Monday, March 27, 2017

READ IT! - Introduction to Genesis 8-14

Readings for this week

Monday: Genesis 8
Tuesday: Genesis 9
Wednesday: Genesis 10
Thursday: Genesis 11
Friday: Genesis 12
Saturday: Genesis 13
Sunday: Genesis 14

Introduction to Genesis 8-14

The very end of the story of Noah and the Flood can be understood as a Creation story, or rather a story of New Creation - death and resurrection.

God does not abandon his servants forever to destruction in the ark, but He sends his wind (spirit) back over the waters of chaos, causing them to recede, and He begins his creation all over again.

The story ends with an account of God making a covenant with Noah.

This is the first covenant mentioned in the Bible.

The covenant contained:

1. The promise that God would never again destroy the earth with a flood.
2. Promise of a predictable and dependable world with seasons and cycles of nature.
3. The blessing of Noah and his family.
4. Permission granted to eat meat, but without blood in it.
5. Establishment of the value and sacredness of human life on the basis of the fact that God made humanity in His image.

“The narrative concludes with the report that God set the rainbow as a sign of His covenant with His creation.”

So after the Flood, Noah decides to plant a vineyard and make some wine… you know, cause he probably thought it might help take his mind off of the watery apocalypse he’d just witnessed.

So Noah gets drunk as a skunk and passes out naked in his tent.

His son Ham shows up and the text says he sees his dad naked (which is most likely a nasty euphemism).

Ham then decides to spread the word about this to…well… the only people around to listen to him…his brothers Shem and Japheth

But Shem and Japheth are embarrassed and they take a blanket and go cover up their dad’s nakedness.

After Noah’s done sleeping it off, he finds out what happened and he starts throwing down curses on Ham’s son Canaan… while at the same time blessing Shem and Japheth

But wait a minute here…Why is Noah cursing his grandson Canaan instead of his nasty son Ham?

Because this story is also an origin story. It is intended to show the origins of Israel's nasty neighbors - the Canaanites. Why were the Canaanites so perverted? Because the first Canaanite (Canaan) was the son of Ham, Noah's perverted son.

Shem is the ancestor of the Semitic peoples, which include many of the people of the Ancient Near East, including the Israelites.

“The genealogical record in chapter 10 gives the list of nations that descended from Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”

In chapter 11 we come to the familiar story of the tower of Babel. This story explains that all of the people of the Ancient Near East used to speak the same language, but that at some point the people were separated from each other and began speaking in different languages.

This story also appears to be an ancient Hebrew indictment against the structures and practices of ancient Babylon.

So as the story goes, sometime after the Flood, humanity moved eastward and settled down in the Plain of Shinar, or Babylonia.

Humanity began to construct large cities and towers using this amazing new technology – bricks… instead of the more traditional stones.

Now Humanity was afraid of becoming scattered, so they decided to make a huge city in order to “make a name” for themselves.

This group of people united to become a superpower in the world. The people believed that if they could build a tower tall enough, then they could break into the heavens above and become gods themselves.

So God comes down to the city to investigate humanity’s big project, and God concludes that humanity needs limits, or else they will be able to achieve anything to which they put their minds. So God confuses everyone’s language so they can’t understand each other. Construction then stops and the tower becomes a joke. The city comes to be known as Babel after this, which is similar to the Hebrew word for “confused.”

The story ends with a genealogy of the Semitic peoples, ending with Abram son of Terah.

This also brings us to the end of the primeval narratives (stories about humanity’s origins) and transitions us into the patriarchal narratives (stories about Israel’s origins).

So as the story goes… Terah moved his whole family away from the city of Ur of the Chaldeans by the Euphrates River and settled them in the city of Haran, 600 miles to the northwest in present-day southern Turkey.

Later, God speaks to Abram, and tells him to leave his father’s household in Haran, and go to the land of Canaan. After they arrived in the land of Canaan, God appeared to Abram again and said to him, “To your offspring I will give this land.”

This promise was significant for several reasons.

First of all, Abram was homeless and God was promising him a home.
Second, Abram and Sarai weren’t able to have children and God was promising them descendants.
And finally, God was revealing himself to Abram… who came from a family of pagans who worshiped other gods.

But the text says that Abram believed what God said, and because of this, he was considered righteous.

However, sometime after Abram arrived in Canaan, there was a severe famine, and Abram decided to leave the promised land and move his family down to Egypt. Pharaoh then took Sarai into his house to be one of his concubines, and he reimbursed Abram for allowing him to own his “sister” …as Abram called her.

So Abram ended up getting rich off of Pharaoh because of this little scheme of his, but God didn’t like this and he sent a plague on the Egyptians until they learned the truth Pharaoh kicks Abram and Sarai out of Egypt (the first exodus…).

After the incident in Egypt, Lot’s shepherds began getting into fights with Abram’s shepherds because the land did not have enough resources for all of them. So they agreed that they would move away from each other in opposite directions.

Sometime later, several eastern kings joined forces and conquered the five great cities of the Jordan Valley, including the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Later, these five cities started a revolution that was quickly squelched after a great battle near the Dead Sea. Many people were carried off to the north, including Abram’s nephew, Lot.

When Abram heard about this, he gathered up his allies and set out in pursuit of the invaders. Abram’s surprise campaign was successful, and they brought back all of the captives and their belongings, including Lot and his family.

Genesis 8

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.

After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.

By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year,the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.

Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

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