Friday, October 11, 2013

The Bible, Pt. 3: Genesis, Chapter 7 - 10

Note: I'm continuing my Bible study from this post (or get the whole series here). Bible quotes are from the King James Version.

Genesis, Chapter 7:
1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.

3 Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.

Noah built the Ark, following the precise measurements of God, in the previous chapter, where God also instructed him to take aboard two of "every living thing of all flesh."

But now God changes his mind. Now he wants seven of every "clean beast" - without indicating which beasts are "clean" and which aren't - as well as seven of every bird. This is after Noah has already built the boat and filled it with food for the millions of creatures God told him to expect the first time.

Of course, let's face it, you have to be pretty dim to think this really happened, don't you? I'm not even going to argue about it, since I'm pretty sure that even most Christians don't believe it. Still, it gives us a pretty good idea of the kind of God Christians are worshiping here.
21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:

22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.

23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.

So God gets pissed and kills every man, woman, and child on the Earth, every fetus (so much for 'pro-life'), and every animal, save only Noah's family and two to seven of every other species. If this had actually happened, God would have been a worse mass murderer than every other mass murderer in history combined.

It rained for forty days and forty nights, until even the mountains were covered. And the water remained for 150 days. I guess God was worried that people might hold their breath, huh?

Chapter 8:
13 And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year [of Noah's life], in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.

Um, did Noah just not look outside for 190 days? I've been wondering what the deal was with the raven and the doves, since you could just open a window and look outside if you wanted to know if the flood had abated.

Of course, I know that there wasn't actually a world-wide flood - geologists would see the evidence of that if there were - but it would be kind of funny if Noah thought so, only because he hadn't bothered to open a window and look outside all that time, wouldn't it? Heh, heh.
20 And 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.

21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour

Oh, yeah! As we saw in Chapter 4, God just loves the smell of burning sacrifices, doesn't he? And this is why Noah needed more than just two of everything, apparently - since he was going to kill one of every "clean" species after they made land again. (Of course, one of the doves had already escaped.)

Chapter 9:
1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

Did you think we were inbred before, with everyone descended from Adam and Eve? Well, now God has killed everyone else on Earth, save Noah and his nameless wife, plus their three sons and their nameless wives. (I still find it weird how women aren't even worth mentioning by name!)

Note that Noah was 600 years old, supposedly. But he only had three kids? Or did God just drown all of the others - including any daughters? (Still, they did a pretty good job of replenishing the Earth, with 7 billion of us currently. I think we can stop multiplying now, don't you?)
2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.

3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

Yeah, every living thing will fear us (even sharks and piranha?), because we've got God's OK to eat everything (no worries about "clean" and "unclean" now, apparently). Well, we do have to wait until it's dead first. I'm glad God qualified things in that respect, aren't you?

(Yeah, that's not the interpretation of Genesis 9:4 that most Christian sects adopt. The Jehovah's Witnesses even reject blood transfusions because they see that as "eating blood." But how else does "flesh with the life thereof" make any sense? Well, either way, I kind of like blood sausage, myself.)
5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.

6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

OK, verse 5 seems to indicate that God requires people to kill each other (and for animals to kill us, too). But verse 6 says that those people, in turn, should be killed, as well. So wouldn't you quickly end up with no one left alive on Earth (finishing what God started)?

People are required to "shed blood" - at the very least, to kill the people who've shed the blood of others. But then those people must be put to death, too, right? Because man is made in God's image? This seems to be contradictory.

And note that this is another place where God has changed his mind. In Chapter 4, he specifically put a mark on Cain so that people wouldn't execute him for murdering his brother. Why can't God make up his mind about this stuff?
9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.

11 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 this is why - because of a story no intelligent person in the 21st Century could possibly believe actually happened - that some Republican politicians - leaders in their party - say they don't believe in global warming! Is there anything more ridiculous than that? This is how they counter science? Why not just say that Bigfoot told them it wasn't true?

But even if you believe in Christian mythology, that's not what this says. This says that God won't cause a flood to kill everyone. Floods happen all the time, and obviously they kill people. They just don't kill everyone.

Likewise, God promises that a flood won't "destroy the Earth." But no scientist thinks that global warming will destroy the Earth. We might destroy our own environment, but the planet will be just fine. And no scientist thinks that everyone on Earth will die, either, even if millions do. So even if the Bible were more than just primitive superstition, it still wouldn't rule out climate change.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:

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

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

23 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 nakedness.

24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.

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

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

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

OK, this is just nuts. First of all, this was the "just," the "righteous," the "perfect" Noah? This drunken sot was the one guy, with his family, who God decided to save when he murdered every other man, woman, and child on the Earth?

What did Ham do that was so bad? Getting drunk and lying around naked was Noah's fault, wasn't it? There's no indication here that Ham did anything other than tell his brothers, so they could cover up their drunken father.

And for that Noah curses, not even Ham, but Ham's son (who had nothing to do with any of this) and forces him to become a servant? Yeah, Noah sure is the "perfect" man, isn't he?

There are two other points I want to make about this. For one, this is another favorite passage of racists and slave-owners. They claim that the descendants of Canaan are supposed to be servants, that this is God's will.

But again, as with the mark of Cain, there's no indication here that this applies to anyone but Canaan himself. Maybe he was cursed to be a servant (a horrible injustice, obviously), but there's nothing about the curse being hereditary. Of course, maybe that was understood by Noah cursing Ham's son, instead of Ham himself (not that Ham did anything wrong, either)?

Well, in these primitive, caste-based societies, maybe it's just automatically assumed that the son of a servant can't ever be anything more than a servant himself. I don't know. Either way, this whole thing is completely nuts and shows Noah as a terrible person.

Yet God thought he was "perfect." That's the second point I want to make about this. What made Noah so perfect? He doesn't seem so perfect to me. Or was he just the perfect slave? Obedience seems to be the only quality God values in human beings, doesn't it? (We also saw that in Chapter 3) Or maybe it's even worse than that.

In Out of the Silent Planet, a 1938 science fiction novel by C.S. Lewis, God has set up the perfect (to his mind) society on Mars by killing everyone who even thinks about rebellion. For generation after generation after generation, God has culled the herd by killing any person who isn't naturally obedient - people who haven't done anything wrong, but might have a tendency for rebellious thought.

After millions of years, he has created a society where people aren't so much slaves as they are domesticated animals, with all the rebellion bred out of them. Lewis, a devout Christian, saw that as a good thing. Me? I thought it was the most disgusting idea I'd ever heard!

Well, maybe that's the idea here, too. Noah was a drunken sot who cursed his own grandson, not because his grandson - or even his son - had done anything wrong, but due to Noah's own faults. But according to God, he was "just," he was "righteous," he was "perfect" - the one person on Earth worth saving, basically the one person on Earth whom God wanted to repopulate the planet.

How else do you explain that?

Chapter 10 is just a genealogy again - boring to read and with nothing I care to comment about. But in Chapter 11, we get to the Tower of Babel. However, I'll leave that for my next post.

Note: Again, this whole series is available here.


jeff725 said...

I've been having trouble keeping up with your posts lately. I also haven't been able to hammer Jody P in the LJS on a regular basis like I want to. Daily life just keeps making demands.

A few quick thoughts on your more recent posts:

I prefer Bill Cosby's version of the Noah story:

"What do you hate more: poverty or Obama?" You know the Republicans don't do "gotcha" questions. :)

We ate the monkey brains? I know the perfect doctor for that problem:

The other day, Jody P posted comments on EVERY editorial & Letter To The Editor. That's not healthy. Jody desperately needs to get a life. :)

WCG said...

Yeah, and I've been blogging like crazy lately, Jeff. By this time of year, I can hardly force myself to keep working in the yard (though I've still got lots of grapes which need to be picked).

And I've had more time in general, so I can't seem to stop posting stuff. :)

Thanks for the links. Bill Cosby was great. Monty Python was, um, appropriate, though not one of my favorite skits.

jeff725 said...

I'm hearing you about the yard-work. That's one of the things that's been consuming my time.

Last weekend, I raked up 6 bags of thatch out of my lawn. I keep it watered regularly and I aerate, fertilize, and over-seed in the Spring and Fall, but the last couple of years of drought has taken its toll.

Right now, I'm feverishly trying to get my lawn over-seeded in hope it will sprout before the ground really starts to cool down.

WCG said...

Ugh! I'm not a yard person, Jeff. I grow lots of different kinds of fruit - and a few vegetables, too - but lawns just bore me to death. I keep it mowed, but that's about it.

Actually, I've got the whole backyard covered in mulch now. Anywhere I can get rid of the grass, I will. :)