth were to be received,--destroyed, or, at
least, dilapidated and rent. For whereas the father of Abraham himself,
having deserted his proper station, had erected for himself a profane
tabernacle; a very small portion indeed remained of those who worshipped
God in the harmonious consent of a pure faith. With what tormenting pains
this terrible confusion affected him cannot be sufficiently expressed in
words. Hence we may know, that his eyes of faith must have been
exceedingly penetrating, which did not fail to behold afar of, the grace
of God, in preserving the Church, at that time overwhelmed by the
wickedness of men.

Chapter X.

1 Now these [are] the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and
Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.
2 The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal,
and Meshech, and Tiras.
3 And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah.
4 And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.
5 By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every
one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.
6 And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.
7 And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and
Sabtecha: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.
8 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.
9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as
Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.
10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and
Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city
Rehoboth, and Calah,
12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same [is] a great city.
13 And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim,
14 And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and
15 And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth,
16 And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,
17 And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,
18 And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward
were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.
19 And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to
Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and
Zeboim, even unto Lasha.
20 These [are] the sons of Ham, after their families, after their
tongues, in their countries, [and] in their nations.
21 Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of
Japheth the elder, even to him were [children] born.
22 The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and
23 And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash.
24 And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber.
25 And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one [was] Peleg; for in
his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name [was] Joktan.
26 And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah,
27 And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah,
28 And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba,
29 And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these [were] the sons of
30 And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount
of the east.
31 These [are] the sons of Shem, after their families, after their
tongues, in their lands, after their nations.
32 These [are] the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations,
in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth
after the flood.

1. "These are the generations." If any one pleases more accurately to
examine the genealogies related by Moses in this and the following
chapter, I do not condemn his industry. And some interpreters have not
unsuccessfully applied their diligence and study to this point. Let them
enjoy, as far as I am concerned the reward of their labours. It shall,
however, suffice for me briefly to allude to those things which I deem
more useful to be noticed, and for the sake of which I suppose these
genealogies to have been written by Moses. First, in these bare names we
have still some fragment of the history of the world; and the next
chapter will show how many years intervened between the date of the
deluge and the time when God made his covenant with Abraham. This second
commencement of mankind is especially worthy to be known; and detestable
is the ingratitude of those, who, when they had heard, from their fathers
and grandfathers of the wonderful restoration of the world in so short a
time, yet voluntarily became forgetful of the grace and the salvation of
God. Even the memory of the deluge was by the greater part entirely lost.
Very few cared by what means or for what end they had been preserved.
Many ages afterwards, seeing that the wicked forgetfulness of men had
rendered them callous to the judgment and mercy of God, the door was
opened to the lies of Satan by whose artifice it came to pass, that
heathen poets scattered abroad futile and even noxious fables, by which
the truth respecting God's works was adulterated. The goodness of God,
therefore, wonderfully triumphed over the wickedness of men, in having
granted a prolongation of life to beings so ungrateful, brutal, and
barbarous. Now, to captious men, (who yet do not think it absurd to
refuse to acknowledge a Creator of the world,) such a sudden increase of
mankind seems incredible, and therefore they ridicule it as fabulous. I
grant, indeed, that if we choose to estimate what Moses relates by our
own reason, it may be regarded as a fable; but they act very perversely
who do not attend to the design of the Holy Spirit. For what else, I ask,
did the Spirit intend, than that the offspring of three men should be
increased, not by natural means, or in a common manner, but by the
unwonted exercise of the power of God, for the purpose of replenishing
the earth far and wide? They who regard this miracle of God as fabulous
on account of its magnitude, should much less believe that Noah and his
sons, with their wives, breathed in the waters, and that animals lived
nearly a whole year without sun and air. This then, is a gigantic
madness, to hold up to ridicule what is said respecting the restoration
of the human race: for there the admirable power of God is displayed. How
much better would it be, in the history of these events,--which Noah saw
with his own eyes, and not without great admiration,--to behold God, to
admire his power, to celebrate his goodness, and to acknowledge his hand,
not less filled with mysteries in restoring, than in creating the world?
We must, however, observe, that in the three catalogues which Moses
furnishes, all the heads of the families are not enumerated; but those
only, among the grandsons of Noah, are recorded, who were the princes of
nations. For as any one excelled among his brethren, in talent, valour,
industry, or other endowments, he obtained for himself a name and power,
so that others, resting under his shadow, freely conceded to him the
priority. Therefore, among the sons of Japheth, of Ham, and of Shem,
Moses enumerates those only who had been celebrated, and by whose names
the people were called. Moreover, although no certain cause appears why
Moses begins at Japheth, and descends in the second place to Ham, yet it
is probable that the first place is given to the sons of Japheth, because
they, having wandered over many regions, and having even crossed the sea,
had receded farther from their country: and since these nations were less
known to the Jews, therefore he alludes to them briefly. He assigns the
second place to the sons of Ham, the knowledge of whom, on account of
their vicinity, was more familiar to the Jews. But since he had

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