Tag Archives: Capital Punishment

Genesis Chapters 8-11

Genesis Chapter 8-11

In this post: The flood comes to an end, I explain where the water went, more divine senility, Noah the Drunk, God gives away the first slave, Tower of Babel, Noah’s family line to Abraham

Chapter 8:

When we last saw our heroes they were floating around on a small boat with millions of animals and a few thousand tons of manure.

We pick up our story in Gen 8:1 when God recovers from another bout of senility and “…remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark… .”  Then God causes a wind to stop the rain, and the other water coming from the sky as well as the water shooting up from the bottom of the ocean (Gen 8:2-3).

The water starts slowly receding.  Where did all the water go?  Well literalists will tell you that God lowered the ocean floor and raised the land so the water is still here.  Aside from there being no basis for that in this story or in any geological record, and its being an ignorance-based version of plate tectonics, it’s just plain stupid.  I find it much easier to believe that it all went down a drain at the bottom of the ocean, next to the spigot that it was coming out of in 8:2-3.  The spigot and drain are as of now undiscovered, but that in no way definitively proves that they aren’t there.  Then God put a stopper (also undiscovered…yet)  in it which left us with the water we have.  My version has just as much evidence as theirs and is better written.  Na Nanna, Boo, Boo.

Mt. Ararat

Mt. Ararat

Anyway, after 150 days it had gone down about 13,000 feet to around 16,850 ft, so that on July 17th 2348 BC the Ark settles on Mt. Ararat, and by the first of October the mountain tops could all be seen.(Gen 8:3-5)  Actually the story says “mountains of Ararat” so it could have landed on any peak in the Armenian Highlands, but Mt. Ararat is a good choice because it is a volcano, and many early cultures loved their volcano gods.

After forty days of sitting on top of a mountain in a boat full of 10s of millions of pounds of manure, Noah opens the little window on top of his boat, and lets out a raven and a dove.  The raven flew around in circles for the next few months landing on the stinking boat, nevermore, while the dove flew around for a while and came back. (Gen 8:6-9)

After a week, Noah let the dove out again, and this time it came back with a newly sprouted olive leaf, which told Noah that the water was “abated from off the earth”,  or at least the hill that the olive tree was growing on. (Gen 8:10-11)  How an olive tree had survived almost six months under water is never explained, though I guess it could have been growing in one of the many empires that survived the flood intact with no water damage.

Noah waits another week and lets the dove go again, and the dove doesn’t come back. (Gen 8:12)  He probably got sick of the smell like the raven had.

8:13 tells us that on New Year’s Day “in the six hundredth and first year” Noah opens the Ark to reveal dryland.  Now obviously this isn’t the 601st year because the World had been around over twice that long, we can only assume that it means Noah’s 601st year, which would mesh with the rest of the story.  What doesn’t mesh is why Noah waited 37 days to open the boat if the land was already dry.  You would think he would want to air the place out as soon as possible.

Anyway, 8:14 says that the Earth wasn’t dry until the 27th of February which means 8:13 lied, or the author forgot.

Whenever the drying out happened, God told Noah to get his family and all the animals out of the boat, and Noah happily complied. (Gen 8:15-19) I’m sure everybody was getting tired of the piles of manure that by now were surrounding the boat.

390px-Figures_011_Noah_offered_burnt_offerings_on_an_altar_to_the_Lord[1]It wasn’t to be a happy day for all involved because Noah immediately took one of every “clean” animal and bird, and set them on fire. (Gen 8:20)  We can’t be sure if this means that these animals had babies before they were put to death, or if this offering led to the extinction of these animals whose significant other was left without a mate.

Anyway, God catches a whiff of burning flesh and seems to like it.  It was probably a welcome smell since the millions of dead bloated people, and the 10s of millions of dead bloated animals that surely littered the ground, along with the heaping piles of manure surrounding the Ark, were most likely quite smelly.  Because of Noah’s animal scent-candle, God vows to never again kill everything on the planet: (Gen 8:21-22) I would just like to thank Noah for his flood-stopping Bar-B-Que.

Chapter 9

Chapter 9 starts with God telling Noah and his boys to go make babies, lots of babies. (Gen 9:1)

Not the Least Bit Scared of People

Not the Least Bit Scared of People

Then God tells the guys that every animal on the planet will now be scared of them.  (Gen 9:2)  It would have been nice if that fear had passed down through the generations, but alas, it hasn’t. It would seem that God cared more for Noah than he does for 13 year old admirers.  God then goes on to explain that animals should be scared of them because “every” animal is now to be considered food.  The one caveat is that they can’t eat hearts or blood. (Gen 9:3-4)

Verses 5-6 re-establish capital punishment, but this time for murderers instead of for killers of murderers.

God tells them to have babies again, in case they didn’t hear him the first time. (Gen 9:7)  And, this isn’t the end of his repeating himself:

In verses 8-13 Gods promises to never kill everything with a flood again and creates rainbows as a reminder of this.

In verses 14-17 God promises to never kill everything with a flood again and creates rainbows as a reminder of this.

Is God repeating things because he thinks Noah and his sons are thick-headed?  Is divine senility rearing its ugly head again?  Were there multiple authors?  You decide.  My money is on senility.

Gen 9:18 starts a rather odd side story.  In this story, Noah plants a vineyard, makes some wine from the grapes, gets blackout drunk, and passes out naked in his tent.  His son Ham stumbles upon his drunk, naked father and tells his two brothers, Shem and Japheth about it.  Shem and Japheth go to great lengths to cover their drunkard of a dad with a blanket without looking at him. (Gen 9:18-23) There is no mention of where Mrs. Noah is during this.

When Noah wakes up from his drunken coma, does he apologize to his family for getting blind drunk and passing out naked in a tent?  No, he gets mad at his son Ham for stumbling onto the sight of his alcoholic naked father, and curses Ham’s son Canaan to be a servant to his uncles. (Gen 9:24-27)

Then we are told that the drunk lived for 350 years after the flood and dies (liver cirrhosis) at the age of 950 in 1998 BC. (Gen 9:28-29)   Did you see the math error?  According to Gen 7:6 and 11 Noah was 600 when the flood started.  According to Gen 8:13 Noah was 601 when the flood ended, and 8:14 reiterates that the flood lasted for a year.  601 + 350=951, not 950.  God’s divinely guided messenger isn’t very good at math, or maybe God isn’t.  Either way a big mistake.

Chapter 10

This chapter is a series of begats.

Nimrod's Nemisis

Nimrod’s Nemisis

First we get  Noah’s oldest son Japheth’s family tree. (Gen 10:1-5) Then Ham’s. (Gen 10:6-20) Then Shem’s. (Gen 10:21-31)  Chapter 10 ends by telling us that this  was how the Earth was repopulated (Gen 10:32)  The only name of any interest is Nimrod the Hunter (Grandson of Ham) who rules Babel, and then goes on to fight the X-Men.

Chapter 11

Our final chapter for this post starts by telling us that everyone was speaking one language (Gen 11:1)  This should have been obvious since everyone at this point is descended from one family.

Babel[1]Then we are told that all of these people got together and started to build a huge tower toward the heavens as a way to unite them as a people.  (Gen 11:2-4)

So, God wonders out from where ever he had been hanging out since completing his first genocide and sees the tower (Gen 11:5)

When God sees the tower he tells his female companion that it is a sign that people have become smart, and full of ingenuity, and that if they can do such a wonderous thing then there is nothing that they can’t do if they put there minds to it (Gen 11:6)  Generally, such words spoken about children by a parent would be considered a good thing.  Not so to humanity’s kind and loving father.  Instead of congratulating his children, he and his female companion make it so the children can’t understand each other thereby creating the different languages and scattering the people all over the planet. Which is why the tower came to be called Babel. (Gen 11:7-9)

What God didn’t know was that there were at least four recorded languages before this: Sumerian , Egyptian, Akkadian, and Eblaite.  But, since these languages were different from Noahnese God probably didn’t understand them and ignored them, especially since speakers of these languages had all managed to survive the flood.

Then the chapter starts another begat list. This time just from Noah’s son Shem to Abram (Abraham born 2038 BC) and Abram’s nephew Lot. (Gen 11:10-27)  All the men mentioned in this list live longer than God’s set lifespan for humans.  It seems that God forgot again and let these guys live too long.

11:29 tells us that Abram marries a woman named Sarai, and that Abram’s brother Nahor marries their niece, Lot’s sister, Milcah.  It aint love if it aint in the fam’ly.

Then God gets a little personal and lets us know that Abram’s wife was barren. (Gen 11:30)

Then Abram’s dad takes Abram, Sarai, and lot from Ur where they had been living to live in a city named after Abram’s brother, and Abrams’ brother’s father-in-law, and lot’s father, Haran, in Canaan. (Gen 11:31)  Where Abram’s father dies in 1903 BC (probably from shame about his son marrying his granddaughter) (Gen 11:32)

Why they moved from a city that had survived the flood to a place designated as bad, we are not told.

Next time:  Abram, Sarai, and Lot wander around the Middle East making money.

See you then, Ron

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Genesis Chapter 4

Genesis chapter 4

In this chapter:  Adam has sons, one son is a murderer, God’s punishment, incest, capital punishment created, and our first begat list.

It’s a boy!  The chapter starts with Eve giving birth to a son, Cain, and giving God credit for him. (Gen 4:1)  Then Eve gives birth to Cain’s brother, Abel, and we learn that Abel  took care of the sheep, and Cain was a farmer. (Gen 4:2)

Cainabel[1]Time goes by and Cain brings an offering to God from his fields, while his little brother brings lambs and fat.  God, an obvious carnivore and lover of fat, likes Abel‘s offering (Gen 4:3-4) but, doesn’t like the veggies which upsets Cain. (Gen 4:5)

My father always told me that God rejected Cain’s offering because it was somehow flawed, as if Cain kept all the good brussel sprouts and took the old nasty ones to God.  However, there is absolutely nothing to back this up except for God’s attitude, so unless my father, or any other literalist, had or has some kind of psychic connection with the author then there is no proof of this idea.

So God gets a little snooty with Cain and says:  “what’s your problem?“ Then tells him that if he does a good job he’ll be rewarded, but if he doesn’t do a good job, that sin will get him. (Gen 4:6-7)  Obviously, God doesn’t like farmers even though he created them when he cursed Cain’s father to be a farmer.  The whole, farmers-vs-ranchers thing is a common sub-plot in American western novels and movies.  I had always assumed that the farmers were the good guys or victims in these stories; this story shows just how wrong I was.

CainkillshisbrotherAbel[1]As any set of brothers will do in such a situation, Adam’s boys get into an argument.  Then Cain kills his little brother. (Gen 4:8)

God notices that Abel is missing and asks Cain where he is.  Cain, returning the snooty attitude that God had thrown at him says “I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9)  Why Adam and Eve didn’t do a better job raising their kids is unclear.

In a Poe-like moment God hears Abel’s blood crying out from the grave and knows what Cain has done. (Gen 4:10) So he curses Cain to be a bum and fugitive who can’t grow anything.  (Gen 4:11-12)

Cain, without showing remorse for what he’s done, says that the punishment is too harsh, because someone will kill him. (Gen 4:13-14)  Obviously either bum killing was a big thing then, or Cain’s sisters (the only possible people on the planet besides his parents) were really upset about Abel.

So God proclaims that anyone caught killing Cain will be killed seven times, and marks Cain so no one will kill him. (Gen 4:15)  Thus we have the start of capital punishment, but only for killing someone who has been convicted of murder.

Some of the more enlightened Christians have used Cain’s unspecified mark as an excuse for slavery, bigotry, and other seemingly Christian attributes.  Why God had to mark Cain in the first place is a little unclear since the only people on the planet were his parents, and some sisters, and God being all-powerful and such had already told everyone to leave Cain alone.

I have heard it said, many times, that Cain’s mark was meant to be a visual cue to his being evil, and that all of Cain’s descendants also had the mark so that people would know that these people were descended from evil and therefore evil themselves.   If this is true, then why, when the mark was so obviously important, didn’t the author fill us in as to what exactly this mark looks like?  It seems that such information would be rather useful.  Could it be that the Iron Age author of the story was using this story and a visual cue of some kind as a way to justify his own bigotry and hatred against a people whose name was a lot like ‘Cain’ (i.e. Caananites) and assumed that his contemporaries would know what he meant?  The answer to this is unknown, but we do have a modern-day precedent for such a thing with the way some Christians and politicians have used hyperbole, inaccurate and made up statements about teachings; as well as head scarves and other pieces of clothing as excuses to discriminate against and kill people of a certain religion that they don’t like.

Anyway, back to the story.

Feeling a little safer, Cain heads east to the land of Nod (Gen 4:16)  Nod is not on any maps but if it’s east of Eden then it would have been in modern-day Turkey or Maybe Iran.

One of Cain’s sisters (the only women on the planet other than his mom) joins him in Nod, they get married and start having babies.  Their first son/nephew was Enoch.  Cain was so happy with having a son that he built the world’s first city and called it ‘Enoch’. (Gen 4:17)  Probably not a very big city since there were only three people there, but a city none the less.

Most of the rest of the chapter is a ‘begat’ list of Cain’s family line. (Gen 4:18-24)  The only notable people are Cain’s great-great-great-great grandson Jabel who was the first nomad and rancher (Gen 4:20); Jabel’s brother Jubal who was the first musician (Gen 4:21); and Jabel and Jubal’s father Lamech who, like his ancestor Cain, was also a killer. (Gen 4:23-24)  Note that Lamech will have to be killed 77 times.

Following along with the oft’ proposed theory that all of Cain’s descendants are evil, this means that all nomads, cattle ranchers, and musicians are evil.  So, now we have another reason to hate Justin Bieber.

The chapter ends with Eve giving birth to another son, Seth, and again giving God the credit. (Gen 4:25)  Poor Adam just gets no respect from his wife.

Seth eventually has a son/nephew (remember, the only women around were Eve, and Adam and Eve’s daughters) whom he names Enos. (Gen 4:26)  Legend has it that Enos became a sheriff’s deputy in Georgia and spent his days trying to catch the Duke boys, and lusting after a woman in skimpy shorts named ‘Daisy’, but this is only a legend.

Next up in our exploration of Genesis is the start of date keeping, the family line to Noah, horny angels, and a dire forecast.  I’ll give you a hint:  It involves a lot of rain and tens of millions of animals. See you next time.