"The earth also was corrupt before God,
and the earth was filled with violence.
And God looked upon the earth,
and, behold it was corrupt;
for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
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." (Genesis 5:11-13)
Biblical students often spend considerable time studying the story of the flood, but often fail to concentrate on the reason for the flood. The brevity of the story probably contributes to this since there is little said concerning the nature of the violence and corruption. Of course, all biblical students are aware of the killing of Abel by Cain and the controversy over the nature of the two different sacrifices. And this is of course the first recorded example of the violence and corruption of the first humans. We also find an example in the story of Lamech.
And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zilah,
Hear my voice: ye wives of Lamech, hearken into my speech:
for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.
If Cain shall be avenged seven fold,
truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold. (Genesis 4:23-24)
Lamech seems to be boasting that he has slain a young man for a seemingly minor offense for the last part of verse 23 can also be interpreted as "And a young lad for brusing me." The Lord had pronounced that anyone slaying Cain in vengence for his killing of Abel would be punished sevenfold. But Lamech seems to think that if anyone should try to slay him in vengence there will be a 77 fold revenge. We are not told that this proposed revenge is of the Lord, so we must assume that it would be at the hands of Lamech's sons or family, or clan, or tribe. So it would appear that we have here an example of what so often is the case in tribal or clan warfare, the susposedly "injured" party wants revenge many many times over. There have been past cases when an entire family was destroyed in revenge for a verbal insult. And this we propose is possibly only one simple example of how violent the people before the flood had become and also soon after the flood and even to today. Tubal-cain, the son of Lamech and Zildah was "a maker of every cutting instrument of bronze and iron" so it appears that the offspring of Lamech had the technology to wage very violent warfare.
There is also a post-flood example in the Cannanites. Archeological records have revealed much concerning the Cannanite societies confirming the records of the Scriptures. Infant sacrifice burials have been located in many of the Cannanite cities excavated. And the images of their gods that have been dug up have been mostly very bizarre and often depicting sexual perversions. For this reason the Lord instructed the Israelites to totally destroy them and to in no way associate with them and their religious practices.
Josephus in his "Antiquities of the Jews" says "but in the process of time they were perverted, and forsook the practices of their forefathers: and did neither pay those honours to God which were appointed them, nor had they any concern to do justice towards men. But for what degree of zeal they had formerly shown for virtue, they now showed by their actions a double degree of wickedness, whereby they made God to be their enemy."
And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth,
and it grieved him in his heart. (Genesis 6:6 KJV)
And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth,
He was grieved in His heart. (Genesis 6:6 NKJV)
The above verse has perplexed many students of the Scriptures. For it seems to say that the Lord was grieved because he had made a "mistake". For this is not consistent with the Lord being all knowing. If we look to the basic meaning of the Hebrew, we see that "nacham" (Strong's #5162) has a basic meaning of "to sigh".
"And the Lord sighed that He had made man on the earth,
He was grieved in His feelings"
In trying to understand the Lord we naturally want to try to attribute feelings like we have to Him since this is what we understand. We can "sigh" with displeasure over an event even though we believed it would happen that way or even knew that it would happen that way. Or "sigh" with displeasure that we will have to do something that we do not want to do even though we know that in the long run it will be best for all concerned, like going to the dentist! This we propose is the better interpretation for the situation. The Lord dearly loved the people before the flood, but the best thing for the situation was to cleanse the earth and start over with those people who had a desire to please the Lord and were displeased with violence, sin and injustice.
Whosoever sheddeth man's blood,
by man shall his blood be shed: (Genesis 9:6)
And then we have the famous or infamous:
Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
Before anyone even enters an argument or discussion on the above, would it not be better to simply pharaphrase the passages as:
"LET THE PUNISHMENT FIT THE CRIME" If the thief be found, let him pay double. (Exodus 22:7)
The rules that the Lord gave to man are concerning proper justice and proper repayment to the wronged person, not about 77 fold revenge as so often is the way of man, past and present.
Conclusion: The Lord grieves today when he sees man commit many violences, sins, and injustices just as He did before the flood. One wonders how close our societies of today are approaching the wickedness of before the flood that "made God to become their enemy". Possibly the closest to home example is the ganglands of the inner cities. If we see the conditions and the mentality of the ganglands spreading over the developed nations, we can possibly be assured that we are reaching the conditions prior to the flood.