Why did Moses used 2 different words in Genesis 6:7 and 17 when writing about the consequences of the Great Flood?

The first one is "machah" meaning "to exterminate". The next one is "shachath" meaning "to ruin".

  • Curious why you are so convinced it was Moses who said these words. I understand this is the general consensus but have you another reason other than that the majority believe it to be so? Jan 26, 2019 at 4:58
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    The only reason I ascribe the Torah to being written by Moses is that when Jesus quoted the Law He referred to it as "the Law of Moses". I am open to other proper sources and criticisms that would say otherwise. If you had links to those, I would greatly appreciate them. :)
    – Philip
    Jan 27, 2019 at 11:35

1 Answer 1


Not a complete annihilation

The first term refers to an action against man and the animals - exterminating or eradicating the individual creatures currently living. ‘Exterminating’ does not wipe out a species - it only removes the living creatures.

The second term refers to an action against flesh in general - ruining flesh as a whole. To ‘ruin’ something is also not to permanently remove it, but to take away its ability to function as before.

The impression I get is of intention:

Extermination: living creatures not species

While God sought to eradicate the actual, individual creatures that were currently living, He had no intention of eliminating any species in general.

This is demonstrated by the ark, which protected one breeding pair of each species.

Ruin: influence not existence

While God sought to destroy or ruin the influence that ‘flesh’ wielded on the earth, He had no intention of eradicating or exterminating flesh altogether, let alone eliminating it.

This is also demonstrated by the ark, which protected certain flesh under the influence of Noah and his family (who listened to God instead of being led by the flesh).


So the intention behind the Flood was not to annihilate species or flesh in general, but to remove the influence of ‘flesh’ (evolutionary instinct, fear, hatred, anger, etc) on the world, and provide a new opportunity for the Spirit of God to lead the way through Noah.

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