Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More long lineages

We next go into another long lineage of descendants of the sons of Noah - Shem, Ham and Japheth.
But first, let me go back briefly to Genesis 9 and comment on a famous passage that has long served as the Biblical underpinnings for the death penalty.
After God blesses Noah, he announces that Noah and his descendants will have dominion over the earth and all the animals and plants therein. However, without explanation, he also throws in a caveat about not eating meat that still has lifeblood in it. Is this another test like the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden?
And then, almost as an afterthought, God throws in that he will also demand an accounting from any animals that take man's lifeblood. And then as an afterthought to an afterthought, he throws in that he will likewise punish any man who kills another man and then makes this pronouncement:
“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made man.”
So there you have it. Shed the blood of man and you will have your blood shed by man. Presumably then, the person who sheds your blood in payment for the first killing will be exempt from the rule, but that is not made clear. And we will see time and time again how this rule is not followed later on in the Bible.
Furthermore, I would argue that this rule is superseded by Christ in the New Testament when he stops a mob from killing a prostitute (a capital offense at the time) and later becomes a victim of a state-sponsored execution.
And speaking of not following rules, what about God’s announcement in Genesis 6:3 that he will no longer abide men living past the age of 120? Because shortly afterward we are told that Noah lived to be 950. Was he grandfathered in?
And while Noah’s children and immediate descendants don’t live as long as the immediate descendants of Adam, they don’t come anywhere close to kicking off at the 120 mark. Most live to be well into their 400s.
But we get two separate accountings of the descendants of Noah, first in Genesis 10 we get a full rundown of all the tribes and their links to the three sons, and then again in Genesis 11 with more detail we get the specific lineage that takes us from Shem to Abram. This becomes important later as we learn from the Sunday School song that “Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham.....”


  1. Y'know, Mike, you seem to be reading the Word of God as a form of critical commentary, rather than for spiritual nourishment. You can certainly do that, but you sound almost like an unbeliever trying to expose inconsistency and contradiction in the Bible. Are you reacting against the overreach of fundamentalists? If so, that is understandable, but in reacting to them you seem to be missing out on what the Bible actually does have to say.

    You might consider an approach that is more along the lines of lectio divina, a method of "praying Sacred Scripture".

    Is there a leader of your study group? Are you following a developed lesson plan or is it just gathering and talking together?

  2. The class isn't starting the year-round Bible reading program until the end of summer. I'm just getting a head start.
    I don't want to come across as disrespectful and dismissive, although I'm not beyond lampooning certain things I think are silly. These are simply my observations as a modern-day Christian sitting down to read the Bible thoroughly for pretty much the first time.
    And, yes, I suppose I am reacting somewhat to the overreach of the fundamentalists, but I think theirs is a flawed perspective that needs to be called out and addressed.
    I welcome and appreciate your insights, Mark, as I make my way through the Good Book.