Tuesday, April 29, 2014

4. Genesis 6-9 (The Flood)

Today's notes are on Genesis 6-9.
  • Sons of God: Who were the sons of God who went in to the daughters of men and had "Nephilim" as offspring? The book of 1 Enoch, quoted by Jude and possibly alluded to by 1 Peter, seems to think that these were fallen angels who had sex with human women. Another interpretation sees these as the descendants of Shem sleeping with the descendants of Cain.
  • God's regrets: If God knows everything, then he can't literally regret. This is anthropomorphism, picturing God in human terms. "Land" is a better translation than "earth," especially since we picture a globe when we see the word earth. They would have pictured a relatively flat world of much smaller proportions.
  • God/YHWH: The Flood story is often used as an example of the curious alternation in Genesis between Elohim and YHWH for God. For example, 6:19-22 use Elohim and say Noah should take two of every kind. Then immediately following, in 7:1-5, YHWH tells Noah to take 7 of every clean animal and repeats the command to take two of every other kind. 
  • Fountains of Deep: The Flood comes from above and below. Windows in the dome of the sky allow water to fall from the waters above the firmament. But waters also come up from the deep under the ground. When the Flood is over, the springs of the deep and the rain from the sky stop.
  • Never Again: Noah builds an altar to YHWH (because of the 7 of the clean animals, he has extra to sacrifice), and YHWH promises never to destroy every living thing again. Then Elohim promises Noah he will never again destroy the earth by Flood. The rainbow is the sign of God's covenant with Noah.
  • Noahic Covenant: There seems to be some sort of transition from humanity being vegetarians to now eating meat. The only stipulation is that when humanity eats meat, it must not eat it with the blood in it. Similarly, humanity is not to shed blood. The two seem to be associated. The requirements of Acts 15:20 are sometimes thought to be based on this covenant.
  • Image of God: You can't murder because all humanity (men and women both) are in the image of God. The penalty for murder is death.
  • Getting Drunk: Noah gets drunk, gets naked, and his son Ham laughs. The purpose of this story is probably to indicate that the Canaanites were cursed. Canaan was the son of Ham, and the Canaanites were competitors with Israel for the land. The story is not, as some racist interpreters of the 1800s used to argue, an explanation for black skin. In fact, an argument can be made that Adam and Eve were darker skinned and that humanity only became lighter skinned over time.
Previous notes:
1. Genesis 1:1-2:3 (Creation)
2. Genesis 2:4-3:24 (The Fall)
3. Genesis 4-5 (Cain and Abel)

Next planned post--Thursday with Genesis 10-11.

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