Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find the previous posts HERE. This post is a recap of the last few chapters in an FAQ form.
From Cain and Abel Through The Flood FAQ
FAQ is probably being generous. We’ll say “Occasionally Asked Questions.” This is not a definitive list. I reserve the right to add to this list and/or change my answers over time. I hope that this list of questions and answers will cover the ground we have traveled in this section:
- Did Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel interact with Yahweh – in a physical form on the earth – during the years immediately after The Fall?
* The text does not answer explicitly, however, the inference from the text is that yes, they did.
* Genesis 4:3-5 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. Here, “the Lord” is translated from the Hebrew for Yahweh. In this verse and in the verses immediately after, it seems that they directly conversed.
* Also keep in mind Genesis 3: 22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. The presence of a guard for the Garden implies a continued celestial presence in the Garden.
- Why did Yahweh prefer Abel’s offering to Cain’s offering?
* It seems evident from the text – to me at least – that Yahweh’s preference for Abel’s offering was related to the praise-worthy description of it. Abel’s offering was young and fatty (i.e. it was the best of what he had to give.) Cain’s offering – by contrast – is not described with any positive traits.
- Is Cain the literal offspring of Eve and the serpent?
* Let’s look at 4:1 again. 4 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” Is there room in this procreation story verse for anyone other than Adam, Eve, or Yahweh? No. It is fair to say then that the “Serpent Seed Theory” does not hold up to scrutiny under the text.
- What is the Mark of Cain?
* There is no consensus. Here are some of the theories:
* Abba Arika (“Rav”) said that God gave Cain a dog, making him an example to murderers. Abba Jose ben Hanan said that God made a horn grow out of Cain. R. Hanin said that God made Cain an example to penitents (Gen. Rab. 22:12).
* Rashi comments on Genesis 4:15 by saying that the mark was one of the Hebrew letters of the Tetragrammaton: “He engraved a letter of His [God’s] Name onto his [Cain’s] forehead.
* According to author Ruth Mellinkoff, commentators’ interpretations of the nature of the “mark” depended on their views regarding the status of Cain, as either being given additional time to repent or as being further shamed.
* In Syriac Christianity, early exegesis on the “curse” and the “mark”, associated the curse of Cain with black skin, although not in a racial sense.
* In an Eastern Christian (Armenian) Adam-book (5th or 6th century), it is written: “And the Lord was wroth with Cain. . . He beat Cain’s face with hail, which blackened like coal, and thus he remained with a black face”. Again, this indicated that his face, not his body, had been changed, and that this change had no bearing on any racial or ethnic group.
* At some point after the start of the slave trade in the United States, many Protestant denominations began teaching the belief that the mark of Cain was a dark skin tone, although early descriptions of Romani as “descendants of Cain” written by Franciscan friar Symon Semeonis suggest that this belief had existed for some time. Protestant preachers wrote exegetical analyses of the curse, with the assumption that it was dark skin.
* The split between the Northern and Southern Baptist organizations arose over doctrinal issues pertaining to slavery and the education of slaves. At the time of the split, the Southern Baptist group used the curse of Cain as a justification for slavery. Some 19th- and 20th-century Baptist ministers in the Southern United States taught the belief that there were two separate heavens; one for blacks, and one for whites. Southern Baptists have either taught or practiced various forms of racial segregation well into the mid-to-late-20th century, though members of all races were accepted at worship services. In 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention officially denounced racism and apologized for its past defense of slavery.
* The curse of Cain was used to support a ban on ordaining blacks to most Protestant clergies until the 1960s in both the United States and Europe. The majority of Christian churches in the world, including the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox churches, Anglican churches, and Oriental Orthodox churches, did not recognize these interpretations and did not participate in the religious movement to support them. Certain Catholic dioceses in the Southern United States adopted a policy of not ordaining blacks to oversee, administer the sacraments to, or accept confessions from white parishioners. This policy was not based on a “curse of Cain” teaching, but was justified by the widely held perception that slaves should not rule over their masters. However, this was not approved of by the Pope or by any papal teaching.
* Mormonism began during the height of Protestant acceptance of the curse of Cain doctrine in North America, as well as the even more popular curse of Ham doctrine. Like many North Americans, Mormons of the 19th century commonly assumed that black Africans had Cain’s “mark” of black skin, and Ham’s curse to be servants of servants. Joseph Smith indicated his belief in the curse of Ham theory in a parenthetical reference as early as 1831. In the Pearl of Great Price, considered scripture in the LDS movement, Enoch talks about shunning the descendants of Cain and that they had black skin: “And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.” (Moses 7:22)
* As related by Abraham O. Smoot after his death, Apostle David W. Patten said he encountered a black man in Paris, Tennessee, who said that he was Cain. The account states that Cain had earnestly sought death but was denied it, and that his mission was to destroy the souls of men.The recollection of Patten’s story is quoted in Apostle Spencer W. Kimball‘s The Miracle of Forgiveness.
* The view of the “mark” of Cain, as a skin color marking, fell out of favor among Christians worldwide after the American Civil Rights movement as anything more than a very minor point of view. We will touch on the Curse of Ham in future verses and revisit the ways in which racial animus and politics use theories from Genesis as self-justification.
- What/where is the Land of Nod?
* Nod = נוֹד Nôwd, node; the same as H5112; vagrancy; Nod, the land of Cain:—Nod.
* Much as Cain’s name is connected to the verb meaning “to get” in Genesis 4:1, the name “Nod” closely resembles the word “nad” (נָד), usually translated as “vagabond”, in Genesis 4:12. (In the Septuagint‘s rendering of the same verse God curses Cain to τρέμων, “trembling”.
* A Greek version of Nod written as Ναίν appearing in the Onomastica Vaticana possibly derives from the plural נחים, which relates to resting and sleeping. This derivation, coincidentally or not, connects with the English pun on “nod”
* Nod is said to be outside of the presence or face of God. Origen defined Nod as the land of trembling and wrote that it symbolized the condition of all who forsake God. Early commentators treated it as the opposite of Eden (worse still than the land of exile for the rest of humanity). In the English tradition Nod was sometimes described as a desert inhabited only by ferocious beasts or monsters. Others interpreted Nod as dark or even underground—away from the face of God.
* Augustine described unconverted Jews as dwellers in the land of Nod, which he defined as commotion and “carnal disquietude”
- Were people living in the Land of Nod?
* The answer appears to be yes. Cain was worried about being slain by someone. That is why he was given the mark. And he finds a wife from this land.
- Where did the people of Nod come from?
* One theory is that this land was peopled with Cain’s siblings and their descendants. As we see in Genesis 5:4: 4 The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters.
* Since we do not know the story of these others, and because the text is not timeline specific, it is at least possible that within the confines of the text, Cain knows about the people who he worries will slay him because they are his siblings. Those people understanding the import of a mark from Yahweh makes sense, too, if they were born directly adjacent to Yahweh’s Garden of Eden as Cain was.
* The problem with that interpretation is that we hear about other sons and daughters of Adam well after this section of the text.
* There is an alternative view, concerning people outside of the Garden of Eden, that surrounding lands were peopled with the children of Adam and Lilith.
* Lilith (/ˈlɪlɪθ/; Hebrew: לִילִית Lîlîṯ) is a figure in Jewish mythology, developed earliest in the Babylonian Talmud (3rd to 5th century AD). From c. AD 700–1000 onwards Lilith appears as Adam‘s first wife, created at the same time (Rosh Hashanah) and from the same clay as Adam—compare Genesis 1:27
* The Dead Sea Scrolls contain one indisputable reference to Lilith in Songs of the Sage (4Q510–511) fragment 1: And I, the Instructor, proclaim His glorious splendour so as to frighten and to te[rrify] all the spirits of the destroying angels, spirits of the bastards, demons, Lilith, howlers, and [desert dwellers] … and those which fall upon men without warning to lead them astray from a spirit of understanding and to make their heart and their … desolate during the present dominion of wickedness and predetermined time of humiliations for the sons of lig[ht], by the guilt of the ages of [those] smitten by iniquity – not for eternal destruction, [bu]t for an era of humiliation for transgression.
* There is also a theory that the Garden of Eden was planted by God but always surrounded by fallen people. This is called the pre-Adamite hypothesis.
* There were a couple of references to lands outside the Garden of Eden before The Fall. From Genesis 2: 10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush.
- Wouldn’t it have been forbidden for Cain to marry a sibling?
* There was no prohibition on marrying a sibling until Leviticus 18:9. Abraham was married to a half-sister and on a few occasions presented her to others as his sister rather than as his wife when it was advantageous to do so.
- When did Yahweh leave the Garden of Eden?
* We are not told specifically when the Lord (translated from Yahweh) may have left the Garden of Eden or when the Garden ceased to be. The impression from Chapter 4 is that God continued on in the Garden for at least some time after the Fall. Adam and Eve lived directly adjacent. God judged the offerings of Cain and Abel. Sometime in the intervening period of Chapter 5, though, the Garden disappears from the narrative.
* Noah is said to have walked with God. That might be a literal translation. Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.
- What’s the deal with Enoch?
* Genesis 5:24, above, tells us that Enoch walked with God and was not for God took him. If you look at the translation, the word for God in that verse comes from the plural ‘elohiym “the gods” rather than the singular Yahweh. Might the verse about how the gods “took him” mean they left the Garden – and the earth – with him? Who knows. It does not say.
* Enoch is an interesting figure in Biblical history for other reasons, too. He lived 365 years – the same number of days as are in a year. As a result the number is suggestive of symbolism. He is also the subject of many Jewish and Christian traditions and teachings. He was considered – though scholars dispute the claim – the author of The Book of Enoch, The Book of the Watchers, and the Book of Giants. The Orthodox Tewahedo Church based in Ethiopia considers The Book of Enoch to be Biblical canon and there is evidence that the book was relied upon by scholars in the Second Temple period. There are several apparent references to The Book of Enoch in the New Testament.
- Who are the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2?
* In verse 2, “the sons of God” are translated from “ben ‘elohiym.” We are immediately confronted with a mystery. The underlying words literally mean “sons of the gods,” with gods plural, but the translation gives us sons of God, singular.
* As we have discussed, the word “God” is consistently translated in the singular, from the plural form ‘elohiym (i.e. the gods) throughout Genesis. Perhaps this is due to a later concern by translators, over whether these verses might be viewed as evidence of polytheistic pantheon. I do not know the reasons with any certainty. But it is a textual truth. The original language for god is plural. The translation we get in English is singular. Christians usually deal with this plurality issue by attributing the plurality to the Holy Trinity. However, if a plural of “the gods” includes Jesus, then who are “the sons of” the Trinity? The ben ‘elohiym *must* be some divine beings, right?
* Further, the ben ‘elohiym are not only divine beings, they are divine beings capable of feeling attraction toward human women and impregnating those women. The offspring of these unions are something more than mere humans.
* There are two primary views regarding the translation of ben ‘elohiym: 1) Some scholars feel that sons of God/gods refer to the line of Seth; 2) Other scholars believe that ben ‘elohiym refers to rouge angels / divine beings.
* Here is a lengthy bit of text arguing that the translation refers to the Sethites: 2) The sons of God. . . . —The literal translation of this verse is, And the sons of the Elohim saw the daughters of the adam that they were good (beautiful); and they took to them wives whomsoever they chose. Of the sons of the Elohim there are three principal interpretations: the first, that of the Targums and the chief Jewish expositors, that they were the nobles, and men of high rank; the second, that they were angels. St. Jude, Jude 1:6, and St. Peter, 2 Ep., 2Peter 2:4, seem to favour this interpretation, possibly as being the translation of the LXX. according to several MSS. But even if this be their meaning, which is very uncertain, they use it only as an illustration; and a higher authority says that the angels neither marry nor are given in marriage. The third, and most generally accepted interpretation in modern times, is that the sons of the Elohim were the Sethites, and that when they married for mere lust of beauty, universal corruption soon ensued. But no modern commentator has shown how such marriages could produce “mighty men . . . men of renown;” or how strong warriors could be the result of the intermarriage of pious men with women of an inferior race, such as the Cainites are assumed to have been. The Jewish interpreters, who well understood the uses of their own language, are right in the main point that the phrase “sons of the Elohim” conveys no idea of moral goodness or piety. Elohim constantly means mighty ones (Exodus 15:11, marg.). (Comp. Exodus 12:12, marg., Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8-9, where it is translated judges; Exodus 22:28, 1Samuel 2:25, where also it is translated judge.) In Job 1:6 the “sons of Elohim” are the nobles, the idea being that of a king who at his durbar gathers his princes round him; and, not unnecessarily to multiply examples, the “sons of the Elim,” the other form of the plural, is rightly translated mighty ones in Psalm 29:1.
* David Guzik’s commentary makes the argument that the sons of God refers to angels: 1. (Gen 6:1-2) Intermarriage between the sons of God and the daughters of men. Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
a. When men began to multiply on the face of the earth: During these days of rapid population expansion (especially because of long life spans in the pre-flood world), there was a problem with ungodly intermarriage between the sons of God and the daughters of men.
b. The sons of God saw the daughters of men: Many have believed the sons of God were those from the line of Seth, and the daughters of men were from the line of Cain, and this describes an intermarriage between the godly and the ungodly, something God specifically prohibits (Deuteronomy 7:1-4, 2 Corinthians 6:14).
i. But this approach leaves many unanswered questions: Why did this make God angry enough to wipe out almost all the earth’s population? Why was there something “unnatural” about the offspring of these unions? The text in no way offers answers to these important questions.
c. The sons of God saw the daughters of men: It is more accurate to see the sons of God as either demons (angels in rebellion against God) or uniquely demon-possessed men, and the daughters of men as human women.
i. The phrase “sons of God” clearly refers to angelic creatures when it is used the three other times in the Old Testament (Job 1:6, 2:1, and 38:7). The translators of the Septuagint translated sons of God as “angels.” They clearly thought it referred to angelic beings, not people descended from Seth.
ii. Jude 6 tells us of the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation. Jude goes on (Jude 7) to tell us they sinned in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh. Here in Genesis 6, as in Sodom and Gomorrah, there was an unnatural sexual union.
iii. It is useless to speculate on the nature of this union. Whether it was brought about by something like demon possession, or whether angels have power permanently to assume the form of men is not revealed. But we should understand the occult is filled with sexual associations with the demonic, and there are those today who actively pursue such associations.
iv. Jude 6 also makes it clear what God did with these wicked angels. They are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness from the judgment of the great day. By not keeping their proper place, they are now kept in chains. Their sinful pursuit of freedom has put them in bondage.
v. 1 Peter 3:19-20 tells us Jesus went to these disobedient spirits in their prison and proclaimed His victory on the cross over them.
vi. An objection offered to this understanding is found in Matthew 22:30, where Jesus said angels neither marry nor are given in marriage; but Jesus never said angels were sexless, and He was also speaking about faithful angels (angels of God in heaven), not rebellious ones.
vii. From the book of 1 Enoch, which is not inspired scripture, but may still contain some accurate accounts: “And it came to pass that the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children … [They] took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments … And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants … And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways.”
d. And they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose: We can deduce why Satan sent his angels to intermarry (either directly or indirectly) with human women. Satan tried to pollute the genetic “pool” of mankind with a satanic corruption, to put a genetic “virus” to make the human race unfit for bringing forth the Seed of the woman – the Messiah – promised in Genesis 3:15.
i. “The Savior could not be born of a demon-possessed mother. So if Satan could succeed in infecting the entire race, the deliverer could not come.” (Boice)
ii. And Satan almost succeeded. The race was so polluted that God found it necessary to start again with Noah and his sons, and to imprison the demons that did this so they could never do this again.
- Who/what are the nephilim?
* The nephilim were the offspring of the sons of God and the human women they impregnated.
* Nephilim – according to Blue Letter Bible’s translation tools – means a bully or a tyrant, but is most commonly believed to mean “giant.” “Mighty” used later in the verse describing them also means powerful, tyrant, or giant.
* Is the Bible saying here, then, that the earth was becoming populated with giant offspring of divine beings? Some kind of celestial/human hybrids that just come out huge and/or powerful? While there is not universal acceptance of this notion, that interpretation has a lot of defenders.
* Note that Genesis 6:4 states that there were nephilim were on the earth in those days… AND ALSO AFTER. We meet giants again in the Book of Genesis and subsequent books after the Great Flood.
* Genesis 14 introduces readers to the Anakim, a race of giants descended from Anak.
* David slays Goliath, the giant, who is understood to be a giant descendant of the Anakim giants that settled in the Philistine cities of Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod (Joshua 11:22) after Joshua drove them out of the Promised Land.
* Og, who is introduced in Number 21 and Deuteronomy Chapter 3. We hear of Og again in Psalms chapters 135 and 136, and in Amos chapter 2. Og is described as the last of the Rephaim, a race of giants.
* During the Second Temple period of Judaism, there were several now apocryphal books which were well read at the time, believed, and actively studied. We know of many due to their inclusion in and with the Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran. Among the now apocryphal books discovered in the caves are The Book of Enoch, The Book of the Watchers, and The Book of Giants. These books all deal explicitly with the events leading up through the Great Flood and provide greater detail than we receive here in Genesis Why is this of particular import? For Jews, the Dead Sea Scrolls represent insight into the long lost intellectual and religious teachings of their people before the destruction of the Second Temple and the subsequent Diaspora. For Christians, Second Temple Judaism supplied the intellectual foundation for the earliest part of the Church. If Jesus and the Apostles believed a thing… well, you can see why knowing that answer is important.
- Was it actually necessary to “blot out” humanity because of its wickedness?
* For many people of faith, the fact that God says it is necessary, within the text, is and should be enough.
* Reading into the text though, we can see that there seems to be a link between the events of Genesis 6:1-4 and Genesis 6:5-8. If a race of Immortal Giants was a threat to breed humanity out of existence, does that put the “blot out” into a more understandable context? For many, it does.
- Did Methuselah die in the Flood?
* He died in the year of the Flood. I tis not stated explicitly in the text whether or not he died as a result of the Flood.
* Ellicott’s Bible Commentary includes a note which states: (10) After seven days.—Said, in Jewish tradition, to have been the seven days of mourning for Methuselah, who died in the year of the flood.
- What is “gopher wood” of which the ark was built?
* The exact meaning of “gopher wood” is unknown though it is widely believed that this refers to cypress wood.
- Why was the ark covered in pitch both inside and out?
* “Pitch” comes from כֹּפֶר kôpher, ko’-fer; from H3722; properly, a cover, i.e. (literally) a village (as covered in); (specifically) bitumen (as used for coating), and the henna plant (as used for dyeing); figuratively, a redemption-price:—bribe, camphire, pitch, ransom, satisfaction, sum of money, village.
* This word is an example of deeper meaning lost in translation. The ark is covered in a “redemption price.”
- Was the Great Flood a global flood?
* The best answer here is that we do not know for certain.
* The text itself says that everything under the heavens/sky (shamayim) on the ‘erets, will die. The word for the world, ‘erets *might* mean the globe in the sense that we understand it as a modern reader. However, at the time of the writing, there was no understanding of the earth as being a globe. ‘erets was more widely thought of as something akin to “every place that we know about.” The boundaries of “every place we know about” would not ncessarily have extended far beyond the Middle East at the time of Moses.
* One of the arguments both for and against the idea that the Flood was global is the collection of the animals. Certainly the Ark may have been large enough to house many exotic regional animal species. But is there enough room on the ark for every single animal variety on the planet?
* In North America, at around the time of the end of the Last Ice Age, a wide range of megafauna disappeared from history. Those now extinct animals include Sabretooth cats, mastadons, mammuthus trogontherii, megaloceros, dire wolves, the American Pleistocene lion, giant cave bears, and scores of others. Interestingly, the death of these animals lines up closely with an event known as the Younger Dryas. The geological record shows that on either end of the historical Young Dryas period are two huge world floods: Meltwater Pulse 1A and Meltwater Pulse 1B.
* In 1997, William Ryan, Walter Pitman and their colleagues first published the Black Sea deluge hypothesis. They proposed that a catastrophic inflow of Mediterranean seawater into the Black Sea freshwater lake occurred at 7,150 14C years BP (7550 calendar years BP). Before that date, glacial meltwater had turned the Black and Caspian Seas into vast freshwater lakes draining into the Aegean Sea. As glaciers retreated, some of the rivers emptying into the Black Sea declined in volume and changed course to drain into the North Sea. The levels of the lakes dropped through evaporation, while changes in worldwide hydrology caused overall sea level to rise.
* There are Flood myths from almost every culture on earth. You can find a list of them here.
- What is the “Firmament” / “canopy model” of the Flood?
* For a long time, the canopy model was based on the idea that the earth was once covered in a dome of water.
* Thus, when the canopy was broken with Noah, the water from the atmosphere was released causing a massive Flood.
* The canopy of water is thought to explain the lifespan differences before and after The Flood.
* The Canopy theory is not without criticism.
* For example, in an article on apologeticspress, Dr. Jeff Miller writes: “The typical interpretation of raqia and “heaven” in Genesis 1:6 is that God created the sky on day two, separating water vapor in the sky (clouds) from liquid water. Most commentators and translators support this interpretation.”
* He also explains the origin of the word firmament: “The translation “firmament,” however, is not so much a translation of the original Hebrew term as it is a transliteration of a term used in the Latin Vulgate (i.e., firmamentum) which was translated from the Greek Septuagint term (stereoma) that was used for the Hebrew raqia. The uninspired translators of the Septuagint, who were translating for an Egyptian pharaoh in Egypt,2 were apparently influenced by the then conventional belief in Egypt that the heavens are a stone vault.3 The Hebrew term raqia, however, does not suggest such a meaning. Rather, it refers to something that has been stretched, spread, or beaten out—like metal.4 The idea is that on day two, God divided the waters of Earth, spreading them out from one another and moving some above the Earth, and creating that which holds those waters apart—much like what a solid would do. God then defined the raqia as “heaven(s)” (shamayim). Shamayim, however, was used in three distinct ways by the Hebrews (and by God through His inspired spokesmen). It could mean the sky or atmosphere where the birds fly and the clouds gather (Jeremiah 4:25; Matthew 6:26). It could mean outer space where the stars are situated (Genesis 1:14-15; Psalm 19:4,6; Isaiah 13:10), and it could also mean the place where God dwells (Psalm 2:4; Hebrews 9:24). Context must be used to determine which heaven is referenced. In this case, the heaven identified would affect one’s identification of the water that God separated. The typical interpretation of raqia and “heaven” in Genesis 1:6 is that God created the sky on day two, separating water vapor in the sky (clouds) from liquid water.”
- What does it mean “the fountains of the Deep burst forth”?
* fountain is translated from מַעְיָן maʻyân, mah-yawn’; or מַעְיְנוֹ maʻyᵉnôw; (Psalm 114:8), or (feminine) מַעְיָנָה maʻyânâh; from H5869 (as a denominative in the sense of a spring); a fountain (also collectively), figuratively, a source (of satisfaction):—fountain, spring, well.
* deep is translated from תְּהוֹם tᵉhôwm, teh-home’; or תְּהֹם tᵉhôm; (usually feminine) from H1949; an abyss (as a surging mass of water), especially the deep (the main sea or the subterranean watersupply):—deep (place), depth.
* Reminder: the word here for “deep” has a literal translation, shown above, and a more mystical interpretation. We covered this in Part 2.
* One hypothesis for the origin of the Flood, scientifically, is that a comet strike on an ice sheet simultaneously caused a tsunami and threw up enormous amounts of water vapor into the atmosphere. The tsunami would happen as enormous sections of ice are thrown into the ocean during the blast. The instantly vaporized vapor would come back down as torrential rain.
- When was the Great Flood?
* By most scholarly Flood dating accounts, it occurred roughly around 2350 BCE. That date is thousands of years after the hypothetical date for the Black Sea Flood hypothesis. The Black Sea Flood is itself thousands of years after the Younger Dryas.
Comet Impact hypothesis is said to have occurred.
* Is it possible a Flood occurred in that window and is not yet discovered by the archaeological record? Yes. But there are significant problems with that idea – chief among them are civilizations that span the period both before and after the allged date of the Flood by hundreds of years.
* Is it possible that the Biblical timeline is misinterpreted? Yes, though, it is easy to say yes and another thing to demonstrate explain *how* that might have occurred.
* The Biblical word for year is pretty consistent in its translation and interpretation: שָׁנֶה shâneh, shaw-neh’; (in plural or (feminine) שָׁנָה shânâh; from H8138; a year (as a revolution of time):— whole age, × long, old, year(× -ly).
* The Biblical word for day, though, is not. יוֹם yôwm, yome; from an unused root meaning to be hot; a day (as the warm hours), whether literal (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), or figurative (a space of time defined by an associated term), (often used adverb):—age, always, chronicals, continually(-ance), daily, ((birth-), each, to) day, (now a, two) days (agone), elder, × end, evening, (for) ever(-lasting, -more), × full, life, as (so) long as (… live), (even) now, old, outlived, perpetually, presently, remaineth, × required, season, × since, space, then, (process of) time, as at other times, in trouble, weather, (as) when, (a, the, within a) while (that), × whole ( age), (full) year(-ly), younger.
* Would it be possible for God to put Noah on an ark for hundreds or thousands of years while describing the time in yowm? Of course it’s possible. We even know Yahweh personally closed the door of the Ark. This is just me entertaining (without embracing) an idea of what happened but I find it surprising to not see the idea entertained elsewhere.
- Where did the Ark land?
* And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.
* It is agreed by all that the term Ararat describes a region. (From Pulpit Commentary)
* The locality which appears to have the countenance of Scripture is the region of Armenia (cf. 2 Kings 19:37; Isaiah 37:38; Jeremiah 51:27; Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, Vulgate). (Pulpit Commentary)
* In Armenia three different mountains have been selected as the site on which the ark grounded. (Pulpit Commentary)
* If in Genesis 11:2 the Authorised Version is right in saying that the descendants of Noah travelled “from the east” to Shinar, this could not be the Ararat of Armenia. (From Ellicot’s Commentary)
* The rendering, however, “from the east,” is by no means certain, and many translate “eastward,” and even the Authorised Version renders the word east, that is, eastward, in Genesis 13:11. In 2Kings 19:37 “Ararat” is translated Armenia; but it is more correctly described in Jeremiah 51:27 as a country near Minni, that is, near Armenia. (From Ellicott’s Commentary)
* a. On the mountains of Ararat: In a sense, Mount Ararat was not a very “smart” place to leave the ark. Leaving the ark at a high altitude and mountainous terrain meant a difficult departure for everyone and everything in the ark. b. Mountains of Ararat: However, if God’s purpose was to put the ark in a place where it might be preserved for thousands of years, He chose an excellent place for it.
* A large part of the reason that the location of the ark matters to many people of faith is that many of those people believe the ark will be discovered and that it was made in such a way – with pitch both inside and outside – that it would survive thousands of years for rediscovery.
- What is the Chaldean Genesis?
* The “Chaldean Genesis” relates to an account and translation of events in ancient Mesopotamia taken from Sumerian clay tablets. It covers creation, the Fall, the Flood, the tower of Babel, and other stories that will feel familiar to an audience familiar with The Bible.
- What is the smbolism of a dove returning to the ark with an olive branch leaf?
* An offer of “an olive branch” is symbolic of an offer of peace. The symbol is so ancient that its origins are in dispute. Perhaps the origin is this moment with Noah. We can assume that the olive branch with the dove, here, symbolizes peace between God and what is left of humanity. The period of wrath is over. The earth is ready to yield for mankind again.
- What “covenant” did God make with Noah and his sons?
* In Genesis 9: In verse 8, we are told that God (‘elohiym) spoke with Noah and his sons. We are not told that Yahweh specifically spoke with them. God here comes from the plural ‘elohiym which would more directly be translated as “the gods said to Noah..” In verse 9, we see “Behold, I establish my covenant…” The word “I” comes from אֲנִי ʼănîy, an-ee’; contracted from H595; I:—I, (as for) me, mine, myself, we, × which, × who.
* Ellicott’s Bible Commentary notes that a covenant typically requires something from both parties. God has promised to never again destroy the earth with a flood and God has set his bow in the sky to show that He is keeping that promise. Mankind is doing… what? Ellicott notes then that this is a covenant of grace.
- What’s the deal with the rainbow?
* קֶשֶׁת qesheth, keh’-sheth; from H7185 in the original sense (of H6983) of bending; a bow, for shooting (hence, figuratively, strength) or the iris:—× arch(-er), arrow, bow(-man, -shot).
* I suspect that modern readers no longer associate the rainbow with the bow generally. But here in this covenant, God is making a promise to show us his bow in the clouds. Bow in this sense refers to something that is traditionally a weapon.
* From Ellicott’s Bible Commentary: The first point made by Ellicott in his subsection on these verses is that the rainbow, as a sign, need not be something new to the earth. We can have the debate about the Firmament, and how it functioned, but that debate is irrelevant to the rainbow functioning as a sign – even if Noah had seen rainbows before the Flood. See next:
* (12) This is the token of the covenant.—The word rendered “token” really means sign, and is a term that has met with very unfortunate treatment in our Version, especially in the New Testament, where—as, for instance, in St. John’s Gospel—it is too frequently translated miracle. Its meaning will be best seen by examining some of the places where it occurs: e.g., Genesis 17:11; Exodus 3:12; Exodus 12:13; Exodus 13:16; Numbers 17:10; Joshua 2:12; Job 21:29; Psalms 65:8; Psalms 86:17; Psalms 135:9; Isaiah 44:25. In the majority of these places the sign, or token, is some natural occurrence, but in its higher meaning it is a proof or indication of God’s immediate working. On proper occasions, therefore, it will be supernatural, because the proof of God’s direct agency will most fitly be some act such as God alone can accomplish. More frequently it is something natural. Thus the sign to the shepherds of the birth of a Saviour, who was “the anointed Jehovah” (Luke 2:11), was their finding in a manger a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, a thing of the most simple and ordinary kind. We may dismiss, then, all such curious speculations as that no rain fell before the flood, or that some condition was wanting necessary for producing this glorious symbol. What Noah needed was a guarantee and a memorial which, as often as rain occurred, would bring back to his thoughts the Divine promise; and such a memorial was best taken from the natural accompaniments of rain. We may further notice with Maimonides that the words are not, as in our version, “I do set,” but my how I have set in the cloud: that is, the bow which God set in the cloud on that day of creation in which He imposed upon air and water those laws which produce this phenomenon, is now to become the sign of a solemn compact made with man by God, whereby He gives man the assurance that neither himself nor his works shall ever again be swept away by a flood.
Here are several images which may be useful to understand this section of the text: