My Mum's Ancient Family Bible

My Mum's Ancient Family Bible
Kept in the garage of all places for so many years, it's finally been put to good use.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fool Me Once (Genesis 8-11)

The flood has been going for many days and Noah isn't sure if he can park his ark yet so he sends a dove off on basically a suicide mission to see if there's dry land anywhere. Eventually the dove comes back with an olive leaf and Noah sets up shop. He makes a few offerings to God from among the clean animals (good thing there were more than two). God establishes some general rules for conduct, such as the following: "Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood (Gen 9: 4). I take this to mean that trying to eat animals while they're still alive is a no-no. This would be quite difficult to do anyway, as anyone who has ever tried to put a bowtie on a cat can imagine.

For reasons unclear to me, Noah decides to form a convenant with God (God's suggestion, of course). Watch your back, Noah. God just wiped out most of mankind on a whim. Who's to say he won't do the same to you? Maybe Noah is stressed out about his tenous relationship with God because he promptly gets drunk and naked, and then passes out (Gen 9:20). Horror of horrors, his son Ham finds him, freaks out and gets his two brothers, Shem and Japeth, to help him deal. Despite the trauma of seeing his father naked, Ham and his brothers keep it together and walk backwards approaching him so they don't have to look before throwing a towel or something over him. I'd do the same. Noah must have been really wasted because he isn't grateful at all. In fact, he curses Ham's son Canaan (who is probably like, WTF?) to be a slave. Later, Noah dies at the ripe old age of nine hundred and fifty-three, probably of alcoholism.

Because it's the Old Testament, anything interesting gets sandwiched between genealogy. If we go down Ham's line of descendents, however, we come across Nimrod who  "was the first on earth to be a mighty man" despite being named Nimrod (Gen 10:8). Lots of hipster parents give their kids old biblical names - why'd Nimrod get passed over, I wonder? When I was in Grade 7, I remember a kid from another school over who was a wicked high jumper. His last name was Major. I remember thinking it was pretty funny that his report card would read: Major, Nimrod.

The Bible says that we are all descended from Noah's three sons. Eventually their descendents are plentiful enough to splinter off into different peoples and populate the lands. Somebody gets a bright idea that a bunch of them should get together and build a city with a tower and, I dunno, get civilization going. God doesn't like this because "they are one people, and they have one language; and that is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them" (Gen 11:6). So God decides to "confuse their language" so they can't understand each other and civilization comes to a halt (Gen 11:7). We're left with the tower of Babel and zero Berlitzes. Brutal. I guess we know who's in charge.

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