Q. Genesis 6:6 says, “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” But in Numbers 23:19 it says, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” I know and I believe in my heart that there isn’t any contradiction in the Word of God. But I would really appreciate any explanation on why there seems to be one here. The verbs in both verses are the same in Hebrew.
A. This is more of a problem in English than in Hebrew. Although the Hebrew verb nacham is used in both verses, it has several meanings depending on the context in which it’s used.
In Genesis 6:6 the context is regret, one meaning of nacham. God regretted creating man because of the way man had become following the introduction of sin into the world. Numbers 23:19 says that God doesn’t change His mind after deciding something. The English word repent means to change one’s mind, and is another meaning of nacham.
So while God felt regret over creating man and having to watch him fall into sin, He didn’t change His mind about doing it. There is no contradiction.