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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 2

(editorial note: I have decided that a summary of each part of the Bible that I discuss would be helpful for those just skimming through, so I will post a summary at the beginning of each post to give an idea of what the post covers.  Thanks, Ron)

Genesis Chapter 2 contains the end of the first creation story, and begins the second creation story.  It is with Gen 2 that the Bible starts contradicting itself when viewed as a literal word of God.

The segue into the second creation story  Leaves a lot to be desired, because it is actually just the end of the first one.

Gen. 2:1-3 Is just telling us that in a somewhat redundant way, that the all-powerful God was tired after working all week and had to rest.  So, to excuse his having a day off, he makes the Sabbath a holy rest day and, since he knows all, he rather ingeniously made Saturday the Sabbath so that professional football players could work on Sunday and not go to Hell.  Praise be to God, lets all Tebow before him in thanks for our day of football.

So ends the story of creation, however, for some reason he scraped that creation without telling Moses (traditionally considered to be the author of the first five books of the Bible i.e. Pentateuch) and started over.  Since this obviously confused Moses, he left both stories in.

page1-388px-Creation_Diary.pdf[1]The second story of creation.

This story is written with more detail and in a more poetic way.  Most biblical scholars say that this is because the two stories were written by two different people in two different times basing their stories on two different sets of other mythologies.  But, all good fundamentalists know that this is simply not true.

The story starts out by telling us that what follows is the order of creation on the day that God created everything.  (Gen.2:4) Obviously God had learned from his earlier attempt and managed to do it all in one day this time.

So, this time he starts with the Earth and sky already fully formed, but barren and quite dry. (Gen.2:5)

To correct this, he causes fog to come out of the ground and get everything wet, (Gen. 2:6) he then takes some dirt and creates a man. (Gen.2:7)  In his previous attempt he created man and woman at the same time and did it after he had created everything else.  It seems that he thought this would work better.  But he was mistaken, which he admits later.

God then does some gardening and calls his new garden Eden.  He puts the mudman in this garden along with all the pretty trees, the trees that produce food, the Tree of Life, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Gen 2:8-9) We can also safely assume that he made all the other plants at this time, though it doesn’t specifically say so.

Genesis 2:10-14 describes the rivers coming out of Eden, and the mineral rich lands around them which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t really important except that this geography lesson puts the Garden of Eden somewhere in modern-day Eastern Turkey, meaning that all mankind and every animal on the planet started in Turkey.

Then God puts the man in the garden again (I’m assuming he wandered off  while God was growing the trees and had to be brought back) and makes him the head gardener/groundskeeper. (Gen 2:15)

Then God tells the man that he can eat from every tree in the Garden (Gen 2:16) except for one: The Tree of Knowledge.  God then tells his first recorded lie, when he tells the man that if he eats of this tree he will die that very day.  (Gen 2:18)  This fib will be covered in another post.

In Genesis 2:18 God realizes the mistake I mentioned earlier and says “…It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet [old English phrase meaning:  helper] for him.”  It is unclear who he is talking to, but it’s probably the female companion from chapter 1.  See the post on Chapter 1 for an explanation of this unknown female.

So to keep the man company and give him help in the garden what does God do?  He creates all the land animals and the birds.  Doesn’t seem like they will be much help, but as the saying goes: “God works in mysterious ways.” This is the creation of the World’s first pets.  He then presents the man who, out of the blue, has acquired the name “Adam” with all of the animals and has him name them, thereby craeting the World’s first zoologist.  (Gen 2:19) No mention is made of the animals in the water, so I’ll assume that God kept the ones he created before, and then put them in the waters of the new Earth.  Who named these animals is unclear.

Adam then names all 6-10 million insect species,  6-7 million species of land animals, and roughly 10 thousand different birds.  How he did this in one day, and what all of these names were we do not know.  Luckily he didn’t have to name fish and marine mammals because that would have been another 27,000 or so.  Once he had compiled his species list, it became apparent to God that Adam’s 24-34 million companions (2 of each species) weren’t very good company, nor much help with the Garden. (Gen 2:20)   Note:  I used numbers for every species alive today, but if every species of animal that has ever lived was created that day then Adam had to name an estimated 24-34 billion different animals.  How this many animals fit into a small corner of what is now Eastern Turkey is unclear.

So, to correct his helper mistake, God put Adam into a coma, cut him open, took out one of his ribs, then sutured him back up. (Gen 2:21)  It seems that God’s supposed ability to do surgery and heal people without cutting them open hadn’t developed yet.  No Benny Hinn for Adam.

God then took the rib which he had surgically removed from Adam, left for a while, turned the rib into a woman, and brought her to Adam for his approval. (Gen 2:22)

Adam looked at her and decided to call her “Woman.” (Gen 2:23)  I know what you’re thinking, not a very imaginative name.  Makes you wonder if he called elephants “long noses“, or called kangaroos “hoppies.”  But, like I mentioned earlier, we will never know.

In Genesis 2:24 the author inserts an editorial note saying that the bit about Woman’s creation is the reason that men should leave their parents’ house when they get married.  So, for all of you parents out there who are still housing your married sons you can point to this verse and tell him to leave.

The chapter ends with the author telling us that Adam and Woman were wandering around naked and proud of it. (Gen 2:25)

So, in summary, the second creation story tells us that when God recreated everything he changed the order up a little bit.

In the first story the order of creation was: (Numbered by day)

  1. A blob of water which would become the Earth, light, day and night, evenings and mornings.
  2. Dry land and the sky.
  3. All the plants.
  4. The Sun, Moon, and stars, (though no galaxies, asteroids, comets, or any other such nonsense) along with days, seasons, and years.
  5. Water animals and birds.
  6. Land animals, then men and women at the same time.
  7. Took the day off because he was tired.

The second time around the order of creation was:

  1. A complete Earth with light, seas, dry land, and I’m assuming (as they’re never mentioned) the Sun, Moon, and stars.
  2. Then he creates fog.
  3. Then he creates Adam.
  4. God then creates all the plants and trees as well as the Garden of Eden.
  5. God then creates all of the land animals and birds.
  6. God then created Woman.
  7. No rest day mentioned, it seems it was easier this time.

I mentioned before that this chapter along with Genesis 1 gives us out first Biblical contradiction.  If you look at the orders of creation it becomes quite apparent what I meant.  If, as literalists will tell you, the two stories are just one story with a summary followed by a more detailed account then the two accounts should contain the same order, but they don’t:  first everything takes six days, then it only takes one day; first plants are created before people then they come after Adam but before Woman; first birds and land animals are created at separate times, then they’re created at the same time; first birds are created before man then they are created after him; first men and women are created at the same time after birds then they are created at different times with birds coming after man but before Woman.

These same literalists will point to my usage of “then” when talking about chapter two instead of the word “and.”   They often say that since “and” is used instead of “then” that I can’t say with authority that the order is incorrect.  However, 2:18 clearly says that Adam is “alone” which means there were no other creatures around.  Then in 2:19-20 the animals and birds are created and Adam names them “but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him” meaning Adam was still lonely.  So, at this point we have Adam created, then animals created then we move on to the creation of the female named Woman.  The order is laid out quite clearly.  And, besides, if everything was created at the same time as these literalists suggest by pointing to the word “and”, what does that do to the whole ‘six days of creation’ story?  It destroys it, that’s what it does to it.

Another qualm they will have with my explanation is my saying that the second story all takes place in one day.  I say this because 2:4 says it.  Literalists often say that “day” could mean an era or any other such measurement and does not have to mean a 24hr cycle of rotation by the planet.  In principle I agree.  The problem is that if chapter 1 is also correct and part of the same story, then the 24hr ‘day’ was clearly created on days 1 (Gen 1:5) and 4 (Gen 1:14) before any animals or people were created, so that argument holds no water, unless… .

According to Biblical scholars these two stories are different, written by different people, at different times, in different parts of the Middle East, and when from the 5th-16th centuries  the Catholic Church compiled and edited the early manuscripts into what we call the Bible (the first standard version we would recognize today as the Bible was compiled in the 10th century), they left both stories in so that various points in each story (e.g the Sabbath, and the Tree of Knowledge) which come up throughout the Old and New Testaments will have a basis.  These conflicts wouldn’t have really been a problem at the time as the vast majority of Christians were illiterate, and laymen weren’t allowed to read the Bible because it was assumed that your average Joe wouldn’t understand the thing and that would cause problems and possible divisions within the Christian community; something we now know was an accurate assumption.

The scholarly explanation makes sense, and study of early manuscripts supports it, but, like most things for which there are mountains of evidence, literalists reject it.  And, the idea  espoused by some Christian sects (e.g. the Catholic Church) that the Bible is part fable and part truth brings up a  whole separate set of problems with its being considered divinely inspired.

Anyhow, next we move on to Genesis chapter 3 and the Fall of Man and the stories get interesting for a while.