Friday, July 22, 2011

Genesis 6 Part 2 and Genesis 7

Ok, a day or so ago I spilled a lot of type over Genesis 6. Sorry to have been so long-winded, but I wanted to give you the best synopsis I could for the subject. Moving on, let’s hit just a couple more points:

Genesis 6 speaks to the design and materials of the ark. For us detail-oriented people, there’s not much here. No “Engineering an Empire” episode for Noah with this---the assumption is a rectangular prism, because no information suggests a curve, but how do you know? We actually don’t even know the size of the cubit at this point in history---there’s solid evidence for an 18-inch one and a 22.5-inch cubit. So….the Ark was big. Probably big enough to stockpile animals and food. The size isn’t the problem with accepting an historical view of this story. Logistics may bug you, keeping the lions from eating the last gazelles might be a problem, and starting with only a few rabbits and keeping it only a few could trouble you, but….boat size isn’t one.

A further comment in Genesis 6:3 states that man’s days shall be 120 years. I do not think this should be taken as a permanent cap on human longevity. I’d take it as a countdown to judgment. Peter (2 Peter 2:5) records Noah as a “preacher of righteousness” and I wonder (not guarantee) if the first part of this 120 years was given to trying to stem the tide of human sin. The ark, permanent judgment, is the end, not the beginning, of this process.

Genesis 6 and 7 are sometimes contrasted, and some authors attempt to divide this story into two separate flood stories that have been blended. I think it’s a detail/emphasis matter and that there’s no real reason to make those divisions.

One can also see that Noah, Moses, and whoever else was involved in passing this story into the text had no idea what Western audiences would want to know in the 21st Century. Honestly, there’s no details about life on the ark, no talk of voting Ham off the boat, no drama with 4 couples living in confined space. There’s nothing! No story about life on the Ark.

And the explanations of that are all supposition. Some count the Ark-riders too busy to have a life, others put them as “sleeping through it” all…which I think is a stretch. We have to satisfy ourselves with silence here. You can imagine a great many things, but none of them will be guaranteed to be exactly right. All that will be right is this: they were on the boat.

Genesis 7 gives the final height of the water. 15 cubits above the highest mountains. That seems pretty high---it’s not impossible. Another potential explanation that should go with this is this: there is no accurate or adequate model for what covering the whole planet with water would do. Typically any effort done in that direction seems skewed toward either proving possible or impossible, not showing effects. The mountains then might not be there now. After all, you can pull a levee in a field, but is it there after being a foot underwater? For 150 days? Not likely. Mountains move when water hits them.

Beyond this, there are a decent pile of resources to speak to the Ark and the possibilities. We’ll hit on some of those in the next week as we look at where the Ark lands and what happens next.



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