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Blogging the Bible, Day 2
January 3, 2007 — 8:48 pm

Genesis 8

I see plenty of inconsistencies in chapter 8 of Genesis. Most of them have to do with exactly how long the flood was. And when, exactly did the ark make landfall? The text doesn’t really give any clear explanation. We are told that:

And the waters returned from off the earth continually; after one hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.

And the ark rested in the seventh month, upon the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.

And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.

So far, so good. Up until now, everything fits in a nice, chronological order. Then we have this:

And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:

And he set forth a raven, which went to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.

Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground

This seems a little odd to me. Noah surely knows the waters were “abated from off the face of the ground” as not only had the Ark found a resting spot on Mount Ararat, the tops of the mountains were seen from his vantage point, or so we are lead to believe.

But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth…

Either the bible is messed up chronologically, or this passage is in direct contradiction of with what was stated above.

And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark

And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.

Taken literally, this makes absolutely no sense. We are to believe that an olive tree either survived the flood or germinated and sprouted leaves within a seven day period. Everything we know about horticulture flies in the face of such claims. It’s about as believable as a 500 year old man having three children in the span of a year. That is to say, it is wholly unbelievable.

Another mystery has to do with the animals on the ark. After landfall, Noah:

builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Did God, in his wisdom, order Noah to carry two of every animal just so the “clean” ones could be sacrificed to him after the whole ordeal was over with? What exactly does that mean? Are we left with the prodigy of the “unclean” beasts and fowl? Or is it that all the clean beasts and fowl had offspring while on the ark, hence providing the sacrifice unto the Lord. And yet, if that is the case, how did all those offspring fit on the already surely cramped ark?

Genesis 9

And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations

I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth

I remember having this lesson in Sunday school years ago. I thought aloud that it was wonderful that God would not destroy the earth again. It seemed to me that we were all safe from God’s wrath. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to my psyche that I didn’t have to look over my shoulder, waiting in dread anticipation for God to strike us all down dead for our wickedness.

Of course, it was quickly pointed out that God had only promised not to kill us all by way of drowning. All other options were fair game. My child-hood imagination quickly spun into overdrive once again. How would it come next time? Luckily for us, that is all foretold in another book of the bible…something I’ll discuss much later on this year.

In fact, a rainbow is “an optical and meteorological phenomenon that causes a nearly continuous spectrum of light to appear in the sky when the Sun shines onto droplets of moisture in the Earth’s atmosphere. It takes the form of a multicolored arc, with red on the outside and violet on the inside.”

Not to put too fine a point on it, but a rainbow is a purely scientific phenomenon. Where rays of light from the sun and atmospheric moisture mix in the, a rainbow is the likely result. Of course, there is little evidence to suggest that ancient civilizations understood the concept of light refraction, so the explanation of God worked rather nicely in its stead.

Right around Geniuses 9-20, things get downright bizarre. Noah planted a vineyard, you see and drank a little too much wine one night. And. well:

he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.

And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.

And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s naked-ness

noah5.jpg

Well, OK. Noah had a bit much to drink and passed out in a less than flattering pose. I’m sure that the majority of us at least know of this happening to someone with whom they are acquainted. Noah, with a slight hangover, I suppose, wakes up the next morning and:

knew what his younger son had done unto him

And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren

And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

God shall enlarge Japeth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

OK, everything else up to this point is just a little silly to me. However, this is where the bible starts running into some serious ethical problems. Noah gets drunk and passes out, naked. His son, Ham, comes upon him and sees him. Instead of covering him up (hence, honoring his father), he goes and tells his other brothers about their father’s condition.

As far as what’s written, this is all that happened. And, for the moment, I’ll take it at face value.

For the crime of not honoring his father, Ham’s son (an innocent) and his whole line of descendents are subjected to a life of slavery. Slavery is a condition that has nearly been eradicated from the face of the earth. It is a ruthless economic system that all enlightened societies find morally repugnant, to the nth degree. And yet, if we are to believe some fundamentalist Christians, the bible is the only source of morality for man to live by.

Of course, much more can be read into the story of Noah and Ham.

Genesis 10

This is the part in Genesis where Homer Simpson goes to sleep while listening to the Bible on tape. Begat, begat, begat, begat, begat.

Please email any questions, concerns, comments or rants to bibleblog2007-at-gmail.com

— Justin M. StoddardComments (0)

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