Genesis 9 – 10: Repopulating the Earth
After that whole flood thing, God needed Noah to repopulate the earth. In doing so, he provides rules and guidelines:
- Man is now in control of the animals; the animals shall “fear and dread” him.
- Man can eat meat, as long as it doesn’t have its lifeblood in it. I had to look up what this meant, and it literally means not to consume the blood of an animal because blood was considered life.
- No murdering other men. (Doesn’t say anything about women.)
After the flood, God promised to never wipe out the earth with a flood again. Please note, other means of destruction are not discussed. He established rainbows, which occur in conjunction with rain (and therefore floods), as the sign of this promise.
Chapter 9 rounds out with an eyebrow-raiser of a story, recapped below (I had to do some Googling to piece together the different sons’ roles):
- Noah plants wine
- Noah gets wine drunk
- Noah falls asleep naked
- Noah’s youngest son, Ham, sees him and tells the two older sons, Shem and Japheth
- Shem and Japheth cover Noah with a blanket, averting their eyes “so that they would not see their father’s nakedness”
- Noah woke up and got really mad at Ham
- Noah cursed Ham’s son (Canaan)
I read that passage with wide eyes because of the twists and turns.
Chapter 10 recaps Noah’s bloodline and the territories they populate on the earth as three separate groups: the Japhethites, the Hamites, and the Semites (there’s a familiar word).
Genesis 11: The Tower of Babel
This is another story I recall from my childhood experience in the church. But, as is expected, I have a different frame of mind now, some 20+ years later.
When Noah’s sons all split up, spread out, and populated the world, they all spoke the same language. A bunch of men got together to build a city with a tower that reached the heavens. God wasn’t having any of that, so he “confused their languages” so the men couldn’t communicate with each other.
Then the men were scattered across the earth and the leftover city was known as Babel (or Babylon). I have to assume this is where the aptly named language learning software Babbel got inspiration for their name.
When I was young, I saw this story as a way for the writers of the Bible to “explain away” why so many different languages exist, even though we all supposedly come from the same two people.
The rest of chapter 11 tracks the descendants from Shem to Abram. Again, it works down the male line. And again, we see lifespans out of line with our expectations.
I need you to see this section with your own eyes. It’s like trying to follow a Game of Thrones character tree.
(Click the image to view it larger.)
Genesis 12: God Promises a Nation to Abram
Chapter 11 led us to Abram because he’s the focus of chapter 12.
God instructs Abram to “a land I will show you.” So Abram goes with his wife, Sarai, and his nephew, Lot. They end up in the land of Canaan (modern day Jerusalem), which I have to assume refers back to the Canaan line of Noah’s youngest son’s son (I’m getting there with keeping at least the main players straight).
God promised the land, which did currently have occupants, to Abram, so Abram built an alter to God. He built several more alters on his way to Egypt. (I don’t know why he went to Egypt, other than that there was a famine in Canaan.)
Abram’s wife was so beautiful that Abram worried the Egyptians would kill him to keep her. So he had Sarai pretend to be his sister. It worked! The Pharaoh and Egyptians gave Abram “sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.”
But God was NOT happy about Abram referring to Sarai as his sister, so God put disease on the Pharaoh and his household. The Pharaoh was understandably not cool with that, so he kicked Abram and Sarai out of Egypt.
There wasn’t anything too major or exciting in this reading. I was curious about why Abram went to Egypt, however, because there wasn’t any instruction from God.
In some quick research, I learned that Abram was upset that God sent him to a place where there was famine (Canaan), and that’s why he moved with his flock and family to Egypt. This was said to be a test for Abram, and by heading to Egypt, he showed he lacked a blind trust in God.
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