As the Bible introduces the causes of the worldwide flood, the earth’s inhabitants are described as being violent and corrupt. Genesis 6:11-13 repeats these ideas several times. Verse 12 focuses on “corruption.” It says, “And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” The following statement clarifies that the earth was corrupt, narrowing that charge to the human race. All the people were corrupt. The question then arises, “why did God kill all the animals as well?” The ancient Jewish commentator, Rashi, argues that “Even the animals were interbreeding—even the birds.” Then Ibn Ezra agrees, “The tradition that this refers to interbreeding of species and perversion of the course of nature is correct.”[1] I can’t see this in the text at all. God had entrusted to man the care of all creation. He named the animals and was given dominion over them. He was therefore responsible for them. Brayford says, “Human actions, therefore, have negative ramifications on other creatures. Sadly, rather than having dominion over or responsibility for these other creatures, humans have caused their destruction.”[2]

Exell argues that “corruption” here refers “To their having debased and depraved the true religion. This was the natural consequence of the junction between the sons of God and the daughters of men. Whenever the Church becomes one with the world, the corruption of true religion has invariably followed: for if wicked men have a religion, it must needs be such as to accord with their inclinations. Hence arose all the heresies of the early ages of Christianity; hence the grand Romish apostasy; and in short every corruption of the true religion in past or present times.”[3]

You might notice that verse 12 begins with the phrase “God saw….” Back in the earlier chapters of Genesis, when God created the earth in six days, after each day, it says, “God saw.” It was reported that God saw it, and it was “good.” It’s not good anymore! God created everything for man and entrusted it all to him, giving him dominion. He then sent him forth to enjoy the world and “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Because of man’s corruption regarding their view of God, they filled the earth with violence. The Psalmist captured this picture for us in Psalm 14:1-3. It says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.  The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”

[1] Carasik, Michael, ed. 2018. Genesis: Introduction and Commentary. Translated by Michael Carasik. The Commentators’ Bible. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society.

[2] Brayford, Susan A. 2007. Genesis: Commentary. Edited by Stanley E. Porter, Richard S. Hess, and John Jarick. Septuagint Commentary Series. Leiden; Boston: Brill.

[3] Exell, Joseph S. n.d. The Biblical Illustrator: Genesis. Vol. 1. The Biblical Illustrator. London: James Nisbet & Co.