April 08, 2009

Genesis 6.13-7.5

And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the Earth is full of violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them together with the Earth.

"Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. This is how you are to make it; the length 300 cubits, its width 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks.

"For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the Earth, to destroy from under Heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the Earth shall die.

"But I will make a deal with you; and you shall come into the ark: you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of each kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive.

"Also take with you every kind of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and them."

Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

Then the Lord said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you and you alone are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate, and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the Earth. For in seven days I will send rain on the Earth for forty days and forty nights; and every living thing I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground." And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.


At 10:15 a.m., Blogger forrest said...

Okay, here's where that 'chosen' notion does creep in... but taking this literally would mean that all human life now on the planet was equally chosen, descended from Noah & etc.

There's a certain amount of Good-Guy/Bad-Guy thinking here: "Those other people can't come in because they're too rowdy."

If you think of people as incarnated spirits, then this is not precisely "divine violence in the name of stopping violence." It would be more like clearing a classroom; "You guys will have to leave, and you can't come back until you're willing to behave."

Well, the spitballs are flying once again. But according to this story, God has already tried kicking all the kids out of the room, and it didn't make much long term difference.

Later, as seen from the perspective of the exiled ruling/clerical classes in Babylon--who were, after all, the people who edited, filtered, assembled & to some extent wrote the bulk of this stuff--God did the same thing on a smaller scale with Babel, with Sodom & Gomorrah, and finally with the Jerusalem monarchy. This makes a sort of sense if you think of the world as eternally the same; then God is always running the same wash and we just happen to be starting a spin cycle. From an expectation of progress (which we'd like to see embodied in all this) it looks more like "God keeps trying the same disfunctional brutality on his kids, and they just go back to misbehaving." From a Respectable Christian point of view, God intends to do better this time by putting all the Bad Kids in the basement and thumping on them until the Respectable Christians are tired of watching, which they expect will be forever. Oy vey! Talk about 70X7 forgiveness!

I'm sort of torn between The Nonprophet's explanation: "This world is God's manure heap, in which he grows saints in the sort of stuff we grow roses in."--and that school classroom model: "Okay, the third grade came through and God had to get tough with them, but they went on to fourth grade, and a new class came in, and ..."


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