It feels appropriate to post this during the first real rain of the season here in Southern California. Basically it seams that in humanities tenth generation, people had become rather wicked, so God decided to flood the earth and kill everyone and everything, save a man named Noah, his family, and all the animals he could fit on his giant boat.
This chapter covers the lineage from Adam to Noah. It also informs us that people used to live a lot longer than they do these days. The lineage looks like this:
Adam – Seth – Enosh – Kenan – Mahalalel – Jared – Enoch – Methuselah – Lamech – Noah
We are first introduced to the origin of the Nephilim. These are beings that were created when other heavenly beings (sons of God) fell in love with women because of their beauty, and just decided to start taking them as wives. The sons born from this union of women and “sons of god” are the Nephilim, the “heroes of old, the men of renown” (6:4). We are also told at this time that God shortens the human lifespan to 120 years, no reason appears to be given.
God then sees that all of humanity is wicked, feels regret, and decides to flood the earth and kill everyone, including all of the animals. Except Noah, he was good, and God liked him. Before God floods the earth, he tells Noah to build a giant boat, and to put two of every animal on board, along with his family.
This chapter opens up with God changing how many of each animal he wants Noah to take with him on the ark. The animals get divided up into clean (7 mating pairs) and unclean (1 mating pair). God also wants Noah to keep seven mating pairs of each bird species. Evidently loading the animals was an easy process. Once Noah had built the ark, God gave him a seven day warning, so Noah, his wife and sons, and son’s wives all got in the ark, and then the animals just came to them (I wonder if God spoke to them each personally). Once everybody is loaded up, God shuts the door on the ark, and it begins to rain for forty days and nights. The earth flooded, and the waters rose higher than the tallest mountains, wiping out all life that was not on the ark (I suppose the fishes were ok).
After 150 days of being flooded, God remembers Noah and the ark, and makes a wind sweep across the earth to cause the waters to subside. Eventually the waters recede enough, and the ark comes to rest among the tallest mountains. After 40 days, Noah releases a raven, which flew around a bit until the waters dried up. He then released a dove, but it could not find a place to perch, so it came back to the ark. Noah waited a week, and then again released the dove. This time it came back with an olive leaf. This told Noah that the water had gone down some. He waited one more week, and again released the dove, and this time it did not return. God then told Noah it was ok to disembark, and all the animals were released. Noah’s first action is to build an alter, and offers a burnt sacrifice of every clean animal and bird. When God smells this, he decides not to ever curse the ground again “because of human beings, since the desires of the human heart are evil from youth” (8:21). God also decides not to kill everything ever again.
God blesses Noah and his sons, and tells them to go repopulate the earth. God also states that all animals will be afraid of them, and that all the animals are for them to eat, as long as the meat they eat does not still have blood in it. God also introduces a new rule, capital punishment. God states that if a man kills another man, that man will be killed, by a man. God tells Noah that he is making a convent with him, and all the living creatures on the earth. God promises not to ever wipe them all out again. The rainbow will be the symbol of that promise.
We then get a short story about Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. One day Noah got drunk, and was laying about in his tent, Ham saw Noah naked, and went and told his brothers. Shem and Japheth then took a robe and walked backwards with it until they covered Noah, so as not to see him naked. When Noah woke up and “learned what his youngest son had done to him” (9:24) he cursed Ham’s son Canaan, making him a slave to Shem and Japheth.
I am having a little trouble understanding God’s motivation for just killing everyone and everything. It is obvious that he is really unhappy with humanity, but surely there has to be another way to deal with his problem than to just wipe it all out. This behavior kind of reminds me of a child who is losing a board game and just flips the board over, ending the game. It is nice to see that God appears to figure this out in the end, and promises not to do it again. Seems like he matures a little with this story.
God chooses to wipe out life with a flood, supposedly a very painful way to die. Moreover, it is a slow method, and surely terrifying as it took some time for the world to flood. I see this as a little sadistic. God, being all powerful, able to create the world, could have just had whatever he wanted to be done, done in an instant. Instead to chooses a longhand drawn out process.
There are some little reminders in this story that I don’t like. Like the comment that humanity is evil from youth (8:21). God made humanity, if he didn’t want us to be this way, he should have made us differently. We were also made in his image, and brought to life with his breath, we have his spirit in us (Gen. 1:27, Gen. 2:7). Does this mean that if God were in the same position as man, he would not behave in the same way?
The final story again emphasizes that nudity is bad. The wording states that Ham did something to Noah. Even though all he did was see Noah naked. The footnotes say that Ham shames Noah by seeing him naked, and then telling his brothers. I suppose the shame could be coupled with the fact that Noah was passed out naked and drunk, implying some sort of imperfection in the character of Noah.
- God prefers to do his killing slowly and painfully.
- Even though Noah was the most righteous man, humans are still evil.
- Rainbows help God remember not to kill us all.
- Nudity is shameful, but it’s ok to get drunk.