Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bible Commentary - Genesis 8

Too tired to say anything clever today. Just the facts.

God remembered Noah, showing that even through a period of wrath that God does not forget those who are his.

A wind passes over the earth. This word "wind" is again the wind/breath/spirit that we saw in chapter 1 and 2, and again it has the underlying symbolism of "bringing forth life". I didn't mention it in chapter 1, but there when it says the "Spirit of God was hovering over the waters", Spirit = Ruach, which is the same as here. So in chapter 1 it also had the significance of God bringing forth life, and what we see here is God causing a wind to pass over the earth to dry off the water. This allows life to return to the earth from the ark.

Note that there is a Mount Ararat in modern day Turkey, but scholars are divided as to whether it is the same mountain. In my opinion, it probably isn't, but research into the subject is difficult because there is an ongoing Kurdish insurgency in eastern Turkey (and northern Iraq is not much more stable) and the modern-day Mount Ararat is off-limits to westerners for that reason. So it is difficult to investigate, but that does not prevent various groups or individuals from periodically claiming they have discovered Noah's Ark resting somewhere in Turkey. Realistically, if it really were exposed to open air, it would have biodegraded long ago, being constructed from wood and all that. So at this point, even if there really is a historical Noah's Ark, the chances of finding it are low, but the allure of finding it keeps people trying.

Another interesting note is that this chapter is where the dove = peace symbolism originated. In particular, a dove bearing an olive leaf/branch is directly descended from the dove bearing an olive leaf to Noah, and it symbolizes the peace between man and God (because God relented and ended the flood). The reason why an olive leaf is significant is that it shows the trees are now above water, and therefore it would be safe to depart.

Personally, I always wondered why he had to send out a bird and couldn't just go out and look himself. I'm not certain about the answer, but perhaps it is due to the continuing stormy conditions at the time or something. The best I can say is that the great flood is such an extraordinary event that one can only presume conditions after the flood are not necessarily relatable to modern life. It was definitely a spectacular meteorological event, and perhaps Noah was also concerned about more flooding occurring or something. Either way, I'm just guessing.

Gen 8:20-21:

Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man

I love this passage. What I love about this is that in chapter 6, before the flood, we see God "regret" that he had created man. And what we see here is Noah worshiping God and reminding God why he created man. And the result is that God swears he will never again bring a great flood upon the earth. I just think that this is such a strong statement answering the questions I raised back in chapter 6, regarding the purpose of creation. God remembered Noah, and then here, Noah remembers God. This is so awesome, and this is why God says that Noah was righteous.

Definitely one of my personal favorite nuggets.

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