Lesson 17: Genesis 6:13–9:29

“Lesson 17: Genesis 6:13–9:29,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 17,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 17

Genesis 6:13–9:29


The Lord commanded Noah to build an ark in which his family and “every living thing of all flesh” (Genesis 6:19) were saved from the Flood. Floodwater destroyed the wicked and all creatures that lived on the land except those in the ark. When the floodwater receded, Noah and his family exited the ark. The Lord gave them commandments and established with them the covenant He had made with Enoch.

Suggestions for Teaching

Genesis 6:13–7:24

Noah obeys the Lord’s commandment to build an ark

Display the pictures Building the Ark and Noah and the Ark with Animals (Gospel Art Book [2009], nos. 7, 8; see also Ask students to describe differences they notice between the two pictures.

  • What types of expressions do you see on the faces of the people that Noah tried to warn?

  • What do these pictures suggest about how the people responded to the Lord’s instructions?

Invite students to consider what they can learn from the example of Noah and his family during today’s lesson.

Invite a student to read Genesis 6:13–16 aloud. (You may want to explain that Genesis 6:13 marks the end of the portion of the Joseph Smith Translation that we know as the book of Moses.) Ask the class to follow along, looking for specific instructions the Lord gave Noah to prepare for the coming destruction. Ask students to report what they find. You may need to explain that the phrase “pitch it” means to cover the ark with a tar-like substance to seal it and make it waterproof.

To help students understand the size of the ark, explain that a cubit was a unit of measurement used by the Hebrews in biblical times. The measurement is based on the distance between an adult’s elbow and the tip of the longest finger. You may want to measure this distance on some of your students. Point out that one cubit is generally estimated to be between 18 and 22 inches (45.72–55.88 centimeters). Invite a student to calculate the approximate size of the ark in modern measurements. For example, if using 18 inches as one cubit, the ark was 450 feet long (about 138 meters), 75 feet wide (about 23 meters), and 45 feet high (about 14 meters).

  • What challenges might Noah have faced in constructing the ark?

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Genesis 6:17–22. Ask the class to follow along and look for what else the Lord directed Noah to do.

  • What additional challenges might Noah have faced as he obeyed these instructions from the Lord?

Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball. Invite the class to listen closely and consider ways Noah demonstrated faith in the Lord as he prepared the ark.

President Spencer W. Kimball

“As yet there was no evidence of rain and flood. His people mocked and called him a fool. His preaching fell on deaf ears. His warnings were considered irrational. There was no precedent; never had it been known that a deluge [or flood] could cover the earth. How foolish to build an ark on dry ground with the sun shining and life moving forward as usual!” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 140–41).

  • What are some ways Noah demonstrated faith in the Lord? (After students respond, write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we act in faith by obeying the Lord’s commands …)

  • How would Noah be blessed by acting in faith to build the ark when there appeared to be no danger?

  • What are some things the Lord has asked us to do that might appear foolish to others? (List students’ responses on the board.)

  • Why do we need faith to obey the Lord?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson, who spoke of the faith Noah demonstrated by keeping God’s commandment:

President Thomas S. Monson

“Noah had the unwavering faith to follow God’s commandments. May we ever do likewise. May we remember that the wisdom of God ofttimes appears as foolishness to men; but the greatest lesson we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and we obey, we will always be right” (“Models to Follow,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 61).

Remind students that the Lord sent Noah to preach repentance to the people, who were wicked. Noah warned them that if they did not repent, they would be destroyed by a flood.

To help students discover what happened to Noah and the people he preached to, invite them to take the following true-or-false quiz. (Before class, prepare a copy of the quiz for each student.) Ask students to first complete the quiz without using their scriptures. Then invite them to read Genesis 7 on their own or with a partner to check their answers. When they have checked their answers, review the answers as a class.

  1. Noah took seven of some animals on the ark.

  2. Noah was 60 years old when the Flood came.

  3. Rain was the only source of water that flooded the earth.

  4. The rain did not cease for forty days.

  5. Eight people were saved on the ark.

  6. In addition to Noah’s family and the animals on the ark, one other family also survived the Flood by staying on the top of a mountain.

Answers: 1 is true (see Genesis 7:2–3. You may need to explain that clean and unclean beasts refer to animals considered acceptable or unacceptable to eat and to be sacrificed to God at that time.); 2 is false (see Genesis 7:6, 11); 3 is false (see Genesis 7:11); 4 is true (see Genesis 7:4, 17); 5 is true (see Genesis 7:7, 13; 1 Peter 3:20); 6 is false (see Genesis 7:19–23).

After you review the answers to the quiz as a class, invite students to report what they found interesting in Genesis 7.

  • If you had been in the position of one of the people who were not in the ark, what might you have thought and felt as the floodwater rose?

  • If you had been in the position of one of those who were in the ark, what might you have thought and felt as the waters rose?

  • Based on what you learned from Genesis 7, how would you complete the statement on the board? (You might invite students to write their answers on the board. Students may identify a variety of principles, but you may want to emphasize the following: If we act in faith by obeying the Lord’s commands, we can receive His blessings and protection.)

To help students feel the truth and importance of this principle, refer to a few of the things students mentioned that the Lord has asked us to do that might appear foolish to others. For each response, ask:

  • When have you been blessed or protected by obeying the Lord in this way?

To help students apply the principle identified above, invite them to answer the following question in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:

  • What is one way you will act in faith by obeying the Lord today?

You may want to encourage students to act on what they wrote by testifying of blessings or protection you have received by obeying the Lord’s commandments.

Genesis 8:1–9:17

Noah and his family leave the ark, and the Lord establishes His covenant with Noah


Draw a rainbow on the board.

  • What do you think of when you see a rainbow in the sky?

Explain that after the Flood, a rainbow appeared. This rainbow had special meaning to Noah and his posterity. Invite students to look for why the rainbow was important to Noah as they discuss Genesis 8–9.

Summarize Genesis 8:1–9:7 by explaining that the waters on the earth gradually receded and the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. (Many believe that this site is in present-day Turkey.) Noah sent out birds to determine how far the water level had lowered. When a dove returned with an olive leaf, Noah knew the waters had receded. After Noah and his family had been on the ark for about a year, God directed them to exit the ark. Noah offered animal sacrifices to the Lord, gave thanks, and asked the Lord to “not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake” (see Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 9:4–6 [in the Bible appendix]). The Lord commanded Noah and his family to multiply and replenish the earth, instructed them on how to treat living things, and commanded them not to shed man’s blood (murder). The Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation clarified these verses, showing that God will hold us accountable for how we treat the life of animals and that God explicitly commanded Noah’s family to preserve the life of other human beings—that “man shall not shed the blood of man” (see Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 9:10–15 [in the Bible appendix]).

Invite a student to read Genesis 9:8–11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a covenant God made with Noah and his sons. Ask students to report what they find.

Invite a few students to take turns reading Genesis 9:12–17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what a rainbow has to do with the covenant God made with Noah. (Explain that a token is a sign or symbol.)

  • What does a rainbow have to do with the covenant God made with Noah? (The rainbow is a token, or sign, of the everlasting covenant—a reminder of God’s promises, including to never flood the earth again. This token or sign had first been given to Enoch [see Moses 7:50–51], and now the covenant and token were renewed with Noah.)

Write the following truth on the board: God uses tokens as reminders of covenants. Explain that the rainbow became a symbol and reminder of God’s mercy to His children on earth.

  • What other tokens has God given us that can remind us of our covenants with Him and of His mercy? (Examples include the ordinances of baptism and the sacrament.)

Genesis 9:18–29

Noah curses Canaan, the son of Ham

Explain that Genesis 9:18–29 contains an account of an incident with Noah and his sons. This account can be difficult to understand. It appears that Ham disrespected something sacred. Even though we know that Ham’s actions were deliberate and the consequences were severe, we likely do not have all of the relevant details of the story. We therefore do not know exactly what happened or the meaning of what transpired.

Conclude the lesson by inviting students to share any additional insights they have learned from the life of Noah. Consider sharing your own insights.

Commentary and Background Information

Genesis 6:16. “A window shalt thou make”

In Genesis 6:16, the word window was translated from the Hebrew word tsohar. Some rabbis believed that this word referred to “a precious stone that shone in the ark” (see Genesis 6:16, footnote a). Compare this to the experience of the Jaredites, who later traveled across the ocean in barges lit by stones that shone in the dark (see Ether 2:23–24; 3:4; 6:2–3).

Genesis 7:19–20. The baptism of the earth by water and by fire

The Flood, like baptism, represented a new beginning for the earth. Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“Latter-day Saints look upon the earth as a living organism, one which is gloriously filling ‘the measure of its creation.’ They look upon the flood as a baptism of the earth, symbolizing a cleansing of the impurities of the past, and the beginning of a new life” (Evidences and Reconciliations, arr. G. Homer Durham, 3 vols. in 1 [1960], 127).

Genesis 9:9. “I establish my covenant with you”

There was more to the covenant God made with Noah than promising not to flood the earth again. The Joseph Smith Translation helps us understand that God was renewing the same covenant He made with Enoch (see Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 9:21–25 [in the Bible appendix]). This covenant was that when Noah’s posterity obeyed all of God’s commandments, the heavens and earth would rejoice and Enoch’s city of Zion would again come upon the earth.

Genesis 9:18–27. “Cursed be Canaan; a servant … shall he be”

Our understanding of the events in Genesis 9:18–27 is limited. Although we know that Ham’s actions were deliberate and the consequences were severe, some have incorrectly used Noah’s cursing of his grandson Canaan recorded in Genesis 9:25–27 to justify slavery—particularly of people of black African descent. However, from the beginning of the Restoration, the Lord has taught, “It is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another” (D&C 101:79). Any theories suggested in the past that black skin is a curse or an indication of unworthiness in a premortal life; that mixed-race relationships are a sin; or that people of any race or ethnicity are inferior to anyone else are not true doctrine. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.