Genesis 5 & 6

Chapter 5 of Genesis is strictly a list of Adam’s descendents down to Noah and his sons. These are the people that fathered children into their second century (Noah was actually 500 when his sons were born) and lived into their 900s. There isn’t too much going on in this chapter, but it is interesting how long these men are reported to have lived.

Let me start by saying that there is no way that these men physically lived 900 years. I think there could be several reasons why the men who wrote the bible inflated their ages by such a degree. The most likely is that these people were alive longer ago than any others, and often times details from long ago get exaggerated, i.e. Paul Bunyan.

I think that maybe another reason to inflate the ages of these men could be to increase the temporal distance from the creation. It is still only nine generations after Adam, but because of the years between generations the time that has elapsed amounts to 1556 years from the creation of Adam to the birth of Noah’s sons (which is already about 25% of the history of the earth according to some young earth creationists).

One last thought: During the time of Noah God decides he must destroy mankind because of how evil they have become. If the generations between Adam and Noah were, let’s say, 20 years, only 180 years would have passed. It might seem unreasonable for humans to have become so evil in so little time. In 1556 years, though, anything can happen.

Chapter 6 of Genesis is where the shit starts to hit the fan. But first there is an odd statement by God (at least one that I do not comprehend). “Then the Lord said, ‘My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.’” (6:3, NRSV) I’ll admit that I peeked ahead to see how old the sons of Noah grow to be, and it is well beyond 120 years. Maybe he means that it will be 120 years until the flood, but he hasn’t even mentioned the wickedness of man yet. Maybe it is just a bit of poor editing.

God also says that, “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days…These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.” (6:4, NRSV) The Nephilim might have beent very tall, very strong and resilient men. There are men like this in other cultures, such as the heroes of prehistoric Greece from the Iliad and the Odyssey. I am not an historian but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are men of this stature in many other cultures of the time. Now that I think of it, some of the heroes, Achilles for example, actually had divine ancestors, and another hypothesis for the Nephilim is that they are the offspring of fallen angels and human women.

So God sees the wickedness of humankind and he was sorry that he had made them. He decides that he will “blot out from the earth the human beings [he] has created – people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air.” Say what!?!? This is an excellent story, with at least an okay moral of how being righteous has its rewards, but taken literally this story is too farfetched. (I know that not everyone takes the bible literally but enough people do for me to get this off my chest.)

1) Why does God choose to kill the animals and creeping things and birds? Have they also become so evil that they must be destroyed?

2) Could Noah and his family have been the only eight people on the planet who deserved to survive?

3) God created the universe, or at least the earth, in just six days. If he wants to exterminate the evil humans why can’t he just make them disappear, or at least just drop dead?

Numbers one and two stump me, but for number three I think it could be that having Noah build the ark and gather the animals is one final test of his righteousness, proving once and for all that his family deserves to survive the flood.

Verses 11 through 22 of Chapter 6 are God’s instructions to Noah, about how the ark should be built and how Noah should gather the animals. While not the most intriguing passage of the bible it sets a precedent for the Old Testament of God relying heavily on very clear, specific instructions and laws. We will seeplenty of these in the books to come.

1 comment:

rdbhcx said...

oh sunday school trivia...
Look at the ages of Methuselah, Lamech and Noah. Let Methuselah's birth = year 0. Lamech was born y187. Lamech died y964. Noah was born y369. The flood occurred when Noah was 600 = y969 = when Methuselah died.

So Methuselah died in the flood, or died very close to it. My teacher said that he lived so long so he could encourage Noah as he built the ark. or...ark construction accident?

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