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.
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.