In this post I will be looking at both the story “God’s Covenant With Noah” and “The Sons of Noah”. The first story begins where the last left off. After the waters had receded and Noah sacrificed clean animals to God, God makes a covenant with Noah and all that lived in the ark. God tells Noah and his family be fruitful, and that everything that lives and moves is food, on one condition. God commands that humanity must never “eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it”. So if you like to eat meat on the rare side, you are displeasing God and be wary of his wrath. God also gives an edict in regards to murder.
“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” (Genesis 9:6)
This is where the justification for the death penalty comes from in the scripture. According to this, if one person commits murder, then it is justified to murder that person.
God makes the covenant with man he will never cut off life by the waters, and he will never destroy the Earth again with a flood. As a symbol of his promise, according to this story, God creates the rainbow to symbolize this promise. God says that the rainbow will remind him that he promised to never destroy the Earth by a flood again. Now that we no longer live in the Bronze Age, and can actually explain how rainbows form, this explanation is void. We now know, thanks to science, that rainbows form because of the Sun’s light shinning on water droplets in the Earth’s atmosphere which causes the spectrum of light appear in the sky.
The second story, “The Sons of Noah”, describes the fate of Noah’s sons. According to the Bible, all the people of the Earth are descendants of Noah’s three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham is the father of the people of Canaan. Noah proceeds to plant a vineyard and grow grapes to make wine. Noah gets drunk off the wine one day and passes out naked in his tent. Ham sees his father’s nakedness and tells his brothers. His brothers walk in backwards, to avoid seeing Noah’s naked body, with a cloth, and lay it across their father’s naked body. When Noah awakes from his drunken stupor, he learns what Ham had done. The punishment of Ham seeing his drunken father’s naked body is the subjugation of him and his people as slaves to his brothers. This is the first example of the Bible’s promotion of slavery, a practice that secular philosophers have deemed immoral. Noah curses Ham, and he says:
“Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers, . . . Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave.” (Genesis 10:25-27)
These are the actions of the man God favored above all other humans. He spared the life of this man, according to this book, and drowned who knows how many people who would have lived on the Earth at this time. This man is a drunkard and a man who condones slavery, on his own son at that. No moral being would favorably look upon the actions of Noah, yet this is the measure of character God views dignified. I am by no means censuring drinking; I particularly enjoy to indulge in my beloved rye and relish the languid, stupor that results. Still, I would not be angered if I learned someone had found me naked while I was passed out. I would be embarrassed, ashamed, but not angry at them. I would accept responsibility for my own actions, not condemn whoever found me to slavery. It is clear, hopefully to all, that Noah is not the man to draw moral inspiration from. This story ends with the death of Noah at the age of 950 years old.
Next time I will look at “The Table of Nations”.
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