Saturday, February 13, 2016

Genesis 6-10: Old Testament Survey

Genesis 6-10: The story of Noah, the Flood, and His Descendants


We left off last time with the introduction of Noah and his family, and now we will go over one of the best known stories of the Bible, the story of Noah, the great flood and the ark. Te chapter begins with a passage about the “sons of God”  marrying with the daughters of man, and God is obviously displeased, and decides  that He cannot abide with flesh forever, and at that point reaches the decision that the lifespan of man  should be reduced to 120 years or so.   Reference is made to “the Nephilim” which has been the source of much speculation by scholars and theologians. Some have said they may be the progeny of men and angels, while others say they were merely an ethnic group which is obviously  much taller and larger than others.  We do not know for sure. The only Biblical references are here in genesis 6 and later in the Book of Numbers, chapter 13, and neither of the passages can definitely tell us who or what they really were.  A brief explanation of this can be found in this video, and again, the Church has no official teaching on who they were.

What is crystal clear is that God is running out of patience with a world population that is Godless and unruly. Cas the NRSV puts it (Gen 6:5) “The Lord Saw that the Wickedness of humankind was great in the earth and that every inclination of their hearts was only evil, continually.”

What an indictment.


Verse 6: “And the Lord was sorry that He had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved Him to His heart.”

Those of us who are parents know how it stings to the core of our being when our children walk in direct disobedience to us and to God, of who are ungrateful, , so we can get some inkling of God’s grief.

Thus God was ready to abandon the project of life on earth that He had created...but for one righteous man and his family. Enter Noah, the one man whose heart was right, and who pleased God. 

Thus God spoke to Noah and disclosed his decision to start over on planet earth.  He instructed Noah that he was to build an ark which would accommodate  ,Noah, his wife, , his three sons Shem Japheth and Ham, and their wives, as well as two or more  of each kind of animal, one of each gender, as well as insects and different types of food, for supplies, and for planting of seeds after the flood. God also gave Noah very specific instructions on how he was to build the ark, the types of materials to be used, the measurements  and the design.  This may have been a test of his obedience.  It is also a foreshadowing of the Ark of the Covenant which we will read about when we get to Exodus.

Chapter 7: in Chapter 7, God repeated His instructions to Noah about the animals he if to bring, with different instructions about clean and unclean animals and repeats his decision to blot out every living thing on earth not in the ark, and announces  that it will rain for 40 days and 40 nights


And so it came to pass. The waters burst out from the earth, and fell from the sky, and the earth began its cleansing, as the waters washed over the earth for 150 days.


Chapter 8:  After 150 days, the winds began to blow and the waters subsided. The fountains of the earth stopped , as did the rains. As the waters subsided, Noah sent out a dove   to get some idea as to whether they would soon be able to settle on the earth. Finding no place it returned. 7 days later he sent the dove out again, and this time it returned with an olive leaf, so Noah knew that they would not have to wait much longer,. Seven days later, Noah sent the dove out again, and this time the dove had returned, and then he knew the ordeal would soon be over.


The Ark had settles in the region of Ararat, which is on the border of modern Armenia and Turkey, and God commanded Noah to leave the Ark, and  set the animals free according to their kind, so that life on earth could begin anew. Noah offered burnt offerings on an altar he had made, and then in Chapter 9  God affirmed that he would never again destroy the whole earth as he had done by a flood, and declared that when He sees a bow in the sky, He will remember His covenant.

They don;’t call it original sin for nothing. It did not take very long for mayhem to begin again.  Noah planted vineyards, and one night got very, very drunk and passed out naked.  His son Ham showed utter disrespect for his father by first not doing anything about his father’s embarrassing situation, and then publicizing it to his brothers Shem and Japheth, who were horrified and then with their backs turned so they would not look upon Noah’s nakedness, covered him up.  When Noah learned about it the next day, he pronounced a curse on Ham, who was the father of Canaan, which would become the father of the nations that occupied the Holy land which was called Canaan. Once again we see the importance of the genealogies, as in Chapter 10 it explains  the nations that descended from Shem , Japheth and Ham.   Noah’s curse was that Canaan would be cursed and would be the slave to his brothers.

So Chapter 10, lists the nations that descended from the three sons of Noah.  Some of the names of the nations that descended from the sons of Shem Ham and Japheth  are recognizable, others are not, so I am providing this chart to illustrate who is descended from whom.

As for Ham , the punishment did  not come as a lightning bolt form the sky.  The Bible tells us that his son Cush became the father of-among others, a man named Nimrod who became very powerful indeed. Nimrod was said to be a mighty  hunter and a great ruler who built Babel Which we shall read more about in the next instalment) , and Nineveh (which will also figure prominently later) , and other places which stretched all over Mesopotamia and Assyria.   He was also the father of Egypt, and Put (Libya)  and the Philistines ( a perpetual thorn in Israel’s side.  Canaan , the son who was to bear the brunt of the curse, became the father of Sidon, Heth, the Jebusites, Hivites  and others we shall hear more about later. Ham’s descendants would also establish such cities as Sodom and Gomorrah.

It is Shem’s line that will be the one that is most significant, as  anyone who reads the first chapter of Mathew would recognize: Shem became the father of Arpachshad, who became the father of Shelah, who became the father of Eber, who became the father of Peleg, who became the ancestor of Abraham, Jacob, and  Judah... the ancestor of Jesus
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