Welcome to part two of Genesis! Today we will be looking at chapter five through nine which outline Noah’s lineage and his story. Most people have heard this story, if for no better reason than the movie that came out last year. Please don’t take any biblical message from the movie, it apparently has very little to do with the actual Scripture. Some important differences are that all three sons already had wives, there is no stowaway, and no attempt by Noah to kill anyone.
To quickly summarize for those who missed the movie and are unfamiliar with the story altogether: God sees that men are evil and wants to abolish them from his creation, except Noah. Noah is apparently a good man and God wants to save his family from the disaster to come. God tells Noah to build an ark, which he does, and load it up in a certain way, which he also does. The flood comes, the water recedes. Noah plants a vineyard and gets a little drunk, not all of his sons have the same reaction to that.
While this is the main part of the story, there are some things happening in the fifth chapter that I’d like to talk about first. The fifth chapter opens with the creation of man again, in a manner like chapter one of Genesis. Here it is:
When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.
First of all, my study Bible has a note that the word used for “man” here is “adam” prior to translation. This is interesting to me because of the Adam from the first few chapters. Was it that God created a bunch of people at the same time but we follow this line as previously hypothesized? Again, we’ll never know, but this is curious. Secondly, this also says that the term for man is unisex. Thirdly, this unisex use of the term implies that they were created at the same time, much like the first chapter had said. And lastly, that the term is unisex denotes that both sexes are the likeness of God, possibly implying a feminine and masculine symmetry in the person of God rather than “our image” being the Trinity, as is the generally accepted answer for “our image”.
The rest of the chapter works much the same way as chapter four had but corresponding to the line of Seth rather than Cain. Again, there is no mention of where these wives come from. I do want to take special note of Enoch, who I would have liked to know more about because it says in verse 24:
Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.
There is a note in the study Bible that the word “not” here means “not found”. I looked at some other translations and at the Wesley commentary and found that the general consensus is that Enoch never died. He was just taken by God to be with Him, possibly forever. My main concern with this is why don’t we know more about Enoch? Would he have been a great example to follow? He gets little more than an honorable mention and that doesn’t seem like enough to me. I wish there was at least a little more here. Chapter five ends with Noah at 500 years old and having had his three sons.
This chapter begins with a mention of the “sons of God” and “daughters of man” and these sons taking “as their wives any they chose”. It brings to my mind Lamech’s taking of his wives, but this may just be semantics in both cases. This terminology was apparently not a problem in Wesley’s time, but it gives me pause. There is some discussion in both commentaries about the sons being of God and the daughters being of man. Personally, I prefer Wesley’s take. The sons are from Seth’s line and these daughters are that of Cain, who they were not supposed to intermarry with. To me, it’s an inescapable question when looking at these early chapters, where did these women come from? The world appears fairly populated already with no answer as to how.
Then God decides to limit the lifespan of “man” to 120 years. Now there is a whole lot about timing in these first few chapters. The preceding chapter even gave the lifespan of each of the men in the line of Adam down to Noah. Unfortunately we will find down the road that plenty more people mentioned in the Bible lived well passed 120 years. It is interesting to note, though, that only one person has been verifiably recorded to have lived more than 120 and she didn’t beat it by much. Wondering what a year or a day meant in these times is also kind of buggy if you’re going to use that to refute the lifespans that already don’t line up.
Chapter six continues with a weird mention of Nephilim, or giants depending on your translation before going right back to the sons of God and daughters of man in the same sentence. It’s rather confusing for me, even with the extra help of the study Bible and the commentaries. I mostly just don’t understand how the mention is relevant to the rest of what’s going on here. But it’s here, giants were a thing at some point.
Then we get to the meat of the story of the flood as summarized above.
Already having the gist of the story, let’s get into the timing. It is very specifically outlined here, and I’ve always been curious about how long they were in the ark. The flood happens for forty days and forty nights, they started in the 600th year of Noah’s life, 2nd month, 17th day of the month. So let’s say on February 17th for clarity’s sake. The water “prevailed on the earth 150 days”, so that possibly brings us to July 17th in our calendar, but we don’t need to do the math ourselves (even though I did) because it goes on to say “and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month” so that’s in accordance with our current timing. The waters receded until the tenth month, so October for us, and that the tops of the mountains were visible on the first of that month. That it was 150 days is actually repeated in chapters seven and eight. Then it goes on to say that they didn’t/couldn’t leave the ark until the twenty seventh day of the second month, February 27th these days. That puts them cramped in that boat for just over a year. Noah sends up an offering and it is well received by God who promises to never do that to people again.
Following God’s promise, He also goes on to assert:
Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.
If we refer back to the unisex definition of man in chapter five, this goes for women too.
Then the covenant is established with the rainbow used as the symbol to remind Noah and his descendants that the waters will never again wipe them out. This is where watching that movie did do something that no one in church ever really elaborated on for me. It must have been awful watching the entire human race, except your family, drown to death. I imagine that’s some pretty bad PTSD and Noah does something that he gets bagged on for all over the place. He plants a vineyard and gets drunk. How well do you think you’d handle watching the human race get killed in a massive flood? I bet it’d be pretty awful. I bet I’d want a little something to take the edge off for the first while too. How about we stop judging him for that and recognize that it probably took some fortitude and conflicted emotions to not throw himself in the ocean too. How about we give him a break about it? What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do? I bet it’s not watch the whole rest of the human race die.
This is followed by an episode with his kids where one tells the other about his condition and the others cover him up. I’m not 100% sure why that warranted a curse on the kid and all of his progeny, but maybe he still wasn’t thinking straight. Whether it was PTSD or drunkenness, he’s not having a great time with keeping it together, maybe he reacted a little harshly. Maybe the kid was totally out of line with the way he did it. That much isn’t elaborated on. What we do have is that the one son didn’t do anything to help his dad when he apparently needed it, and the others did. The others were blessed, he was cursed. This is followed with a note that Noah died 350 years later, thus ending his story.
So there are my feelings and impressions on the Chs 5-9 of Genesis. Have you read them? What do you think?
*amended for formatting purposes